MOSCOW (AP) — Ukraine's ousted president on Monday testified in the trial of five former special forces policemen charged with fatally shooting scores of demonstrators, and denied giving orders for them to shoot at the protesters.
Between Feb. 18 and 20, 2014, 72 protesters died on the Maidan square, most shot by police or snipers. There were also 13 deaths among the police and the Ukrainian special forces. The shootings were the bloody climax of months of demonstrations in Kiev against President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia days later.
Yanukovych, who gave testimony to a Kiev court on Monday from a courtroom in Russia, said he did not give orders to his forces to open fire on protesters and "could not have possibly given such orders."
The hearing was originally scheduled for Friday but the judge had to postpone it after nationalist activists blocked the entrance to the jail where the policemen who are on trial were held.
Ukraine's prosecutor-general took the floor in the middle of the proceedings to tell Yanukovych that Ukraine has launched another investigation and that he could face charges of treason.
A prosecutor who was questioning Yanukovych on Monday signaled that the evidence that was uncovered points to Russian interference in Ukraine. The prosecutor quoted Yanukovych's phone billing information and other case files, saying that Yanukovych's prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the first day of shooting on the Maidan, and that Yanukovych had had numerous phone calls with pro-Russian oligarch Viktor Medvedchuk. Putin is the godfather of Medvedchuk's daughter.
Asked whether he can confirm that he hosted Putin advisor Vladislav Surkov at his residence as blood was split on the Maidan, Yanukovych told the court: "I don't remember."