Former chief of Ukraine’s Security Service has confirmed allegations that snipers who killed dozens of people during the violent unrest in Kiev operated from a building controlled by the opposition on Maidan square.
Shots that killed both civilians and police officers were fired from the Philharmonic Hall building in Ukraine’s capital, former head of the Security Service of Ukraine Aleksandr Yakimenko told Russia 1 channel. The building was under full control of the opposition and particularly the so-called Commandant of Maidan self-defense Andrey Parubiy who after the coup was appointed as the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, Yakimenko added.
Furthermore the former security chief believes that Parubiy has been in contact with US Special Forces that could have coordinated the assault.
“Shots came from the Philharmonic Hall. Maidan Commandant Parubiy was responsible for this building. Snipers and people with automatic weapons were ‘working’ from this building on February 20. They supported the assault on the Interior Ministry forces on the ground who were already demoralized and have, in fact, fled,” Yakimenko said in an interview with Russian television.
The police officers were chased by a group of rioters armed with various weapons and at that point, Yakimenko says snipers fired at pursuers themselves.
“When the first wave of shootings ended, many have witnessed 20 people leaving the building,” former chief says, noting that they were well-equipped and were carrying military style bag for carrying sniper and assault rifles with optical sights. Not only the law enforcers, but people from the opposition’s Freedom, Right Sector, Fatherland, and Klitschko’s UDAR party have also seen this, Yakimenko claims.
The former security head also said that according to the intelligence those snipers could be foreigners, including mercenaries from former Yugoslavia as well former Special Forces employees from Ukraine’s Defense Ministry.
Yakimenko claims that Parubiy was part of a group that was heavily influenced by the people associated with the US secret services. “These were the forces that carried out everything that they were told by their leadership – the United States,” Yakimenko explained, claiming that Maidan leaders practically lived in the US embassy.
According to Yakimenko, during the massacre the opposition leaders contacted him and asked him to deploy special force unit to scoop out the snipers from buildings in central Kiev, but Parubiy made sure that won’t happen.
“The Right Sector and Freedom Party have requested me to use the Alpha group to cleanse these buildings, stripping them from snipers,” Yakimenko said. According to him Ukrainian troops were ready to move in and eliminate the shooters.
“I was ready to do it, but in order to go inside Maidan I had to get the sanction from Parubiy. Otherwise the ‘self-defense’ would attack me in the back. Parubiy did not give such consent,” Yakimenko said noting that the Maidan leader had full authority over the access to weapons on Maidan, and not a single gun including a sniper rifle could get in or out of the square.
Aleksandr Yakimenko’s account supports previously voiced concerns over unknown snipers shooting both protesters and the police indiscriminately – who were the topic of the recently leaked phone conversation between EU’s Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet.
In a leaked phone conversation that took place February 26 Ashton and Paet discussed rumors that snipers were hired by some of the opposition leaders.
“There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition,” Paet said during the conversation. “I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up, that’s interesting. Gosh,” Ashton answered.
Almost 100 people were killed and another 900 injured during the violent standoff near Maidan Square in Kiev last month that forced president Yanukovich out of the country and installed a new government. Ukrainian self-proclaimed authorities maintain that the shooting was authorized by Yanukovich.
On Wednesday Moscow suggested setting up a probe to investigate the crimes perpetrated by extremist and armed elements of the opposition over the past three months. The proposal to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) also seeks to examine the legitimacy of the post-coup Ukrainian government.