In Kiev, Abuse of Power Against Protesters, Medics, and Journalists

The international community has responded with shock and talk of sanctions against Ukraine’s leaders after streaming video broadcast live footage as Kiev’s central square turned into a war zone on Tuesday night. Violence involving armored tanks, Molotov cocktails, teargas, water cannons, and snipers reportedly left 25 dead and hundreds injured, and escalated divisions between the government and activists across the country calling for reform.

The clashes on February 18th produced dramatic footage for observers around the world to witness, including a livestream by Ukrainian news outlet, ESPRESSO TV, as well as a number of YouTube  videos showing protestors throwing rocks and flaming debris at police, and Berkut, or special forces, attack protestors with batons. This video depicts the extent of the renewed violence, as armored vehicles charge barricades surrounding protesters. Graphic citizen footage from throughout the day and night depict resulting injuries suffered by both sides.

Targeting Medics & Journalists

While videos of last night’s violence were the most dramatic we’ve seen from the Euromaidan protests, they are only the latest to document clashes in Kiev. In late January, several videos emerged exposing excess use of force by authorities. Their targets were not just protesters, but also reporters and medics working in the protest areas.

Between January 19 and 22, clashes in Kiev resulted in no less than 13 journalists and medical workers injured. In the above video, a row of riot police face off against a medic and several filmers only yards away. The medic identifies himself as such, while a cameraman shouts “press.” Despite this, an officer fires at the medic’s leg, and he limps off.

Other videos and reports suggest that authorities have not only failed to take precautions to avoid injuring medical personnel and journalists, but in some cases intentionally targeted them. This video documents the aftermath of a police raid on a Red Cross clinic on January 22. Two medics recount how officers threw grenades into the clinic and shot at them, even after they held up their Red Cross identification.

Violent clashes escalated after the Ukrainian parliament passed a series of laws criminalizing protests in mid-January. In this video, security forces compel a naked protester to pose for photographs with police in the snow. Large purplish bruises are visible on the man’s back, suggesting he had been abused. Police are shown kicking, harassing, and humiliating the man.

One Euromaidan activist, Dmytro Bulatov, spoke out after being kidnapped and severely beaten by police officers.  In a video filmed from his hospital bed, Bulatov, says that he was “begging them [police] to kill him” because he could “no longer bare” the abuse.

The Human Rights Channel is featuring new videos from the Euromaidan protests in this YouTube playlist. To send a citizen or advocacy video to add, tweet the link to @ythumanrights.

This article was written by Vienna Maglio and originally appeared on the WITNESS Blog.

Lead Image: Video still from Youtube video uploaded by user EuroMaidan PR.

This post was originally written for the Human Rights Channel, which is now the WITNESS Media Lab. Follow @WITNESS_Lab on Twitter for analysis and resources on the verification and contextualization of eyewitness video for human rights.

Help WITNESS create more human rights change

Join us by subscribing to our newsletter.