2014-02-18. The murder of Vasiltsov and Veremiy on Velyka Zhytomyrska str.
This episode is a part of the interagency “special operation” carried out by the Security Service of Ukraine with Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine (police) and approved by the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Officially it was called a “counter-terrorism operation”. It involved clearing and isolation of protesters in the central part of Kyiv and was scheduled on the 18thof February at 18:00.
During 18th February till 16:00 joint Special Forces have forced the supporters of Euromaidan to leave their positions and to move from Instytutska Street down to the foot bridge; from Hrushevskoho Street in both directions – down to Museum Alley and up to the Central House of Officers of the Ukrainian Armed Forces; from Kriposnyj Alley, Mariyinsky Park, European Square and partly from Khreshchatyk (to the barricade near the building of Ukrcoopspilka).
The “counter-terrorism operation” began at 19:53, when the barricade between the buildings of Ukrcoopspilka and Federation of Trade Unions of Ukraine was attacked by two armored personnel carriers (APC). They rammed the barricade when many people were on it and therefore might inflict a deadly cost on protesters. But the barricade withstood. Moreover, the protesters managed to burn one of the APCs with Molotov cocktails and therefore to delay the “counter-terrorism operation” for almost an hour.
If this operation were successful – the protesters would have only two ways to leave Maidan Nezalezhnosti:
- by Khreshchatyk or Grinchenko Street (parallel to each other);
- by Mykhailivska, Mala Zhytomyrska and Sophiivska streets, through Mykhailivska and Sofiivska squares and then by Velyka Zhytomyrska or Volodymyrska streets – to their intersection.
During that time Kostolna Street was already blocked by police officers. Shevchenko Alley passes into Malopidvalna Street, where the building of the Security Service of Ukraine is located. Therefore these escape routes were unavailable for the protesters. Moreover, the intersection of Volodymyrska Street and Bohdana Khmelnytskogo Street was under the control of traffic police (q.v. 23:05:50, video cell 22).
Police decided to block one of two possible escape routes. Thus, it was important to control the intersection of Velyka Zhytomyrska Street and Volodymyrska Street. Controlling this crossroad became a matter of strategic importance. Moreover, there were two key buildings at that place – the State Emergency Service of Ukraine exactly at the crossroad and Kyiv Police Department 100 meters from it. Thus, if the protesters chose this route they would be able to move only by Andriyivskyy Descent down to Podil.
After the beginning of the “counter-terrorism operation” at 19:50 ± 5 min (the exact time is determined) the intersection of Velyka Zhytomyrska Street and Volodymyrska Street was occupied by traffic police officers. One of them pointed his firearm at the supporters of Euromaidan that tried to prevent occupation of the crossroad. However, it was a passive confrontation and there was no danger for police officers.
During the next 5 minutes the crowd of supporters of Euromaidan significantly increased – there were much more civil people than police officers. That’s why police was forced to leave this crossroad about 20:00. After that incident the crowd of the supporters of Euromaidan dispersed.
At 21:15, during one of the numerous attack waves, police officers approached the barricade at Maidan Nezalezhnosti – the same barricade that had withstood the ram of two APCs earlier. That’s why taking the intersection of Velyka Zhytomyrska Street and Volodymyrska Street became even more important for the success of this “counter-terrorism operation”.
You can find also one more camera image from Maidan Nezalezhnosti in this video synchronization. It was added for better understanding of what was going on at both locations during the “counter-terrorism operation”.
At 22:15 from Sofiivska Square over 200 of “titushki” approached this crossroad. Those people were criminals which had been hired by the authorities. In less than 5 minutes they gathered near the building of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. This group of people was well-organized and equipped with different types of weapon: firearms, rifles, machine-guns, flash bang grenades. It might be their own weapon, or weapon that was received from the authorities or their representatives. Probably these “titushki” received an order to pretend being the supporters of Euromaidan – many of them were wearing the same helmets as the protesters.
It is likely that “titushki” didn’t have enough weapon as well as batons and shields. Therefore, at 22:45 they were given the additional equipment from the minibus Mercedes (АМ 5547 АО) which was parked close to the building of Kyiv Police Department (about 50 meters away) from the side of Velyka Zhytomyrska Street.
During that time some of the protesters stayed on Mykhailivksa Square. From time to time small groups of the protesters entered Velyka Zhytomyrska Street. However they reached the building of Kyiv Police Department and returned. They didn’t get closer to the group of “titushki” than 70-100 meters.
Probably such the activities were uncomfortable for “titushki” or maybe they were waiting for them and therefore used every possible moment to shoot the protesters.
During one of such situations at 22:57:22 one of the protesters, Vitaly Vasiltsov, was fatally wounded between the building of Kyiv Police Department and the entrance to Intercontinental hotel (50.4552910°N, 30.5190036°E, ± 0.5 m).
Vitaly Vasiltsov, right after he got shot, was carried to Mykhailivska Square to the ambulance. But he didn’t survive and died in the hospital because of blood loss without regaining consciousness.
The protesters didn’t give “titushki” such opportunities anymore and stayed at safe distance on Mykhailivska Square. The next death occurred in an hour and the murdered person was not the protester but a random civil person.
At 23:58:33 at the intersection of Velyka Zhytomyrska Street and Volodymyrska Street close to the traffic light (direction from Volodymyrska Street to Sofiivska Square) a taxi stopped close to the group of “titushki”. The passenger was Vyacheslav Veremiy, born in 1980, who worked as a correspondent of the news-paper “Vesti”.
At 23:59:15 (42 seconds after the stop) the taxi started moving, but in 3 seconds (4 meters) a flash bang grenade exploded close to the right wheel and the driver stopped. “Titushki” surrounded the car and took the passenger out it. They immediately started beating him without any questions whether he supports the protesters or not.
Veremiy managed to break the circle. He ran to Velyka Zhytomyrska Street, trying to avoid punches and kicks of “titushki” that were pursuing him. At that time (23:58:38) the second flash bang grenade exploded – this time from the driver’s side of the car. However, the driver stayed inside – he didn’t leave the car.
At 23:58:31 one of the security cameras was shot by the “titushka”, but that was not the camera which was filming him at that time.
Probably, Vyacheslav Veremiy would be able to run away from his chasers, but one “titushka” from the crossroad shot him with his firearm. He shot several times and hit the target once at 23:59:42 (50.4553770°N, 30.5168415°E, ± 1.5 m). Veremiy fell down. “Titushki” attacked him with heavy batons and tried to finish him. Even then, heavily wounded Veremiy managed to stand up and to walk for about 30-50 meters to the group of the supporters of Euromaidan who gave him first aid.
The taxi driver, which worried about his safety as well as about his car left this place at 00:00:03.
The group of armed “titushki” left the crossroad at 03:17 19th February and went to Velyka Zhytomyrska Street. They have controlled this crossroad for 5 hours and left after the active phase of the “counter-terrorism operation” had ended. The protesters managed to withstand all the attacks and pulled back for less than 150-200 meters.
3D-reconstruction of these events with geotagging is still a work in progress