by Gordon M. Hahn
Many years ago I wrote a piece on the darkening of so-called ‘color revolutions’, including Ukraine’s original ‘revolution’ – the so-called Orange revolution (Gordon M. Hahn, “Colored Revolutions Darken,” Russia: Other Points of View, 18 April 2008, www.russiaotherpointsofview.com/2008/04/the-darkening-o.html#more). The latter really was not so much a revolution as an intra-elite power struggle won by way of a coup backed elements in society mobilized temporarily so that one elite group could defeat another. That Orange intra-elite revolt opened the way for Ukraine’s ultra-nationalists and their ideology to become mainstream. The big news from Ukraine in recent days reveals the something eerily similar but even more disturbing.
Judging by mass media the big news over the last week would seem to be two-fold: (1) progress on Minsk 2 with the DNR and LNR’s decision to postpone holding elections outside the Ukrainian state’s jurisdiction and (2) the Dutch Aviation Board’s report on the MH17 shootdown. However, far more important than certainly the latter piece of news is a third that will get little attention in the U.S. and Western media. The Maidan Kiev regime’s suddenly is turning around on the veracity of its February 2014 revolution’s founding myth — the 20 February 2014 Maidan snipers’ massacre — and thus exposing just how dark the Maidan revolution has been.
The Maidan Myth
The Maidan myth is as follows: Dastardly Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich ordered special forces’ and police snipers to fire on peaceful demonstrators killing nearly a hundred and wounding even more. This led to the storming of government buildings and the overthrow of the Yanukovich regime. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of Ukraine’s equivalent of the KGB or FSB, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), until May 2015, said in February 2015 that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advisor Vladislav Surkov coordinated the massacre (http://gordonhahn.com/2015/02/20/another-rusological-fail-u-s-experts-continue-to-lie-about-russia-and-ukraine/). After a committee hearing in Ukraine’s Supreme Rada, Nalyvaichenko was forced to walk his unproven claim back. He was soon fired, presumably for ineffective strategic communications or propaganda. On October 16th, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Viktor Shokin acknowledged that there was no evidence of the Kremlin’s involvement in the Maidan shootings (http://vesti-ukr.com/kiev/119327-shokin-v-rasstrele-nebesnoj-sotni-rossijskij-sled-ne-obnaruzhen). Now the Maidan regime appears ready to revise the history of the Maidan revolution of February 2014 in the proper direction.
The Maidan Reality
As I have argued and as Ottawa University Professor Ivan Katchanovski has led the way in demonstrating empirically, the reality was almost the precise reverse (Ivan Katchanovskii, “The ‘Snipers’ Massacre’ on the Maidan in Ukraine (Revised and Updated Version),” Academia.edu, 20 February 2015, www.academia.edu/8776021/The_Snipers_Massacre_on_the_Maidan_in_Ukraine and Gordon M. Hahn WORKING PAPER: “Violence, Coercion and Escalation in the Ukrainian Crisis: Escalation Point 6: The ‘Snipers of February,” Gordonhahn.com Russian and Eurasian Politics, 8 May 2015, http://gordonhahn.com/2015/05/08/violence-coercion-and-escalation-in-ukraines-maidan-revolution-escalation-point-6-the-snipers-of-february/). The neo-fascists among the demonstrators actually initiated and undertook most of the shootings — often with hunting rifles — firing first at police (hence, the some 20 officers shot at the time) and then at demonstrators. Only later in the morning did police begin to return fire and only after contacting the leaders of the demonstrations and the heavenly hundreds’ Parubiy. Some SP and RS members who were heavenly hundred fighters became snipers. These neo-fascist demonstrator-snipers are the SP and RS neo-fascists whom US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, numerous Obama administration pocket ‘analysts’, and Ukrainian neo-fascism apologists claim do not and did not exist and/or were not among the Maidan demonstrators.
The Maidan Regime’s Investigation of the Maidan’s Neo-Fascists’ Snipers
On October 12 police announced they had searched the apartments of three deputy heads of the SP. On 13 October 2015, Ukraine’s General Prosecutor’s Office (GPO) announced that a search of the offices of several SP people’s deputies was being carried out in connection with evidence that on 20 February 2014 SP members fired on police from a window in the Hotel Ukraine adjacent to the Maidan demonstrations and location of many of the sniper shootings. Specifically, Maidan Ukraine’s GPO is now investigating “information about a possible shooting from Hotel Ukraine on February 20, 2014…given by people’s deputies on the Maidan events.” This comes not from Putin’s ‘troll machine’ but from chief of the PGO Special Investigations Department Serhiy Horbatiuk at a briefing in Kyiv on October 13th. Searches were conducted in the offices of “deputy heads of Svoboda All-Ukrainian Union: former deputy prime minister of Ukraine Oleksandr Sych, former MP Oleh Pankevych, and head of the party court Ihor Yankiv.” All three have been summoned for questioning at the GPO on October 16th. Assistant Prosecutor General of Ukraine Vladyslav Kutsenko confirmed that the searches are related to the investigation into the events of Euromaidan in February 2014. One of the deputy-witnesses, Pankevych, said that during the search he was shown an original of the video of events which occurred on February 20, 2014 filmed from the window of a Ukraine Hotel room (Graham Stack, “Ukraine investigates nationalists over Maidan shootings,” Business New Europe, 12 October 2015, http://www.bne.eu; “Obshuki u kerivnikiv VO ‘Svoboda’: podrobitsi vid Olega Pan’kevicha ta Igorya Yankiva,” Golos Svobody, 12 October 2015, www.youtube.com/watch?t=6&v=4qhzgJAUZC8; “GPU pereviryae versiyu pro strilyaninu po Maidanu svobodivtsi prohodyat’ yak svidki,” Ukrainskaya pravda, 13 October 2015, http://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2015/10/13/7084711/; and “PGO verifying info on shooting of Maidan activists from Hotel Ukraine,” Interfax-Ukraine, 13 October 2015).
The investigation supposedly was prompted by a BBC documentary released about a year ago showing evidence of gunfire coming from a window in Room 1132 on the 11th floor of the Hotel Ukraine. On October 13th Sergei Leshchenko, a Rada deputy of President Petro Poroshenko’s Petro Poroshenko Bloc (PPB), suddenly stated knowledge that the three aforementioned Rada deputies whose apartments and offices were searched had shared that very room in the Hotel Ukraine at the time of the shooting. Leshchenko added that Yankiv is “a Master of Sport and a shooting instructor” (“Obyski u svodovtsev iz okna odnogo iz nikh rasstrelivali Maidan,” Vesti-Ukraine, 13 October 2015, http://vesti-ukr.com/strana/118884-obyski-u-svobodovcev-iz-okna-odnogo-iz-nih-rasstrelivali-majdan).
Investigation: Epiphany, Collapse, Administrative Resource and/or Warning Shot?
There are several possible interpretations of the Maidan Ukraine regime’s turnaround. First, the least likely explanation, though one perhaps operating among some, is that the regime has experienced an epiphany driven by altruism or self-interest with the understanding that a regime built on a lie cannot last long. Second, the regime is collapsing and infighting has brought one faction to use the investigation against another. This explanation may overlap with the third and fourth. Third, the timing of the Maidan regime’s sudden shift indicates it is ready to use its ‘administrative resources’ (state powers) in order to sacrifice its founding myth and thereby preserve the regime’s survival in the wake of a mounting threat from its neo-fascist co-founders. The investigation of the neo-fascists’ role in the Maidan snipers’ massacre comes in the wake of repeated attempts in recent months by neo-fascist RS and SP to spark a Maidan 2.0 by all appearances; attempts and violence that have led to the killing and wounding of police and security servicemen. With the renewal of the war against Donbass now unlikely, given the recent progress on Minsk 2 and the authority such would impart to the neo-fascists, the latter are gearing up in anger to challenge Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, his supporters, and allies. The RS has repeatedly called for a nationalist revolution against the present regime. On Thursday the RS, SP, and likely other like-minded groups plan to march through Kiev in commemoration of ‘Defenders of Ukraine Day’ and of the sometimes Nazi-allied Ukrainian fascist organization of World War II: Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) (http://pravyysektor.info/news/announce/972/pravi-sili-na-pokrovu-provedut-u-stolici-marsh-geroyiv.html). OUN members and UPA perpetrated pogroms killing thousands of Jews and tens of thousands of Poles during World War II. Fourth, the Maidan regime or a faction within it seek to rein in the neo-fascists; thus, the initial steps towards an investigation hinting at SP involvement in the snipers’ massacre amount to a shot over the neofascists’ bow.
Fortunately for Maidan regime, its announcement of the investigation has some information cover provided by the Western mass media’s preference to play up the MH17 report and Russia’s air attacks against ‘only non-ISIL and anti-Assad forces’; another distortion I have addressed several times on this page. These stories will bury the snipers’ massacre investigation news.
None of the above should be taken to diminish the MH17 investigation’s results or the apparent progress towards implementing Minsk 2 and towards a peaceful resolution of the Ukrainian crisis. Regarding the latter, the Donbass rebels’ postponement of the election is a very positive sign that the DNR and LNR seek a peaceful resolution, and the compliance in withdrawing weapons by both sides registered by the OSCE is encouraging with regard to both sides’ intent at least for now. (A pessimist might say that neither side wants fighting to restore in winter and each needs to do too much in order to ensure that its population is kept warm and fed through winter given the economic calamity on both sides .
Regarding MH17, thought from the start that it was more likely that the Donbass rebels shot down flight MH17. They had successfully shot down two Ukrainian air force planes in the previous month, and the evidence available more or less showed that a Buk system had been fired from rebel-controlled territory. However, this tragedy was neither terrorism nor even a crime. The rebels clearly shot down the plane, mistakenly taking it for a Ukrainian military aircraft. Videos show the rebels who arrived at the scene of the crash shaken by it, and audiotapes of the rebels discussing the crash show them to be unhappy about the mistake. Contrary to the MH17 firing, the Maidan snipers’ massacre was carried out intentionally. The same is true of the RS’s pogrom and burning alive of 48 people in Odessa on 2 May 2014, a terrorist attack that has received absolutely no attention in the Western media.
It seems the West needs to get its priorities in order in assessing the gravity of certain political crimes and acts of terrorism a opposed to lesser acts of negligence. A good place to start would be the Maidan snipers’ massacre. Kudos to Professor Katchanovski.
Gordon M. Hahn is an Analyst and Advisory Board Member of the Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation. He is also Analyst/Consultant, Russia Other Points of View and Senior Researcher, Center for Terrorism and Intelligence Studies (CETIS), Akribis Group, San Jose, California. Dr Hahn is author of three well-received books, Russia’s Revolution From Above (Transaction, 2002), Russia’s Islamic Threat (Yale University Press, 2007), which was named an outstanding title of 2007 by Choice magazine, and The ‘Caucasus Emirate’ Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond (McFarland Publishers, 2014). He also has authored hundreds of articles in scholarly journals and other publications on Russian, Eurasian and international politics and publishes the Islam, Islamism, and Politics in Eurasia Report (IIPER) at CSIS at http://csis.org/program/russia-and-eurasia-program. Dr. Hahn has been a visiting scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. (2011-2013), the Kennan Institute for Advanced Russian Studies at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. (1995 and 2005), and the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. He has taught at Boston, American, Stanford, San Jose State, San Francisco State, and St. Petersburg State (Russia) Universities.