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Monday, April 14, 2014

Internet Evidence Contradicts Russian Claims on Ukraine, Western Diplomats Say

Ambassadors from the United States, Britain and France all told the United Nations Security Council on Sunday night that video evidence posted online â€" showing well-armed insurgents seizing police stations in eastern Ukraine â€" contradicts Russian claims that peaceful protesters in the region are under threat from government forces.

“We have all seen the video footage of events over the weekend,” the British ambassador, Lyall Grant, observed. It showed, he said, “professional, well-armed, well-equipped, units wearing identical uniforms conducting coordinated military operations against Ukrainian state institutions. This is a pattern that is all too familiar. Coming just weeks after Russian troops illegally deployed to Crimea wearing uniforms without insignia.”

The United States ambassador, Samantha Power, said: “You don’t have to take my word for it, or even those of the Ukrainian government. You need only witness yourself the videos of professional military shepherding thugs into a building in Kramatorsk, the photographs showing the so-called concerned citizens taking over Slovyansk equipped exactly like the elite troops that took Crimea, or the video of a military operation in Krasny Liman by armed men with the same equipment.”

Video of Russian-speaking insurgents seizing a police station in Kramatorsk, Ukraine, on Saturday, subtitled by activists in Kiev opposed to the separatists.

Video of armed men in unmarked uniforms in the eastern Ukrainian town of Krasny Liman on Saturday.

The French ambassador, Gérard Araud, said it was pointless for Russia to deny its involvement, given this “stream of Internet images,” showing men equipped like members of Russia’s special forces, looking almost identical to the forces deployed across Crimea last month.

Russia initially called those deployments “spontaneous demonstrations by local self-defense groups,” Mr. Araud said. “No one believed it then. How can we believe it now? It seems that Russia, by denying the facts, isn’t aware that the Internet exists and that it is now contradicting these denials.”

Graphic video posted online over the weekend also showed pro-Russia activists, wearing the orange and black St. George’s ribbons associated with Russia’s annual celebrations of victory over Nazi Germany, beating demonstrators in favor of Ukrainian unity in the eastern city of Kharkiv, and armed men assaulting journalists who covered their takeover of government buildings in the region.

Video of demonstrators in the city of Kharkiv who favor Ukrainian unity being beaten and kicked by protesters calling for Russian intervention.

Members of a pro-Russian militia assault journalists.

Video posted on YouTube on Monday appeared to offer more evidence of Russian involvement in the unrest in eastern Ukraine. The clip shows a man in camouflage giving orders to police officers in the Ukrainian town of Horlivka, near the Russian border, after their headquarters was stormed by pro-Russia militants. According to a translation from The Interpreter, a news site financed by the Russian dissident Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s foundation, the man identified himself as “a lieutenant colonel in the Russian Army.”

Video shot in the Ukrainian town of Horlivka on Monday, after the police headquarters was stormed by pro-Russian militants.

The same scene was documented from the roof of the police station by the Dutch correspondent Olaf Koens.

The video was uploaded by a witness in Horlivka named Alex Goncharenko, a deputy of the Odessa Regional Council who resigned from the ousted President Viktor Yanukovych’s Party of Regions in February after the police killed protesters in Kiev. Last month, Mr. Goncharenko caused a stir by addressing a Council of Europe meeting in Strasbourg, France, wearing a T-shirt that read “Putin = Hitler.”

Video of Alex Goncharenko, a Russian-speaking deputy in the regional council of Odessa, denouncing Russia’s annexation of Crimea last month in Strasbourg.

One Russian blogger mocked the reappearance of the mysterious masked men by digitally inserting them into a classic Russian painting, Ilya Repin’s “They Did Not Expect Him,” about the sudden return from exile of a political dissident in Czarist Russia. The reworked painting was posted on Twitter with a caption that suggested the scene now showed the arrest of modern dissidents, called “traitors to the nation.”