Rostislav Ishchenko: “Snipers on Maidan” as Poroshenko’s Tool to Stay in Power

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard


In Kiev once again the organizers of the shooting of Euromaidan activists were found. It is again ascertained that the orderers and performers are from among the most inveterate “patriots”. However, according to the opinion of the Ukrainian authorities, it not only doesn’t acquit Yanukovych (the former President was immediately blamed for giving the order to shoot), but it aggravates his “guilt”.

Ukrainian politics, since the birth of “independent Ukraine”, is reminiscent of a play in the genre of the absurd. However, over the last three years the Kiev clique surpassed itself. It would seem that the theses “Yanukovych withdrew himself from fulfilling presidential duties and fled, although nothing threatened him” and “separatists in Donetsk and Lugansk shell themselves” are such masterpieces that it is impossible to better them. But far from it.

The creative energy of the Maidan “elite” wasn’t exhausted. Its latest revelations stepped far beyond the limits of logic. One thing is demanded from consumers of information: that blind belief is indeed the truth. You have doubts? It means that you are the enemy of Ukraine. Within the framework of the fight between three large political clans for sole power in the country, the latest achievements of Ukrainian informational thought are especially well visible.

How everything began

The most horrible crime against Maidan that Yanukovych was blamed for (and at the same time everyone who didn’t support the coup d’etat) is the shooting of the so-called Heavenly Hundred. The story with the murder of activists began to live its own life, operatively adapting itself to the trends of the changing political situation.

The first (after Yanukovych) “victim of shooting” appeared to be the new President – Petro Poroshenko. Already in June, 2014, practically immediately after his election win, he started to be blamed for the case being investigated slowly and badly. What is interesting is that it is the people who appeared to be the next “victims” who accused him. After informal investigations that were carried out by European and American politicians and journalists, in the same 2014, information leaked out in the press – first of all in the Ukrainian press – that the shootings were organised by the leaders of the “revolution of dignity” themselves. The names Parubiy (the speaker of the Verkhovna Rada), Pashinsky (the deputy of parliament of Ukraine), Turchynov (the Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council) were named.

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Already then, at the beginning of the post-Maidan era, this information – officially sounded and even written down by law enforcement bodies – didn’t prevent the pouring of charges on Yanukovych from all directions. In turn, for simple activists of the revolution who didn’t receive formal positions and ranks, the possibility that colleagues could be shot by their own didn’t clash with the official position of the new regime: “Yanukovych is guilty of everything”.

It is necessary to say that back then, in 2014, the planting of the narrative that some leaders of Maidan possibly participated in the murder of the “Heavenly Hundred” was organised by Poroshenko. He had just been elected. The head of State actually appeared to be alone. All key positions were held by representatives of “People’s Front” (PF) of Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who didn’t plan to share power with Poroshenko at all. Sworn friends wanted to limit his participation in State affairs to just receiving foreign delegations and handing out awards. They planned to divide up money without him. Petro Poroshenko couldn’t reconcile with this. And he began a war with PF, which ended in his intermediate victory in April, 2016 (Yatsenyuk resigned as Prime Minister).

Almost at the objective

However, let’s return to the events of the summer of 2014, when Poroshenko didn’t have any leverage yet. He had only just started fighting for access to it. And accusing his opponents of shooting the “Heavenly Hundred” very much helped him. Information was leaked in small doses. Some names were named. And Turchynov was blamed not for long — most likely, they reached an agreement. Although not many concrete names appeared in the public field, all the others were made known: the list is long, it is possible to bring everyone out of the shadows. Poroshenko didn’t lose anything in this situation: the newly-elected President and military personnel (who he placed a stake on) were definitely not involved in the shootings.

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So the intermediate goal was achieved. The team of “People’s Front” ceased to feel its invulnerability, and many of the politicians and business who unconditionally placed a stake on it decided that it is better to play on the side of the President (or to put eggs in different baskets). Poroshenko received his share of power and, gradually multiplying it, by 2016 achieved individual control over the government and parliament (at least, so it seemed to him).

You did it once — do it twice

For the second time the attempt to play in his interests on the topic of “snipers of Maidan” was made by Poroshenko during his standoff with Kolomoisky in the spring of 2015. Back then some Ukrainian media agencies, as if on command, started writing that it is precisely Kolomoisky who financed the snipers. But it wasn’t succeeded to inflate the topic “in an adult way”, because the attack on the Dnepropetrovsk oligarch was quickly and rigidly beaten off by the American ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt.

In November, 2017, the internal political standoff in Ukraine again became aggravated. On the one hand, the President is opposed by the group Tymoshenko-Nalyvaichenko-Sadovyi financed by Kolomoisky, and the main character is Mikheil Saakashvili. On the other hand – he is opposed by this same “People’s Front”. The formal party leader Yatsenyuk returned to the country and is eager for revenge. He not only wants to again become Prime Minister, but demands to limit presidential powers in favor of the head of the government. Yatsenyuk acts through the old associate – the Minister of Internal Affairs Avakov, who demonstratively refuses to execute Poroshenko’s order to disperse the tent town outside the Rada [Mikhomaidan – ed, and shows to the guarantor his contempt.

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It’s no wonder that in such a situation the story about the shootings started being inflated again in the public sphere. In the “re-edited novella” about the “Heavenly Hundred”, among the guilty appear the same Pashinsky, Parubiy, and at the same time also Saakashvili, who allegedly personally transported the Georgian snipers to Ukraine. Although in the revelations of 2014 all snipers were Ukrainian.

Apparently, a blow is being struck on both groups laying claim to power in Ukraine after Poroshenko’s overthrow. The acting President again hopes to split the united front of his enemies. Now, however, it will be much more difficult to do it. Now Poroshenko is associated with disappointed hopes and negativity. The main thing is that he didn’t meet the expectation of the political elite in the “fair” dividing up of the remains of the Ukrainian resource, taking away everything for himself.

If Petro Poroshenko is in time, we will still surely learn about investigations into the role of Kolomoisky in financing the snipers, about how Sadovyi (the mayor of Lvov) hired ordinary Galician guys for this role, and how Nalyvaichenko (the former head of the SBU) organised a cover campaign, and so on. And nobody will be confused by the contradictions in the narratives concerning the “origin of the snipers”. As well as all the rest.

The Ukrainian reality allows not only to combine all options for the organisation of the “sniper attack” in one average head. The most ridiculous and at the same time sad thing is that the same head in parallel continues to believe that apparently the shootings were organized by Yanukovych on the Kremlin’s order. Don’t ask how such a thing is possible. It if wasn’t possible, then there wouldn’t be any Maidans.

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