Photo: Maria Karpukhina / Dozhd
Sergey Kusyuk, the former chief of the Berkut special police involved in violently dispersing Euromaidan protesters, was spotted dispersing protesters in Moscow on 12 June 2017. A photo of Kusyuk was published by the Russian TV station Dozhd, following which Ukrainians recognized the famous police chief, who had directed many dispersals of protests in Ukraine. Later, a video of Kusyuk in the uniform of the OMON special police, who appeared to be giving out instructions to other officers breaking up up the protests in Moscow was shared by Oksana Boyko, a journalist at Russia Today.
Ran into Tovarishch Polkovnik yesterday) pic.twitter.com/jNR1EIwNus
— Oksana Boyko (@OksanaBoyko_RT) June 13, 2017
The Russian Guard declined to answer whether Kusyuk is indeed one of their employees now.
In Ukraine, Kusyuk served as a colonel in the now-dispanded Berkut special police force and directed the violent dispersal of a peaceful protest on the night of 29-30 November 2013. The brutality of the Berkut police who beat up students in central Kyiv caused indignation throughout Ukraine, and a day after, up to a million protesters gathered in Kyiv’s center.
In Ukraine, he is wanted for directing the dispersal of the student protest on 29-30 November 2013 together with his two deputies and four Berkut commanders. Apart from that, he is suspected directing violent protest dispersals in previous years and of handing out rifles with live ammunition to his subordinates during the Euromaidan protests, and later giving orders to destroy these rifles, as well as to destroy all the documentation related to the weapons at the base of the Berkut in Kyiv, the head of department of special investigations, Serhiy Horbatiuk, told Hromadske.
As well, Kusyuk is suspected of organizing the Euromaidan massacre of 20 February 2014, during which 47 protesters were shot.
In May 2014, the Deputy Chief of Kyiv division of Ministry of Internal Affairs informed that Kusyuk ordered to destroy all the documentation related to the Berkut division’s activities during Euromaidan, including the personal cards of the Berkut officers and the documentation by which they received weapons, and stated that on 21 February 2014 Kusyuk handed out 146 Kalashnikov rifles, 1 sniper rifle, and 1 Fort pump gun to the Berkut officers.
According to Ukraine’s Prosecutor’s General Office (GPU), Kusyuk and a part of his subordinates were driven out of Kyiv in the direction of Mykolayiv, and his further whereabouts were unknown. The GPU’s request that Russia extradites Kusyuk went unanswered. In February 2017, the GPU informed that 13 Berkut officers received Russian citizenship. Earlier, the Russian human rights activist Svetlana Gannushkina told Hromadske that 300 Ukrainians applied for asylum in Russia, most of whom were either Berkut officers or prosecutors.
Ukrainian social media users identified another ex-Berkut officer who now disperses protests in Moscow. His name is Vasily and he is from Luhansk, a city in eastern Ukraine now under the control of the Russian-backed “Luhansk People’s Republic.”
Бывший беркут А мы предупреждали вас россияне pic.twitter.com/s4HtTuAVsH
— Вася Барабаненко (@baraban040867) June 12, 2017
Ukrainian social media users were quick to poke fun at the news, “updating” Moscow’s coat-of-arms featuring St.George the Dragon Slayer to a Berkut officer beating a lying protester.
Moscow's new city crest? Mass arrests at latest round of anti-Putin protests inspire new series of online memes poking fun at the Kremlin pic.twitter.com/awvWeU2GNe
— Business Ukraine mag (@Biz_Ukraine_Mag) June 13, 2017
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