Category: Riots

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UKRAINE CRISIS: What You Need to Know About the Sniper Leak


Published on Mar 7, 2014

In today’s video, Christopher Greene of AMTV reports on the Ukraine sniper leak.…



Ukraine Beyond Politics

Who Was in Kiev’s Independence Square?


Now that Viktor Yanukovych has gone, and new elections are promised, we need to assess the political and popular forces that succeeded in overturning Ukraine’s political system. Who were the protesters and what were their goals? At the barricades in central Kiev there were Ukrainian and EU flags, as well as portraits of the poet Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), considered as a spiritual father of Ukrainian identity, and of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) who was, depending on your point of view, either a great patriot or a Nazi collaborator. And there were pictures of five Ukrainian activists, treated as martyrs after they were killed during the clashes in Grushevsky Street.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s Independence Square, the epicentre of the protests that had been taking place across Ukraine for three months, was filled with tents pitched by sympathisers from every part of the country: from Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk, the strongholds of nationalism, but also from Lugansk and Donetsk, the big cities of the industrial east, which have always felt close to Russia. Cossacks wore their traditional costume. Women brought black bread and ham to the men standing guard. There was a pervasive smell of tea, cabbage soup and wood fires. During the week, the few thousand activists went about their day-to-day business; on Sundays, tens of thousands came to hear speeches by opposition leaders, pray and sing the national anthem, tirelessly.

The protest movement emerged in November last year, after Yanukovych suspended negotiations on a free trade agreement with the European Union (1). Independence Square was gradually transformed. The first to arrive were a few thousand pro-European partisans, but as repression began the square became a symbol of revolt against a corrupt and mercenary political system for many others — initially a revolt against the Yanukovych system, but also a rejection of the opposition parties, out of their depth in this crisis.

The involvement of several nationalist groups — a small but highly visible presence — and of ultra-radical, non-democratic movements without European sympathies has produced different reactions. Their presence was used actively by Russia, and to some extent by Yanukovych’s government, to discredit the movement. But it also raised fears of a possible takeover of Independence Square by the far right — even though a popular movement was behind the protests and any attempt to categorise it in political terms would be an over-simplification.

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Directing War Strategies From The Shadows – OpEd


“From the moment the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the United States has relentlessly pursued a strategy of encircling Russia, just as it has with other perceived enemies like China and Iran. It has brought 12 countries in central Europe, all of them formerly allied with Moscow, into the NATO alliance. US military power is now directly on Russia’s borders…This crisis is in part the result of a zero-sum calculation that has shaped US policy toward Moscow since the Cold War: Any loss for Russia is an American victory, and anything positive that happens to, for, or in Russia is bad for the United States. This is an approach that intensifies confrontation, rather than soothing it.”

– Stephen Kinzer, “US a full partner in Ukraine debacle”, Boston Globe

“We have removed all of our heavy weapons from the European part of Russia and put them behind the Urals” and “reduced our Armed Forces by 300,000. We have taken several other steps required by the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces Treaty in Europe (ACAF). But what have we seen in response? Eastern Europe is receiving new weapons, two new military bases are being set up in Romania and in Bulgaria, and there are two new missile launch areas — a radar in Czech republic and missile systems in Poland. And we are asking ourselves the question: what is going on? Russia is disarming unilaterally. But if we disarm unilaterally then we would like to see our partners be willing to do the same thing in Europe. On the contrary, Europe is being pumped full of new weapons systems. And of course we cannot help but be concerned.”

– Russian President Vladimir Putin, Munich Conference on Security Policy, February 2007

The Obama administration’s rationale for supporting the fascist-led coup in Ukraine collapsed on Wednesday when a “hacked” phone call between EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet revealed that the snipers who fired on protestors in Maidan Square in Kiev were not aligned with President Viktor Yanukovych, but with the protest leaders themselves. The significance of the discovery cannot be overstated since the Obama team has used the killing of protestors to justify its support for the new imposter government. Now it appears that members of the new government may be implicated in the killing of innocent civilians. This new information could force Obama to withdraw his support for the coup plotters in Kiev, which would derail the administration’s plan to remove Russia from the Crimea and expand NATO into Ukraine. Here’s a short recap of the details from an article in Russia Today:

“Estonian foreign ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

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Estonian Foreign Ministry confirms authenticity of leaked call on Kiev snipers

Published time: March 05, 2014 15:02
Edited time: March 07, 2014 10:34

Urmas Paet.(AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov)

Urmas Paet.(AFP Photo / Vasily Maximov)

The Estonian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the recording of his conversation with EU foreign policy chief is authentic. Urmas Paet said that snipers who shot at protesters and police in Kiev were hired by Maidan leaders.

Paet told RIA-Novosti news agency that he talked to Catherine Ashton last week right after retiring from Kiev, but refrained from further comments, saying that he has to “listen to the tape first.”

“It’s very disappointing that such surveillance took place altogether. It’s not a coincidence that this conversation was uploaded [to the web] today,” he stressed.

“My conversation with Ashton took place last week right after I returned from Kiev. At that time I was already in Estonia,” Paet added.

Paet also gave a press conference about the leaked tape on Wednesday, saying that the dramatic events in Kiev, which resulted in people being killed, must become the subject of an independent investigation.

The Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also issued a statement on its website, saying that the recording of the leaked telephone conversation between Paet and Ashton is “authentic.”

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Ukraine crisis: bugged call reveals conspiracy theory about Kiev snipers

Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet tells EU’s Cathy Ashton about claim that provocateurs were behind Maidan killings

Catherine Ashton

The conversation featuring EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton was posted on YouTube. Photograph: Ye Pingfan/Rex

A leaked phone call between the EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign minister Urmas Paet has revealed that the two discussed a conspiracy theory that blamed the killing of civilian protesters in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, on the opposition rather than the ousted government.

The 11-minute conversation was posted on YouTube – it is the second time in a month that telephone calls between western diplomats discussing Ukraine have been bugged.

In the call, Paet said he had been told snipers responsible for killing police and civilians in Kiev last month were protest movement provocateurs rather than supporters of then-president Viktor Yanukovych. Ashton responds: “I didn’t know … Gosh.”

The leak came a day after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, said the snipers may have been opposition provocateurs. The Kremlin-funded Russia Today first carried the leaked call online.

The Estonian foreign ministry confirmed the leaked conversation was accurate. It said: “Foreign minister Paet was giving an overview of what he had heard in Kiev and expressed concern over the situation on the ground. We reject the claim that Paet was giving an assessment of the opposition’s involvement in the violence.” Ashton’s office said it did not comment on leaks.

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Breaking: Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Catherine Ashton discuss Ukraine over the phone

Michael Bergman

Published on Mar 5, 2014

Officers of Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) loyal to the ousted President Viktor Yanukovich have hacked phones of Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton and leaked their conversation to the web. The officials discuss their impressions of what’s happening in the country after the revolution. The gist of it is that Ukrainian people have no trust in any of the leaders of Maidan.
However the most striking thing of all is the fact which concerns the use of force during the revolution, particularly the snipers who killed both protesters and officers of the riot police. Mr. Paet reveals astonishing information which confirms the rumours that the snipers were employed by the leaders of Maidan.


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Our News



Published on Mar 1, 2014

2014 New Year Car Crash. 2014 Аварий The stand off at the Crimean regional parliament in Simferopol can only be ended through negotiation – any attempt to use force of arms could pitch Ukraine i.

Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashes Pro-Russia separatists and supporters of Ukraine’s new leaders have come head to head outside Crimea’s regional par.

യുക്രൈനില്‍ റഷ്യന്‍ അനുകൂലികളും യൂറോപ്യന്‍ യൂനിയനെ പിന്താങ്ങുന്നവരും തമ്മില്‍ സംഘര്‍ഷം.

Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashes videolarını Tensions rise on the Crimean peninsula as pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters face off. CNN’s Fred Pl.

The stand off at the Crimean regional parliament in Simferopol can only be ended through negotiation – any attempt to use force of arms could pitch Ukraine i.

Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashes videolarını Tensions rise on the Crimean peninsula as pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters face off. CNN’s Fred Pl.

Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashes.

Moscow employs Cold War language to warn its neighbours, as pro-Russia protesters scuffle with pro-Europ.

Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashes Pro-Russia separatists and supporters of Ukraine’s new leaders have come head to head outside Crimea’s regional par.

26 February 2014 In the regional capital of Simferopol, 10000 Muslim Crimean Tatars rallied in support of Ukraine’s interim leaders, waving Ukrainian flags ..


Tensions rise on the Crimean peninsula as pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters face off. CNNs Fred Pleitgen reports.Ukraine Tensions Rise Amid Crimea Clashe.

The stand off at the Crimean regional parliament in Simferopol can only be ended through negotiation – any attempt to use force of arms could pitch Ukraine i.

The stand off at the Crimean regional parliament in Simferopol can only be ended through negotiation – any attempt to use force of arms could pitch Ukraine i.

Crimea’s regional government building and parliament have been taken over by armed men, Russia’s Interfax news agency has reported, citing a local Tatar lead.

Tensions rise on the Crimean peninsula as pro-Russia and pro-Ukraine protesters face off. CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reports. Tensions rise on the Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine’s acting leader wants to integrate with Europe as Russia recalls its ambassador for urgent consultations. while the country remains divided with pro-.

Ukraine’s acting leader wants to integrate with Europe as Russia recalls its ambassador for urgent consultations. while the country remains divided with pro-.

Clashes Outside the Crimean Parliament In Ukraine Crimean Tatars and Pro-Russian activists clased outside a local parliament building in Ukraine’s Crimean pe.

Ukraine’s acting leader wants to integrate with Europe as Russia recalls its ambassador for urgent consultations. while the country remains divided with pro-.

Ongoing violence in Ukraine over the past few weeks has added further stress to relations between the United States and Russia. What are the issues dividing .

Pro Russia and pro Ukraine groups clash at Crimea rallies Police struggle to keep apart rival groups holding competing rallies in Ukraine’s largely pro-Russi.

Crimean Tatars and Pro-Russian activists clased outside a local parliament building in Ukraines Crimean peninsula. (Feb. . Crimean Tatars and Pro-Russian act.

Crimean Tatars and Pro-Russian activists clased outside a local parliament building in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. (Feb. . SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine; February 26,.

Bottles, stones and flags flew in the air as thousands of pro- and anti-Russian demonstrators clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol, the .


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CNN Opinion
By Frida Ghitis
updated 7:50 AM EST, Fri February 28, 2014

Armed men patrol outside the Simferopol International Airport in Ukraine's Crimea region on Friday, February 28. The gunmen, whom Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called part of an "armed invasion" by Russian forces, appeared around the airport without identifying themselves. Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine with an ethnic Russian majority. It's the last large bastion of opposition to Ukraine's new political leadership after President Viktor Yanukovych's ouster. Armed men patrol outside the Simferopol International Airport in Ukraine’s Crimea region on Friday, February 28. The gunmen, whom Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov called part of an “armed invasion” by Russian forces, appeared around the airport without identifying themselves. Crimea is an autonomous republic of Ukraine with an ethnic Russian majority. It’s the last large bastion of opposition to Ukraine’s new political leadership after President Viktor Yanukovych’s ouster.


  • Frida Ghitis: Gunmen taking over buildings in Crimea a sign battle for Ukraine not over
  • Ghitis: Crimea a flashpoint: If Russia launches military intervention, it will start there
  • Ghitis: Ethnic Russians must be in Ukrainian government and be ensured equal status
  • She says Crimea has political, cultural, geographic links to Russia and high strategic value

(CNN) — On Friday, armed men in military fatigues marched into the principal airport in Simferopol, the capital of Ukraine’s most contentious region, Crimea. The uniforms did not reveal their identity, but an alarmed Interior Minister in Ukraine’s new government declared the move an “armed invasion” by Russia.

The incursion came 24 hours after masked gunmen took over government buildings there, raising the Russian flag over the regional parliament in a defiant sign that the battle for Ukraine is far from over.

In Kiev, the pro-European activists who succeeded in bringing an end to the Russian-backed government of now-former President Viktor Yanukovych are making progress choosing a new government with a well-qualified prime minister. But in the Crimea, on the Black Sea, tensions are building.

The situation is serious and the risks are enormous. Crimea is the flashpoint. If Ukraine unravels, it will begin there, in the small peninsula that has played an outsize role throughout history. If Russia decides to launch a military intervention, its justification and its target will be the Crimea.

For that reason, Ukraine’s new government must skillfully pay attention to how it deals with the concerns of the Crimean people and the status of that part of the country. At the same time, the U.S. and Europe must play a useful and constructive role, making sure Moscow understands that this must — and can — be resolved without military intervention, and that Ukraine will not be dismembered.

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Armed men patrol at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea

Armed men patrol at the airport in Simferopol, Crimea. Photograph: Viktor Drachev/AFP/Getty Images


Russian armoured vehicles on the move in Crimea

After airport seizures, world leaders urge Moscow to avoid action that may be seen as violation of Ukrainian sovereignty

• Ukraine live blog: latest developments



Link to video: Ukraine: armed men patrol Simferopol airport in Crimea


With Russian armoured personnel carriers on the move in the Crimean peninsula, world leaders have sought assurances from the Kremlin that Moscow is not acting to escalate the violence in Ukraine.

A convoy of nine APCs painted with the Russian flag were seen on the road between the port city of Sevastopol and the regional capital of Sinferopol. Reporters spotted them parked on the side of a road near the town of Bakhchisarai, apparently stalled after one vehicle developed a mechanical fault.

The Russian foreign ministry said movements of vehicles belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet were prompted by the need to ensure the security of its base in Sevastopol. Russia is supposed to notify Ukraine of any troop movements outside the naval base. The Ukrainian defence ministry said it had no information about the vehicles’ movements.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, confirmed he had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, on Friday, hours after unidentified soldiers seized two airports in the Ukrainian peninsula overnight.

Kerry said the US was watching to see if Russian activity “might be crossing a line in any way” and had urged the Kremlin against action that might be misinterpreted as a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty.

Military troops in unmarked uniforms resembling Russian uniforms took over two airports in Crimea, Simferopol airport and a military facility at Sevastopol, overnight, and there were reports on Friday evening that Simferopol airport was not allowing flights from Kiev.

After the airport seizures, Andriy Paruby, the newly appointed top Ukrainian security official, accused Russia of waging “a military invasion and occupation”. “These are separatist groups … commanded by the Kremlin,” Paruby said of the armed military men patrolling streets in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Sevastapol.

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Report: Armed men take airport in Ukraine’s Crimea



Pro-Russian men armed with clubs gather outside the Crimea regional parliament building. | Getty

Crimea was once the crown jewel in Russian and then Soviet empires. | Getty



SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine — Dozens of armed men in military uniforms seized an airport in the capital of Ukraine’s strategic Crimea region early Friday, a report said.

Witnesses told the Interfax news agency that the 50 or so men were wearing the same gear as the ones who seized government buildings in the city, Simferopol, on Thursday and raised the Russian flag.

The report said the men with “Russian Navy ensigns” first surrounded the Simferopol Airport’s domestic flights terminal.


The report could not be immediately confirmed.


The events in the Crimea region have heightened tensions with neighboring Russia, which scrambled fighter jets to patrol borders in the first stirrings of a potentially dangerous confrontation reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship.


Russia also has granted shelter to Ukraine’s fugitive president, Viktor Yanukovych, after recent deadly protests in Kiev swept in a new government.


While the government in Kiev, led by a pro-Western technocrat, pledged to prevent any national breakup, there were mixed signals in Moscow. Russia pledged to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity.


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WRAPUP 4-Ukraine warns Russia after gunmen seize Crimea parliament




* Armed men seize buildings in Crimea, run up Russian flag

* Acting president warns Moscow against Crimea troop moves* Russia fighters on alert, says it will defend compatriots’ rights

* Hryvnia falls to record low, IMF mission to visit Kiev

* Yanukovich said to hold news conference on Friday

By Alessandra Prentice and Alissa de Carbonnel

SIMFEROPOL, Ukraine, Feb 27 (Reuters) – Armed men seized the parliament in Ukraine’s Crimea region on Thursday and raised the Russian flag, alarming Kiev’s new rulers, who warned Moscow not to move troops beyond the confines of its navy base on the peninsula.

Crimea, the only Ukrainian region with an ethnic Russian majority, is the last big bastion of opposition to the new leadership in Kiev since President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted at the weekend and provides a base for Russia’s Black Sea fleet.

Its regional parliament, meeting in another part of the building that was apparently still occupied by the gunmen, voted to stage a referendum on “sovereignty” for Crimea.

“I am appealing to the military leadership of the Russian Black Sea fleet,” said Oleksander Turchinov, Ukraine’s acting president, who warned Russia not to move personnel beyond areas permitted by treaty for those using its naval base.

“Any military movements, the more so if they are with weapons, beyond the boundaries of this territory will be seen by us as military aggression,” he said.

Russia has repeatedly declared it will defend the interests of its citizens in Ukraine, and on Wednesday announced war games near the border involving 150,000 troops on high alert.

Although Moscow says it will not intervene by force, its rhetoric since the removal of its ally Yanukovich has echoed the runup to its invasion of Georgia in 2008, when it sent its troops to protect two self-declared independent regions and then recognised them as independent states.

Ukraine’s leaders say they fear separatism in the Crimea.

In Washington, the White House warned Russia to avoid “provocative” acts. “We strongly support Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. We expect other nations to do the same,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.


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The New Zealand Herald


Former Ukraine president turns up in Russia – in a 5-star hotel




The Ukrainia hotel, where Viktor Yanukovych is said to be staying, is seen against the twilight Moscow sky. Photo / AP

The Ukrainia hotel, where Viktor Yanukovych is said to be staying, is seen against the twilight Moscow sky. Photo / AP


Ukraine’s fugitive president may be enjoying VIP treatment under Moscow’s protection, said to have been spotted at an opulent five-star hotel and a Kremlin country retreat.


But beneath the surface, the embrace has been chilly: State-run TV has portrayed him as a coward who betrayed those who stood by him.


The conflicting messages indicate that while Russia still considers him the legitimate president of Ukraine, it is far from happy with his handling of Ukraine’s crisis.


Yanukovych made his appeal for protection in a written statement released simultaneously by two Russian state news agencies: “I have to ask Russia to ensure my personal safety from extremists,” he wrote. Shortly afterward, the same agencies quoted an unidentified government official as saying that the request had been “satisfied on the territory of Russia.” The ITAR-Tass and RIA Novosti news agencies often are used by the government to issue official statements……


How did Yanukovych get to Russia?

It is still far from clear. Ukraine issued an arrest warrant for him and border guards were instructed to stop him leaving. Most likely he was evacuated out of Kiev by helicopter at the weekend and taken to pro-Russia Crimea, where Russia has its Black Sea naval base in the city of Sevastopol. He could then have inconspicuously travelled by boat onto Russian territory proper.

“I think he came from Sevastopol on a vessel,” said Konovalov.

From Russia’s Black Sea coast he could have moved on anywhere in the country. Unconfirmed reports had sighted him at a Moscow hotel or an out-of-town health spa.

However Russian news agencies said late Thursday he will give a news conference Friday in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don which lies close to the Black Sea, making it unlikely that he has been to Moscow……


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Ousted Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych reported to be in Russia

Deposed president who still claims to be leader to hold press conference in southern city of Rostov on Friday
The Russian government sanatorium where Viktor Yanukovych was reportedly staying on Wednesday

The Russian government sanatorium where ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was reportedly staying on Wednesday night. Photograph: Yuri Kochetkov/EPA

Ukraine’s ousted president, Viktor Yanukovych, has surfaced in Russia and is still claiming to be the legitimate ruler of his country, according to Russian media reports quoting top government sources.

“Given that President Yanukovych appealed to Russian authorities with a request to guarantee his personal safety, that request has been granted on Russian territory,” a government source told Interfax.

An appeal to Ukrainian citizens from Yanukovych said: “My allies and I were being threatened with revenge and so I was forced to ask the Russian authorities to guarantee my personal safety from the actions of extremists.”

Yanukovych said he continues to believe he is the legitimate president of Ukraine and wants to achieve a compromise that would enable Ukraine to exit the crisis. The deposed president called the current session of Ukraine’s parliament – which among other things is electing a new government – “illegitimate”.

“There is an orgy of extremism on the streets of many cities,” wrote the president. “I am certain that in these conditions all the decisions taken [by the parliament] will be ineffective and not carried out.

“In this situation, I officially declare that I am determined to fight to the end for the implementation of important compromise agreements that will bring Ukraine out of the deep political crisis.”

On Thursday evening it was announced that Yanukovych would give a press conference on Friday afternoon in the southern Russian city of Rostov on Don – contradicting earlier claims that he was in the Moscow region staying at a top government sanatorium that has previously hosted officials such as Leonid Brezhnev and Boris Yeltsin. No other details about the press conference were immediately available.


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NBC News


Ousted Viktor Yanukovych: I’m Ukraine’s ‘Legitimate Leader’

MOSCOW – Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych still sees himself as his country’s legitimate head of state, according to a statement by him published by Russian news agencies on Thursday.

Yanukovych fled his residence near the Kiev on Saturday after months of deadly protests and a deal with his opposition giving many of his powers over to parliament.

NBC News was unable to confirm a report by Russian news organization RBK that Yanukovych had been spotted in Moscow. But in his statement published by Interfax and Itar Tass, the Kremlin-backed former leader said he has asked for protection from Russia “to ensure my personal security from extremists’ actions.”

Interfax quoted a source as saying Russia had granted this appeal. NBC News could not immediately verify that claim.

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Last August, outside Abu Zaabal, 37 prisoners trapped in the back of a van were allegedly gassed to death having been held for six hours in temperatures close to 40C. Patrick Kingsley talks to the survivors and, for the first time, reveals their side of the story
Egyptian protesters

Protesters at the Rabaa mosque in Cairo. Photograph: Mosa’ab Elshamy/EPA

Some time after midday on Sunday 18 August 2013, a young Egyptian film-maker called Mohamed el-Deeb made his last will and testament. It was an informal process. Deeb had no paper on which to sign his name and there was no lawyer present. He simply turned to the man handcuffed next to him and outlined which debts to settle if he should die, and what to say to his mother about the circumstances of his death.

Deeb had good reason to fear for his life. He was among 45 prisoners squashed into the back of a tiny, sweltering police truck parked in the forecourt of Abu Zaabal prison, just north-east of Cairo. They had been in the truck for more than six hours. The temperature outside was over 31C, and inside would have been far hotter. There was no space to stand and the prisoners had had almost nothing to drink. Some had wrung out their sweat-drenched shirts and drunk the drops of moisture. Many were now unconscious.

Most of the men inside that van were supporters of Mohamed Morsi, Egypt‘s first elected president. Squashed against Deeb was Mohamed Abdelmahboud, a 43-year-old seed merchant and a member of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Following four days of mass protests against his year-long rule, the army had overthrown Morsi and the Brotherhood in early July. In response, tens of thousands of people camped outside the Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque in east Cairo to call for the president’s reinstatement. Within a week, the space outside Rabaa turned from an empty crossroads to a sprawling tent city that housed both a market and a makeshift field hospital. At Rabaa’s centre was a stage where preachers led prayers and firebrands spouted sectarian rhetoric. At its edges were a Dad’s Army of badly equipped guards, dressed in crash helmets and tae kwon do vests, standing before a series of walls built of stones ripped from pavements. From behind these barricades, two or three times a day, protest marches would snake into nearby neighbourhoods, blocking major thoroughfares and paralysing much of the city. Clashes between armed police and protesters claimed more than 170 lives.

Rabaa morgue

A woman mourns at a makeshift morgue following the dispersal of the crowds gathered at Rabaa. Photograph: Mosa’ab Elshamy/EPA

For Islamists, Rabaa was one of the last remaining symbols of freedom. But for the millions who opposed Morsi, it was a hideout for violent extremists who were holding the country to ransom. Confrontation became inevitable. On Wednesday 14 August, some time after 6am, police and soldiers surrounded the camp, which still contained thousands of women and children. In the 12-hour operation that followed, more than 900 protesters were shot dead, many by sniper fire. A group of armed protesters fought back, killing nine policemen, according to Human Rights Watch. But they were vastly outnumbered. As police locked down the streets around the camp, they arrested thousands – not just Morsi supporters, but also dozens of residents and workers caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

On Sunday 18 August, Professor Gamal Siam, an economist at Cairo University, arrived at the office of Egypt’s chief prosecutor, Hisham Barakat. His oldest son, Sherif, had been arrested the previous Wednesday, during the crackdown at Rabaa. But there had been a mistake, his father told the chief prosecutor, and he needed help.

Sherif Siam was not a member of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, nor even a Morsi supporter. Sherif had said on Facebook that the president’s overthrow had been not a coup, but a revolution. Certainly, he had visited the camp at Rabaa al-Adawiya two or three times, but he’d been to anti-Morsi marches, too. When the news broke of the Rabaa camp’s dispersal, his father said Sherif went down to help the wounded.

Gamal Siam, whose son Sherif, a telecoms engineer and life coach, died in the van. Gamal Siam, whose son Sherif, a telecoms engineer and life coach, died in the van. Photograph: Mosa’ab Elshamy for the Guardian

On some level, Barakat sympathised. He gave Sherif’s father a signed letter to present to prison officials, to help speed up the processing of Sherif’s case. But what neither Barakat nor Siam knew was that it was already too late.

A few minutes earlier, in the back of an overcrowded police van on the other side of Cairo, Sherif Siam – and 36 others, including Deeb – had been gassed to death.

The next day, footage emerged (warning: upsetting images) of the 37 corpses on their arrival at Cairo’s main morgue. Most of the bodies were bloated, their faces red or black. Deeb’s face was one of the few that was unmarked. But Sherif Siam’s was swollen and blackened, almost beyond recognition.

What had happened was soon blamed on the prisoners. Police officials said the 37 died shortly before they were due to be handed over to the warders at Abu Zaabal prison, just north-east of Cairo. According to their narrative, the prisoners kidnapped a policeman who opened the door to let them out, prompting his colleagues to fire tear gas inside the truck to subdue them. State media outlets went further, claiming that Muslim Brotherhood gunmen had attacked the van to try to free those inside, and the prisoners died in the ensuing clashes.

Whatever the truth, the news cycle quickly moved on. In a week of horror, other atrocities soon grabbed Egypt’s attention. The next day, 25 police conscripts were killed in cold blood in Sinai by Islamist extremists angered by Morsi’s removal. The massacres of the previous week – at Rabaa and at Ramses Square – still dominated the media narrative, as did the grotesque Islamist-led revenge attacks on dozens of Christian churches and police stations. Four of the 15 policemen who accompanied the truck were subsequently put on trial for negligence. But that trial was postponed indefinitely in January – and government officials are still able to claim the deaths were provoked by the prisoners.

But they reckoned without the incident’s eight survivors, four of whom remain in jail, as well as some of the policemen who drove them to the prison. Five months on, their collected testimonies for the first time reveal a different story – one of police cruelty and a subsequent cover-up that starts not at lunchtime on Sunday 18 August, but on the previous Wednesday, when the 45 prisoners were among thousands arrested in and around the Rabaa al-Adawiya encampment.

Sherif Siam arrest A screenshot from amateur footage of Sherif’s arrest.

Police had seized Sherif at around midday a few streets from the camp, where shooting had started six hours earlier. Amateur footage shows him in a blue shirt being led by officers towards a police van, when another officer sprints towards Sherif and fells him with a flying kick to the chest.

Like the thousands of others arrested that day, he was accused of a raft of catch-all charges, including membership of a terrorist group (as the state later designated the Muslim Brotherhood), attempted murder and possession of lethal weapons. It is impossible to know the precise circumstances of his arrest, but for his family, these are preposterous charges. He was a telecoms engineer by day, and had a second career as a life coach. Four days before his arrest, he was interviewed on Egyptian breakfast television about how to find happiness amid the tension and disruption wrought on Cairo by the Rabaa camp.

According to the survivors, Sherif Siam was one of at least eight victims at Abu Zaabal who were either opponents of Morsi, or had no connection to the Rabaa camp. Shukri Saad, a resident of Nasr City, the area surrounding Rabaa, had just bought a month’s worth of diabetes treatment when he was stopped by police. They suspected him of buying medicine for people wounded at Rabaa. “I’m not Muslim Brotherhood, I’m NDP,” Saad reportedly screamed as he was flung in a police van, in reference to the party of Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Nearby, Talaat Ali was serving tea to off-duty soldiers and policemen on a break from clearing the camp. The cafe owner decided to close early, because the officers refused to pay for their drinks, so Ali started to make his way home. He said he was stopped by the same policemen he had served. “Hey, I’m the tea guy, I gave you tea,” Ali apparently said before he, too, was arrested.

He was soon joined by Mohamed Ramzi, a vegetable seller from west Cairo who had come to Nasr City to sell cucumbers. Then there was Ahmed Hamrawy, on his way to sell his clothes in a market in the centre of town. Rafiq Abdelghany was stopped on his way to work, and would later be granted bail – but he was taken to Abu Zaabal before the bail money could be delivered. A card-carrying member of Ghad el-Thawra, a prominent liberal party, was also rounded up. Nasr City had become a military zone: a curfew had been imposed and anyone moving around was arrested.

Mohamed Abdelmahboud was arrested far from the camp, several hours after the shooting had stopped, as he drove home. He had been at Rabaa since its tents were first pitched in late June. When the siege began, he stayed put. A group of Morsi supporters returned the soldiers’ fire, in a hopeless attempt to hold off a security force that included snipers on surrounding roofs and that exacted many more casualties than the small defence squad.

Abdelmahboud says he stayed behind to help the wounded. After 3pm, once the gunfire became too intense to rescue any more of the injured, he made a run for it. Later, he joined up with a group of friends from his home town, a tiny hamlet down a backroad in the Nile delta. They had heard that a friend had been shot in the chaos and they were looking for his body at the Iman mosque, a few streets east of what had been the Rabaa encampment. The air there stank of an odd blend of joss sticks and rotting flesh – it was a smell Abdelmahboud and his friends would grow used to as they spent the evening picking through the long rows of corpses. Some were burnt through, unrecognisable, like logs in a bonfire.

A few metres away, Gamal Siam was searching for his son. Close to midnight, he was shown a YouTube video of Sherif getting a kicking from a police officer. “I was so pleased, even though what it showed was so inhuman,” Siam said later. “At least he was alive.”


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Rejects charges and urges Egyptians to continue ‘peaceful revolution’

    • Reuters
    • Published: 19:21 February 22, 2014
    • Gulf News

Image Credit: AP

Egypt’s ousted President Mohammad Mursi in a soundproof barred glass cage during a court hearing in a February 16 photo. AP

Cairo: Egypt’s deposed president Mohammad Mursi on Saturday rejected the right of a court to try him and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges related to a mass jail break in 2011, security and judicial sources said.

Mursi and his comrades, including the Brotherhood’s top leader Mohammad Badie, are charged with killing and kidnapping policemen, attacking police facilities and breaking out of jail during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

“As far as I’m concerned, these procedures are void and I don’t accept them,” Mursi said, describing himself as the president of the republic and calling on the Egyptian people to continue their “peaceful revolution,” according to the sources.

Some of the other roughly 130 defendants, who were held in a different courtroom cage from Mursi, applauded him and chanted “Down with military rule”. It is not unusual for high-profile defendants to be locked up in cages in Egyptian courts.

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NBC News

Image: Yulia Tymoshenko freed, leaving hospital

SERGEY KOZLOV / EPA 14 minutes

Applause Erupts As Ukrainian Opposition Leader Freed From Prison

A chief political rival of embattled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was freed Saturday from prison as the defiant leader struggled to hold on to power as protesters seized control of the presidential palace and the parliament voted to remove him from office.

Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko waved to supporters from a car as she was driven out of the hospital in the northeastern city if Kharkiv, where she has been treated for a bad back while serving a seven-year sentence since 2011.

“Our country can from this day on see the sun, because dictatorship fell,” Tymoshenko said.

Parliament members had voted to free her after Yanukovych fled the capital of Kiev a day after announcing a pact with opposition leaders. Yanukovych said he is traveling the country to seek advice and will “do everything to stop the bloodshed” that left at least 77 dead, hundreds injured and nearly collapsed the country into a civil war.

“I am not planning to leave the country,” he said in a video televised on local media. “I am not planning to resign. I am a legitimately elected president. I was given guarantees of safety by all the international mediators I worked with.”

Yanukovych claimed his car was shot at, but that he didn’t fear for his life, denouncing some of the opposition protesters as “bandits.”

“I will not sign anything with the bandits who are terrorizing the whole country and Ukrainian people. They are discrediting the country,” he said on UBR television.

Image: UKRAINE-UNREST-EU-RUSSIA-POLITICS-YANUKOVYCH Presidential Press Service / AFP – Getty Images
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych speaks to a local station in Kharkiv on Saturday.

In another strike against the president, the parliament Saturday freed Tymoshenko, who had been imprisoned on charges of abuse of office, which the West had questioned. They also endorsed Oleksandr Turchynov as the new speaker.

The apparent toppling of the pro-Russian looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow’s orbit and closer to Europe.

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The New York Times

Ukraine’s Leader Flees the Capital; Elections Are Called

View slide show|13 Photos

Protesters Take Control of Presidential Palace

Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

KIEV, Ukraine — Abandoned by his own guards and reviled across the Ukrainian capital but still determined to recover his shredded authority, President Viktor F. Yanukovych fled Kiev on Saturday to denounce what he called a violent coup, as his official residence, his vast, colonnaded office complex and other once impregnable centers of power fell without a fight to throngs of joyous citizens stunned by their triumph.

While Mr. Yanukovych’s nemesis, former Prime Minister Yulia V. Tymoshenko, was released from a penitentiary hospital, Parliament found the president unable to fulfill his duties and exercised its constitutional powers to set an election for May 25 to select his replacement. But with both Mr. Yanukovych and his Russian patrons speaking of a “coup” carried out by “bandits” and “hooligans,” it was far from clear that the day’s lightning-quick events would be the last act in a struggle that has not just convulsed Ukraine but expanded into an East-West confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War.

President Viktor Yanukovych denounced a “coup” on TV. Presidential Press Service, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

At the presidential residence a short distance from the capital, protesters carrying clubs and some wearing masks were in control of the entryways Saturday morning and watched as thousands of citizens strolled through the grounds in wonder. “This commences a new life for Ukraine,” said Roman Dakus, a protester-turned-guard, who was wearing a ski helmet and carrying a length of pipe as he blocked a doorway at the compound. “This is only a start,” he added. “We need now to make a new structure and a new system, a foundation for our future, with rights for everybody, and we need to investigate who ordered the violence.”

With the riot police they battled for days having disappeared, the protesters claimed to be in charge of security for the city. There was no sign of looting, either in the city proper or in the presidential compound.

A pugnacious Mr. Yanukovych appeared on television Saturday afternoon, apparently from the eastern city of Kharkiv, near Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia, saying he had been forced to leave the capital because of a “coup,” and that he had not resigned, and had no plans to. He said indignantly that his car had been fired upon as he drove away.

“I don’t plan to leave the country. I don’t plan to resign,” he said, speaking in Russian rather than Ukrainian, the country’s official language. “I am a legitimately elected president.” He added: “What is happening today, mostly, it is vandalism, banditism and a coup d’état. This is my assessment and I am deeply convinced of this. I will remain on the territory of Ukraine.” He also complained of “traitors” among his own former supporters but he declined to name them.

Regional governors from eastern Ukraine met in Kharkiv and adopted a resolution resisting the authority of Parliament. They said that until matters were resolved, “we have decided to take responsibility for safeguarding the constitutional order, legality, citizens’ rights and their security on our territories.”

One of the few institutions still taking orders from the president was the official trilingual website of the Ukrainian presidency, which posted a transcript of his defiant television address. But, by evening, the text had appeared only in Ukrainian and Russian, suggesting that his English translator had perhaps jumped ship.

The former nerve center of Mr. Yanukovych’s power, the huge compound of the presidential administration, just a few hundred yards from Independence Square in Kiev, was empty Saturday aside from protesters who patrolled its courtyard and blocked off a nearby street to prevent residents swarming into the building. Ukrainian flags flying outside had all been lowered to half-mast, in honor of those killed by police officers and snipers on Thursday.

Mr. Yanukovych said in his television appearance that he would be traveling to the southeastern part of Ukraine to talk to his supporters — a plan that carried potentially ominous overtones, in that the southeast is the location of the Crimea, the historically Russian section of the country that is the site of a Russian naval base.

The president’s departure from Kiev, just a day after a peace deal with the opposition that he had hoped would keep him in office until at least December, capped three months of streets protests and a week of frenzied violence in the capital that left more than 75 protesters dead. It turned what began in November as a street protest driven by pro-Europe chants and nationalist songs into a momentous but still ill-defined revolution.

With nobody clearly in charge, other than the so far remarkably disciplined fighting squads, lieutenants of Ms. Tymoshenko moved to fill the power vacuum. With Oleksandr V. Turchynov, a former acting prime minister and close ally of Ms. Tymoshenko, presiding over the Parliament, her Fatherland party seemed to be in charge, at least temporarily.


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Published on Feb 20, 2014 – A short-lived truce has broken down in Ukraine as street battles have erupted between anti-government protesters and police. Last night the country’s embattled president and the opposition leaders demanding his resignation called for a truce and negotiations to try to resolve Ukraine’s political crisis. But hours later, armed protesters attempted to retake Independence Square sparking another day of deadly violence. At least 50 people have died since Tuesday in the bloodiest period of Ukraine’s 22-year post-Soviet history. While President Obama has vowed to “continue to engage all sides” a recently leaked audio recording between two top U.S. officials reveal the Obama administration has been secretly plotting with the opposition. We speak to Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University. His most recent book, “Soviet Fates and Lost Alternatives: From Stalinism to the New Cold War,” is out in paperback. His latest Nation article is “Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine.”



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