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​‘No evidence of Berkut police behind mass killing in Kiev’ – probe head

Published time: May 14, 2014 10:14
Edited time: May 14, 2014 11:46
Anti-government protestors evacuate a comrade wouned by a sniper during clashes with the police in the center of Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky)

Anti-government protestors evacuate a comrade wouned by a sniper during clashes with the police in the center of Kiev on February 20, 2014. (AFP Photo/Sergei Supinsky)

There is no forensic evidence linking the victims of mass killings in Kiev on February 20 with officers from the Berkut police unit, the head of the parliamentary commission investigating the murders told journalists.

"This will be yet another case, like the assassination of US President John F. Kennedy, which is still being investigated today,” Gennady Moskal reported.

The MP made the statements at a media conference on Tuesday gathered to announce preliminary results of his commission’s probe. He assured that despite the Ukrainian General Prosecutor’s office having arrested 12 Berkut officers on allegations of committing the mass killings, forensic evidence suggests their innocence.

He said the bullets that killed people in Kiev on the bloodies day of confrontation between protesters seeking to oust President Viktor Yanukovich and riot police didn’t match any of the firearms issued to Berkut’s special unit, which, unlike the majority of riot police, was allowed to carry lethal weapons.

Moskal added that the first shot was fired at police, not the protesters. He alleged that the shooters were agents of the Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) acting from the ranks of the protesters, but admitted that genuine protesters could have been the culprits.

Earlier Moskal said that the investigation of the high-profile case was being stalled by the SBU and the Interior Ministry because the post-coup heads of the law enforcement don’t want to face the scandal which would ensue if the real perpetrators were exposed.

Kiev February 18, 2014. (Reuters/Konstantin Chernichkin)

In early April, the Ukrainian authorities arrested 12 members of Berkut for alleged participation in the mass killings. The move sparked protest among their fellow officers, who picketed police HQ in Kiev, saying the arrests were made on poor evidence that accusing the authorities of denigrating them. The prosecutors called the suspects “Berkut black company” when announcing the arrest.

The sniper case is one of the hottest issues in Ukraine, where the new authorities accused the ousted president of ordering the mass killings. Both he and several former Ukrainian officials accused the new authorities of sending the snipers to provoke bloodshed and topple the government.

Yanukovich said he never ordered anyone to shoot at Ukrainian people.

The same version was voiced privately in a leaked conversation between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.

Russia says that activists of the radical Right Sector ultranationalists are the most likely culprits.