From Račak to Maidan

KIEV/BELGRADE/BERLIN (Own report) - A year after Berlin helped instigate the putsch in Ukraine, new information is coming to light about the February 20, 2014 Kiev Massacre. That bloodbath, of more than 50 people killed, accelerated the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych and was also used - even in Germany - to justify the putsch. As has now been confirmed by witnesses, armed demonstrators were the first to open fire on police, and only then, did repressive forces return fire, when they were caught in a hail of bullets while retreating. If this proves to be true, it could not have been a government-planned massacre. Furthermore, evidence indicates that also the snipers, who had shot to kill, were on the side of the government's opponents. Today, the responsibility for that bloodbath is as unsolved as that for the deaths of more than 40 Kosovo Albanians in Račak in mid-January 1999, which the West labeled a mass execution - in spite of all contradicting evidence. Račak served as a decisive justification for the military aggression on Yugoslavia. The political and media establishments' other forgeries and lies preceding and during the war on Yugoslavia demonstrate that manipulations, such as the ones we are currently seeing in the Ukraine conflict, are nothing new. They are rather consistent props in the German establishment's standard repertoire for escalating conflicts.

The Massacre of February 20, 2014

A year after the putsch in Ukraine, two reports in leading western news organs are - independently from one another - shedding a new light on the fatal shots in Kiev on February 20, 2014. That day more than 50 people were shot to death in downtown Kiev. This bloodbath accelerated the overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych. In Berlin this was also used as a justification for the putsch: a president, who deliberately orders the massacre of demonstrators, has forfeited his right to office.

The First Shots

Since a few days, new witness testimonies on the massacre have been made available. According to witnesses, on February 20, armed government opponents continued the deadly escalation strategy, they had started just a few days earlier. Already February 18, violent fascists had broken away from a "peace offensive" protest demonstration attacking police with Molotov cocktails, and stormed the office of President Viktor Yanukovych's "Regions Party," killing a guard and two party members. The police retaliated brutally. On the evening of the same day - February 18 - there were reports of around 25 people killed, one third of the casualties were police officers, of whom several had died of gunshot wounds. February 19, preparations were made to escalate the conflict. A Maidan demonstrator just confirmed to the BBC that he was given a Saiga hunting rifle on the evening of February 19 and had gone to Kiev's Conservatory, adjacent to the Maidan, on February 20, which was under the control of the demonstrators. From there, as photos suggest, and as the demonstrator and an opposition politician's report confirm, shots were fired at police, killing the first three police officers.[1]

In a Hail of Bullets

A former "Dnipro" Battalion combatant, the current parliamentarian, Volodymyr Parasyuk, has recounted what happened next to Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Parasyuk, at the time, was a commander of one of the "Hundertschaften" [a military formation of 100 men, approx. the size of a U.S. military company] at the Maidan. He describes how, after the first police were killed, they began to retreat - "going along Institutska Street, up the Pechersk hill crossing the Maidan," according to the daily. Parasyuk then recounts that his Hunderschaft pursued the police immediately: "Everyone, who had been at the barricades, began to storm Institutska Street."[2] "Many," by this time, were already armed; and they "used" their rifles, "as they made the assault." Police in more secure positions provided cover fire for their colleagues, withdrawing in a hail of bullets, killing a number of the attacking demonstrators. If this version of events is true, it could not have been President Yanukovych, who had planned a massacre of the opposition.

Under Opposition Control

It is still not clear, under whose command the obviously professional snipers had then proceeded to gun down numerous people at the Maidan. Back in the spring of 2014, research made by a German television team had revealed that the snipers were firing from the upper floors of the "Ukraina" Hotel at the Maidan.[3] A BBC correspondent, who was an eyewitness to the events of February 20, had spotted a sniper in a window high up in the building. At the time in question, the hotel was under the control of the opposition, who strictly regulated entry onto the premises. The suspicion "that Yanukovych was not behind the snipers, but rather someone from the new coalition," had also been expressed by the Estonian Foreign Minister, Urmas Paet to the head of the EU's foreign policy, Catherine Ashton, already in early March. He quoted Yanukovych's opponents as his source.[4] The objective would have been to escalate the violence to provoke the ultimate overthrow of the government. Attorneys for the victims are still complaining that an official investigation of the massacre has been stagnating and not seriously pursued. Initially, an investigation of the bloodbath by international experts had been demanded, however that also never materialized.

German Instructions

That, in spite of all the unsolved mysteries surrounding it, this massacre is still today used to justify Yanukovych's overthrow, brings to mind similar methods used in earlier conflicts - for example to justify the military aggression against Yugoslavia. At the time, the "Račak Massacre" was given the most attention. On January 16, 1999, more than 40 Kosovo-Albanian bodies were discovered in that south Serbian village. At the time, the claims by western politicians and the media that Serbian forces of repression had executed them have never been followed up with tangible evidence. Numerous indications point to the possibility that they had been killed in combat between Yugoslav government units and the UÇK terrorist militia. The Finnish forensics specialist, Helena Ranta, later complained, she had been put under pressure, and was given "instructions" by Germany's "special emissary" for Kosovo, Christian Pauls: It had been clear "that a whole group of governments had an interest in a version of what had happened in Račak," which "placed responsibility on the Serbian side."[5] Like the deadly sniper fire at the Maidan on February 20, 2014, the causes of these deaths have never been solved.

Fischer's "Auschwitz"

Other incidents prior to and during the war on Yugoslavia also demonstrate how, long before the Ukraine conflict, news reporting in the "free West" was being massively manipulated. For example, one can see this from the account furnished by German military experts, who, on behalf of the OSCE and an EU mission, had observed the situation in the south Serbian province at the turn of the year 1998/1999. Brig. Gen. Heinz Loquai, was stationed at the German OSCE representation in Vienna, in early 1999. In his conversation with, he recalls that on March 18/19 he had read in an OSCE report on Kosovo, "the situation throughout the province remains tense, but quiet." Even experts at the Ministry of Defense had drawn the conclusion on March 23, "still no trends toward ethnic cleansing are discernible." This was "the situation," says Loquai, that Rudolf Scharping, Defense Minister at the time, and his colleague, Foreign Minister Josef Fischer had "compared to the Holocaust, with its murder of six million Jews," to justify the aggression on March 24, 1999.[6]

Nothing to do with Reality

Dietmar Hartwig, a former Bundeswehr officer, who had been stationed in Kosovo as an observer for the EU, in 1999 up until the war, made similar observations. Hartwig explains, he had had no knowledge of "large-scale, or even state-ordered crimes against the population" - "neither from the reports of his fellow observers, nor from his conversations with leading Kosovo Albanian politicians." Yet the media was constantly claiming that Serbian security forces were using senseless brutality on the population." Hartwig notes that "media information that I encountered during and since I was in Kosovo, gave a picture that had nothing to do with the reality."[7] This is also the case of the alleged "Operation Horseshoe," cobbled together from dubious, intelligence service files and panhandled by the German Defense Minister, Rudolf Scharping (SPD) and the German government as a Yugoslav government plan. According to what SPD Whip, at the time, Peter Struck, told the Bundestag April 15, 1999, the paper supposedly depicted the plan "to depopulate Kosovo of ethnic Albanians."[8] This allegation was then trumpeted, without hesitation, by all the leading media organs in Germany, seriously weakening opposition to the war.

Dateless Tanks

With this in mind, the current anti-Russian reporting in German media and recurring proof of media forgeries can be considered a normalcy in times of conflict escalation. Most recently, the Second German Public TV Channel (ZDF) had to admit that its news report alleging that more than 50 Russian tanks had entered Ukraine, had been illustrated with the photo of a Georgian tank from 2009. A graphic designer had "inadvertently transformed 2009 Georgian tanks into dateless Russian tanks." "The '' program editor in charge" had been incapable of "recognizing ... the mistake," explained ZDF.[9] Last year, similar "mistakes" had harvested massive criticism. ( reported.[10]) From the experience during the war on Yugoslavia, it seems unlikely that before an - at the moment unforeseeable - end of the conflict, there will be no change in the news reporting of major media organs nor in the lack of serious investigations of who was really responsible for those conflict-justifying massacres.

Other reports and background information on the media's role in the Ukrainian conflict can be found here: The Free World and Crisis of Legitimacy.

[1] Gabriel Gatehouse: The untold story of the Maidan massacre. 12.02.2015.
[2] Konrad Schuller: Die Hundertschaften und die dritte Kraft. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 07.02.2014.
[3] "Monitor" vom 11.04.2014. S. auch Legitimationskrise.
[4] S. dazu Die Kiewer Eskalationsstrategie.
[5] Markus Bickel: Kein Interesse an gefallenen Serben. 17.01.2004.
[6] S. dazu Interview mit Heinz Loquai.
[7] Cathrin Schütz: "Medienbild hatte mit der Realität nichts zu tun". junge Welt 26.02.2008.
[8] Deutscher Bundestag: Plenarprotokoll 14/32, 15.04.1999.
[9] Marvin Schade: Immer wieder Panzer-Probleme: zeigt falsche Russenpanzer zu Ukraine-Ticker. 16.02.2015.
[10] See Moskaus Drang nach Westen.