Like Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, Professor Katchanovski emphasizes the significance of the sniper fire on February 20. "The massacre of several dozen Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 was a turning point in Ukrainian politics and a tipping point in the escalating conflict between the West and Russia over Ukraine" (p. 2).
Unlike Mr. Kramer and Mr. Higgins, however, Professor Katchanovski brings tons of evidence to his investigation. "Evidence used in this study includes publicly available but unreported, suppressed, or misrepresented videos and photos of suspected shooters, live statements by the Maidan announcers, radio intercepts of the Maidan snipers, and snipers and commanders from the special Alfa unit of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), ballistic trajectories, eyewitness reports by both Maidan protesters and government special unit commanders, public statements by both former and current government officials, bullets and weapons used, types of wounds among both protesters and the police, and the track record of politically motivated misrepresentations by the Maidan politicians of other cases of violence during and after the Euromaidan and historical conflicts. In particular, this study examines about 30 gigabytes of intercepted radio exchanges of the Security Service of Ukraine Alfa unit, Berkut, the Internal Troops, Omega, and other government agencies during the entire Maidan protests. These files were posted by a pro-Maidan Ukrainian radio amateur on a radio scanners forum, but they never were reported by the media or acknowledged by the Ukrainian government" (pp. 2-3).
"The timeline of the massacre with precision to minutes and locations of both the shooters and the government snipers are established in this study with great certainty based upon the synchronization of the sound on the main Maidan stage, images, and other sources of information that independently corroborate each other" (p. 3). For example, although the current Ukrainian government announced on November 19, 2014, that its extensive investigation produced no evidence of "snipers" in Hotel Ukraina, Professor Katchanovski has produced evidence of "an announcer on the Maidan stage [who] publicly warned the protesters about two to three snipers on the pendulum (second from top) floor of the Hotel Ukraina" (p. 5).
"[A] BBC video shows a sniper firing at the BBC television crew and the Maidan protesters from an open window on the pendulum floor of the hotel at 10:17 AM, and the BBC correspondent identifies the shooter as having a green helmet worn by Maidan protesters" (p. 7). And, "In the late afternoon, a speaker on the Maidan stage threatened to burn the Hotel Ukraina"because of constant reports of snipers in the hotel" (p. 8).
Although Professor Katchanovski admits, "a possibility that some protesters, specifically armed ones, including 'snipers,' were wounded or killed by the police fire cannot be ruled out" (p. 10), unlike Mr. Higgins and Mr. Kramer, he concludes: "Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing, were involved in the massacre in order to seize power and that the government investigation was falsified for this reason." (p. 2)
He adds, "the [Ukrainian] government deliberately denies or ignores evidence of shooters and spotters in at least 12 buildings occupied by the Maiden side or located in the general territory held by them during the massacre." (p. 5) So, too, do Mr. Higgins, Mr. Kramer and the Times.
Outraged by the Times whitewash of January 4, I immediately emailed the following letter to the editor:
To the editor:
In their extremely incomplete "investigation by the New York Times into the final hours of Mr. Yanukovych's rule," Andrew Higgins and Andrew E. Kramer do correctly assert that "the shock created by the bloodshed" caused by sniper fire on the morning of February 20, 2014 "prompted a mass defection by the president's allies in Parliament and prodded Mr. Yanukovych to join negotiations with a trio of opposition politicians."
Unfortunately, this latest Times investigation -- like all its reporting since last February --assumes that Yanukovych's police killed the protesters (and police!) on the morning of February 20. Moreover, the Times fails to mention, let alone rebut, a well-known, well-researched, and comprehensive analysis by Ivan Katchanovski, which concludes: "Analysis of a large amount of evidence in this study suggests that certain elements of the Maidan opposition, including its extremist far right wing were involved in the massacre in order to seize power""
Yet, if Professor Katchanovski is correct, then the entire Times investigation is misdirected.
Consequently, until the Times seriously addresses the issue of the snipers, its reporting on regime change in Kiev should be viewed with the same skepticism that Times reporters derisively give to the so-called "Russian propaganda bubble."
Walter C. Uhler
Needless to say, the Times failed to publish my letter.