On February 20, 2014, Yuri Ilyin, the Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, had ordered that a number of military units move armed and equipped groups to break up Maidan. This is the subject of encrypted messages signed by Ilyin and made available by Glavkom.
These messages were received by the commanders of the 25th separate airborne brigade (Dnipropetrovsk), the 79th separate airborne brigade (Mykolayiv), the 73rd marine center specialty (Ochakiv), and the 1st separate brigade of marines. The approximate number of military personnel that was to be included is 2,500.
The reason for the use of troops against civilians was information of the counterterrorist center at the Security Service of Ukraine on alleged plans by members of Maidan to capture “potentially dangerous military facilities.” According to the encrypted messages, Ilyin received carte blanche for such actions from Minister of Defense Pavlo Lebedev .
The document refers to “the decision of the Minister of Defence regarding the use of force and resources of the armed forces in the anti-terrorist operation.”
The military was expected to receive broad powers: to detain citizens, review documents, perform searches, restrict traffic, enter the residences of citizens suspected of harbouring terrorists, and use weapons and special means. The publication’s sources assert that Volodymyr Zamana, the previous chief of staff, had refused to carry out Lebedev’s order, which is apparently why he had been replaced by Ilyin.
As noted, on February 22, 2014, Ilyin announced that the army remains loyal to the nation and will not be pulled into the political conflict. He also confirmed that he did not and would not comply with criminal orders.