A video taken from a phone by Johannes Wamberg Andersen, a freelance Danish journalist living in Kyiv, shows police officers kicking two men in the head on Khreshchatyk Street early this morning.
Johannes Wamberg Andersen was out late in Kyiv's center when, close to 5 a.m. today, some of his friends told him that police were raiding Maidan Nezalezhnosti and attacking protesters.
“I came after the purge,” Andersen, the Danish freelance journalist said. “My report is not the most interesting.”
But his early morning stroll was plenty interesting enough – his four-minute video caught police kicking men in the head. The victims were crouched on the sidewalk, unarmed and trying to shield their heads from the blows. They appeared to pose no threat to the officers.
Then police officers who noticed that Andersen was filming the brutality started beating him. At least two officers took part in the assault on him.
“They beat me in the head and made several attempts at trying to grab my phone out of my hand,” Andersen said. “I clinged to it for life. Then I screamed for life. Somebody could have heard me five kilometers away. They eventually let me go away.”
The attack didn't leave him with obvious bruises or serious injuries and, since police administered the beating, he saw no point in reporting the assault on him.
Andersen can only imagine what transpired during the purge. He said that police attacking people indiscriminately as they fanned out from Independence Square to a wider area on the main Khreshchatyk Street.
“The video was shot as they were widening out their sweep; they were like a machine cleaning the street. They were just mopping up the streets indiscriminately,” Andersen said.
No professional police practices were in evidence, he said.
“The critical point is there was no warning,” Andersen said. “I was on the edge of their operational line. They might feel they had a legitimate reason to cordon off certain areas, but if they do that they should make people aware. What they did to me is push me off. I asked what’s the problem. They pushed me off and said go over to the other side of the street. After that, when you have complied with orders, you think you are safe.
“If you are professional police force, you have to assess when you look at a person – is he part of the problem or is he not part of the problem? it’s like an army force, you deal with hostile forces, don’t deal with civilians.”
In Kyiv early this morning, the police were dealing with the civilians – brutally.
Andersen couldn't resist some ironic comments posted with his video on Facebook:
"Say hello to Euro-integration, Yanukovych-style. After the clip ended I screamed the full strength of my voice and tried to appeal to the police in English as the they tried to take my phone from me. I tooke some straight hits to my head because i wouldn't let them take my phone. Several policemen tried to wrest it out of my hand, but I resisted. I managed to cling on to it while I took some beats from them and got ahead of their line. There is a myth that police in Western countries is much harder on demonstrators than in Ukraine. That is not true. This all happened AFTER I complied with the police instructions and stepped back beyond the line they themselves defined for me. Apparently they didn't like that I filmed how they kicked somebody with their feet on the pavement."
Kyiv Post chief editor Brian Bonner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org