In Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, more than 100 people were shot dead by anti-riot police, between 18th and 20th February last year.
Ihor Kulchitskiy showed us where his father was killed. A pensioner, he was 64.
“The riot police began their offensive from European Square. They rammed the barricades with armoured personnel carriers. A second group of officers came from the [October Palace] side. They used grenades. Two or three of them had guns. My father was shot in the chest, the bullet near his heart.”
The protests went on for three months, calling for President Viktor Yanukovic to go.
The photos of those killed are on display.
Volodymyr Kulchitskiy’s son tells us why his father joined the movement in Maidan.
“He had a sense of justice. He understood simple things: if you work, you should be paid a decent salary. If you steal, you must be sent to prison. In Ukraine somehow, a person can earn billions in one or two years, and someone can work his whole life and when he retires still can’t afford basics. My father was angry about that!”
Video taken on 20th February in Institutska street shows police shooting. They were firing on the protesters but no one has faced justice for it.
Ihor Kulchitskiy said: “All these riot police officers say they acted on orders. But if they had been told to jump off a bridge, they wouldn’t have jumped. A prosecutor must know how to build a base of evidence. There is a lot of evidence, a lot of video. I just have the impression that someone wants to protect these riot police officers.”
Two who are suspected of killing protesters are still in custody. Their trial was supposed to have started this week but was postponed. The judges say they were too involved in a related case to be able to preside over this one with impartiality. The victims’ families say this is mocking justice.
The new Prosecutor-General, Viktor Shokin, a few days ago promised that justice would be done.
Shokin said: “All persons who have done wrong will be brought to justice. Some of their names are already known, but if I tell you their names it might cause some problems. These cases will be expedited to the court soon.”
The families of the dead, between scepticism and confidence in Ukrainian justice, are still waiting to see it demonstrated.
Maria Korenyuk, with our Kyiv office, spoke to the former leader of one of the Maidan self-defence units, Volodymyr Parasyuk, now a member of parliament, about the events that took place in Institutska street one year ago.
She asked him about that day when he witnessed the shooting.
Parasyuk replied: “I remember everything. I remember the rivers of protesters’ blood running in the street we’re in. I remember the guys sitting near that low wall with bullet holes in their arms and legs. People took turns dragging them. We dragged dead bodies. We stood on Institutska street and the riot police tried to shoot us. It was impossible to go up the street. We did anything we could to get our brothers-in-arms out of here. I remember everything. I see it in my dreams every night.”
Maria Korenyuk, euronews: “When the protesters approached the riot police, what did they have in their hands? Any weapons?”
Parasyuk: “Let’s be honest. At the beginning of Maidan rallies nobody had any guns. But when the police started firing, people brought some weapons out. But 90 percent of those here in Institutska street only had sticks or wooden shields. That didn’t protect them. What was already a rebellion became an uprising.”
euronews: “Dozens of protesters were killed here in Institutska street, and thousands of people, soldiers and civilians, have died in the east of Ukraine. If you could turn back the clock, would you change anything? Would you try to meet halfway with the then-authorities in order to prevent these deaths?”
Parasyuk: “You know, the simple truth is that we need to defeat the enemy once and for all. We shouldn’t negotiate, we should win. That’s one of the reasons why everything is not okay in our country, because our politicians don’t appreciate the collective strength of our people. What would I change? I would rather take a more active part in the elections that were held after the Maidan Revolution, to make people change their choices. Nevertheless, some young people managed to get into parliament, and that’s a measure of victory in itself.”
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