Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
More than three years have passed since the end of the bloody events of Euromaidan. However, up to now the present Ukrainian authorities still haven’t answered the question who was behind the shooting of protesters and employees of law enforcement. In an exclusive interview to RIA Novosti the former commander of the internal troops of Ukraine Stanislav Shulyak for the first time stated his version of those events.
Stanislav, when were you appointed as the commander of the internal troops? What functions and tasks did the internal troops have?
“In May, 2012, I was appointed to the position of commander of the internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. One of the most significant events of that time became the final phase of the preparation for carrying out the finals of the European Football Championship Euro-2012.
Still being the first deputy head of the Department of the State Guard of Ukraine, I understood what responsibility was laid on all the law-enforcement system on providing safe conditions for the holding of the Euro-2012 championship. My appointment was connected with tasks to increase the level of coordination between all services of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the SBU, and the Department of the State Guard of Ukraine. The distribution of obligations for the performance of these tasks was assigned to the coordination center, which was headed at that time by the Vice-Prime Minister Boris Kolesnikov, and, of course, all questions were under the personal control of the President of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. Factually. My service as the commander of the internal troops also began with this.”
You were in the epicenter of events on Maidan. What do you think, the events that happened on Madian were the spontaneous reaction of a part of the population of Ukraine, or was Maidan prepared in advance? What, in your opinion, are the reasons for the events?
“As you know, I wasn’t involved in politics. But I can say that Ukraine, since its first years of independence, drew the attention of the West (the EU, the US) and the East, first of all – Russia. Ukraine for a long time served as a peculiar buffer between the West and the East. The Ukrainian people are peaceful people. When we were pushed towards NATO accession, we were against it. When we were offered to enter the CSTO, we also were against it. Because we considered that Ukraine must be neutral, non-bloc. It was the best security conditions not only for Ukraine, but also for Europe and Russia. I am deeply confident in it, as a military person.
The adoption of the decision by the government of Ukraine on the suspension of signing the agreement with the EU, on the creation of a free trade zone caused a painful and aggressive reaction in the West. Work on the political destabilization of the situation in Ukraine was organized by diplomatic missions of the US and EU countries. They decided to punish us for disobedience. That’s why everything that happened on Maidan from November 20th, 2013, was a well-directed, coordinated, and financed process that aimed at changing the authorities in power.”
What is the reason of the non-signing by Ukraine of the agreement on association and a free trade zone with the EU?
“Firstly, I want to repeat once again that Ukraine didn’t refuse to sign the agreement, but temporarily suspended its signing. The reason was that conditions on the creation of a free trade zone violated the balance of relations between Ukraine, the EU, and Russia. Ukraine needed to reach a compromise between strategic partners.
Secondly, in terms of trade with the European Union, Ukraine received huge risks for its hi-tech industries, such as, for example, transport and mechanical engineering. Practically all branches of mechanical engineering fell into the risk zone, because their production was demanded mainly in the markets of Russia and the CIS countries, and it was practically not needed by the European Union.
Also agriculture fell into the risk zone. Having cancelled the customs quotas for the import of European production into Ukraine, we put domestic producers into unequal conditions. All of this led to enormous budgetary losses. There was a need to find answers to these and other questions that weren’t stated in the agreement.
I consider that the government of Ukraine as an independent state had the full authority to protect our national interests. Moreover, it was its duty.”
Then why did the residents of Kiev and other regions of Ukraine react so sharply to such a decision if it was aimed at defending national interests?
“I remember very well the beginning of these actions. I was surprised myself: if indeed the Ukrainian people don’t understand, that we live in one house under the name Ukraine? And we always must think how to defend our interests in relation to our partners. In any case, if this contradicts our interests, then to achieve decisions that are favorable for us.
On the news on television and in the newspapers I saw a bare-faced lie, with which the population was simply fooled.
I started to search for answers to these questions. Why did the media show and write a lie? Who is interested in it? The answer is simple: it was a well-organized campaign to discredit the legitimate authority. Today it’s not a secret for anybody that Ukrainian oligarchs, the money of which is in western banks, are completely dependent on, controlled by, and vulnerable to the West. And that 99% of all the media belongs to them. This is the first answer.
Of course, the financing of Maidan and everything that was connected to it was coming not only from Ukrainian oligarchs, but also from so-called western funds. The owners of these funds established a rigid task, which was being solved for a long time by the ways and methods of carrying out ‘color revolutions’ tried and tested in many countries of the world.”
What can you say about the organization of actions of protesters? To what extent were they harmonious and coordinated?
“I can say that the preparation of people for the organization of protest actions and riots was ongoing for a long time. It was happening already at the time of the President Leonid Kuchma, when the actions ‘Ukraine without Kuchma’ were held. Already then fighting units were formed. Then this preparation was improved in the period of the presidential elections of 2004. At the time units of mercenaries from the Baltics, Balkans, Poland, Slovakia, and Georgia were proven… They already at the time were successfully used for the seizure of power in Ukraine in an unconstitutional way.
After this, certain political forces constantly kept in contact with them, interaction in work was improved.
In fact, already in 2010 preparation for the 2015 elections began. The non-signing of the agreement on association and a free trade zone with the EU in 2013 became the pretext for premature activization of the activity of so-called opposition forces, the purpose of which was the overthrow of the legitimate authority.”
How specifically did it happen?
“I can say that actually since November 20th, 2013, the organizational structures of Maidan started to be deployed. The first to appear were the prepared fighters. Their number reached 10,000-15,000 people. The were supervised by commanders, who were directly subordinated to leaders of the opposition who participated in the organization of the coup.
They were joined by the residents of Kiev and other regions who were deceived by the propaganda machine deployed in Ukraine.
It was the main force of Maidan — the ideologically-inspired, fooled people who deeply believed in the ‘bright future’ that ideologists drew up for them. All these ‘sympathizers’ were attracted for the creation of the mass concentration of people.
The third group — peaceful citizens who we called gapers or romantics, who came to Maidan as if it was a spectacle. And there certainly was what to look at.
During military operations they served as peculiar human shields — fighters generally hid behind their backs. And such tactics were effective. It allowed the violators to be out of our zone of reach.
At various times the number of protesters fluctuated between 20,000-30,000 and 200,000-350,000 depending on the situation and the orders of the organizers.
They hauled stones, car tyres, incendiary mixtures were prepared on scene. There were moments when the population’s interest in Maidan vanished, so then special provocative events for the activization of protests for the purpose of drawing the population’s attention and the creation of informational pretexts for the media were carried out.
Interest in events was also heated up by the so-called sacral victims — these crimes have still not been investigated.”
And what happened around the 20th of February, 2014, on Maidan?
“As for me personally, I know that the organizers of this monstrous crime were Parubiy (nowadays the speaker of parliament of Ukraine), Pashinsky (nowadays the chairman of the commission of the Verkhovna Rada on defense and security), and others. The vast majority of snipers were foreigner-mercenaries.”
Your subordinates – employees of “Berkut” – passed the corresponding special training on actions in such situations. Nevertheless you lost. Why?
“Why? Tell me, why were the armies of Hussein and Gaddafi destroyed? Were they also weak? Or weren’t able to do something? Or they were poorly prepared? You will say that there was a war there! Yes, yes, war! But here, thank God, at that time things hadn’t reached the level of war. Anyway, we did everything not to allow it. I can say one thing: we didn’t want bloodshed, but we were constantly provoked into doing it. We didn’t lose. We left Maidan according to the agreement signed by leaders of the so-called opposition under guarantees of the heads of diplomatic departments of the countries of the West.”
However it is precisely you, and also the former minister of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Vitaly Zakharchenko and the President Viktor Yanukovych who are accused, that it is precisely you who gave the order to open fire on protestors, as a result of which more than a hundred people died.
“Any accusations in our direction are illegal and groundless. Neither I, Zakharchenko, nor Yanukovych gave any orders to any snipers to open fire on protesters. I say this with full responsibility.
Everything was heading towards reconciliation between the parties. All understood it. It already became known that Viktor Yanukovych and the opposition agreed to sign the agreement on a peaceful settlement of the conflict, which put an end to the confrontation. By this day, despite pressure and the organization of provocations, we, law enforcement bodies, kept the situation under control, remaining in the legal framework.
I suggest to remember that it is exactly at the time when the signing of the peace agreement was being prepared that it was specifically Lutsenko (nowadays the Prosecutor-General of Ukraine) who, in the evening of February 19th, 2014, told protesters from the Maidan scene that by the morning they will have firearms.
And the logic of all our actions was the searching for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, after which power remained with the acting President of the country, which didn’t suit the so-called opposition at all.
The most important thing was not to allow bloodshed and to preserve peace in Ukraine. Everything that happened afterwards cannot be called anything other than a State coup.
This is a crime, which led to civil war in Ukraine and the splitting of our State.
And it is the organizers of Maidan, the organizers of the State coup who are guilty of it, and who are not difficult to establish – if there is the desire. All of them are known by the Ukrainian people. This tragedy became the largest in the history of Ukraine after World War II.
Unfortunately, this tragedy hasn’t yet finished. It continues, civil war in the east of Ukraine is ongoing. And when an end will be put to it isn’t known.”
Already more than three years have passed. During all of this time you have been out of your Motherland. What do you personally want from life?
“The main thing – that war ends as soon as possible, and the suffering of people stops. That people who were expelled from their native land can return. I, of course, also would like to return to Ukraine, but to that Ukraine before November, 2013.”
But it is impossible.
“I will fight for it.”
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