Stone is producing a documentary on the revolution, which began as protests in support of deeper economic ties with Europe and culminated in February with the ouster of pro-Russia Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Amid the violence, small groups of protestors moved up two-lane Institutskaya Street from the Maidan, which rises under a bridge up a hill that forms a natural ampitheater around the east side of the central square. The protestors, using metal shields and motorcycle helmets for protection, were cut down by sniper fire at the top of the hill. The furtive snipers who were hidden in the surrounding buildings, including the top floors of the nearby hotel Ukraine, expertly shot advancing protestors, and then gunned down those who braved the danger to rescue their wounded comrades.
“They were ‘playing’ with them, you know,” said Natasha, a 31-year-old Ukrainian digital startup executive and lawyer living in Kyiv. “They shot one on the leg or thigh so he couldn't walk, so the other one would rush to help, and then the sniper would kill the guy who's dragging the wounded in the head. There were patterns, like it was entertainment for the snipers.”
The injured protestors were dragged into the lobby of the nearby Hotel Ukraine, covering the white marble floors in blood. Priests circulated among the dying, performing last rites. Family members inspected the dead, wailing in grief when they discovered the body of loved one.
The unnamed snipers responsible for the carnage, operating from the roof of the hotel, smuggled in their weapons and ammunition in pizza boxes while posing as pizza delivery men. They stepped over their dead and dying victims in the lobby on the way to the elevators at the rear of the room to take them back up to the upper floors to continue their assault.
Protestors later reported that during the final days of the revolution Berkut hit squads trolled Kyiv’s hospitals and churches looking for injured protestors, sometimes murdering them in their hospital beds by baton beatings, sometimes abducting them for an anonymous grave in a Ukrainian forest.
According to Ukrainian government estimates, more than 150 protestors are still missing.
Yanukovych fled to Russia days after the shootings, and the new government immediately disbanded the Berkut, whose personnel fled to eastern Ukraine or Russia to escape prosecution.
The identity of the snipers was never proven. Claims range from the Ukrainan intelligence service (SBU), the Berkut, the Russian FSB (successor agency to the KGB), Ukrainian police, and some Russian media reports suggest the gunmen were either under orders from the CIA or were CIA agents.
In a Dec. 30 Facebook post, Stone said the Kyiv sniper attacks were done by "foreign elements" and the incident had "CIA fingerprints on it."
The Kremlin described February’s uprising in Ukraine as an illegitimate fascist coup orchestrated by neo-Nazis and the CIA.
"[T]he West has maintained the dominant narrative of 'Russia in Crimea,’” Stone added, “whereas the true narrative is 'USA in Ukraine."
Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine in March following the arrival of covert paramilitary units in the region. The move was condemned as illegal by Kyiv and the West.
Russian President Vladimir Putin used the claims of foreign intervention in Ukraine’s revolution as a pretext for his illegal annexation of Crimea in March and for his support of separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, who launched an insurgency that, according to UN estimates, has killed more than 3,700, injured more than 9,000, and left most of eastern Ukraine in ruins.
NATO satellite imagery in August showed tanks, trucks, heavy weapons, and thousands of Russian soldiers crossing from Russian territory into Ukraine in a move Ukrainian military personnel labeled an “invasion.”
The Kremlin later acknowledged Russian soldiers, including Chechen mercenaries, were fighting for the antigovernment rebels in eastern Ukraine, but claimed the soldiers were there on their own volition while on vacation, and were not operating under orders from Moscow.
Prior to the Sept. 5 cease-fire signed in Minsk, Belarus, Ukrainian military units were constantly under fire from artillery fired from within Russian territory, and Ukrainian warplanes were shot at by air-to-air missiles from military aircraft originiating from Russian territory.
Despite clear evidence to the contrary, Russia continues to deny its involvement in the eastern Ukrainian conflict.
Following the shoot down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which killed 298, U.S. satellite imagery and analysis indicated a Russian Buk surface-to-air missile fired from within rebel-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine was responsible. Moscow still maintains a Ukrainian fighter jet was to blame.
Moscow later hinted the MH17 shoot down was a failed Ukrainian attempt to assassinate Putin, who was traveling by air from Moscow to Brazil at the time.
Throughout the Ukrainian war, government-controlled Russian news outlets have been caught in an embarrassing series of fabricated news stories, often using recycled and crudely edited internet videos as evidence of Ukrainian war crimes.
Despite these revelations of deliberate misinformation, Russian propaganda has been effective at recasting Russia’s economic troubles and military aggression as the consequences of Western aggression and interference in Russian affairs. Putin, consequently, still enjoys an approval rating above 85 percent in Russia.
Stone, 68, echoed Moscow’s line that Western and fascist elements instigated the Ukrainian revolution.
"[W]ell-armed, neo-Nazi radicals forced Yanukovych to flee the country with repeated assassination attempts,” Stone said.
Stone, a Vietnam War veteran, has a history of sparking criticism for his outspoken and controversial support for dictatorships, including his 2014 biographical documentary on deceased Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Mi Amigo Hugo, which praised the former dictator and largely overlooked his oppressive policies and human rights abuses.
“Stone cannot be trusted to present the truth, even when shooting biographies of people who matter,” Jeffrey Taylor, contributing editor for The Atlantic, wrote in Foreign Policy Magazine, May 13.
“Stone’s celluloid valedictory to Chávez is beyond redemption, a work of cinematic malpractice that marks him as a ‘useful idiot,’” Taylor added.
Ukraine, Kiev, political crisis, nationalism, sniper, EuroMaidan, World