During a hacked phone call that sparked an uproar and confusion worldwide after being leaked to the media, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet told European Union foreign policy boss Catherine Ashton that evidence suggests that the same snipers, allegedly hired by opposition forces, may have shot dead both police and protesters amid the Maidan uprising. An estimated 100 people were killed amid the turmoil, with close to 1,000 wounded.
While Paet has confirmed that his conversation with the senior EU official was genuine, numerous crucial questions remain unanswered as calls for a formal investigation into the allegations grow louder.
“All evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers — both policemen and people from the streets — that it was the same snipers killing people from both sides,” Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, can be heard telling the EU’s Ashton during the leaked February 26 call, citing pictures and a conversation he had with a doctor named Olga in Ukraine. “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovich, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” He also said the developments “already discreditates [sic] this new coalition” and that Ukrainians believe their new rulers, like the old, all have a “dirty past.”
Based on the leaked phone call and other evidence, analysts following developments in Ukraine have suggested that elements or factions within the opposition movement may have actually employed the gunmen accused of massacring dozens of people from rooftops. The purpose, supposedly, was to further inflame the foreign-backed revolutionary fervor that recently swept the regime of deposed Ukrainian “President” Viktor Yanukovich out of power. Some analysts even referred to the shootings as a potential “false-flag” attack. However, without any real investigations so far, and in the midst of conflicting propaganda wars, hard evidence confirming the major allegations remains elusive.
Calling the comments and evidence from the Ukrainian doctor “quite disturbing,” Paet said Olga, whom he reportedly met during a February 25 visit to Ukraine, had explained that it was “the same handwriting” and “the same type of bullets” involved in the killings of police and protesters. Russian media reports have identified the doctor in question as Olga Bogomolets, the chief medical coordinator for the primary protest camp in Kiev’s Independence Square. Western news agencies, however, while familiar with the doctor, have reportedly been unable to confirm her claims.
Especially troubling to Paet was what he suggested was the new government’s reluctance to launch a formal investigation into the murders. “And it's really disturbing that now the new coalition that — they don't want to investigate what exactly happened,” he said during the call. Responding to his comments, EU foreign affairs chief Ashton sounded surprised, but not incredulous. “I think we do want to investigate,” she told the Estonian official. “I didn't pick that up. That's interesting. Gosh.” In a dispassionate tone of voice, Ashton also said “that’s terrible” upon hearing the news.
Ashton’s office has refused to comment on the leaked phone call, with her spokesperson saying, “we don’t comment on leaked phone conversations.” The Estonian Foreign Ministry did confirm that the call and its contents were genuine. However, it cautioned against interpreting Paet’s remarks as his own views about what may have happened in the infamous Kiev murders, which arguably represented the key turning point in the uprising that eventually toppled the existing regime.
“Foreign Minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard the previous day in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground,” the official Estonian statement explained. “We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition's involvement in the violence.” Paet himself said it was “extremely regrettable that phone calls are being intercepted” and that “the fact that this phone call has been leaked is not a coincidence.”
According to news reports, the phone call between the two European officials was hacked and leaked by elements of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) that are still loyal to deposed Ukrainian “President” Viktor Yanukovich. The operatives from the intelligence agency, a former subsidiary of the Soviet KGB, apparently posted the conversation on YouTube. From there, it was promptly picked up by the Kremlin-funded RT network and other Russian state-controlled media outlets. Shortly before the call was leaked, meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin had also suggested the killings in Kiev were perpetrated by “provocateurs.”
It is the second time in recent weeks that a leaked phone call about the Ukrainian chaos between senior Western officials has raised major questions about what is really going on in the embattled nation. Early last month, another explosive conversation was leaked that shed light on the Obama administration’s barely concealed role in helping to foment and guide the chaos. In the hacked phone call, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt were caught plotting what sounded suspiciously like a “regime-change” operation — even presuming to decide what politicians would be most suitable for the post-uprising Ukrainian government.
“I think Yats [Yatsenyuk] is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience,” Nuland said during the leaked call. “What he needs is Klitsch [Klitschko] and [Oleh] Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. I just think Klitsch going in, he’s going to be at that level, working for Yatsenyuk, it’s just not going to work.” Pyatt responded, saying: “Let me work on Klitschko ... and I think we should get a Western personality to come out here [to Ukraine] and midwife this thing.”
The U.S. State Department, which has been vocally supporting the protest movement while threatening members of the former regime, refused to comment on either of the leaked phone calls. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, however, while claiming to have no comment about the developments, was quoted accusing authorities in Moscow of being behind the hacks and leaks of phone calls. “This was another example of how the Russians work,” she said. Russian officials have also remained relatively quiet on the calls as well.
If nothing else, the latest developments in Ukraine confirm once again that the public should take all claims made by Russian, Ukrainian, and Western politicians — in fact, any and all politicians — with a grain of salt, at least until real proof emerges to confirm them. In the real world, as The New American has been documenting, despite the public posturing for the masses, the international establishment is still working on what it calls “convergence” and “integration” between so-called “East” and “West.” The new interim government also includes plenty of "familiar faces."
The uprising in Ukraine, which began as a protest movement late last year following the government’s decision to back out of talks with the EU, eventually morphed into a full-blown revolution with foreign support. As violence soared and demonstrators seized control of government offices, the regime of former Soviet Communist Party operative Yanukovich, widely viewed as a corrupt, Putin-backed criminal, was deposed. In its place, controversial opposition figures seized control.
In the establishment press, at least, the Ukrainian conflict has been portrayed as largely a battle between supporters of Moscow and the Kremlin against proponents of “integration” with the increasingly totalitarian super-state in Brussels. At the moment, Kiev’s new rulers are leaning “West,” working with the EU, the IMF, and other institutions. Behind the scenes, though, as always, there is a lot more going on than meets the eye. And as usual, the people will almost certainly end up on the losing end.
Photo of wounded protester being evacuated during violence in Kiev's Independence Square: AP Images
Alex Newman, a foreign correspondent for The New American, is normally based in Europe. He can be reached at
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