Ukraine’s Mysterious Snipers

Who were they – and, more importantly, who hired them?

by , March 21, 2014

Exactly a month ago the Ukrainian crisis seemed on the verge of a peaceful resolution: the European Union had mediated negotiations between the government of Viktor Yanukovich and leaders of the opposition, and an agreement had been reached. The government consented to a truce in exchange for a promise of early elections, a downsizing of the President’s powers, and the freeing of opposition leader and wealthy oligarch Julia Tymoshenko, jailed on charges of corruption (and possible involvement in a murder plot).

It didn’t work out that way.

Instead, what happened less than twenty-four hours after the truce was announced was a shocking act of violence, initially blamed on the Ukrainian police: 20 protesters were shot and killed. The opposition seized on this and broke the EU-sponsored agreement, as armed activists from the ultra-nationalist Svoboda and Right Sector groups attacked police with Molotov cocktails and what had been billed as a "peaceful" protest turned violent rather quickly. The narrative was quickly picked up by the "mainstream" Western media: evil pro-Russian authoritarians murder blameless peaceful "pro-democracy" protesters – the people rise up – Yanukovich flees – the Good Guys come to power in Ukraine.

Except the Ukrainian secret service, which had been eavesdropping on a phone conversation between EU diplomatic honcho Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, in which the latter was reporting on his trip to Kiev. The audio was promptly uploaded to YouTube, and here is the relevant portion of the transcript, where Paet is reporting on his conversation with Olga Bogomolet, who was in charge of a medical team at the Maidan;

Paet: “All the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among police men and people in the street, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides.”

Ashton: “Well that’s, yeah…”

Paet: “And she also showed me some photos and she said that has medical doctor, she can say that it is the same handwriting…”

Ashton: “Yeah…”

Paet: “Same type of bullets… and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. So that there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”

Ashton: "I think they do want to investigate, and I didn’t know… pick that up – gosh."

The snipers were firing on both the protesters and the police, so that both sides thought they were under attack from the other side – a perfect recipe for a provocation. But who was behind it?

The Yanukovich government had nothing to gain from firing on the protesters: an agreement had already been reached and the situation showed every sign of being under control. However, somebody didn’t want that agreement to stand and was determined to see it come unglued. And what better way to do it than to stage such a provocation?

The Russians are accusing the coup leaders of hiring hit men, and the coupists, for their part, have announced that they’ve identified the gunmen, who, we are told, are "foreign nationals." They don’t say what kind of foreign nationals, but it’s not hard to imagine what country they have in mind.

No, Lady Ashton, they don’t want to investigate – and, yes, "gosh" is entirely right, albeit a bit of an understatement.

So who, exactly, is doing the "investigating"? Acting Ukrainian Prosecutor General Oleh Makhnitsky, a leading figure in the ultra-nationalist Svoboda party. That Svoboda and their fellow right-wing extremists of Right Sector are the leading suspects in this crime apparently doesn’t disturb the US State Department – or their amen corner in the US media – which has taken to whitewashing Svoboda and its neo-Nazi allies as having supposedly "moderated" their views.

Something awfully ugly is arising out of Ukraine’s seething cauldron of hate.

When a group of Right Sector bully boys broke into the chief prosecutor’s office and slapped the man in charge around, the Western media looked away. When the same thugs barged into the office of Ukrainian state television and beat up the head honcho for broadcasting material they didn’t approve of, our "mainstream" media pretended it never happened (Chris Hayes on MSNBC was the notable exception). Now when the Foreign Minister of a state on decidedly hostile terms with Russia accuses the Ukrainian coup leaders of instigating the catalyzing incident that swept them into power – still the most of the "news" outlets of the English-speaking world ignore it as if it never happened.

There is nothing subtle about the views of Svoboda and Right Sector, the two parties which have moved into the leadership of the coupist "interim government": the former used to be called the "Social National Party," and was founded as a memorial to the views of Stepan Bandera, leader of the World War II pro-Nazi militia that fought the Russians and directly participated in the Holocaust. Right Sector, a paramilitary group in charge of "security" at the Maidan, is even more extreme; it was formed from the merger of several militant neo-Nazi groups, including "White Hammer" and "Trident." Neo-Nazis have come from all over Europe to join in Ukraine’s "national revolution.

Sooner or later, the ugliness of what is occurring in Ukraine is going to come out: you can’t hide a neo-Nazi "national revolution" under the very thin veneer of a "pro-EU" protest forever. And these guys are particularly unpretty – little more than thugs masquerading as political "activists." There is entirely too much to sweep under the rug here – and the lumps in the fabric are already showing.

We may never know who hired the snipers who handed Ukraine over to a gaggle of assorted fascists, corrupt oligarchs, and their CIA backers. Yet we don’t need receipts to figure it out. Although asking "Qui bono?" isn’t always enough to draw a conclusion in such instances, in this case it most certainly is.

And here’s an intriguing question: what did the US government – whose spies are no doubt crawling all over Ukraine – know about the mysterious snipers, and when did it know it?

NOTES IN THE MARGIN

You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.

I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).

You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.

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