Arrested Maidan Activist Tells a Shocking Story of Berkut Atrocities

I’ve been on trial for almost two weeks now as one of the ‘political’ cases, along with a lot of other people whose cases are being fabricated by the government in an attempt to prove to its electorate that all the dissidents who disagree with the pro-governmental politics are gangsters and garbage. However, this war of the government against its own people is a failure, both for the stupidity of their henchmen and the resolve of the true sons of Ukraine.

Being here in custody, I got acquainted with other ‘terrorists’ and ‘organizers of mass disorders.’ Their ‘criminal cases’ repeat themselves as if copied over by the same hand. People here are divided into the two groups: militants from Hrushevskiy Street and AutoMaidan.

The first group comprises all those who were detained on Hrushevskiy Street, European Square, or just somewhere in the city, far from the center, but wearing yellow-and-blue ribbons. Among them there are journalists, photographers, elderly people over 60 and very young guys who were captured one by one. Not one of them looks like a terrorist.

Andriy Shmyndyuk

Andriy Shmyndyuk

The second group, AutoMaidan, are all the people lured out of their cars in different parts of Kyiv through a classic setup scheme. One story told by the guys is about a yellow minibus, detained in Kriposniy Lane. People gathered on European Square, were invited into a minibus: ”Come on, let’s help bring necessary supplies to Maidan”.

Then the minibus went to a place where a Berkut bus was already waiting. Berkut fighters arranged a real interception show: they pounded the sides and the back of the bus with another car, fired at the tires, finally punctured one tire and pressed the minibus against a fence, dragging all the passengers out onto the street. After that they battered the minibus passengers and dragged them to the Berkut bus where, it is said, they were beaten for real, people were screaming in pain, but Berkut didn’t stop.

This happened just 500 meters from the barricades on Institutska street, from where about 20 Maidan guards rushed to help. However, a trap was set for them too: one more Berkut unit blocked their way to the bus and, threatening to use firearms and firing to demonstrate, took a hostage, Dmytro Poltavets.

The captives were taken to Mariyinsky Park, where they were brutally beaten once again: the fighters were knocking their teeth out, breaking in their heads, mocking then… Finally, they took them to the Obolon Militia precinct house, and handed them over to the authorities. The guys said they didn’t believe they would come out alive.

The captives recognized among the fighters those who had passed a few weeks previously through the walk of shame near Kyiv-Svyatoshyn Court on 109 Peremohy Avenue. Moreover, the Berkut fighters themselves, while beating them at Mariyinsky Park, kept repeating: “Which ones of you were at Prospect Peremohy?”

My situation is similar to the stories of other people who are called Automaidanivtsi. The ‘titushky’ [thugs and provocateurs paid by the government] together with certain characters from the Kyiv anti-drug Militia (their names are known, but haven’t been disclosed yet) staged a fake fight between each other to attract the attention of the AutoMaidan activists, who they knew were patrolling the city in order to protect the property of local citizens from being vandalized by the titushky.

All of a sudden, several people, who were just driving by, appeared on Shchorsa Street near the fake fight, and they had the courage to stop and check what was happening. Berkut, waiting in an ambush, grabbed all the witnesses of the scene as if they were the perpetrators and ran away with the hostages before the arrival of journalists who had been called by the people from nearby buildings.

It is said that somebody even shot a video of this brutal cleansing showing how the Berkut is bashing us and destroying our cars.  If journalists and AutoMaidan activists had come a bit earlier to this skirmish, much more blood would have been spilled, because Berkut and later the investigators didn’t conceal that it was just a setup.

I still don’t know where my car is at the moment, the investigators refuse to inform me. The witnesses say the car was smashed to smithereens: windows and headlights broken, the cabin crushed, the tires punctured.

I would like to draw attention to Berkut reports, in which they maintain that at the moment of the arrests on Shchorsa Street everyone already had bleeding hands and smashed faces. All the people arrested in our case are ready to prove in court that at the time we were loaded into the Berkut bus our faces were intact, and our hands had no signs of fighting. It was later recorded at Darnytskiy police station, and even now it is possible to confirm this.

From Shchorsa Street the Berkut bus went away fast, as if to escape a chase. This was also reflected in the Berkut fighters’ conversations among themselves. In the bus we got a good share of beating that was accompanied by shouts like: “Where is your “Glory to Ukraine”?” , “Sing the [Ukrainian nationalist insurgents songs]!” and personal threats.

A guy who tried to say that he’s from Kyiv and has nothing to do with the Maidan, was put to silence with a boot to his head and a recommendation: “Shut the f*** up! We know all of you are from Lviv.”

After about 15 minutes, the bus drove into some fenced area where we were kicked out onto a snow-covered pavement, undressed and searched, our clothes torn, all of our personal possessions and valuables taken away. Then they went on with the abuse, beating us cruelly for a long time.

They were trying to demonstratively break my fingers with their boots and batons, with partial success. They cut my friend’s hair with a knife and shoved it into his mouth. I saw that several Berkut fighters were kicking two guys in front of me, aiming exclusively their heads. Later on, one of them was hospitalized with multiple jaw fractures and brain hemorrhaging directly from the police station. Our requests for medical care were answered only by more beatings.

The beatings lasted nearly half an hour, then a man approached the Berkut (obviously, he examined our documents), shouting: ”Whom did you bring?!” Then the cruelties suddenly stopped, we were quickly thrown back into the bus, and the bus departed somewhere. The bus driver was talking to someone else that “they are on our tail”, and later “it seems we lost them.”

Fortunately (I say it ironically, but it was really a blessing), they didn’t take us outside of the city, but decided to hand us over to the Darnytsya Militia station. Some of us lost consciousness several times during this evening, but none was morally subdued, none was asking for mercy, which made them feel more frustrated and at the same time scared.

I emphasize: we were all intact and undamaged at the time we were taken to the Berkut bus on Shchorsa Street, whereas we were brought to Darnytsya Militia station brutally beaten and battered by Berkut.

By the way, we arrived there with 1.5 hour delay after our detention on Shchorsa street, and Berkut could scarcely explain why it took so much time for aride that normally takes 20 minutes. Medical care was provided to us only with a 4-hour delay; we were told that the ambulance had been called long ago, but they’re all busy with “your Maidan”. When the ambulance finally arrived, the doctors were told that, despite our critical condition, we would be sitting in the office of the investigator “as long as it takes”! I spent 6 hours there. One guy was deliberately left without any medical help and sent from there to the prison.

Initially, they tried to charge us with “mass disturbance”, but the next day the investigators realized that the case does not hang together. Then they brought in some ‘victims’ – police officers and “titushkiy” – so that the case was rewritten under Article 296, section 3 [hooliganism aggravated by resisting police officers].

It was evident that the police are afraid, the investigators evaded questions and commented on nothing; it looks like they take instructions from the top and frequently lose the documents. The investigators also rejected my and my attorney’s request to subject me to forensic medical examination and ignored my request to submit a statement about the theft of my car. They also refused to admit me as a victim. Later on, I managed to submit this request to another investigator.

Rumor has it that pro-government people openly call us “captives” and “prisoners of the regime”, and the authorities hold us as hostages to be exchanged for the vacating of the occupied government buildings. I personally ask the opposition not to yield to the governmental provocations. This regime is not worth any negotiations or concessions. The MPs of the Party of Regions have already clearly demonstrated how much they fear people’s anger and pointed to those whom they fear most: the Right Sector, the Maidan Guard and the AutoMaidan.

I want to thank everyone for their support, especially those who don’t stay at home at this critical time, who are not afraid of provocations of our authorities.
Ukrainians are strong-willed people, we will never give up!

Glory to Ukraine!!!

Andriy Shmyndyuk

2 thoughts on “Arrested Maidan Activist Tells a Shocking Story of Berkut Atrocities

  1. Pingback: eyewitness. Andriy Shmyndyuk 22.1 | Silberblick.at

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