A peer-reviewed paper initially approved and praised by a prestigious academic journal was suddenly rescinded without explanation. Its author, one of the world’s top scholars on Ukraine-related issues, had marshaled overwhelming evidence to conclude Maidan protesters were killed by pro-coup snipers.
The massacre by snipers of anti-government activists and police officers in Kiev’s Maidan Square in late February 2014 was a defining moment in the US-orchestrated overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government. The death of 70 protesters triggered an avalanche of international outrage that made President Viktor Yanukovych’s downfall a fait accompli. Yet today these killings remain unsolved.
Enter Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian-Canadian political scientist at the University of Ottawa. For years, he marshaled overwhelming evidence demonstrating that the snipers were not affiliated with Yanukovych’s government, but pro-Maidan operatives firing from protester-occupied buildings.
Though Katchanovski’s groundbreaking work has been studiously ignored by the mainstream media, a scrupulous study he presented on the slaughter in September 2015 and August 2021 and published in 2016 and in 2020 has been cited on over 100 occasions by scholars and experts. As a result of this paper and other pieces of research, he was among the world’s most-referenced political scientists specializing in Ukrainian matters.
In the final months of 2022, Katchanovski submitted a new investigation on the Maidan massacre to a prominent social sciences journal. Initially accepted with minor revisions after extensive peer review, the publication’s editor effusively praised the work in a lengthy private note. They said the paper was “exceptional in many ways,” and offered “solid” evidence in support of its conclusions. The reviewers concurred with this judgment.
However, the paper was not published, a decision Katchanovski firmly believes to have been “political.” He filed an appeal, but to no avail.
My appeal to journal has been rejected even after letter of support from world-renowned social scientist who contacted me because of my research concerning Maidan massacre & #UkraineRussiaWar. 4/ pic.twitter.com/DCE4uYmp9g
Among those fervently supporting Katchanovski’s appeal was renowned US academic Jeffrey Sachs. “You have written a very important, rigorous, and substantial article. It is thoroughly documented. It is on a topic of great significance,” Sachs wrote to the scholar. “Your paper should be published for reasons of its excellence…The journal will only benefit from publishing such a work of importance and excellence, which will further the scholarly understanding and debate regarding a very important moment of modern history.”
Academic conspiracy of silence
Katchanovski declined to name the journal in question, but described it as “top-tier” in the field of social sciences. He believes its refusal to publish his study is “extraordinary,” but nonetheless emblematic of a “far bigger problem in academic publishing and academia.”
“The editor who accepted my article only learned it would not be published from my tweets on the subject. This reversal was highly irregular and political. There is growing political censorship concerning Ukraine in academia, and also self-censorship,” Katchanovski told The Grayzone. “Many scholars are afraid to conduct evidence-based research that runs contrary to established Western narratives on Maidan, the Russia-Ukraine war, and other issues related to the conflicts in Ukraine Kiev following the 2014 coup.”
By contrast, the scholar said, those willing to “blatantly and uncritically parrot Western narratives,” even when their fables run “contrary to evidence,” are rewarded, and encounter no resistance to publishing their work. Katchanovski is well-positioned to comment on academic censorship related to Ukraine: three other journals that accepted his papers after successful “expert” peer-review processes also ultimately refused to publish.
In January 2023, for example, another academic publication rejected a paper authored by Katchanovski “for similar political reasons.” The work examined far-right involvement in the Donbas civil war, and the May 2014 Odessa massacre in which ultra-nationalists forced pro-federalist, Russophone activists into the city’s Trade Unions House and set the building on fire, killing dozens and wounding many more. As with the Maidan sniper killings, no one has ever been brought to justice for these heinous acts.
Katchanovski claims the journal’s editor offered an assortment of excuses for not moving forward post-peer review. As publication approached, he said the editor falsely claimed the study was identical to his previous Maidan massacre oeuvre. Yet an Ouriginal software check confirms the paper Katchanovski submitted bore no similarity to his Maidan study. The editor also complained that he classified the eight-year-long conflict in Donbas as a “civil war” which was initially provoked by Ukraine’s far-right.
That same paper had been rejected by yet another journal months earlier, similarly because Katchanovski dared to describe the war in Donbas as “civil, with Russian military interventions.” This characterization is common in the “majority of scholarly studies” on the conflict, he told The Grayzone.
That violent far-right elements were centrally involved in the Odesa massacre is confirmed by copious video footage and hardly controversial. Why recognition of this indisputable fact was considered overly contentious by an academic journal remains unclear, but the rationale behind the suppression of Katchanovski’s Maidan massacre investigations is self-evident.
“This is done for political reasons. The mainstream media follows their governments, not the facts. Western journalists grossly misrepresented the Maidan massacre,” the scholar said. “With a few exceptions, journalists did not report videos of Maidan-supporting snipers and their confessions, and testimonies of the wounded Maidan protesters and several hundred witnesses concerning such snipers.”
Far-right elements discuss victim tally with US officials
The open source evidence collected by Katchanovski persuasively supports his conclusion that the Maidan massacre “was a successful false flag operation organized and conducted by elements of the Maidan leadership and concealed groups of snipers in order to overthrow the government and seize power in Ukraine.”
Among the trove are 14 videos depicting snipers nesting in Maidan protester-controlled buildings, 10 of which unambiguously show shooters tied to far-right groups ensconced in Hotel Ukraina, aiming at crowds of demonstrators below, and shooting at government-aligned law enforcement officials.
Meanwhile, synchronized videos demonstrate shots fired by the government security forces initially charged with the massacre do not coincide with the killing of protesters. Instead, the police officers fired warning shots at inanimate objects such as lampposts, trees, and the ground in order to settle violent crowds. They also fired into walls and windows where snipers in the Maidan-controlled Hotel Ukraina were located, targeting the snipers nested there.
The Maidan massacre trial is expected to issue its final verdict this autumn. Hundreds of witnesses, including 51 protesters injured during the shooting, have testified that they were shot at from Maidan-controlled buildings or areas. Some said they witnessed snipers inside the building. This narrative is supported by the investigations of government ballistics experts. In all, 14 self-admitted members of the Maidan sniper groups have have implicated specific Maidan snipers and leaders in the massacre.
Despite the groundswell of evidence pointing toward a false-flag operation, Katchanovski has no faith the trial will get to the truth, or that its verdict will be based on the highly incriminating evidence amassed over proceedings:
“The prosecution simply denied there were such snipers and did not investigate them. Ukrainian courts lack independence and often base their decisions, especially in such high-profile and highly politicized cases, on directives from the Presidential administration. It’s a difficult situation for the judges and jury. There are threats from the far-right to not acquit police members.”
There are other reasons to suspect the verdict will be a whitewash. For one, the risk that the truth behind the events could implicate US officials directly in the killings, and more generally the Maidan coup, is considerable. It is an axiomatic article of faith in the Western mainstream that Washington was in no way involved in the upheaval, despite mountains of hard proof to the contrary.
High-ranking members of the far-right Svoboda party, including its longtime leader Oleg Tyagnibok, and his deputy Ruslan Koshulinskyi, have alleged that the Maidan sniper slaughter was closely coordinated with the US. Tyagnibok has sworn that after the first four protesters were killed, he was shocked by the lack of international outcry.
“Why is there no reaction? This is not enough,” he claims to have lamented at the time.
In turn, Koshulinskyi discussed what death toll would be sufficient for Washington and its international lackeys to begin loudly demanding Yanukovych’s removal from office:
“They talked about the first deaths – well, five, 20…100? When will the government be to blame? In the end, they reached the figure of 100. There was no pressure. There were no sanctions. They waited until a mass murder. And if there is a mass murder in the country, the government is to blame, because they crossed the line, the authorities cannot allow mass murders.”