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For The Record  

FTR #1023 Ukrainian Fascism, The Maidan Snipers and Possible Implications for the Syrian War

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This broadcast was recorded in one, 60-minute segment.

Introduction: In this program we continue and expand analysis of the EuroMaidan sniper killings which led to the ouster of the Yanuukovych government. A story from BNE Intellinews, since taken down but available via the Way Back Machine, details Paul Manafort’s networking with the Hapsburg Group milieu, providing more details that supplement previous discussion of the relationship.

Most importantly, however, the article provides important information on Manafort’s post-Maidan doings in Ukraine! He spent more time in post-Maidan Ukraine than before the coup.

Oleh Tihanybok, leader of the OUN/B successor organization Svoboda

Even more importantly, the article provides significant details on Manafort’s possible collaborators in arranging the violence that led to Yanukovych’s ouster.

Before discussing the significant details of Manafort and his associates’ possible roles in the violence that led to Yanukovych’s ouster, we present the first part of the article, in order to flesh out the Manafort-Hapsburg networking.

Key points of information include:

  1. Manafort’s close relationship with Serhiy Lovochkin, a key aide to Viktor Yanukovich and owner of a premier Ukrainian TV station, and his sister Yulia Lovochkina, who owns an airline whose planes ferried Manafort in his dealings with the Hapsburg group.
  2. The important role of Serhiy Lovochkin and his sister in promoting the EU Association Agreement. It was Yanukovich’s eventual rejection of that agreement that led to the demonstrations that led up to the Maidan coup.
  3. The dual role played by Hapsburg Group member Alexander Krasniewski, who was ran the EU’s Ukraine Observation Group.
  4. The profound degree of involvement of Manafort with the Hapsburg Group.

Of paramount significance for our purposes, is the behavior of Manafort, Lovochkin, Lovochkina, Dmytro Firtash and Victoria Nuland.

Noting the profound relationship between Manafort, Serhii Lovochkin, Yulia Lovochkina, the Hapsburg Group and the EU, it is important to evaluate the Manafort/Lovochkin relationship in the context of the Maidan snipers. (In FTR #’s 982, 993, we noted evidence that the Maidan shootings may have been a provocation. This information will be reviewed in our next program.)

  1. ” . . . . The private jet flights and personal connections show that Manafort’s partner in this lobbying effort was Yanukovych’s chief of staff Lovochkin. . . . Manafort’s Ukraine engagements actually increased following Yanukovych’s ouster in February 2014. In March to June 2014, he spent a total of 27 days in Ukraine, whereas during the four preceding Euromaidan months, November-February 2014, Manafort only visited Ukraine three times for a total of nine days. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Lovochkin is the junior partner of billionaire oligarch Dmytro Firtash . . . . Lovochkin and Firtash together also control Ukraine’s largest TV channel, Inter. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . Manafort’s continued participation in post-Yanukovych Ukraine also points to his ties to Lovochkin and Firtash. While most members of the Yanukovych administration fled to Russia or were arrested after February 2014, Lovochkin has continued his political career with impunity, despite having served at the heart of Yanukovych’s regime for four years. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Euromaidan was triggered by events in Kyiv on the night of November 29, when police violently dispersed a small demonstration of pro-EU students who were protesting after Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement. The violence prompted a huge demonstration occupying the heart of Kyiv on December 1. . . .”
  5. ” . . . . According to messages between the sisters discussing Manafort’s actions in Ukraine, it was Manafort’s idea ‘to send those people out and get them slaughtered. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine.’ Manafort’s daughter called her father’s money ‘blood money.’ . . .”
  6. ” . . . . The remarks were made by those privy to the deepest secrets of Manafort’s personal life. They evoke the suspicion that Manafort manipulated the Maidan protests and the police violence to influence international opinion. The appearance of the Manafort messages in 2016 reignited speculation in Ukraine that none other than Lovochkin instigated the attack on the students’ demonstration on November 29, 2013, to trigger outrage against Yanukovych. . . .”
  7. ” . . . . Some of the timeline fits this interpretation: On the day before the police attack, reporters noted Yulia Lovochkina openly fraternising with the students on the Maidan. Lovochkin’s TV crews covered the 4am events closely, and Lovochkin immediately tendered his resignation in protest at the police violence. . . .”
  8. ” . . . . The next day, Lovochkin’s TV channel played footage of the worst of the police violence on heavy rotation on prime time news. News anchors intoned that Yanukovych had ‘shed the blood of Ukrainian children.’ Whereas the student protests had attracted hundreds, protests on Sunday December 1 against the police violence attracted hundreds of thousands. This was the start of Euromaidan. . . .”
  9. Nuland and Svoboda’s Tihanybok, left, and “Yats” Arsenyuk on the right.

    Of great significance as well, is the maneuvering around a warrant for the arrest of Ukrainian oligarch and Lovochkin partner Dmytro Firtash. The role of Victoria Nuland in this maneuvering is particularly significant: ” . . . . On October 30 2013 — as Yanukovych was wavering over the Association Agreement with the EU — the US issued an arrest warrant for Firtash. The US withdrew the arrest warrant four days later — after US deputy secretary of state Victoria Nuland met Yanukovych in Kyiv, and received assurances that Yanukovych would sign the Association Agreement, Firtash said during extradition hearings in Vienna in 2015 that first revealed the details of the case. But come the Vilnius Summit, Yanukovych failed to sign. The arrest warrant was reissued in March 2014, and Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12, 2014. . . . .”

Canadian academic Ivan Katchanovski has done a deep, detailed forensic study of the evidence in the Maidan sniper attacks. He has a rigorous, succinct digital multimedia ‘poster’ (an ‘iPoster’) for his finding that the Maidan sniper attacks were a false flag operation. That poster was presented during the 2018 American Political Science Association conference in Boston. It gives a high level overview of his research and is heavily embedded with substantive, documentary videos. Here are the contents of the poster. Be sure to check out the numerous images and videos included in the actual iPoster online.

Katchanovski concludes: “ . . . . Maidan massacre trial and investigation evidence have revealed various evidence that at least the absolute majority of 49 killed and 157 wounded Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 were massacred by snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings. Such evidence includes testimonies of the majority of wounded protesters and many witnesses, forensic medical and ballisitic examinations, and investigation own finding that about half of Maidan protesters were wounded from other locations than the Berkut police. Various indications of stonewalling of the Maidan massacre investigations and the trials by the Maidan government officials and by far right organizations. Various indications of the cover-up of much of the key evidence of the massacre. Such revelations from the Maidan massacre trials and investigations corroborate previous studies findings that this massacre was a false flag mass killing with involvement of elements of Maidan leadership and the far right and that it included the massacre of the police. The puzzling misrepresentation of the Maidan massacre, its investigation, and the trial by Western media and governments require further research concerning reasons for such misrepresentation . . . . ”

Note: Since FTR #1023 was recorded professor Katchanovski has posted a 59-minute-long video of the Maidan shootings. The video features TV footage from that day, with many clips clearly showing snipers operating from Maidan-controlled buildings. It also includes English subtitles and forensic descriptions of scenes. The footage includes a number of people being shot and killed–a grizzly 59-minutes, but absolutely invaluable in terms of establishing what actually happened.

This description concludes with material that will be discussed in future programs. It is presented here for perusal and consideration by the readers in light of continued alarming developments in Syria.

Against the background of the Maidan sniping as a probable false flag provocation, the impending Syrian offensive to re-capture the last territorial enclave of the Islamists in Syria should be viewed with apprehension. As noted in the article below, the so-called “rebels” are Al-Qaeda offshoots. Ominously, they have apparently successfully executed false-flag chemical weapons attacks before, including in Idlib province.

Russia has warned that such a provocation is in the wings–an unremarkable deduction in light of past history. In turn, the West has warned of retaliatory action if such actions are undertaken.

The stage appears set for an Islamist/Al-Qaeda chemical weapons false flag/provocation, upon which U.S., British and French military intervention will be predicated.

In this context, one should not lose sight of the fact that Chechnyan Islamist veterans of the Syrian war have already made their appearance in the combat in Eastern Ukraine, partnering with Pravy Sektor in their deployments. (The Chechen/Right Sector/Islamist link is discussed in FTR #’s 857, 862, 863, 872, 878, 893, 911.)

1. Noting the profound relationship between Manafort, Serhii Lovochkin, Yulia Lovochkina, the Hapsburg Group and the EU, it is important to evaluate the Manafort/Lovochkin relationship in the context of the Maidan snipers:

  1. ” . . . . The private jet flights and personal connections show that Manafort’s partner in this lobbying effort was Yanukovych’s chief of staff Lovochkin. . . . Manafort’s Ukraine engagements actually increased following Yanukovych’s ouster in February 2014. In March to June 2014, he spent a total of 27 days in Ukraine, whereas during the four preceding Euromaidan months, November-February 2014, Manafort only visited Ukraine three times for a total of nine days. . . .”
  2. ” . . . . Lovochkin is the junior partner of billionaire oligarch Dmytro Firtash . . . . Lovochkin and Firtash together also control Ukraine’s largest TV channel, Inter. . . .”
  3. ” . . . . Manafort’s continued participation in post-Yanukovych Ukraine also points to his ties to Lovochkin and Firtash. While most members of the Yanukovych administration fled to Russia or were arrested after February 2014, Lovochkin has continued his political career with impunity, despite having served at the heart of Yanukovych’s regime for four years. . . .”
  4. ” . . . . Euromaidan was triggered by events in Kyiv on the night of November 29, when police violently dispersed a small demonstration of pro-EU students who were protesting after Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement. The violence prompted a huge demonstration occupying the heart of Kyiv on December 1. . . .”
  5. ” . . . . According to messages between the sisters discussing Manafort’s actions in Ukraine, it was Manafort’s idea ‘to send those people out and get them slaughtered. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine.’ Manafort’s daughter called her father’s money ‘blood money.’ . . .”
  6. ” . . . . The remarks were made by those privy to the deepest secrets of Manafort’s personal life. They evoke the suspicion that Manafort manipulated the Maidan protests and the police violence to influence international opinion. The appearance of the Manafort messages in 2016 reignited speculation in Ukraine that none other than Lovochkin instigated the attack on the students’ demonstration on November 29, 2013, to trigger outrage against Yanukovych. . . .”
  7. ” . . . . Some of the timeline fits this interpretation: On the day before the police attack, reporters noted Yulia Lovochkina openly fraternising with the students on the Maidan. Lovochkin’s TV crews covered the 4am events closely, and Lovochkin immediately tendered his resignation in protest at the police violence. . . .”
  8. ” . . . . The next day, Lovochkin’s TV channel played footage of the worst of the police violence on heavy rotation on prime time news. News anchors intoned that Yanukovych had ‘shed the blood of Ukrainian children.’ Whereas the student protests had attracted hundreds, protests on Sunday December 1 against the police violence attracted hundreds of thousands. This was the start of Euromaidan. . . .”
  9. Of great significance as well, is the maneuvering around a warrant for the arrest of Ukrainian oligarch and Lovochkin partner Dmytro Firtash. The role of Victoria Nuland in this maneuvering is particularly significant: ” . . . . On October 30, 2013 — as Yanukovych was wavering over the Association Agreement with the EU — the US issued an arrest warrant for Firtash. The US withdrew the arrest warrant four days later — after US deputy secretary of state Victoria Nuland met Yanukovych in Kyiv, and received assurances that Yanukovych would sign the Association Agreement, Firtash said during extradition hearings in Vienna in 2015 that first revealed the details of the case. But come the Vilnius Summit, Yanukovych failed to sign. The arrest warrant was reissued in March 2014, and Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12, 2014. . . . .”

“Wheels up: Paul Manafort’s flight records show how he supervised EU top brass in the run-up to Ukraine revolution” by Graham Stack in Berlin; BNE Intellinews; 07/02/2018

. . . . The Firtash connection

The private jet flights and personal connections show that Manafort’s partner in this lobbying effort was Yanukovych’s chief of staff Lovochkin.

Lovochkin said that he had also “always been a strong supporter of the European integration of Ukraine,” but denied that he had supervised Manafort’s lobbying. Kwasniewski confirmed that Lovochkin was in the pro-EU camp.

Lovochkin is the junior partner of billionaire oligarch Dmytro Firtash who made his fortune trading gas via notorious company Rosukrenergo, who had made his fortune trading gas via notorious company Rosukrenergo, that allegedly skimmed off hundreds of millions of dollars for the Russian and Ukrainian elite. Lovochkin and Firtash together also control Ukraine’s largest TV channel, Inter.

Manafort’s continued participation in post-Yanukovych Ukraine also points to his ties to Lovochkin and Firtash. While most members of the Yanukovych administration fled to Russia or were arrested after February 2014, Lovochkin has continued his political career with impunity, despite having served at the heart of Yanukovych’s regime for four years.

Post Yanukovych’s ousting, Manafort may have attended top-level Ukrainian political meetings where the oligarchs decided who would govern.

On March 25 he flew out of Vienna to Kyiv. His visit to Vienna had coincided with a crucial meeting between Petro Poroshenko and Vienna-based Firtash in that city. Lovochkin had also attended the meeting at which Firtash agreed to back Poroshenko for the post of president, rather than former boxer Vitaly Klichko, effectively crowning Poroshenko president.

In November 13, 2014, as details of a new government were being hammered out after the parliamentary elections, the flight data records that Manafort flew from Kyiv to Nice, France, on a private jet with Ihor Tarasiuk, the business partner of Poroshenko’s first deputy chief of staff, Yuri Kosiuk. Tarasiuk denied taking the flight to bne IntelliNews, although he confirmed the personal data provided was correct.

Manafort’s Ukraine engagements actually increased following Yanukovych’s ouster in February 2014. In March to June 2014, he spent a total of 27 days in Ukraine, whereas during the four preceding Euromaidan months, November-February 2014, Manafort only visited Ukraine three times for a total of nine days.

According to the Mueller indictment, Manafort was engaged as lobbyist for Lovochkin’s new party Opposition Bloc, widely regarded as funded by Firtash. This explains Manafort’s long stays in Ukraine during the post-Maidan election campaigns, according to the flight data: one week prior to the presidential elections in May 2014, and one month prior to the parliamentary elections in October 2014.

Manafort’s flight data concludes with a four-week stay in Ukraine through to October 27, 2015. This period coincides with the campaign for regional elections, which cemented Lovochkin’s Opposition Bloc as a dominant force across south and east Ukraine. Only months after the close of electioneering in conflict-wracked Ukraine, Manafort was electioneering in the US, on behalf of the controversial candidate for the world’s most powerful office.

Maidan mystery

Manafort’s flight data sheds no light however on his relationship, if any, to the Euromaidan revolution. Euromaidan was triggered by events in Kyiv on the night of November 29, when police violently dispersed a small demonstration of pro-EU students who were protesting after Yanukovych refused to sign the Association Agreement. The violence prompted a huge demonstration occupying the heart of Kyiv on December 1.

All we have are cryptic messages exchanged between Manafort’s daughters, one of whose phones was hacked in 2016. Manafort confirmed the hack and corroborated some of the messages to Politico.

According to messages between the sisters discussing Manafort’s actions in Ukraine, it was Manafort’s idea “to send those people out and get them slaughtered. Do you know whose strategy that was to cause that Revolts [sic] and what not […] As a tactic to outrage the world and get focus on Ukraine.” Manafort’s daughter called her father’s money “blood money.”

The remarks were made by those privy to the deepest secrets of Manafort’s personal life. They evoke the suspicion that Manafort manipulated the Maidan protests and the police violence to influence international opinion.

The appearance of the Manafort messages in 2016 reignited speculation in Ukraine that none other than Lovochkin instigated the attack on the students’ demonstration on November 29, 2013, to trigger outrage against Yanukovych.

Some of the timeline fits this interpretation: On the day before the police attack, reporters noted Yulia Lovochkina openly fraternising with the students on the Maidan. Lovochkin’s TV crews covered the 4am events closely, and Lovochkin immediately tendered his resignation in protest at the police violence.

The next day, Lovochkin’s TV channel played footage of the worst of the police violence on heavy rotation on prime time news. News anchors intoned that Yanukovych had “shed the blood of Ukrainian children.” Whereas the student protests had attracted hundreds, protests on Sunday December 1 against the police violence attracted hundreds of thousands. This was the start of Euromaidan.

Authoritative chronicler of the Euromaidan revolution Sonya Koshkina, as well as Ukrainian prosecutors, have argued it was anti-EU hardliners who were responsible for attacking the students.

But on the third anniversary of events, November 29, 2016, Ukraine’s interior minister Arsen Avakov told the BBC that “Lovochkin was the author of the dispersal of the [students’] Maidan, and should be in prison, not in parliament.”

Lovochkin denies any role in the attack on the students. “I submitted my resignation because of President Yanukovych’s decision to decline signing the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area (DCFTA) […] and the use of force against peaceful protesters in Kyiv following it,” he said.

What was Lovochkin’s motivation to break with Yanukovych so abruptly over Europe, whether or not he was involved in the violence? According to Koshkina, Lovochkin was “a placeman of Firtash and one of the architects of the regime,” hardly a nationalist or freedom-loving liberal. But in June 2013 the US had indicted Firtash for alleged bribery in India. On October 30 2013 — as Yanukovych was wavering over the Association Agreement with the EU — the US issued an arrest warrant for Firtash.

The US withdrew the arrest warrant four days later — after US deputy secretary of state Victoria Nuland met Yanukovych in Kyiv, and received assurances that Yanukovych would sign the Association Agreement, Firtash said during extradition hearings in Vienna in 2015 that first revealed the details of the case. But come the Vilnius Summit, Yanukovych failed to sign. The arrest warrant was reissued in March 2014, and Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12, 2014. . . . .

Victoria Nuland and Ukrainian fascist and possible “sniping conspirator Andriy Parubiy, “The Captain of the Maidan.”

2. Canadian academic Ivan Katchanovski has done a deep, detailed forensic study of the evidence in the Maidan sniper attacks. He has a rigorous, succinct digital multimedia ‘poster’ (an ‘iPoster’) for his finding that the Maidan sniper attacks were a false flag operation. That poster was presented during the 2018 American Political Science Association conference in Boston. It gives a high level overview of his research and is heavily embedded with substantive, documentary videos. Here are the contents of the poster. Be sure to check out the numerous images and videos included in the actual iPoster online.

“ . . . . The puzzling misrepresentation of the Maidan massacre, its investigation, and the trial by Western media and governments require further research concerning reasons for such misrepresentation . . . . ”

In addition to the systematic manipulation of evidence to support the “Berkut/Yanukovych did it” hypothesis, the cover-up of contrary findings and the Western media silence about the realities of the Maidan killings are significant.

Discussion of this presentation will be continued and expanded upon in our next program.

“Ivan Katchanovski, PhD. The Maidan Massacre in Ukraine: Revelations from Trials and Investigations.” Poster presented at: 2018 Conference of the American Political Studies Associates; 2018 Aug 30-Sept 1; Boston, MA

Previous Studies

The Maidan massacre in Ukraine in February 2014 led to or contributed to

* Violent overthrow of the semi-democratic pro-Russian government
* Russian annexation of Crimea
* Civil war in Donbas
* Russian covert military intervention in Donbas in support of separatists
* Conflict between the West and Russia

(See Black and Johns, 2016; Hahn, 2017; Katchanovski, 2015a, 2015b, 2016a, 2016b, 2017; Kudelia, 2016, 2018)

Only a few previous scholarly studies of this crucial case of political violence

* All by political scientists

Most previous studies find that this was a false flag mass killing involving sections of Maidan leadership and far right and involved the massacre of the police (Hahn, 2017; Katchanovski, 2015, 2016)

Kudelia (2018) argues that the violence was initiated by the Maidan protesters, who killed and wounded many policemen and that the Berkut police then massacred unarmed protesters in turn

* But the previous studies did not examine systematically evidence revealed by Maidan massacre trials and investigations
* Many scholars uncritically cited Maidan politicians, government officials, and the media concerning this massacre without examining evidence, including from trial and investigations, for example, misattributing the massacre to government snipers (See, for example, Marples and Mills, 2015; Wilson, 2014).

Ukrainian and Western governments and media dominant narratives

* Government snipers and/or a Berkut anti-riot police unit massacred peaceful Maidan protesters on a Yanukovych order
* Killed protesters commemorated by the government and media in Ukraine as national heroes
* Limited media reporting and official statements about the Maidan massacre trial even though this is the trial of the century in Ukraine
* Charges against Yanukovych, his internal affairs and security ministers, and a special Berkut unit are generally taken at face value
* With some limited exceptions, no media reporting or officials statements about revelations of evidence at the trial regarding snipers in Maidan-controlled locations or such evidence is dismissed as a conspiracy theory or fake

Research Question & Data

Research Question

* What does evidence made public by the Maidan massacre trials and Ukrainian government investigations reveal about which of the parties of the conflict was involved in this mass killing?

Data and Methodology

* Several hundred hours of online video recordings of Maidan massacre trials
* Over 2,000 court decisions concerning investigation of the massacre from the official court decisions database in Ukraine
* Focus on the Maidan massacre trial of 5 Berkut policemen charged with the massacre on February 20, 2014

Qualitative and quantitative interviews analysis

* Examines trial and investigation testimonies of more than 100 wounded protesters and relatives of the killed protesters, Yanukovych, and his Internal Troops commander
* Testimonies by witnesses at the trial, investigation, media, and social media

Content analysis

* Analysis and synchronization of videos, audio recordings, and photos of the Maidan massacre shown during the trial, in the media, and social media
* Comparisons of the trial and investigation data with other evidence, such as synchronised videos of the massacre and testimonies of witnesses in the media and social media
* Comparison with results of forensic ballistic and medical examinations and investigative experiments made public at the trial
* Online video appendixes with English-language subtitles contain relevant video segments from the Maidan massacre trial, the media, and social media for analysis and replication purposes

Revelations about Snipers
The Maidan massacre trial & investigation revealed various evidence that Maidan protesters on February 20 were massacred by snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings

* At least 25 out of 66 wounded Maidan protesters, with whose shooting Berkut policemen are charged, testified at the trial & investigation that they were shot from Maidan-controlled buildings/ areas & 29 testified that they witnessed snipers there or were told about them by other protesters (See Video Appendix D)
[see video]
* Many witness testimonies at the trial & investigation about snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings (Video Appendix E)
[see video]

Such testimonies are consistent with some 200 witness testimonies in media and social media about snipers in Maidan areas, including over 70 video testimonies.

* Six Maidan politicians and activists publicly testified that they witnessed involvement of specific top Maidan leaders in the massacre, such as their deployment of snipers and evacuation of snipers who were captured by Maidan-protesters
* An ex-sponsor of the Right Sector to testify at the trial

(See Video Appendix B).
[see video]

They are also generally consistent with testimonies of 5 Georgian ex-military in Italian, Israeli, Macedonian, & Russian media and their depositions provided to Berkut lawyers for the trial. They testified that their groups received weapons, payments, & orders to massacre both police and protesters from specific Maidan and Georgian politicians & instructions from a far-right linked ex-US Army sniper and then saw Georgian, Baltic States, and specific far right Right Sector-linked Ukrainian snipers shooting from specific Maidan-controlled buildings (see Italian & Israeli TV documentaries (English language versions))
[see video]
[see video]
[see video]

These Georgians revealed in the media their names, passport numbers & border stamps, copies of plane tickets, videos and photos in Ukraine or Georgian military, and other evidence in support of their testimonies

* Identities, presence in Ukraine, and Georgian military service of some of them corroborated by evidence & other sources
* Maidan massacre trial decision authorised two of them testify at the trial via video link from Armenia

The Prosecutor General Office investigation revealed in October 2016 that one of the leaders of far right Svoboda and its member of the parliament occupied a Hotel Ukraina room from which a sniper in reported Maidan style green helmet was filmed shooting by BBC and ICTV in the direction of the Maidan protesters and the BBC journalists. (See Video Appendix A)

Three Maidan snipers admitted in BBC and Ukrainian media interviews that the massacre on February 20 started with them and other Maidan snipers shooting at the police from the Music Conservatory and forcing the police units to flee the Maidan square which they besieged (see BBC report and Katchanovski, 2015b)
[see video]

* Investigation determined that one of them killed two policemen during the massacre from a hunting version of Kalashnikov assault rifle
* Kyiv court decisions revealed that the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine investigated leaders and members of the far right Right Sector, neo-Nazi “Warriors of Narnia,” Sokil, a youth affiliate of far right Svoboda party, far right Bratstvo and other unidentified Maidan activists for their suspected involvement in the killing and wounding of the Interior Troops servicemen and the Berkut police on February 18-20 (see, for example, Ukhvala, 2016a).
* Right Sector members match killers of two Interior Troops members on February 18

The Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine investigation determined based on their testimonies and investigative experiments that almost half of protesters (77 out of 157) were wounded on February 20 from other sectors than the Berkut police and did not charge Berkut with their shooting

* Since the investigation determined that government snipers did not massacre the Maidan protesters this suggests that these protesters were wounded from the Maidan-controlled buildings/areas
* E,g., a female #Maidan medic, whose wounding on Maidan was widely blamed by Western & Ukrainian media and politicians on government snipers
[see video]

No such testimonies admitting involvement in the massacre or knowledge of such involvement by the Berkut policemen, ex-police and security services commanders, and ex-Yanukovych government officials

* This includes both those charged with the massacre and those not charged and serving the new Maidan government or remaining in Ukraine
* Charged Berkut policemen denied that they massacred protesters
Their lawyers argue at the trial that both protesters and police were massacred by snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings
* Yanukovych and his commander of Internal Troops testified at the trial as witnesses via video link from Russia the same and that they did not give orders to massacre protesters.
* They were only charged in 2017 in absentia with ordering the massacre
* Such testimonies of policemen and senior ex-government officials publicly accused or charged with the mass killing are in line with their personal, political, and monetary incentives but they are generally consistent with various other evidence

No specific evidence of orders by then president Yanukovych, his internal affairs and security service ministers, or police and security service commanders to massacre unarmed protesters has been revealed at the trials or made public by the prosecution or other sources

A minority of wounded protesters testified at the trial and investigation that they were shot by government snipers or Berkut police

* Most of these testimonies are not consistent with forensic medical examinations, in particular, about their steep/slope wound directions and their positions in videos, investigation finding that protesters were not massacred by government snipers
* There is lack of such forensic examinations, videos, and witness testimonies is a many of these cases or the evidence is contradictory
* Such testimonies by wounded Maidan protesters are much more likely to be biased because of personal, monetary and political incentives to corroborate the dominant government, media and prosecution narrative of the massacre compared to opposite incentive of testimonies by wounded Maidan protesters about snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings and areas

Investigation by the Military Prosecutor Office in Lviv found that the Maidan protesters in Khmelnytskyi were killed and wounded by unidentified Maidan shooter from the Security Service of Ukraine regional headquarters porch that was occupied by Maidan protesters. This is consistent with the content analysis of videos of this massacre (see Video Appendix C).

Forensic Examinations

Official forensic medical examinations

* Absolute majority of protesters shot on February 20 from side & back directions
* 40 out of 48 killed protesters, with whose murder Berkut policemen are charged, had slope wounds & 1 even
* 36 with slope wounds were killed when police was on similar level on the ground
* E.g. 3 protesters in US architecture company 3-D model for Maidan lawyers but their wounds made nearly straight

Locations & directions of Dmytriv wounds in forensic medical reports (Report, 2015a) & Krovavyi (2014) & Trial (2016) videos & their & bullet direction misrepresentations by SITU (2018), New York Times (2018), BBC (2014) & prosecution
[see image]
They are consistent with bullet trajectories in videos & photos (see Video Appendix C)
[see video]

Forensic examinations and a video of his shooting suggest that one protester shot in his side at nearly even level was killed from a Maidan direction

Out of 7 killed protesters with no forensic information about their wounds direction made public:

* Three were shot by hunting pellets before the Berkut special company appeared in the Maidan area
* One was shot by an expanding hunting bullet of a US caliber which does not match caliber of government units firearms
* One was killed, inter alia, by a handgun bullet behind a wall that made it physically impossible to shoot him from Berkut positions
* Two other were killed at the same time and place as the many other protesters

(See Video Appendix A)

Similarly, 48 out of 51 wounded protesters, whose wound directions were revealed at the trial and with whose shooting on February 20th Berkut policemen were charged, had wounds at significant slopes.

* Common sense and forensic textbooks suggest that this is consistent with shooting by snipers in/on buildings.

Sideways and back locations and directions of their wounds in the absolute majority of cases also point to shooting from Maidan-controlled buildings located on both sides and in the back of advancing protesters and not from their front by the Berkut police (see Map).

* One does not need to be a forensic expert to determine whether overall locations and directions of wounds at the times and spots identified at the trial and in synchronized videos of the massacre point to the Berkut positions on the ground in front of the protesters or to Maidan-controlled buildings on the protesters’ left and right sides and in the back of the protesters

Forensic ballistic examinations

* Reported that 19 protesters were killed on February 20 by 7.62x39mm caliber bullets
* Stated that they could not determine if the bullets were fired from Kalashnikov assault rifles of this caliber, hunting versions of Kalashnikov assault rifles, or other weapons of this caliber, such as Simonov carbine (SKS)
* They indicated that one protester was killed from Vepr carbine, a hunting version of Kalashnikov machine gun
* Three other protesters were killed by pellets used in hunting.
* Two protesters were killed by expanding hunting bullets. Their caliber did not match calibers of weapons used by the special Berkut company, whose members were charged with killing them.
* A forensic ballistic examination conducted by government institute experts on the prosecution request with use of an automatic computer based IBIS-TAIS system in January 2015 found that bullets extracted from killed protesters, trees, and the Hotel Ukraina rooms did not match police database of bullet samples from any 7.62×39 caliber Kalashnikov assault rifles of members of the entire Kyiv Berkut regiment, including the special Berkut company charged with the massacre of the protesters
* Findings of this computer-based ballistic examination and results of some 40 other ballistic examinations were reversed in a couple of ballistic examinations conducted manually in the very end of the investigation
* This suggests that these reversals are unreliable, and ballistic experts could not explain them at the trial

Forensic examinations along with testimonies of wounded protesters & witnesses, locations & positions of the killed & wounded protesters in videos & photos, & Google Earth map of the massacre site suggest that at least absolute majority of protesters, including Dmytriv, were shot by snipers in the Maidan-controlled buildings (See map and Video Appendix A)

[see Map of the Maidan massacre on February 20]

Killing and wounding of a small minority of protesters by the Berkut police, in particular, by ricochets or in cross-fire with snipers in the Maidan-controlled buildings, cannot be excluded because of lack of data or contradictory data

* But their killing and wounding in the same locations and at the same time as other protesters suggest that most of them were also likely shot by the Maidan snipers.

Government investigation determined that most of protesters killed on February 18-19 were shot with hunting pellets and smoothbore rifles used in hunting

The government investigation revealed that the absolute majority of 11 policemen killed on February 18-19, and all 4 policemen killed on February 20 were shot from similar types and calibers of hunting pellets and bullets, handgun bullets, and 7,62×39 bullets as the protesters

Court rulings revealed that the weapons used by two wounded Right Sector activists in a separatist checkpoint attack in April 2014 were the same weapons from which two Internal Troops servicemen were killed and three other policemen wounded on the Maidan on February 18 (Ukhvala, 2016b).

Cover-up & Stonewalling

* Investigation denies that there were snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings & not investigates them in spite of overwhelming evidence revealed by investigation & trial & publicly available evidence, such as testimonies by over 100 wounded protesters & over 200 witnesses, & videos, photos & audio of snipers in/on these buildings, including their shooting at protesters & police (Video Appendix A).
[see video]

The Prosecutor General of Ukraine, who was one of the top Maidan politicians, declared that the investigation of the Maidan massacre is de facto completed

* Public statements by 6 Maidan politicians and activists and 5 Georgians about involvement of snipers and Maidan leaders in the massacre and its cover-up have not been investigated
* Ex-president of Georgia hastily detained and expelled from Ukraine a day before his testimony concerning “Georgian snipers” at the Maidan massacre trial
* Similarly, a public statement by a Maidan member of the parliament that one of titusky leaders, who was involved in killing of a journalist on February 19, worked for a business of leading Maidan activists and that they knew about the massacar in advance also has not been investigated

Failure by the investigation to determine bullet trajectories with help of forensic ballistic experts even after the Maidan massacre trial ordered such examinations, specifically to determine if these trajectories were from the Maidan-controlled buildings

* The investigation instead of ballistic experts used complex forensic examinations by medics to determine sectors of fire without on-site visits and any measurements and explanations provided
* At least several dozens of such examinations were conducted by the same three medical experts during the last weeks of the investigation
* Not ballistic experts but architects from a US architecture company were hired by Maidan victims lawyers with involvement of the prosecution to determine bullet trajectories of 3 selected killed protesters out of 49 killed and 157 wounded protesters for the trial concerning February 20th Maidan massacre
* Both these complex medical examinations and the 3-D model by New York architecture company provided practically identical bullet trajectories/sectors of fire from Berkut barricades on the ground in cases of these 3 killed protesters.
* But wounds locations and steep slopes of the entry and exit wounds in forensic medical examinations used both by the medical and architectural experts in determining these ballistic trajectories differ significantly from their locations and nearly horizontal levels in the 3-D model by SITU Research
* This concerns not only Dmytriv wounds but also Dyhdalovych and Parashchuk wounds
(See images concerning Dmyriv above and Dyhdalovych below, Report (2015a, 2015b); SITU (2018)).
[see image of Dyhdalovych wounds locations and directions and their misrepresentation in SITU model]

Bullet wounds locations and their steep slopes along with bullet holes appearing in shields right after their killings in the same spot within 2 minutes and a testimony of a protester who was in the same spot that he saw Dyhdalovych shot by a sniper on the Bank Arkada point to the top of this building as a location of snipers who killed both Dyhdalovych and Dmytriv.

(See Map, Video Appendix A).

* These bullet holes and the testimonies of two protesters, who witnessed their killings, about snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings shooting Dyhdalovych and Dmytriv were not mentioned at the trial
* Similarly,videos and audio recordings of snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings and publicly available testimonies of numerous other Maidan protesters about such snipers were not mentioned by the investigation and at the Maidan massacre trial

The landscape, the street, & trees on the site of the massacre would be almost completely changed into a park and a new Maidan massacre museum by February 2019 and it would be physically impossible to conduct on-site investigative experiments to determine bullet trajectories.

A new ballistic expert examinations of bullets that was ordered by the Maidan massacre trial has not started for more than 1 year after the court decision.

No forensic video and audio examinations were conducted by the investigation.

The Prosecutor General Office reversed without any explanations their own previous investigation findings.

* Admissions that protesters were massacred by snipers from the Hotel Ukraina from SKS carbines and that at least 3 protesters were killed from this hotel and 10 others were also killed from significant heights
* Investigations of the massacres of the police and the protesters were separated even though they happened on the same days and in the same places
* No forensic examinations comparisons of bullets extracted from bodies of the police and the protesters in spite of various evidence that they were shot by same groups of snipers
* Similar unexplained reversals of forensic examinations of bullets and directions of wounds of protesters a few weeks before the investigation submitted the case to a court for trial
* Similar unexplained reversals at the trial testimonies of many wounded protesters previously provided to the investigation

The Prosecutor General Office has been headed by Maidan politicians or close allies of the current president of Ukraine and the investigation of the massacre has been under control of Maidan government leaders from the start.

Two factions of main ruling Maidan parties blocked creation of a parliamentary commission concerning Maidan massacre investigation.

Key pieces of forensic evidence of the massacre on February 20 disappeared when it was under the Maidan opposition or Maidan government control or when it was in the possession of the Maidan government investigation without anyone responsible identified and prosecuted.

* Almost all shields and helmets of killed and wounded protesters since bullet holes in them or their absence could identify locations of the shooters
* Many bullets extracted from bodies of the protesters and the police, trees, soil, a flower box, and the Maidan buildings
* Some trees with bullets and/or bullet holes were cut soon after the massacre, and the prosecution admitted this three years afterwards
* Recordings of live online streams and other videos from the time of shooting at the police from the Maidan-controlled buildings in the early morning of February 20
* Security cameras recordings from the Hotel Ukraina, the Bank Arkada, and other Maidan-controlled buildings at the time when snipers were located there
* Bullets extracted from bodies of protesters in Khmelnytskyi
* A leader of a Maidan organization and its members were revealed and investigated by the Prosecutor General Office for evacuating and hiding firearms of the special Berkut company charged with the massacre of the protesters on February 20

No one was charged with killing and wounding the majority of Maidan protesters on February 18-19.

* Berkut policemen charged with killing the first 3 protesters and wounding 33 protesters on February 18 were released by the courts and allowed by the law enforcement to flee Ukraine
* The same concerns a Berkut commander whose company was charged with killing of 48 protesters on February 20
* Forensic evidence in killings protesters and the police on February 18-19 has not been made public
* A protester who killed another protester by driving him over in a seized truck and was tried was released under an amnesty law for crimes committed by Maidan protesters during the “Euromaidan”

Nobody is charged with killing of a Georgian protester on February 20 and circumstances of his killing and its investigation are not made public.

Nobody is charged and tried for killing and wounding policemen on February 18-20.

* Charges of killing two policemen against one Maidan sniper who publicly admitted in the Ukrainian media this were dropped and replaced by milder charges by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine

The Maidan massacre trial was restarted from the beginning, has not completed testimonies of relatives of killed and wounded protesters, and it would not produce a verdict before the 2019 presidential elections

Several attacks by the neo-Nazi C14 and other far right groups disrupted and threatened the trial.

* C14 took refuge in the Canadian Embassy shortly before the Maidan massacre, and one of its ex-leaders stated that the C14 knew about the massacre in advance.

No such evidence of systematic cover-up by the Yanukovych government leaders and Berkut members.

* Yanukovych treason trial revealed various evidence that he fled Ukraine following several assassination attempts by Maidan forces, including far right.
* He, his ministers and Internal Troops ex-commander volunteered to testify via video links about the massacre at the trials.
* Absolute majority of Berkut members, who were charged with the massacre did not flee Ukraine until they were to be charged with the massacre or after they were charged.

Not a single person is convicted for killing and wounding some 100 protesters and the police on February 18-20, 2014.

Conclusion

Maidan massacre trial and investigation evidence have revealed various evidence that at least the absolute majority of 49 killed and 157 wounded Maidan protesters on February 20, 2014 were massacred by snipers in Maidan-controlled buildings.

* Such evidence includes testimonies of the majority of wounded protesters and many witnesses, forensic medical and ballisitic examinations, and investigation own finding that about half of Maidan protesters were wounded from other locations than the Berkut police.

Various indications of stonewalling of the Maidan massacre investigations and the trials by the Maidan government officials and by far right organizations.

Various indications of the cover-up of much of the key evidence of the massacre.

Such revelations from the Maidan massacre trials and investigations corroborate previous studies findings that this massacre was a false flag mass killing with involvement of elements of Maidan leadership and the far right and that it included the massacre of the police.

The puzzling misrepresentation of the Maidan massacre, its investigation, and the trial by Western media and governments require further research concerning reasons for such misrepresentation.

3. Against the background of the Maidan sniping as a probable false flag provocation, the impending Syrian offensive to re-capture the last territorial enclave of the Islamists in Syria should be viewed with apprehension. As noted in the article below, the so-called “rebels” are Al-Qaeda offshoots. Ominously, they have apparently successfully executed false-flag chemical weapons attacks before, including in Idlib province.

Russia has warned that such a provocation is in the wings–an unremarkable deduction in light of past history. In turn, the West has warned of retaliatory action if such actions are undertaken.

The stage appears set for an Islamist/Al-Qaeda chemical weapons false flag/provocation, upon which U.S., British and French military intervention will be predicated.

In this context, one should not lose sight of the fact that Chechnyan Islamist veterans of the Syrian war have already made their appearance in the combat in Eastern Ukraine, partnering with Pravy Sektor in their deployments. (The Chechen/Right Sector/Islamist link is discussed in FTR #’s 857, 862, 863, 872, 878, 893, 911.)

“Rebels;” German Foreign Policy; 9/03/2018.

Berlin and the EU are intensifying pressure on Damascus in view of the Syrian troops’ presumed imminent offensive in Idlib against the jihadi militias, including al-Qaeda’s Syrian offshoot. According to a German government spokesperson, it is “anticipated” that the Russian government will “restrain the Syrian regime’s escalation.” Washington is threatening with an unspecified intervention, should chemicals weapons be used. Syrian jihadists have used chemical weapons in the past, and would be in a position to provoke this US intervention. Since last summer, the Syrian al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham is in control of Idlib Province, with some 30,000 combatants. Additional smaller, mostly salafist jihadi militias are also ready to battle the Syrian army. By referring to them as “rebels,” politicians and media are downplaying the jihadists – including al-Qaeda – as the 17th Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks approaches.

The Jihadi Emirate Idlib

Already in the summer of 2017, the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly al-Nusra) had prevailed over rival insurgent militias in fierce battles in Idlib Province. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was tolerating some other armed cliques – as long as they were essentially submitting to its rule. “But there is no longer any question, who is ultimately in charge” in Idlib Province, the Syrian expert Aron Lund wrote in August 2017, calling Idlib a de facto “jihadi emirate.”[1] At the time experts on the region assessed that the western powers could have no interest in defending the al-Qaeda regime. Al-Qaeda is temporarily refraining from large-scale terrorism in the West, because it prioritizes the stabilization of its structures, the US American Council on Foreign Relations wrote in March. The terror attack against the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the St. Petersburg Metro bombing – both being ascribed to al-Qaeda – prove that the organization has not given up its old strategy.[2] The Syrian expert Sam Heller, who, today, is working for the International Crisis Group, speculated in Mai 2017 that “someone” will most likely put an end to those activities in Idlib soon. It could be either the West or the Syrian government with support from Moscow because for both “a big jihadist safe haven is intolerable.”[3]

Under al-Qaeda Control

Slightly more than a year later, it is unclear whether this assessment still holds true. The situation in Idlib has not fundamentally changed, in spite of some shifts in power while the Syrian government is preparing to recapture the province, with Russian support. The al-Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir al-Sham suffered minor setbacks for two reasons. On the one hand, small fractions have split off because of internal dissention. After invading parts of Idlib, Ankara, on the other hand, has begun to strengthen militias, which had been marginalized by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and merge them into a new alliance. Its members are, to a large part – such as Ahrar al-Sham or Jaysh al Ahrar – salafist jihadi oriented like the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham’s split-offs. Militias who are oriented otherwise – such as those close to the Muslim Brothers – are in the minority.[4] Experts report that the al-Qaeda offshoot now controls nearly 60 percent of Idlib province and consists of about 30,000 fighters, according to the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights , which western media and government agencies often quote as their source of information on Syria.[5] Thus, al-Qaeda has about one percent of Idlib’s current population under arms – shortly before the 17th anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2001.

“Very Worried”

And yet, currently western politicians and media are against Syria and Russia much more than al-Qaeda. Thus, al-Qaeda-predominated jihadi militias in Idlib are regularly euphemized as “rebels,” and the province, itself, as a “rebel stronghold.” If one goes along with this terminology – which comes quite close to the way the jihadis see themselves – then al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri and his predecessor Osama bin Laden must be “rebel leaders,” and the terrorists of Paris and St. Petersburg would have been acting in the name of a “rebel organization.” Otherwise, this pattern of argumentation resembles that during the combat waged by the Syrian army against Salafist and jihadis for East Alleppo, for East Ghouta and more recently for Daraa. Warnings of massacres at the hands of Syrian troops and the supporting Russian military are already being propagated in advance. According to a German government spokesperson, who expressed that the government is “very worried about the escalation of the situation in northwest Syria” and “anticipates” that Moscow “will restrain the Syrian government from an escalation thereby averting a humanitarian catastrophe.”[6] “We must prevent military engagements in Idlib that could lead to a humanitarian catastrophe,” announced Federica Mogherini, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security.

“Worse than Auschwitz”

Further escalation of this argumentation is easily possible. For example, in German media, it was claimed during the battle over East Aleppo that the Syrian military was committing “genocide” in the city. What was happening there was “worse than Auschwitz.” (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[7]) On the other hand, German politicians and media, have had no criticism of the bloody battles waged for Falluja, Mossul, and Raqqa, which had been carried out by western military forces. Aside from regrets at the loss of civilian lives, these battles are still today being celebrated as heroic victories over jihadis. But in fact, the battles waged by the West have differed little from those waged by Syria and Russia, in terms of the number of deaths and the extent of destruction. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[8]) A team of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) even declared in the spring, that the extent of destruction in Raqqa had “exceeded anything” they had “ever seen before.”[9] Raqqa had not been devastated by Syrians and Russians in the course of the war against the IS but rather by western air strikes using reconnaissance data provided by the Bundeswehr in collaboration with pro-western troops on the ground.

Ready for Intervention

Whether this will simply remain a case of negative coverage of the upcoming battle for Idlib or whether individual western powers will intervene, remains uncertain. A few days ago, the USA, Great Britain and France published a statement, wherein they expressed their “serious concern over reports,” according to which, “the Syrian regime is preparing a military offensive against civilians and the civilian infrastructure in Idlib.” They are also “worried” that the Syrian military forces will probably use chemical weapons. If this happens, the three countries are “determined to take action.”[10] Subsequently, US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton affirmed that the USA would react “very strongly” should there be a chemical weapons attack.[11] In fact, the western powers are giving jihadi militias in Idlib an option: should they not be able to vanquish the Syrian military, they can feign a chemical weapons attack and the West will intervene on their side. That Syrian jihadis have already used chemical weapons and, therefore, know how to do it, is well known. A western attack against Syrian forces in or around Idlib would, in the current situation, help the Syrian offshoot of al-Qaeda.

[1] Aron Lund: New order on the border: Can foreign aid get past Syria’s jihadis? irinnews.org 15.08.2018.

[2] Bruce Hoffman: Al Qaeda’s Resurrection. cfr.org 06.03.2018.

[3] twitter.com/AbuJamajem/status/864575114511253504

[4] Bruce Hoffman: Al Qaeda’s Resurrection. cfr.org 06.03.2018.

[5] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham: Syria Regime’s Toughest Foe in Idlib. military.com 01.09.2018.

[6] EU warnt vor Katastrophe in Idlib. handelsblatt.com 31.08.2018.

[7] See also Die Schlacht um Mossul (IV).

[8] See also Double Standards and Die präzisen Luftangriffe des Westens.

[9] Zitiert nach: Amnesty International: “War of Annihilation”. Devastating Toll on Civilians, Raqqa – Syria. London 2018.

[10] US, UK, France statement on the chemical weapons attack in Syria. reliefweb.int 21.08.2018.

[11] Sommer Brokaw: Bolton: U.S. will act ‘strongly’ if Syria uses chemical weapons again. upi.com 22.08.2018.

 

 

Discussion

2 comments for “FTR #1023 Ukrainian Fascism, The Maidan Snipers and Possible Implications for the Syrian War”

  1. You have to wonder what’s under this rock: Sam Patten – the long-time associate of Paul Manafort and Konstantin Kilimnik who just pleaded guilty to a series a crimes including helping Sergii Lovochkin (Viktor Yanukovych’s former chief of staff) secretly donate $50,000 to Trump’s inauguration fund in excahnge for tickets to the inauguration – apparently issued some sort of cryptic threat against Mikhail Saakashvili over Facebook two days after pleading guilty. The threat was sent to Saakashvili’s former chief of staff George Arveladze over Facebook messenger, but Patten appeared to be directing the threat at Saakashvili and using Arveladze as a middle-man. As the following article notes, Patten worked as a political operative for Saakashvili’s party in 2008. In 2012, however, he was

    Specifically, Patten told Arveladze over Facebook, “Call of [sic] your trolls now or I’ll start releasing things about Misha he’d prefer I didn’t.” After not hearing back, Patten sent another message a few hours later. “Misha knows what I’m talking about but frankly I have bigger problems these days, maybe you two are no longer as tight as you used to be.” Keep in mind that these messages were sent over Facebook messenger so it’s not like all of Arveladze’s friends could see it. In other words, they were intended to be private messages/threats.

    But the threats didn’t stay private for long. Saakashvili just happened to contact Arveladze a few minutes after the second message was sent, which also happened to be right before Saakashvili was about go go live on CNN. And Saakashvili apparently called Arveladze specifically to refresh his memory about Patten. According to Arveladze, “Misha called me and said, ‘In five minutes I have an interview on CNN, remind me of some things about this guy.’” Saakashvili then went on CNN and read Patten’s threats live on the air.

    Arveladze also claims that he had no idea why Patten sent out these messages and what exactly Patten was referring to regarding the thing that he said Saakashvili “knows what I’m talking about.” Saakashvili suggested that it may have been prompted by a Facebook post Saakashvili made earlier in the day commenting on Patten’s guilty plea, which would have drawn the attention of Saakashvili’s followers and may have resulted in a wave of trolls targeting Patten.

    Who knows what exactly prompted this and what dark secrets Patten was referring to, but as Jonathan Turley, who appeared on CNN after Sakkashvili, point out, Pattent may have just got caught engaging in the same kind of witness tampering that Paul Manafort did, except in a wildly more blatant and stupid way. It’s one thing to tamper with a potentially friendly witness, but sending out threats is just asking for legal trouble. Interestingly, it was Saakashvili’s US representative who notified Talking Points Memo about these messages and said they were forwarded to the FBI and Department of Justice, which was rather redundant after the CNN piece but still indicates that Saakashvili is planning on maximizing the legal damage to Patten over these threats:

    Talking Points Memo
    News

    After Guilty Plea, Sam Patten Feuded With Former Georgian Officials On Facebook

    By Matt Shuham
    September 7, 2018 6:00 am

    Just two days after pleading guilty to failing to register as a foreign agent and acting as a straw purchaser of presidential inauguration tickets for a Ukrainian oligarch, American lobbyist Sam Patten sent a pair of angry Facebook messages to Georgia’s former economy minister on Facebook messenger.

    “Call of [sic] your trolls now or I’ll start releasing things about Misha he’d prefer I didn’t,” Patten wrote to George Arveladze, the Georgian former minister and parliamentarian, who had also served as chief of staff to then-Georgian President Mikheil “Misha” Saakashvili.

    “Like now,” Patten continued, “and have them go back and erase their comments.”

    More than three hours later, having not heard back from Arveladze, Patten wrote to him again.

    “Misha knows what I’m talking about but frankly I have bigger problems these days, maybe you two are no longer as tight as you used to be.”

    It was a surprising move from the lobbyist, whose undeclared work for a pro-Russian oligarch in Ukraine earned him the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team.

    Mueller eventually handed Patten’s case off to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Washington, D.C., but as part of his plea deal, Patten pledged his cooperation on Mueller’s probe. Patten and former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort share a number of associates — including Konstantin Kilimnik, who, like Manafort, is charged with witness tampering — and Patten could be a valuable witness for the Mueller team.

    In a further sign that the special counsel’s office is watching Patten closely, lawyers for Mueller’s team attended Patten’s appearance in court last Friday. A jury questionnaire released Wednesday for Manafort’s upcoming trial in Washington, D.C. asks potential jurors if they have any connection to Patten, Kilimnik or the company they founded together, Begemot Ventures International — part of a long list of individuals and organizations “whose names may come up in connection with this case.”

    But Patten also worked as a political operative in Georgia. After working briefly with Saakashvili’s party in 2008, he worked on the parliamentary campaign of Saakashvili’s rivals in 2012. In that election, Patten’s clients succeeded in winning a parliamentary majority, transferring power from Saakashvili’s United National Movement to the Georgian Dream alliance, backed by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.

    Arveladze, the former economy minister and adviser to Saakashvili, told TPM he had no idea what Patten was threatening to release about his former boss, and it is unclear why Patten reached out to Arveladze on Sunday. One possibility suggested by allies of Saakashvili is that, earlier that day, Saakashvili had published a Facebook post commenting on Patten’s guilty plea, drawing the collective attention of the million-plus people who follow the former president’s account to Patten’s case — and undoubtedly drawing out some trolls unhappy with Patten’s past political work in Georgia.

    Arveladze told TPM over the phone Wednesday that he and Saakashvili were in contact just a few minutes after Patten’s second Facebook message on Sunday. Saakashvili was preparing for a CNN interview, Arveladze said, and wanted to refresh his memory on Patten, who had pleaded guilty on Friday.

    “Misha called me and said, ‘In five minutes I have an interview on CNN, remind me of some things about this guy,’” Arveladze told TPM.

    “So I told him, look, this is what I just got from him, and of course I sent the screenshot.”

    Within minutes, Saakashvili was reading the messages from Patten to Arveladze live on CNN. CNN anchor Ana Cabrera did the equivalent of a double take: “Samuel Patten is writing to your former chief of staff?” she asked. Both Arveladze and Saakashvili have since claimed the messages were an attempt at “blackmail.” Saakashvili posted the messages on his Facebook page the same day. (Arveladze provided TPM with his past exchanges with Patten on Facebook in order to corroborate that it was Patten’s real Facebook account — though the account was deleted shortly after Saakashvili’s CNN appearance.)

    Last weekend, Saakashvili was in the United States following the death of Sen. John McCain, who received quite a bit of attention for his support of Georgia during its 2008 war with Russia. “Today, we are all Georgians,” McCain famously said during his presidential campaign that year.

    TPM heard about Patten’s messages to Arveladze from Christina Pushaw, who identified herself in an email as Saakashvili’s representative in the U.S. In a phone interview, she said she’d forwarded Patten’s messages to the FBI and Department of Justice, and later provided screenshots of her call logs to TPM.

    Patten’s Sunday messages to Arveladze were first noted by the law professor Jonathan Turley, who followed Saakashvili as a guest on CNN that day and was taken aback by the messages he read on-air.

    In a subsequent post on his blog, Turley published the same screenshots that Pushaw would later supply TPM, and argued the messages, if legitimate, could spell trouble for Patten. Turley noted the parallels to Paul Manafort, who’s now facing additional charges for alleged witness tampering, and said Patten’s messages to Saakashvili’s former chief of staff could be interpreted as potential witness tampering themselves.

    “Manafort was a certifiable moron to reach out to potential witnesses while on house arrest — and most certainly under surveillance by the FBI,” Turley wrote. “If the allegations are true, Patten would rival the level of recklessness in the alleged text to the chief of state of Saakashvili.”

    ———-

    “After Guilty Plea, Sam Patten Feuded With Former Georgian Officials On Facebook” by Matt Shuham; Talking Points Memo; 09/07/2018

    “But Patten also worked as a political operative in Georgia. After working briefly with Saakashvili’s party in 2008, he worked on the parliamentary campaign of Saakashvili’s rivals in 2012. In that election, Patten’s clients succeeded in winning a parliamentary majority, transferring power from Saakashvili’s United National Movement to the Georgian Dream alliance, backed by the billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili.”

    Like many of the figures in the larger #TrumpRussia mess, Sam Patten is turning out to be another international man of mystery. He worked for Saakashvili in 2008, and then Saakashvili’s opponent four years later. So he presumably knows where a lot of the Georgian bodies are buried. And one of those ‘buried bodies’ is presumably what Patten was referring to in his cryptic threats:


    “Call of [sic] your trolls now or I’ll start releasing things about Misha he’d prefer I didn’t,” Patten wrote to George Arveladze, the Georgian former minister and parliamentarian, who had also served as chief of staff to then-Georgian President Mikheil “Misha” Saakashvili.

    “Like now,” Patten continued, “and have them go back and erase their comments.”

    More than three hours later, having not heard back from Arveladze, Patten wrote to him again.

    “Misha knows what I’m talking about but frankly I have bigger problems these days, maybe you two are no longer as tight as you used to be.”

    Remarkably, Saakashvili had apparently contact Arveladze just minutes after the second text specifically to refresh his memory about Patten before appearing on CNN, at which point Saakashvili read the messages on the air:


    Arveladze told TPM over the phone Wednesday that he and Saakashvili were in contact just a few minutes after Patten’s second Facebook message on Sunday. Saakashvili was preparing for a CNN interview, Arveladze said, and wanted to refresh his memory on Patten, who had pleaded guilty on Friday.

    “Misha called me and said, ‘In five minutes I have an interview on CNN, remind me of some things about this guy,’” Arveladze told TPM.

    “So I told him, look, this is what I just got from him, and of course I sent the screenshot.”

    Within minutes, Saakashvili was reading the messages from Patten to Arveladze live on CNN. CNN anchor Ana Cabrera did the equivalent of a double take: “Samuel Patten is writing to your former chief of staff?” she asked. Both Arveladze and Saakashvili have since claimed the messages were an attempt at “blackmail.” Saakashvili posted the messages on his Facebook page the same day. (Arveladze provided TPM with his past exchanges with Patten on Facebook in order to corroborate that it was Patten’s real Facebook account — though the account was deleted shortly after Saakashvili’s CNN appearance.)

    Saakashvili suggested the threat was brought about as a result of Saakashvili posting on his Facebook page about Patten’s guilty plea earlier that day, possibly prompting a wave of trolling Saakashvili supporters:


    Arveladze, the former economy minister and adviser to Saakashvili, told TPM he had no idea what Patten was threatening to release about his former boss, and it is unclear why Patten reached out to Arveladze on Sunday. One possibility suggested by allies of Saakashvili is that, earlier that day, Saakashvili had published a Facebook post commenting on Patten’s guilty plea, drawing the collective attention of the million-plus people who follow the former president’s account to Patten’s case — and undoubtedly drawing out some trolls unhappy with Patten’s past political work in Georgia.

    And that’s all part of why Jonathan Turley, who appeared on CNN later that day, referred to this act by Patten is rivaling the stupidity of Manafort’s attempted witness tampering:


    Patten’s Sunday messages to Arveladze were first noted by the law professor Jonathan Turley, who followed Saakashvili as a guest on CNN that day and was taken aback by the messages he read on-air.

    In a subsequent post on his blog, Turley published the same screenshots that Pushaw would later supply TPM, and argued the messages, if legitimate, could spell trouble for Patten. Turley noted the parallels to Paul Manafort, who’s now facing additional charges for alleged witness tampering, and said Patten’s messages to Saakashvili’s former chief of staff could be interpreted as potential witness tampering themselves.

    “Manafort was a certifiable moron to reach out to potential witnesses while on house arrest — and most certainly under surveillance by the FBI,” Turley wrote. “If the allegations are true, Patten would rival the level of recklessness in the alleged text to the chief of state of Saakashvili.”

    Interestingly, it was Saakashvili’s US representative who told TPM about the messages in the first place. So he’s trying to push this story in the media as much as he can:


    TPM heard about Patten’s messages to Arveladze from Christina Pushaw, who identified herself in an email as Saakashvili’s representative in the U.S. In a phone interview, she said she’d forwarded Patten’s messages to the FBI and Department of Justice, and later provided screenshots of her call logs to TPM.

    And that raises the question as to whether or not Saakashvili was actually concerned about what Patten threatened to release. While it’s possible Patten was issuing a weak threat and doesn’t actually have much dirt on Saakashvili to dish out, that would just make the whole thing even more remarkably stupid on Patten’s part. It’s also possible that Saakashvili is worried about Patten’s threat and determined that going public is the best strategy. We’ll see. It’s not like we shouldn’t expect someone like Saakashvili to have a closet full of political skeletons so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if Patten’s threat was real.

    We also shouldn’t necessarily assume that the dirt Patten claimed to have on Saakashvili was necessarily related to his time in Georgia. Both Patten and Saakashvili were operating in Ukraine in in the post-Maidan period, after all, and it’s entirely possible Patten learned about a bunch of dirty stuff Saakashvili was engaging in while he was governor Odessa or something like that.

    We also shouldn’t necessarily assume that the dirt involves the post-Maidan period. Because one of the potentially most scandalous things Patten may have been referring to could have had to do with the alleged involvement of Georgian snipers during the Maidan sniper attacks. As we saw with Ivan Katchanovski’s academic forensic examination of evidence collected on those attacks, there is are indication that gunmen from outside of Ukraine, including Georgians, were part of some sort of sniper team. And Saakashvili was very much an active booster of the Maidan protests when they were happening. For instance, here’s a Politico article from February 23, 2014 (days after the sniper attacks) authored by Saakashvili giving advice on how to keep the protests going. Given the circumstantial evidence suggesting Paul Manafort and Sergii Lovochkin may have been involved in orchestrating that attack, and Patten’s closeness to both of them, it wouldn’t be too surprising if Patten has insider knowledge of what took place during those events.

    Might that have been at the core of Patten’s threats against Saakashvili? Perhaps, although it would be one helluva move of Patten’s part since leaking that kind of information would simultaneously put people like Manafort and Lovochkin in big trouble. Then against, given that Patten is already a cooperating with the Mueller investigation maybe he’s already turned on his former associates. At this point we have no idea. We just know that Patten’s legal troubles are likely much, much worse now.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 7, 2018, 2:40 pm
  2. Just a quick note: Ivan Katchanovksi made available a 59-minute long video appendix of his work on the Maidan sniper attacks that was presented at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. The video is filled with TV footage from that day, with a number of clips making it clear that snipers were operating from Maidan-controlled buildings. It also includes English subtitles and forensic descriptions of scenes. The footage obviously includes a number of people being shot and killed, so it’s a grizzly 59-minutes to watch, but absolutely invaluable in terms of establishing what actually happened.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 10, 2018, 7:03 pm

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