A popular saying among protesters on Ukraine’s flaring main square these days is that to many people it actually feels the least dangerous place compared to other streets in the country. While grenades distract cameras, most attacks on the civilian population last week in fact took place on the quite streets of Kiev and in smaller demonstrations in other cities. The perpetrators, freshly labelled as “Titushkas”, are a new and bizarre type: organised groups of muscley young men, looking rather desperate and lumpenised, who admit to have been hired for about 20 Euro a day and equipped to smash cars, windows and people involved in the protests. The fact that police routinely observes “Titushka” attacks without intervening makes most people think that authorities are behind the organisation of these gangs. [Video attached: Police officer covers up one of the titushka helping him to hide his knife].
Episodes of such covert attacks on civilians, most possibly organised by the police, seem to have struck a nerve across politically diverse regions, fuelling a chain reaction of self-organised resistance. Paradoxically, this resistance has now received active support from the least expected source: the football ultras fans. Ukraine’s football fans are fiercely divided along regional and political groupings. But what we observe since three days ago is rapid mobilisation of football ultras from previously conflicting sides for the joint goal of protecting peaceful protests. Ultras leaders from opposite corners of Ukraine declared that while their political goals remain different, they all feel responsible for protecting their communities from criminal attacks organised by the current authorities. Unprecedentedly, as of this evening, Ultras clubs from almost every region of the country have made statements of joining forces to protect the peaceful activists against the “titushkas” gangs.This stand-off between united football ultras and the “titushkas” gangs seems to show what really stands behind Ukraine’s mounting public protests. Communities in the East, West and South seem to find equally unacceptable the idea of authorities tangling up with criminals to terrorise their own population.Quotes of statements by Ultras leaders by clubs:Donetsk / Shahtar: “In view of yesterday’s attack of “titushka” on the local Euromaidan and the fact that police remained deliberately inactive, we resolved to take personal responsibility for protection of the people who protest against anarchy and lawlessness. We do not care for EU association and we despise the opposition. But we want to protect our people in their fight for protection of human rights! Brothers! Think with your brain and protect your honour.”
Kharkiv / FCMK: “Police which torture peaceful protestors are a disgrace to our city. Thoughtful representatives of Kharkiv movement are on the barricades protecting our future. And those who will sell themselves as titushkas should better never return home.”
Crimea / Tavria: “We are sick of living in shit. We are sick with police who rape and beat women. We are sick with officials who drive drunk into people and go away unpunished. We are sick to give bribes to everyone. We are here for fairness. Brothers and sisters, unite!”.
Links to video, photographs and articles on the topic for possible referencing:
Police officers covering titushkas:
Ultras trying to stop titushkas from travelling to Kiev:
Ultras preparing to protect peaceful protests and to monitor streets for titushkas:
Statements on the internet sites of Ultras clubs: