20.02.2014 | Halya Coynash

Titushki and Bercut riot police on the attack


The regime’s use of “titushki” or government-paid thugs has reached an all-time low over recent weeks with titushki openly working together with Berkut riot police, as well as masking as Maidan defenders in order to  provoke trouble or attack other activists.

On Wednesday evening outside the Kharkiv Interior Forces Academy, titushki, together with Berkut, beat up a TV STB film crew near the Interior Forces Academy. 

Journalist Masha Malevska described how she and cameraman Sasha Brynza came under attack.   He had to have 4 stitches and his video camera was completely destroyed.   Malevska explains that they were first attacked by titushki in masks and brandishing bats.  They ran ahead to get away from the thugs and came up against Berkut officers who also attacked.

She heard: That’s for Hrushevsky St, bitch!  STB, you say?   Take that!”

Berkut had seen their ID, knew that they were journalists.  She asked them to let them through since Brynza was covered in blood, but four Berkut officers stopped them from getting to the ambulance for about 15 minutes.  They also prevented her from picking up the pieces of the video recorder.

Her friend, Zurab Alasaniya reports that they wasted nearly 3 hours in the police station where Malevska wrote a report on an attack which the police were demonstrably uninterested in investigating.

There were around 7 people who’d been detained in the police station.  Typically, not one of the titushki, only Maidan activists.

There is considerable evidence that titushki have worked closely with Berkut officers and the authorities inDnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhya, Cherkasy and other cities.  The video here shows titushki collecting shields and weapons from inside the Dnipropetrovsk administration.

This is probably the first attack where Berkut has acted entirely openly, however titushki  have been responsible for beating up journalists on a number of occasions.  As reported, on Tuesday night Vesti journalist Viacheslav Veremiy died after titushki stopped the taxi in which he and a colleague were returning from work.  Veremiy died in hospital of a gunshot wound he received. .  

Since the dramatic escalation in conflict which came the day after Yanukovych made some kind of deal with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and a new 2 billion loan was announced, there have been numerous reports of titushki masquerading as Maidan self-defence officers. 

In the video here, for example, a Maidan defender appears to have been shot by titushki

Odessa titushki [photo: Olga Rudenko]

Olga Rudenko shows a photo of Odessa titushki “in disguise”.  She writes that she was on Hrushevsky St on Wednesday and only recognized them when they threatened to take her telephone away if she didn’t stop filming them.  She therefore gives the following advice on detecting such rot:

-          titushki will be in completely new masks and / or bats;

-          they have identical but scarcely noticeable armbands;

-          they react very aggressively to being filmed.

The president and his people have been going all out to try to convince the world that the people on EuroMaidan are radical extremists, anti-Semites, “fascists” etc and now that the escalation should be treated as a “terrorist attack. 

It seems more than likely that their “services” were used in two apparent anti-Semitic attacks in Kyiv.  As reported, police lack of interest in properly investigating these crimes has contrasted markedly with the authorities’ clear attempts to present EuroMaidan activists as anti-Semitic.

The march on parliament on Feb 18 began peacefully, and the rapid escalation of conflict can almost certainly be attributed at least in part to those using paid thugs for their own very dodgy ends.  

Those providing these thugs with new helmets and bats are probably also handing out firearms.  The regime’s deployment of “titushki” urgently needs to be clearly recorded and communicated to the international community as demonstration that calls for “all parties” to show restraint are missing the point and manifestly not enough.


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