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Poroshenko: Russian official behind Maidan snipers

February 20, 2015

Amid commemoration ceremonies for the Maidan protesters who were brutally killed last year, Ukraine's president has made new allegations against Russia. He said snipers were firing on orders from a Russian official.

Ukraine Kiew Gedenken an die Maidan-Toten
Image: DW/F. Hofmann

During commemoration ceremonies for the victims of the Maidan massacre, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said on Friday there was strong evidence that the shooting last year had been organized by Russian intelligence.

"Just a few days ago, the head of state security told me that, in questioning, special forces operatives gave evidence that the Russian presidential aide Vladislav Surkov led the organization of groups of foreign snipers on the Maidan," Poroshenko said, according to his website.

He said there was proof, which included recorded telephone calls between then President Viktor Yanukovych and representatives from Moscow.

Poroshenko made the comments while meeting with relatives of some of the more than 100 people who were shot dead over a three-day period a year ago during protests on Kyiv's Independence Square, known as Maidan, against Moscow-backed Yanukovych, who then fled to Russia.

It is not exactly known who opened fire a year ago on crowds of people protesting against the pro-Russian government. Supporters of the movement said Ukrainian security forces had begun shooting on the protest camp, which had been set up at Maidan in November 2013.

Details of investigations into the shootings have not been made public. There is, however, speculation, that Yanukovych may have given the order to shoot in order to disperse the crowds and squelch the protest movement. Another theory is that the escalation was initiated by the opposition to exact a shift of power in the government.

Since the massacre, Russia has annexed the Crimean Peninsula, and there has been an ongoing armed conflict in the east of Ukraine that has killed at least 5,600 people to date. Leaders in Kyiv, the EU and the US have accused Moscow of providing military support to the separatist fighters.

sb/kms (dpa, Reuters, AP)