The new Ukrainian government blamed agents working for the Russian government for the violence during the Maidan protests in Kiev that left nearly 90 people dead on Thursday.
Ukraine’s acting interior minister Arsen Avakov announced the accusation that elements from Russian intelligence had a definitive role in the deadly violence in February in a press conference Thursday.
Avakov stated that former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych gave the “criminal order” to fire on protesters gathered in Maidan square and was assisted by agents from the Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
“FSB agents took part in both the planning and execution of the so-called anti-terrorist operation,” Ukrainian Security Service head Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said at the same press briefing, according to an AFP report.
Most of the deaths were a result of gun fire that came from unidentified snipers, and both sides of the protest have blamed the other side for instigating the bloodshed that swept Kiev for two days in February.
Russia firmly denied the accusations, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that “huge amounts of evidence” counter Ukraine’s assertions that his country played a role in the violence that took place on Feb. 18 and 19.
This comes after news broke earlier this week that Ukraine arrested a suspected Russian provocateur for attempting to recruit 200 individuals to storm the nation’s parliament building and had stockpiled a large amount of Molotov cocktails for the operation.
Ukraine has also started cracking down on nationalist paramilitary groups that were a strong element in the Maidan protests. The Interior Ministry has ordered that all armed groups immediately disarm and government troops stormed the headquarters of the nationalist group Right Sector on Monday as a result of escalating violence resulting from the prevalence of paramilitary organizations in Kiev.