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Prosecutor's Office: 5 more riot police officers to be tried for EuroMaidan killings

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk November 6, 2023 6:49 PM 2 min read
Berkut riot police shoot rubber bullets toward anti-government protesters on Independence Square on Feb. 19, 2014 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)
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Another five former Berkut riot police officers are to be tried for shooting protesters during the EuroMaidan Revolution, the Prosecutor General's Office announced on Nov. 6.

Since the protest movement began nearly a decade ago, 35 people have been charged with committing crimes against protesters, five of whom have received sentences from the court.

The uprising was sparked in November 2013 after pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych refused to sign the long-awaited Association Agreement with the European Union.

A few hundred people came to Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kyiv's central square, to protest this decision, but were forced out on Nov. 29 by Berkut officers who used excessive violence.

The next day, videos showing Berkut officers beating peaceful protesters led to thousands more people taking to the streets. The police’s attempts to clear the streets ended up causing even a bigger backlash, bringing more and more people to join the uprising.

While the Berkut riot police division treated protesters with brutality throughout the revolution, Berkut officers are believed to have killed 50 people in central Kyiv on Feb. 20 alone.

Investigators established that on that day, "the defendants executed a deliberately criminal order" and fired on protesters, killing 48 people and injuring 90 more.

They then stole or hid their guns and later fled to Russia. Investigators found and identified some of the weapons used in the killings, the General Prosecutor's Office said.

EuroMaidan murders case: Why is the verdict criticized, and why is it about Russia?
Almost 10 years after the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution, a court ruled against those implicated in the murders of dozens of protesters in the revolution’s final days. Yet, the prosecutors and lawyers who fought for years to see a fair trial say justice hasn’t been served. Kyiv’s Svyatoshynsky Di…

The five officers are suspected of unlawfully obstructing protests, abuse of power, committing a terror act, premeditated murder, and attempt to murder multiple protesters. and theft of service firearms.  

The men, however, are now thought to live in Russia and have obtained Russian citizenship.

"The case will be considered in court under a special procedure in absentia," the General Prosecutor's Office said.

A similar case came to a close in October, when the Sviatoshyn District Court in Kyiv announced the verdict on five Berkut riot police, who were accused of killing EuroMaidan protesters.

Only two suspects were present in the courtroom, with one of them having been acquitted and the other having received a five-year prison sentence. Since the latter had already spent over four years in pre-trial detention, he was released from serving the new sentence.

Three more Berkut officers were given prison sentences in absentia as they now live in Russia, having been swapped in 2019 in a prisoner exchange.

After the judge announced the sentences, the prosecutor said he plans to appeal as the "logic is somewhat unclear," Suspilne reported.

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