Daily Beast: Russian-Trained Snipers Killed Ukrainian Protesters

Monday, 31 Mar 2014 12:26 PM

By Melanie Batley

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Photographs and videos have emerged that appear to indicate that the killing of dozens of protesters in Kiev's Independence Square on Feb. 20 was orchestrated by Russian-trained snipers and not local riot police, as the former Ukrainian government and Russian officials have claimed.

According to The Daily Beast, the photos show members of an elite anti-terrorist unit known as the Alfa Team in the courtyard of the headquarters of Ukraine's state security service, the SBU, preparing for the assault.

The SBU is the successor intelligence agency to the Ukrainian branch of the Soviet-era KGB and is still closely tied to Moscow. Russia's intelligence service, now known as the FSB, has maintained agents and associates within its Ukrainian counterpart, which was seamlessly done under the president of the now-deposed pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych, The Daily Beast reports.

Many of the 53 people who died that day were hit in the head or neck by clean shots, a sign that the killings were committed by expert marksmen. Others were gunned down by less expert assassins armed with AK-47 assault rifles, The Daily Beast says the evidence shows.

The photographs also indicate the snipers were wearing different clothing than the riot police, including yellow or white armbands, black tactical coveralls, green tactical vests, and flak jackets. They were also captured putting on ski masks to obscure their faces as they left the courtyard, according to The Daily Beast.

The clash on Feb. 20 was the most violent day in the history of Ukraine since the Soviet era and marked a turning point leading to Yanukovych fleeing the country the following day.

Since then, he, along with former officials in the government and top Russian officials, have all claimed that organizers of the protesters, or possibly America, were behind the shootings that day, orchestrated as part of a propaganda campaign to gain the upper hand in the conflict.

"We have demanded an independent and transparent investigation into who was involved in the crimes that took place and we are very worried that the people who are investigating are members of the bodies responsible for the shootings," Dr. Olga Bogomolets, a candidate in Ukraine's scheduled May presidential elections, told The Daily Beast.

After seeing the pictures, U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt told The Daily Beast, "These photographs may be highly important evidence of what happened on Feb. 20. They add to the urgency for a full and thorough investigation into the shootings in Independence Square."

He added, "Ukrainians have a right to know the truth and they expect that those responsible for the killings and the people who ordered the snipers in should be held accountable."

Video footage obtained by The Daily Beast shot the day after the violence suggests the SBU was disposing of possible evidence.

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