MOSCOW, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – The crackdown on student protesters in Kiev’s Maidan square on November 30 bore all hallmarks of a provocation staged to stir the crowd and fan anti-government sentiment, according to Serhiy Arbuzov, who served as deputy prime minister in Ukraine at the time of unrest.
“Provocateurs dressed [in police uniforms] could have been behind the attack to disperse a few dozens of peaceful demonstrators and students at the beginning of the standoff I still believe there’s no way that police could have actually done that. Of course, they might have also been police forces mixed up with dressed-up men whose aim was to escalate the situation,” Arbuzov told RIA Novosti.
On the night of November 30, 2013, police were reported to disperse a rally in central Kiev in support of Ukraine’s integration with the European Union. Ukrainian authorities admitted later the law enforcement had used power disproportionately. Kiev’s new authorities say the former government was responsible for all the Euromaidan incidents.
Commenting on the police clampdown, Serhiy Arbuzov said that the protest movement in Kiev’s Maidan, or Independence square, didn’t give the government any reason for concern.
“Students didn’t make any radical statements, they just spent their time on Maidan,” he said, adding that police troops were initially deployed to the square to “prevent provocations.”
In December, Ukrainian prosecutors brought charges of abuse of power against a number of police officials, followed by a new criminal case on May 31 against the authorities that had allegedly unlawfully interfered with a peaceful student rally in Kiev.
The political crisis erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the Cabinet of Ministers announced a halt to the country’s European integration. Mass protests, called Euromaidan, started in Kiev’s Independence Square, ultimately resulting in the overthrow of legitimate President Viktor Yanukovych in a coup on February 22.