Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Cancel Anytime
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Canada’s most-awarded
newsroom for a reason
Stay informed for a
lot less, cancel anytime
“Exemplary reporting on
COVID-19” – Herman L
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
Just $1.99per week for the first 24weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

In this Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014 file photo, activists evacuate a wounded protester during clashes with police in Kiev's Independence Square, the epicenter of the country's current unrest, Kiev, Ukraine. As questions circulate about who was behind the lethal snipers that sowed death and terror in Ukraine's capital, doctors and others told the AP the similarity of bullets wounds suffered by opposition victims and police indicates the snipers were specifically trying to stoke tensions and spark a larger, angrier clash between opposition fighters and government security forces.

Efrem Lukatsky/The Associated Press

It's a conversation that, if accurate, would mean the West needs to rapidly reinterpret what's happening in Ukraine: In an audio recording posted online, the Foreign Minister of Estonia sounds like he's suggesting that it was the country's pro-Western opposition, not the security forces of the deposed Viktor Yanukovych, who used deadly ammunition against the crowds on Kiev's Independence Square last month.

But those familiar with the phone call say they believe the recording in question was tampered with, likely by operatives of the Russian government.

In the recorded conversation, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet can be heard appearing to tell European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton that there was a growing "understanding" that snipers affiliated with the protest movement were in fact responsible for much of the bloodshed on Feb. 18 to 20 in Kiev. At least 80 people were killed, many of them by live ammunition, in three days of clashes between protesters and police. The opposition seized control of government following the fighting, while Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia .

Story continues below advertisement

"All evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and people in the streets, that they were the same snipers, killing people from both sides," Mr. Paet can be heard saying in the call, which the Estonian foreign ministry acknowledges was made Feb. 26, following a visit by Mr. Paet to Kiev.

"It's really disturbing that the new coalition, that they don't want to investigate what exactly happened…. There is now stronger and stronger understanding that beyond [the] snipers, it was not Yanukovych – but it was somebody from the new coalition," he continues.

A shocked Ms. Ashton replies: "I didn't pick that up. That's interesting. Gosh."

The recording sounds legitimate. The first two minutes of the 10-minute recording – which first appeared on pro-Russian blogs four days ago – are a lengthy game of operator tag as Mr. Paet's assistants try and connect him to Ms. Ashton's phone. Towards the end of the conversation, Mr. Paet refers to a looming visit by Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird on Feb. 28.

Mr. Paet suggests his new version of events is based on a conversation he had with Olga Bogomolets, a renowned Kiev doctor who played a frontline role in the anti-Yanukovych protests, and who treated many of those shot in the February violence.

Dr. Bogomolets, however, told The Globe and Mail that the recorded conversation didn't reflect what she told Mr. Paet during their meeting. "What I saw were people who were killed by snipers and only on [protesters'] side," she said.

"The main message that I was bringing to Europe was, we have to find those people who bring the snipers, who paid the snipers. We have to know their names. We have to know the truth."

Story continues below advertisement

On Sunday, Estonia's President Toomas Hendrick Ilves denied that the audio recording accurately reflected what Mr. Paet had said to Ms. Ashton.

"Some intelligence agency eavesdropped (not much choice who) and later full speech spliced together for propaganda," Mr. Ilves wrote to The Globe and Mail via Twitter. The brackets are his own.

Asked if he could release a full recording of the conversation between Mr. Paet and Ms. Ashton to prove the audio on pro-Russian blogs had been spliced, Mr. Ilves said he didn't have one. "Do you record your phone conversations?" he replied.

Even if Mr. Ilves is correct, the damage is in many ways already done. "Kiev snipers hired by Maidan leaders – leaked EU's Ashton phone tape," reads one headline on the website of the Kremlin-owned Russia Today television channel.

Those who want to believe the Kremlin's version of events – in which power in Kiev has been seized by armed gangsters that the West is foolish to support – now have this recording to cling to.

Those critical of the Russian role in Ukraine can point to yet another nefarious act by Moscow's agents.

Story continues below advertisement

The propaganda war continues.

With files from Paul Waldie in Kiev

Follow me on Twitter: @markmackinnon

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies