By Rachel Denber
The Russian-government-funded television network RT (formerly Russia Today) has reported a “leaked” phone call between EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet that is getting a lot of attention, but all it really does is underscore how little we actually know about what happened during the clashes and shootings in Kiev on February 19 and 20.
The call – confirmed as genuine, and an apparent EU security lapse – included a statement by Paet that one of the main doctors for the Maidan movement in Ukraine found that snipers who allegedly shot at “people in the street” during the February 19-20 bloodshed in Kiev had also shot at police. In the 60 seconds or so when this issue is discussed, Paet says that the doctor made her conclusion based on the bullet wounds in the dead and the overall “handwriting.”
Paet goes on to say that there’s a quickly growing “understanding” that “behind the snipers was not [the ousted President Viktor] Yanukovich but somebody from the new coalition,” and that the coalition doesn’t want to investigate. That, however, was not the doctor’s conclusion, but rather Paet’s guess. Paet later denied assigning blame for the snipers to the new coalition and warned journalists against taking his words out of context.
The doctor later said that she didn’t tell Paet that both police and protesters had the same type of wounds, as she had only seen wounded and killed protesters and had no access to wounded or killed policemen.
As the leaked conversation cycles its way through the media frenzy, one truth remains unchanged: there is an urgent need for a thorough, impartial investigation into the February 19-20 killings. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe is well placed to deploy a team of human rights monitors experienced in investigating violence during civic unrest. That should happen as soon as possible.
Human Rights Watch