Disinfo: “Berkut” soldiers did not commit any crimes during coup d’etat in Ukraine

Summary

“Berkut” soldiers did not commit any crimes during coup d’etat in Ukraine.

The ex-“Berkut” soldiers insist on their innocence: “We have nothing to hide – we have committed no crimes. We want to restore the honest name of the ‘Berkut’ Special Forces and we want those who are actually responsible for the murder of law enforcement officers and protesters to be punished.” (…) They describe the Ukrainian revolution in 2014 (also known as “Euromaidan”) as a “coup d’état”.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan protests and a coup d'etat in Ukraine.

According to a 2015 report of International Advisory Panel on Maidan investigations, “--- the PGO investigation found evidence relatively quickly to the effect that a Berkut unit had killed 39 protesters with AKS 7.62mm calibre weapons on 20February 2014.”

2015 ICC Report on Preliminary Examination Activities states that “(t)he  acts  of  violence  do  not  appear  to  be  a  mere  aggregate of random  acts,  but  rather  evidence  a  pattern  of  behaviour suggesting that  such acts   formed   part   of   a   campaign   or   operation   against   the   Maidan   protest movement.  In  this  respect,  it  is  noted  that the  alleged  acts  committed  share common  features  in  terms  of their  characteristics  and  nature  (including  in relation to a pattern of excessive and indiscriminate use of force, such as during public order operations, and the means used, such as batons, firearms and other special means), the population targeted (Maidan protesters and other civilians in the vicinity of the protests), the alleged perpetrators (state security forces –most often  the  Berkut  and  Interior  Troops –and  titushky),  and  locations  (mainly  the sites of demonstrations, predominantly in the city centre of Kyiv and to a lesser extent   in   other   regions and   cities in   Ukraine,   such   as   Cherkasy   and Dnipropetrovsk)."

The New York Times also established that “Berkut” forces were behind the killings that took place on 18-21 February 2014.

Finally, 'Euromaidan' was not a coup but a nationwide popular protest against the government's sudden announcement that it would not sign the promised EU Association Agreement. See the full debunk here.

Read similar disinformation cases alleging that far-right influence on Ukrainian politics grew after 2014 Kyiv coup, that Euromaidan was a coup led by fascists and that civilian killings during Euromaidan were orchestrated by opposition leaders.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 190
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 08/02/2020
  • Language/target audience: German
  • Country: Ukraine
  • Keywords: Berkut, War in Ukraine, Coup, Euromaidan

Disclaimer

Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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