The legacy of Viktor Yanukovych is a deeply controversial one. Viktor Yanukovych was the last legitimate President of Ukraine who was illegally overthrown in a western backed coup in February of 2014. Prior to that, Yanukovych was seen by many as a unifying candidate, the best choice of a bad lot who could hold the fragility of Ukraine’s totally artificial borders together in spite of tremendous historical odds.
In many ways Yanukovych never got the chance to be the unity candidate he pledged to be. He was constantly being undermined by sectarian forces including neo-Nazi elements who could not tolerate a man who preached tolerance and practised it, however limply. When the latent fascist elements in the historic Galacia region knew that the US and EU would back them, they came out of the woodwork and pounced. They began to launch an insurrection which led to a coup, in popular lore it is known as The Maidan or Euromaidan.
When Yanukovych’s fascist opposition conspired to overthrow him, many of his allies were either too frightened or too uninspired to come to his side, even though Ukraine’s former security service/special police, The Berkut did attempt to preserve law and order in spite of physical violence being thrown at them from heavily armed domestic terrorists and foreign mercenaries. To understand what the Berkut were up against, ordinary police in America often use automatic firearms in such situations, American police often use firearms in far less severe situations for that matter. The Berkut by contrast did not use or hold lethal weapons in spite of being fired on by all variety of lethal weapons including guns.
Unlike the current regime, not even Yanukovych’s opposition ever accused him of committing genocide or starting a war, he objectively did neither. His administration was corrupt but so too has every Ukrainian political leader’s faction been corrupt. Later allegations that his security services harmed civilians was known to be false at the time although the western media has failed to clarify this reality.
Yanukovych was however guilty of cowardice. As the legal President of Ukraine, he could have and should have remained in the country, gathered law enforcement and if needed, call on his allies in Moscow and Minsk to help restore law and order. President Bashar al-Assad of Syria called on his allies to help fight terrorism and Yanukovych could have done the same.
He did not exercise this legal right, instead he ran away in the night and never returned.
Since the coup, Yanukovych has tried to restore his name, something which at best will be a half-way success. When he correctly sates that his security services, the Berkut behaved impeccably and lawfully under the most horrible of circumstances, he is telling the truth, one that has been whitewashed by the western media even though Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet confirmed that Yanukovych is correct during a leaked phone call with Catherine Ashton, a former British EU official whose remit covered foreign affairs.
Now, Viktor Yanukovych has spoken to the press about trying to clear the good name of his security service as well as his own.
He stated the following,
“The authorities are doing everything to make sure the truth is not established. In the past years, they did everything to destroy the evidence proving that it was the foreign mercenaries and those who controlled Maidan that were behind snipers’ shooting at Berkut (Ukrainian security service/special police) troops as well as at fighters at Maidan. It was a provocation targeted at blaming law enforcement officers and the Ukrainian government for everything bad.
Eyewitnesses, participants, victims — today many realise that shots were fired from the buildings controlled by Maidan. It means that (there were) organised groups of snipers (who aimed) to provoke clashes. This is the truth that will be established, there are many documents to prove that.
We have started the process of applying to various authorities which would raise the level of responsibility of these countries and individual leaders who participated in the signing of this agreement during that period. Of course, it is their political responsibility… But as for the legal and material (sides of the issue), including because the damage was caused to the state by the passivity of these countries, the question of their liability will be determined in the near future”.
Viktor Yanukovych’s Berkut officers were loyal to their President and upheld their duty to protect and restore the peace. It is a shame that Yanukovych ran away rather than stand by his officers. At least now he is doing something to help them to restore their good name.