Ukraine’s former President Viktor Yanukovich said on Monday the February 2014 shooting in Kiev’s central Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, was a planned operation geared to topple the country’s legitimate authorities.
“The maidan violence was a pseudo-operation to change the power,” he said at Rostov’s district court asking questions about the 2014 maidan events from Kiev’s Svyatoshinsky district court in the videoconference regime. “Spotters were placed in 20 buildings around the maidan. Evidence that protesters were killed from these buildings proves what maidan participants said and what is shown in video records.”
He said that according to a survey he had conducted based on various evidence, the Right Sector (outlawed in Russia) and Svoboda (Freedom) organizations had been involved in ‘maidan self-defense” and their activists had “initiated active radical actions.”
He said the special operation to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government had involved ultra-right and oligarchic parties.
Yanukovich stated under oath that he did not give any orders to use force to disperse protesters during the Maidan events.
“From the very beginning till the very end, I stood against bloodshed. I am not capable of giving such orders,” Yanukovich said when answering the court’s questions.
He pointed out that it was his “position of principle” that he had reiterated many times.
Protests in Kiev’s central Maidan Nezaleznosti, or Independence, Square broke out in late 2013, when Yanukovich put off signing an association agreement with the European Union in order to examine the deal more thoroughly. This move sparked mass riots, known as Euromaidan, that eventually led to a coup in February 2014, ousting Yanukovich from the presidency and forcing him to flee from Ukraine.
During the standoff in Kiev, radicals placed a tent camp in the Independence Square, seized a number of administrative buildings in the center of the city and set up the so-called ‘self-defense forces,’ which plunged into open fighting with law enforcers. In a period from February 18 to 20, 2014, more than 80 people were killed in Kiev. Hundreds were wounded. Twenty died later in hospital. Among those killed and wounded were officers of the Berkut special police force who were accused of shooting at protesters.
In February 2016, the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office said it had identified all those responsible for the Maidan events. Several persons were arrested and about twenty Berkut officers were put on a wanted list.