Friday, February 26, 2016

About That Maidan Massacre

It was the turning point in the Ukrainian revolution when government security forces opened fire on helpless, peaceful Ukrainian protesters demanding the ouster of the corrupt, albeit democratically elected, government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

In Canada it led to the government and the opposition parties denouncing Yanukovych and siding with the rebels. Black and white. There were rumours the gunfire didn't start with the government forces, that it was a set-up by the independence movement, but that never got much traction.

Until now that is.

Ivan Bubenchik was calm and collected, his demeanor was open, and he spoke confidently of his actions on February 20, 2014, like he had known exactly what he was doing. After all, he was on the good side of the Euromaidan revolution, which was raging in Ukraine at the time, and which eventually swept a corrupt president out of power.

In telling Bubenchik’s story, we were breaking a taboo — it was the police, the popular narrative goes, that were the murderers. The protesters were heroes. But Bubenchik’s words were chilling. “To create a word of mouth effect, you have to shoot two or three [police] commanders,” he said to the camera. “I only picked two.

Bubenchik said he was trying to scare the police away — they had started to dominate the Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central Independence Square, where the anti-government protesters had been camped for months. His tactic worked perfectly. His first sniper shot killed an officer, his second wounded another. The rest of the riot police scattered and ran up the hill away from the square.

...Later on that same day, four police officers died from gunshot wounds. But the death toll among the protesters was much higher — a total of 48 were brutally murdered. This was the single highest daily death toll not just during the revolution, but since Ukraine gained its independence in 1991.

Two years later, there are 22 policemen being tried for these crimes. Five are currently in detention, others are still wanted. But Bubenchik, who says he also killed, is free. He had talked openly about his deed before. But the story had never been picked up by the media, and there had never been a full-scale investigation. The State Security Service either did not believe his story, or chose to ignore his confession — in Ukraine, it’s not politically correct to judge the victors.

We don't hear much about the newly independent Ukraine these days. That might have something to do with how the country, despite the protesters aspirations, has succumbed to yet another gang of corrupt oligarchs, the bunch we notionally support. We never, ever mention the role America played in fueling the unrest and exploiting the protesters to get their pro-Russia president out of power. There's a lot in this sordid business that's best left unspoken.

No comments: