Ukraine: Security services 'infiltrated protest groups'

A Ukrainian flag flutters over Independence Square in Kiev Image copyright AFP

Ukraine's security services infiltrated anti-government protest groups and plotted to provoke conflict between demonstrators ahead of the ousting of President Viktor Yanukovych, according to documents published on the Ukrayinska Pravda website.

The papers, made public by opposition MP Henadiy Moskal, claim secret agents were instructed to discredit opposition protesters by faking attacks on Kiev's residents and by instigating robberies.

They were also tasked with disrupting protesters' access to bio-toilets in Kiev's Independence Square - or the Maidan - the main focus for the anti-government demonstrations, the documents say.

Here are 10 key extracts, with analysis from BBC Ukraine analyst Olexiy Solohubenko:

1. 'Imitate fires'

Image copyright AFP
Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Imitate a fire using simulated pyrotechnic devices (smoke bombs) in tents, the Kiev city state administration, the Trade Unions Building and Zhovtnevyy Palace in a violation of fire safety rules.

ANALYSIS: There were many reports of fires, either in tents or in adjacent buildings, resulting in a major fire at the Trade Unions House - the HQ of the protestors.

2. 'Create conflict'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Create preconditions for conflicts among the leaders of the political forces and public organisations that are actively supporting the Euro-Maidan [anti-government protesters in Kiev's Independence Square) and its participants by means of:

  • sending text messages with threats or insults on behalf of one leader to another via the special software;
  • publishing open letters on behalf of the Freedom, Fatherland and UDAR parties, as well as other parties, criticizing other members of the united opposition
  • disseminating stickers and leaflets with the same provocative content in the centre of Kiev on behalf of the Democratic Alliance.

ANALYSIS: Over the course of several days, text messages were sent to many people in Independence Square, including foreign journalists. The text read: "Be aware that you are taking part in an unauthorised demonstration banned by the courts."

3. 'Disconnect electricity'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Take active measures to disconnect the shopping mall Globus to which the stage on Maidan [Independence Square] is connected from the power grid so that it looks like an accident.

ANALYSIS: Blackouts occurred several times, plunging the whole area into darkness. However electricity was restored quickly and equipment on the main stage was often supplied by donated generators.

4. 'Disrupt use of toilets'

Image copyright Reuters
Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Create anti-sanitary conditions by constantly putting the bio-toilets out of order (see addendum No 1);

ANALYSIS: From the first days of protests, septic portable toilets were placed along the perimeter of the square. There were no reports about bad hygiene so apparently this part of the plan went down the drain.

5. 'Imitate attacks'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: imitate attacks by individuals disguised as Euro-Maidan activists (with visible and identifiable ribbons, a smell of clothes, characteristic comments and so on) on civilians residing in Kiev's central streets so that those attacked file complaints with the law-enforcement bodies.

ANALYSIS: There were many reports of random beatings in the streets around Independence Square, but not many reports from local residents. Most of those attacked were either protesters of journalists.

6. 'Imitate robberies'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: imitate robberies, by breaking shop windows, of the shops near Independence Square, including Globus, where some Euro-Maidan activists are staying.

ANALYSIS: This didn't seem to have worked. Protesters' militia, called Samooborona (Self-defence) had regular patrols around the square, and alcohol was banned throughout.

7. 'Stage cleaning protests'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Stage, on behalf of residents of the adjacent blocks of flats and other Kievites, protests demanding that the centre of the Ukrainian capital be cleared of rubbish and that the traditional New Year celebrations be organized in Independence Square, Khreshchatyk Street, Zhovtnevyy Palace, etc.

ANALYSIS: There have been several demonstrations by "angry residents" under slogans "Let's clean the city" led by a very vocal woman who appeared not to be a local at all. Protestors carried mops and brooms and pales of water but were consistently stopped by the protestors.

8/9. 'Create grounds for anti-terror op'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: With the purpose of rendering impossible the continuation of the protest in central Kiev, put into practice the plan for creating grounds for the anti-terrorist operation Boomerang under the pretext of the prevention of terrorist offences.

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: Ensure that weapons, explosive substances and also objects resembling improvised explosive devices and ammunition are found during searches of the buildings, facilities and tents, and that the aforementioned facts are covered by the media.

ANALYSIS: Boomerang was the code name of the operation that included snipers, which resulted in multiple deaths in Kiev. Obviously the SBU [security service] knew about the plan and there were repeated reports about weapons allegedly stored in large number among the protestors. In one case, explosives were handed over to two young men in the protestors' HQ. They were badly injured when they opened the packet. While there were reports of firearms used by the protestors on 22 February, none of those killed by the snipers appeared to be carrying any guns.

10. 'Prevent provisions entering the square'

Image copyright Pravda

TRANSLATION: To point 10: to ensure that foodstuffs, firewood, clothes and other things are not brought to the Euro-Maidan on cars, there are plans:

  • using operational capabilities at the department of the State Traffic Inspectorate of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine, to identify the owners of vehicles who have the right to drive these vehicles;
  • in the event of the identification of impounded vehicles (or other property), take measures, in association with the responsible units of the State Bailiff Service and the department of the State Traffic Inspectorate, to speed up the implementation of court rulings and bring the vehicles to the car compound.
  • take provocative measures (damaging vehicles, removing car plates, etc.) with the purpose of disabling them.

ANALYSIS: There have been lots of road blocks, with traffic police checking for firewood and tyres in car boots. They also rerouted traffic away from the centre of the city and prevented cars and buses with non-Kiev number plates from entering.

Lots of cars have also been burned or damaged throughout January and February with particular attacks on the vehicles belonging to the so called Avotmaidan - a group of activists who protested in cars and provided support to people in the square. The leader of Avotmaidan, Dmytro Bulatov, was abducted and badly beaten by pro-government activists.

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