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Detained Euromaidan activist Bubenchyk demanded to retract piece of 2016 interview
12:38, 6 April 2018

Detained Euromaidan activist Bubenchyk demanded to retract piece of 2016 interview

Ivan Bubenchyk denies claiming murder of two officers of Berkut riot police during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine in early 2014

12:38, 6 April 2018

RFE/RL

Ukrainian prosecutors charge the detained Euromaidan activist Ivan Bubenchyk with an attempt on the lives of law enforcers and the illegal storage of a weapon. Meanwhile, Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group (HPG) offered an insight into his case, focusing on many details of his previous statements about the murder of two Berkut fighters during the Revolution of Dignity in Kyiv in February 2014.  

The article that may be found on the KHPG website quotes Bubenchyk who insisted that in his February 2016 interview with reporter Ivan Siyak, he said that he allegedly shot the deceased Berkut officers in the back of the head. As a matter of fact, Bubenchyk sought Siyak, demanding to retract that part of the released interview. 

'Siyak was aware of Bubenchyk’s objections but did not change the text. Instead, he posted a YouTube video of an interview Bubenchyk gave back in November 2014 as alleged proof of the account given in his text.   Although the two accounts do coincide to a large extent, there is a critical difference between them, since in the videoed interview Bubenchyk says only that he shot at the Berkut officers’ legs to scare them away. If Siyak had a video of the interview, he has thus far not shared it, so it should be borne in mind that the following account of what Bubenchyk said cannot be verified. The article begins by explaining that the first deaths on 20 February 2014, the bloodiest day of Maidan, were of Berkut officers, and asserts that Bubenchyk said that he had killed them.  The Lviv activist was not well-known, but had been one of the heroes of the film Captives by Volodymyr Tykhy, and it was the producers of that film who seem to have arranged for this interview where Bubenchyk spoke of his experiences on Maidan as part of a Samooborona [Self-Defence] unit Although Bubenchyk denied having made the direct claims about killings attributed to him in the article, he does talk about how he fired at the Berkut during the film', the story reads as posted.

Related: Detained Euromaidan activist faces new charges, - Prosecutor General's Office

Siyak's interview, inter alia, features one particular section, which became of interest to Prosecutor General's Office of Ukraine. 

'The critical part of the text is where he says that he shot from out of a window on the second floor, from where he “could clearly see the police officers with their shields at the Independence Monument. There were about two hundred of them there behind the sandbags, there was no room for more. Assault groups with pump-action shotguns were advancing from there. They shot point-blank at the barricades, without any shame.I was aiming at those who were in charge. I could not hear them, but I could see the gestures. The distance was very short, so for two commanders I only needed two shots. <> They say I shot them in the back of the head, and it’s true. It happened that they were standing with their backs to me. I had no time to wait until they turned around. There was no need to kill the others, only shoot them in the legs,' KHPG quoted the interview. 

'If the investigators have firm grounds for suspecting that Bubenchyk was responsible for two killings, then what Siyak wrote may not matter.  It is clear at present only that they certainly wish to question him, but have not formally charged him', KHPG story concludes.

On Thursday afternoon, Bubenchyk walked free, as the prosecutors dismissed the petition to choose the pre-trial restriction measure. The judge granted the motion. The prosecutors, however, intend to file the new petition on Thursday evening, with different charges this time. Previously, Bubenchyk was charged with the intentional murder and the attempt on the lives of law enforcers, but Prosecutor General Yuriy Lutsenko claimed that the case needs to be examined very carefully, and it may be even redefined, if necessary. Earlier, Bubenchyk himself claimed to have shot two fighters of Berkut riot police during the violent street opposition in Kyiv on February 2014. 

Related: Court releases Euromaidan activist who claimed to have killed two Berkut fighters in February 2014

The detainee had previously claimed that he used a machinegun to fire at the law enforcers at Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square in Kyiv on February 20, 2014. Bubenchyk said he killed two of the fighters during the violent street clashes. Later, he was detained, when Prosecutor General's Office announced that several persons are suspects in the case of the murders of Berkut fighters during the Euromaidan events in Kyiv. Then, Bubenchyk called off his evidence.

February 20, 2014, earmarks the climax of the street violence during the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine. That day, government-hired shooters gunned down dozens of unarmed civilians; about a dozen of law enforcers deceased as well. Prosecutor General's Office continues to look into the crimes related to the Euromaidan movement and the Revolution of Dignity, including these murders.

Related: Euromaidan activist detained, charged with killing two policemen during Revolution of Dignity

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