The Titushky (plural; Ukrainian : тітушки, Russian : титушки, Romanian : titușki) were mercenary agents in Ukraine who supported the Ukrainian security services during the administration of Viktor Yanukovych, often posing as street hooligans in sports clothing with the purpose of serving as provocateurs at pro-European and anti-Yanukovych political rallies that would incite violence in order to get protestors arrested. Their role grew more prominent in the wake of Euromaidan, where they were involved in numerous clashes and acts of violence during the movement.
In the early 2010s, a “Titushky raid” (Russian: титушки рейд) was a widely-used slang term in both Ukrainian and the Russian spoken in Ukraine to describe street beatings, carjackings, and kidnappings by unidentified men in civilian clothes from behind the lines of political rallies.Titushky were employed by the Yanukovych government, reportedly receiving 200 hryvnia to $100 per day in payments. Some were also suspected of being illegal formations of combat troops carrying concealed pistols. They carried out intimidation and dispersal of anti-government demonstrations, and attacked participants and representative of the news media.
Titushky adopted the strategy of blending into a peaceful crowd or mob and then instigating a violent fight, which led to arrests of peaceful protesters on the grounds of mass disorder; the perpetrators were then used either as witnesses of the supposed crime, or as victims. During Euromaidan in 2013–2014, they became a collective term for agents provocateurs and thugs,who were hired by the Party of Regions and law enforcement agents in civilian clothing. Supporters of President Yanukovych also used the term titushky to refer to pro-opposition thugs.
The term Titushky derives from the surname of Vadym Titushko (Ukrainian : Вадим Тітушко, Russian : Вадим Титушко), also known as Vadik “Rumyn” (Ukrainian : Вадiк «Румин», Russian : Вадик «Румын», Romanian : Vadik "Românul"), meaning Vadik "the Romanian", a mixed martial artist from Bila Tserkva who attacked Channel Five journalists on May 18, 2013, during the Rise up, Ukraine! opposition rally. He and two other men received suspended sentences over the attack. Titushko said he was unhappy to have his name associated with thugs, and that he supported the anti-government Euromaidan protests. In his interview, Titushko asserted that he was hired to protect the opposition rally and that he tried to remove a woman from harm's way, from amid a melee.
Radio Liberty described titushky as "burly guys dressed in sports wear who act as agents provocateurs . They crack down on protesters or provoke clashes with the aim of tarnishing peaceful protests".
In January 2014, a former head of the Security Service of Ukraine, General Palivoda, stated "Titushki are actively used by the government in local standoffs with people. These are groups of provocateurs who get paid and these are mostly people without steady moral principles and very poor people who desperately need some money. They are not bandits nor prisoners nor criminals. Often they don't even know who gathered them and what they will have to do. They understand what they got involved in only after they find themselves in the middle of some action."However, Vyacheslav Veremiy, a Vesti Reporter journalist traveling to Euromaidan, was pulled out of his car by a Titushky squad and shot to death point-blank from a concealed gun, indicating more than just a happenstance action. Veremiy's killing was confirmed on Wednesday 19 February 2014 at 6.45 am.
According to What's On magazine, Titushky openly fired live ammunition on 18 February 2014, resulting in the death of at least one protester at the scene near the Supreme Court building in Kyiv. On the same day, some 200 Titushky men, dressed as Maidan defence units with green helmets and shields, joined Berkut troops and beat protesters on Velyka Zhytomyrska street using bats and iron pipes.Titushky also blocked a polling station in Mykolaiv during the presidential election amidst pro-Russian unrest in Ukraine in the early stages of the Russo-Ukrainian War, on 25 May 2014. After 2014, accused of collaboration with Yanukovych, Titushky quickly disappeared from Ukraine, with many finding themselves arrested or fleeing to Russia.
In 2013, the word ititushky or ititushkas (pronounced ajtitushky) (Ukrainian : айтітушки, Russian : айтитушки) quickly appeared in the Myslovo (Ukrainian : Мислово) dictionary of modern Ukrainian slang, and also soon became a widespread term in the Russian used in Ukraine. A portmanteau of the words IT and titushka, it refers to a hacker or an ordinary user who acted aggressively against pro-Euromaidan blogs and websites, using DDoS-attacks, aggressive comments, or trolling.
In Poland, in late 70s individuals who were working on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Public Security were often termed as Polish : Nieznani sprawcy, lit. 'Unknown perpetrators', (see Nieznani sprawcy (poland euphemism) ) who were tasked with terrorizing and murdering dissidents, catholics, and keeping in check workers, often with impunity. The murder of Stanisław Pyjas, a student at the time, is a well known case of illegal sprawcy activity.
Piotr Siuda (Russian : Пётр Сиуда, 1937 - May 1990), a victim and volunteer of Novocherkassk massacre who had investigated it in 1980s had reported that, at the time, Soviet Militia in his own city of Novocherkassk used semi-legal groups of ex-convicts to hunt down and beat up political activists and dissent. : 60 Piotr himself was killed in 90s under suspicious circumstances.
During the prelude to the 2023 Polish parliamentary election, the PiS government has been caught hiring supporters to disrupt and delegitimize the 2023 Polish protests.
The Berkut was the Ukrainian system of special police of the Ukrainian Militsiya within the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The agency was formed in 1992, shortly after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, as the successor to the Ukrainian SSR's OMON.
Vitaliy Yuriyovych Zakharchenko is a Ukrainian and Russian politician who is a senior consultant at Russia's Rostec state corporation. He previously served as Ukraine's Minister of Internal Affairs from 7 November 2011 until he was suspended from his duties by the Ukrainian parliament on 21 February 2014. His position as Minister of the Interior, had given him control over the Ukrainian national police service, the Militsiya. One day prior to his dismissal, he had signed a decree calling for the police to be armed with combat weapons, to be used in their ongoing battles against protesters in Kyiv's Maidan Nezalezhnosti. The Council of the European Union sanctioned him effective 6 March 2014 for misuse of public funds and human rights violations, and the United States sanctioned him effective 22 December 2015.
Euromaidan, or the Maidan Uprising, was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on 21 November 2013 with large protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv. The protests were sparked by President Viktor Yanukovych's sudden decision not to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia and the Eurasian Economic Union. Ukraine's parliament had overwhelmingly approved of finalizing the Agreement with the EU, but Russia had put pressure on Ukraine to reject it. The scope of the protests widened, with calls for the resignation of Yanukovych and the Azarov government. Protesters opposed what they saw as widespread government corruption, abuse of power, human rights violations, and the influence of oligarchs. Transparency International named Yanukovych as the top example of corruption in the world. The violent dispersal of protesters on 30 November caused further anger. Euromaidan led to the 2014 Revolution of Dignity.
Below are the foreign reactions to the Euromaidan. Euromaidan was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine that began on the night of 21 November 2013 after the Ukrainian government suspended preparations for signing an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
Below are the domestic responses to the Euromaidan. Euromaidan was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine that began on the night of 21 November 2013 after the Ukrainian government suspended preparations for signing an Association Agreement and Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement with the European Union.
A series of riots occurred in several locations of downtown Kyiv, Ukraine, on 1 December 2013 in response to a police crackdown on Euromaidan's protesters and journalist on the night of 30 November. The day saw the highest numbers of journalists injured by police in a single event since Ukraine's independence regain in 1991. Also, 1 December became the first instance of a public building being occupied by protesters in modern history of the country.
In response to anti-protest laws in Ukraine, a standoff between protesters and police began on 19 January 2014 that was precipitated by a series of riots in central Kyiv on Hrushevsky Street, outside Dynamo Stadium and adjacent to the ongoing Euromaidan protests.
As part of the Euromaidan movement, regional state administration (RSA) buildings in various oblasts of Ukraine were occupied by protesters, starting on 23 January 2014.
Altogether, 108 civilian protesters and 13 police officers were killed in Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity, which was the culmination of the Euromaidan protest movement. The deaths occurred in January and February 2014; most of them on 20 February, when police snipers fired on anti-government activists in Kyiv. The slain activists are known in Ukraine as the Heavenly Hundred or Heavenly Company. By June 2016, 55 people had been charged in relation to the deaths of protesters, including 29 former members of the Berkut special police force, ten titushky or loyalists of the former government, and ten former government officials.
Euromaidan was a wave of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, which began on the night of 21 November 2013 with large public protests demanding closer European integration. Protesters also stated they joined because of the dispersal of protesters on 30 November and "a will to change life in Ukraine". The scope of the protests evolved over subsequent months, and by 25 January 2014 the protests were fueled by the perception of widespread government corruption, abuse of power, and violation of human rights in Ukraine. By February 2014 the protests had largely escalated into violence, resulting in the Revolution of Dignity and the resignation of Azarov's government and ousting of President Yanukovych. This resulted in the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Automaidan is a pro-European Ukrainian socio-political movement involving the use of cars and trucks as means of protest that first began in late 2013 in Kyiv within the advent of Euromaidan.
Spilna Sprava is a political party in Ukraine registered on 19 March 2015, though active since late 2010. The name of the organisation, taken from Latin Res publica, indicates the republican nature of the movement, as well as symbolises the active civic solidarity of Ukrainians. It was founded in December 2010, during the Tax Maidan-2010 protests against the fiscal policies of Viktor Yanukovych.
The Revolution of Dignity, also known as the Maidan Revolution or the Ukrainian Revolution, took place in Ukraine in February 2014 at the end of the Euromaidan protests, when deadly clashes between protesters and state forces in the capital Kyiv culminated in the ousting of elected President Viktor Yanukovych and a return to the 2004 Constitution of Ukraine. It also led to the outbreak of the Russo-Ukrainian War.
The anti-Maidan refers to a number of pro-Russian demonstrations in Ukraine in 2013 and 2014 that were directed against Euromaidan and later the new Ukrainian government. The initial participants were in favor of supporting the cabinet of the second Azarov government, President Viktor Yanukovych, and closer ties with Russia. By the time of the Revolution of Dignity in February 2014, the “anti-Maidan” movement had begun to decline, and after the overthrow of Yanukovych, the anti-Maidan fractured into various other groups, which partially overlapped. These ranged from people protesting against social ills, to supporters of a federalization of Ukraine, to pro-Russian separatists and nationalists.
The assault of Euromaidan by security forces on 11 December 2013 was an attempt by Viktor Yanukovych's government to break up the Euromaidan protest through a night assault using Berkut special police units and interior ministry troops. Their tactics included the displacement of frontal peaceful protesters from lightly barricaded camps at the Independence Square and part of Khreshchatyk Street which is near Bessarabska Square.
Mykhailo Vitaliyovych Havryliuk is a Ukrainian public figure. He participated in the 2014 Euromaidan protests as a Cossack of the Fourth Maidan Self-Defense Hundred, and was publicly tortured by Berkut officers in January 2014.
The Agreement on the Settlement of the Political Crisis in Ukraine was a set of documents signed on 21 February 2014 by the then-President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, and the leaders of Ukraine's parliamentary opposition via the mediation of the European Union and Russia.
Ivan Katchanovski is a Ukrainian-Canadian political scientist. He teaches at the School of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa. Katchanovski's research focuses on democratization, comparative politics, political communication, and conflicts: in particular, in Ukraine, and especially the origins of the Donbas War, which he has characterized as a civil war, and the Russo-Ukrainian War.
Oleksandr Ivanovych Kovalov is a Ukrainian former soldier and politician currently serving as a People's Deputy of Ukraine from Ukraine's 51st electoral district since 29 August 2019. A veteran of the Soviet–Afghan War, Kovalov was a leader of protests against attempts by the government of Viktor Yanukovych to eliminate pensions of veterans and Chernobyl liquidators before later allegedly supporting the Anti-Maidan movement and assisting in the flight of Berkut members from Ukraine. He currently holds the record for the fewest votes received by a successful People's Deputy candidate, having received only 220 votes in his 2019 election.
Yevhen Volodymyrovych Zhylin was a Russian Separatist in Ukraine from Kharkiv known for his involvement in leading the Titushky during Euromaidan and attempting to form a "Kharkiv People's Republic" of which he was the self proclaimed "President." Zhylin would be assassinated in Russia in 2016.
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