"The CIA watched it [Ukraine] very closely. All you need is to look at how the events unfolded. After [then Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovych announced that he needed to postpone the signing of the economic association agreement with the European Union, nobody listened to why or for how long. Mass protests began at once," Putin said in an interview for Showtime's documentary series, the third part of which aired late Wednesday.
"For sure, Yanukovych had not ordered to use weapons against the [Maidan] demonstrators. For that matter, western partners, including the US, asked me to exert influence on him to prevent him from giving such orders. We have been told: 'we do ask you to prevent the use of armed forces by Yanukovych. In turn, we promise that we will exert maximum efforts to make the opposition leave the squares and administrative buildings,'" Putin said.
The Russian leader told Stone he had agreed with the soundness of the western proposal.
"And as you know, President Yanukovych had not used armed forces. But he had also said that he could not behave in other manner, because he did not have the heart to sign any order to use weapons [against protesters]. I think that there could be snipers [behind the killings during the riots], who could use them… Only people, interested in escalation of the situation. I do not have information about the specific names [of such people], but pure logic gives us a hint," the president added.
In 2013-2014, Kiev's Maidan square witnessed months of pro-European protests sparked by then Yanukovych's refusal to sign the Ukraine-EU Association Agreement. In February 2014, the government was toppled, while violent clashes with law enforcement officials claimed the lives of some 100 civilians. The current Ukrainian authorities blame Yanukovych for the deaths.
Putin has dismissed the western media interpretation of 2014 events in Ukraine, saying its armed forces seized the Ukrainian presidential residence and then used claims that former President Viktor Yanukovych’s fled Ukraine as an excuse for their illegal actions, when in fact he was in power and in the country at the time.
The Russian president stressed that the events should be regarded as a coup as there was an assassination attempt on the Ukrainian general prosecutor, and one of his security guards was injured, while the presidential motorcade was shelled.
"Of course everything could be distorted by using a monopoly right on media and fooling millions of people, but I think that what happened is clear to an objective observer … a coup did take place," Putin noted.
The president underlined that Yanukovych tried to regain control of the country, but the threat of his assassination was too high at the time.
"One day after that, he managed with our support to move to Crimea, which was part of Ukraine at the time. He was there for at least a week, hoping that there was a chance that the people, who signed the agreement [on settlement of political crisis in Ukraine, dated February 21, 2014] will try to settle the conflict in a civilized, democratic and legitimate manner. But it did not happen and then it became obvious that if he falls into their hands, they will simply kill him," Putin stressed.
The four-part documentary series by Stone, called "The Putin Interviews," premiered on Monday night. The fourth and final episode will be aired on the television network on Thursday night.
Vladimir Putin also said that Europe and the United States used public discontent in Ukraine in 2014 instead of clearing up what was actually going on.
"Right after obtaining independence, more wild privatization and plundering of property, state property, lowering of the population' living standards began. Regardless the revolving door at the government, nothing changed in the life of an ordinary citizen. Of course, people got tired of tyranny, of the totally crazy corruption, the impoverishment of some and unscrupulous illicit enrichment of others," Putin said.
Putin noted that, "people thought that joining the European Union in any format would rid them of that humiliating position in which they had been since the beginning of the 1990s until the present." Putin further said that, "this was the driving force for all the events."
The Russian leader said Moscow had reacted to this and offered "to carry out negotiations with our European partners in the trilateral format." However, Russia's European partners "denied harshly" the proposal saying that "it is not your business at all," Putin explained.
"Everything started from this. Our partners in Europe and the United States saddled this 'horse' of people's discontent. And instead of clearing up what is actually going on, they supported the coup d'etat," Putin said.
The four-part documentary series by Stone, called as "The Putin Interviews," was filmed between July 2015 and February 2017. The series is aired by Showtime on June 12-15.