February 20 marks one of the most remarkable, yet stunningly scary days of the modern Ukrainian history. Five years ago, on this particular day, dozens of unarmed people fell victims of the shootout at Instytutska street, in the very heart of the Ukrainian capital. Snipers of the law enforcement agencies gunned down protesters who tried to approach their positions in the government quarter, carrying light metal shields to protect themselves.
73 civilians and 11 law enforcers were killed in the gruesome street fights that occurred in Kyiv on February 18-20. The Trade Unions Building on Maidan Nezalezhnosti Square was burnt to the ground, as the law enforcers infiltrated the building and set it on fire. A number of wounded protesters deceased as they could not leave the building; some were evacuated, though.
The deceased are collectively known as the Heavenly Hundred; this is the reference to the organization structure of Euromaidan's Self-Defense, as the activists were divided into hundreds.
It was on February 20 that the most protesters were killed. At night, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a resolution "On condemning violence, which led to the death of civilians in Ukraine."
President Petro Poroshenko posthumously awarded 104 Heroes of Heavenly Hundreds the title of Heroes of Ukraine. That number includes three foreigners: citizen of Belarus Mikhail Zhiznevsky (killed in January 2014), and two Georgians, Zurab Khurtsia and David Kipiani. All three were posthumously awarded the Order of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes.
As far as the investigation into these crimes goes, many blindspots remained. Some of the suspects in the murders of activists are in custody, but many attackers and contractors of these murders are walking free. The investigation team, which involves the key law enforcement agencies of Ukraine, still has not identified all the attackers. The contractors, those who ordered to shoot, are identified, but they fled the country even before they ended up on the wanted list. Besides, the experts found out that shooters took the firearms they used on February 18-20 with them, as they fled the country, too.
Amnesty International says the Ukrainian criminal justice system has "resisted and obstructed justice" when dealing with the human rights violations committed by police during the Euromaidan protests five years ago. Colm O'Cuanachain, senior director at the office of the London-based group's secretary-general, made the comment on February 19. As of the end of 2018, the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General's Office had identified 441 suspects, most of them former law enforcement officers, according to Amnesty. The rights watchdog said that the cases of 288 individuals had been sent to court, 52 of them resulting in court decisions. Out of 48 convictions, "only nine custodial sentences were handed down," it added, and not one of those jailed was a former police officer. Justice for most victims who suffered at the hands of Ukrainian police "is still not even in sight," Cuanachain said. "Promises were made, strong words were said by the post-Yanukovych authorities, but time and facts speak volumes."