The rubber truncheons hanging at their sides or carried in their hands as their heavyboots stomp in sync only adds to the fear factor.
“They are a ‘chip-on-your-shoulder’ class of people, certainly begrudging toward latte drinking, smartphone using… young intelligent types. They are the best and fiercest of those who made it through military training,” said Mark Galeotti, a New York University professor and post-Soviet security affairs expert who has researched security forces in Russia and Ukraine.
They are the Berkut, or Golden Eagles, the special riot police of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry. Images out of Kyiv over the past week have shown them violently and indiscriminately bludgeoning masked civilians believed to be hired thugs, peaceful activists and journalists alike, paying particular attention to those with cameras and smartphones.