Disinfo: Special forces detachment “Berkut” tried to protect Ukrainians 7 years ago

Summary

Seven years ago, armed clashes broke out in the centre of Kyiv when militant-nationalists from Western Ukraine were brought to Kyiv and the special forces, “Berkut”, tried to protect Ukrainians.

Disproof

This is a recurring pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the Euromaidan protests.

The Ukrainian revolution started from the gathering of students in Kyiv after former president Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the EU Association Agreement. They were not 'militant-nationalists' who were 'brought to Kyiv'. The memories of participants are well-documented and it shows that there were people from all over the country who participated by their own will. Far-right groups had a very limited presence during the protests.

Whilst the protests began peacefully the response was not. 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 20 February 2014”. The New York Times also established that “Berkut” forces were behind the killings on 18-21 February 2014.

The 2015 ICC Report on Preliminary Examination Activities states that “the 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 concerning 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)".

Read similar disinformation cases alleging that far-right influence on Ukrainian politics grew after the 2014 Kyiv coup and that the Euromaidan was a coup led by fascists.

publication/media

  • Reported in: Issue 229
  • DATE OF PUBLICATION: 19/01/2021
  • Language/target audience: Russian
  • Country: Ukraine
  • Keywords: Berkut, Euromaidan, Nazi/Fascist

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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