My March 6 post introduced the bombshell revelation contained in Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet’s intercepted, leaked, and authenticated phone conversation, in which he says, “there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind [the] snipers … it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” I have been surprised not to be able to find a complete transcript of the almost 11 minute conversation, so I produced one and include it immediately after my signature line below. I believe it to be at least 99% accurate, but if anyone finds an error or has a different interpretation of what was said, please post it as a comment, indicating where in the YouTube audio it is located. Some other useful information:
1. German public television sent an investigative reporting team, which interviewed wounded protesters and gathered other evidence. They independently concluded that there was a serious possibility that Paet’s allegation was correct. See my April 14 post for details and links.
2. Mainstream American media continue to either ignore this significant evidence, or to cover it in misleading ways. In particular, as of this writing (11:30 PM PDT on 19 JUNE 2014):
- A Google search for the words Paet Ashton Kiev produced no relevant hits within the New York Times web site. The same was true for the Wall Street Journal, and TIME magazine.
- The Los Angeles Times covered the conversation only once, on May 20, over two months after the information surfaced. Even then, the article misrepresented the content of the conversation by concluding, “But the pair [Paet and Ashton] discussed only the conspiracy theories, according to the 11-minute call posted on YouTube and confirmed by Estonia.” Read the transcript, or even better listen to the YouTube audio, and reach your own conclusion.
- The Daily Beast (formerly Newsweek magazine) also delayed coverage of the conversation, this time by several weeks, on March 30. The article presents photographs which it says “appear to reveal the truth about who carried out the shootings in Independence Square on that day.” But the alleged truth here is that “Russian trained killers” were responsible, not violent elements within the protesters, as claimed by Paet. The article refers to Paet’s allegation as “a weird post-script” to the massacre. The article quotes Dr. Olga Bogomolets as saying that, “she has no idea how Paet could think that was what she was saying.” But, as the transcript below shows, Paet never said that Bogomolets was the source of the allegation that the snipers were from the new coalition. That is an understandable inference from the order in which he says things, but it is not what he said. Furthermore, Paet’s allegation is a “declaration against interest,” which deserves investigation, especially in light of the corroborating investigative report by German public television mentioned above. Another Daily Beast article a few days later similarly does not give the allegation the credence it deserves, and again focuses on Dr. Bogomolets denial.
- Coverage in the Washington Post was similarly delayed until March 25 and April 3, and emphasized that the call was “presented to appear more controversial than they should,” or Dr. Bogomolets’ denial.
- The Christian Science Monitor’s coverage was slightly better, but still inadequate. It was prompt (March 8), but started with the Ukrainian government’s allegation that Russia was responsible for the snipers. Only later does it get to Paet’s allegation.
3. My June 4 post presents strong evidence that the new Ukrainian government’s National Guard has killed unarmed protesters – behavior that, in February, President Obama said would not be tolerated by Yanukovych.
BEGIN TRANSCRIPT OF PAET-ASHTON 26 FEB 2014 CONVERSATION
[NOTE: Words in square brackets with question marks on either side of them are ones where I was not certain, for example [?Regane?]. Times are noted at a number of points in the transcript to ease correspondence with the YouTube audio.]
0:00 phone rings, and a woman answers in a foreign language.
Man 1: Hello. Good afternoon, madam. This is [?Regane?] from the Center Action Service.
Woman 1: Yes, yes, hello.
Man 1: Surely, hello. (laughs) Should we go … you think it’s going to be possible straight away?
Woman 1: To connect to Mr. Paet?
Man 1: Yes.
Woman 1: Yes, yes.
Man 1: So please go on. I am connecting with the Lady Ashton cabinet. [Catherine Ashton is EU Commissioner for External Relations.]
Woman 1: Yes, thank you.
Man 1: You’re welcome. (0:34)
Woman 2: Yes, hello. This is Miriam speaking.
Man 1: Yes, it is for the conference with the Estonian Foreign Minister. They are on line. Please stay on.
Woman 1: Hello. [Note: Women 1 and 2, here and below, may be new participants, but it does not affect the conversation.]
Woman 2: Yes, hello. Can you put me through please?
Woman 1: Yes, I will connect you to Minister Paet. One moment.
Woman 2: Thank you. 1:02
music plays while they are on hold, phone rings 1:20
Woman 2: Hello, minister?
Woman 2: Hi. I put you through. Thank you very much.
Paet: Yes, thank you.
phone rings 1:37
long silence 1:54
Ashton 2: Hello.
Ashton: Hello, how are you?
Paet: I am fine.
Paet: And you? 2:00
Ashton: Good. I am good. I just wanted to catch up with you on what you thought when you were there.
Paet: oK, yes. I returned last night already, so that I was one day.
Ashton: Yeah. Impressions?
Paet: Impressions are sad.
Ashton: Um hum.
Paet: I met with representatives of Regions Party [originally Yanukovych’s party, but it had dissociated from him by this point in time], also new coalition representatives, and also civil society [Ukrainian non-governmental organizations or NGOs]. There is this lady called Olga [Dr. Olga Bogomolets, who was tending to wounded protesters] who is head of the doctors. Yes, yes. You know her?
Ashton: I do. 2:30
Paet: Yes, so that, well, my impression is indeed sad that there is, well, no trust towards also these politicians who will return now to the coalition. Well, people from Maidan and from civil society, they say that they know everybody who will be in new government – all these guys have a dirty past. 2:52
Paet: So that, well, they made some proposals to the same Olga and some others from civil society to join new government. But this Olga, for example, she says directly that she is ready to go to the government only in the case if she can take with her, her team of foreign experts to start real health care reforms. 3:16
Paet: So that, well, basically, it is that the trust level is absolutely low. On the other hand, all the security problems, this integrity problems, Crimea, all this stuff. Regions Party was absolutely upset. They say that, well, they accept, they accept this that now there will be new government. And there will be external elections. But there is enormous pressure against members of parliament – that there are uninvited visitors during the night … to party members.
Well, journalists … some journalists who were with me, they saw during the day that one member of parliament was just beaten in front of the parliament building by these guys with the guns on the streets. 4:10
Paet: So that all this mess is still there. And, of course, this Olga and others from civil society, they were absolutely sure that people will not leave the streets before they see that the real reforms will start. So that it’s not enough that there is just change of government. So that that is the main impression. 4:27
So that, from EU’s and also well Estonia’s point of view, of course, we should ready to put this financial package together. Also together with others. This very clear message is needed that it’s not enough that there is change of government, but they say real reforms – you know, real action to increase the level of trust. Otherwise, it will end badly.
Because the Regions Party also said that, well, we will see that if the people from the eastern part of Ukraine will really wake up, and will start to demand their rights. Some people also with me, they were also in Donetsk. There people said that, well, we can’t wait. How long still the occupation of Ukraine lasts in Donetsk. That it is real Russian city, and we would like now to see that, well, Russia will take over. So that well … short impressions. 5:26
Ashton: No, very, very interesting. I just had a big meeting here with Olli Rehn [EU Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs] and the other commissioners about what we can do. I mean, we’re working on financial packages – short, medium, long-term. Everything from how we get money in quickly. How we support the IMF. And how we get a kind of … investment packages and business leaders and so on. 5:49
On the political side, we’ve worked [?out?] what resources we have got, and I offered to civil society, and to Yatsenyuk [Aresniy Yatsenyuk became the interim prime minister when what is now the “new coaltion” became the interim Ukrainian government] and Klitchko [Vitali Klitchko, one of the leaders of the new coalition, a former boxer, and now mayor of Kiev], and everybody I met yesterday: “We can offer you people who know how to do political and economic reform. The countries that are closest to Ukraine have been going through dramatic changes and have done big political and economic reforms. So we have got loads of experience to give you, which we’re happy to give.”
I said to the people in Maidan, “Yes, you want real reforms, but you’ve got to get through the short-term first. So you need to find ways in which you can establish a process that will have anticorruption at its heart, that will have people working alongside until the elections, and that you could be confident in the process. 6:41
Then I said to Olga, “You may not be Health Minister now, but you need to think about becoming Health Minister in the future, because people like you are going to be needed to be able to get and make sure that [?reform?] happens.
I also said to them, “If you simply barricade the buildings now, and the government doesn’t function, we cannot get money in, because we need a partner to partner with. 7:04
Ashton: And I said to the opposition leaders, shortly to become government, “You need to reach out to Maidan. You need to be, you know, engaging with them. You also need to get ordinary police officers back on the streets under a new sense of their roles, so that people feel safe. 7:21
I said to the Party of the Regions people, “You have to go and lay flowers for the people [who] died. You have to show that you understand what you have … what has happened here. Because what you were experiencing is anger of people who have seen the way that Yanukovych lived and the corruption. And they assume you are all the same.” 7:40
And, also the people who have lost people and who feel that, you know, he ordered that to happen. There is quite a lot of shock I think in the city. A lot of sadness and shock, and that is going to come out in some very strange ways if they are not careful. I think all of us, we just have to work on this. We did a big meeting here today to try and get this in place.
But, yeah, very interesting, your observations. 8:04
Paet: It is. And, well, actually, the only politician [whom] the people from civil society mentioned positively was Poroshenko [Petro Poroshenko, known as “the chocolate king” was elected president of Ukraine in the May 25 election].
Ashton: Yeah, yeah. 8:15
Paet: So that he has some sort of, how to say, trust among all this Maidan people and civil society. 8:20
And, in fact, what was quite disturbing, the same Olga told that, well, all the evidence shows that people who were killed by snipers, from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers, killing people from both sides. [8:38]
Aston: Well, that’s … yeah.
Paet: So that, then she also showed me some photos. She said that as [a] medical doctor she can, you know, say that it is the same handwriting, the same type of bullets, and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened. [8:58] So that there is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind [the] snipers, they were … it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition. [9:10]
Ashton: I think we do want to investigate. I mean, I didn’t pick that up. It’s interesting. Gosh. 9:14
Paet: Yeah. So that it was [?indeed?] disturbing that, if it starts now to live its own life very powerfully, that it already discreditates [sic] from [the] very beginning also this new coalition. 9:24
Ashton: I mean this is what they have got to be careful of as well, that they need to demand great change, but they have got to let the Rada [Ukrainian Parliament] function. If the Rada doesn’t function, then they have complete chaos. So that, it’s all, you know, being an activist and a doctor is very, very important. But it means that you’re not a politician. And somehow they’ve got to come to a kind of accommodation for the next few weeks, which is how the country is actually going to run. And then we get the elections and things can change. And that’s, I think, going to be quite pop… I am planning to go back early next week, probably on Monday. 9:55
Paet: It’s really important that now, well, people from Europe and also [the] West show up there so that it’s absolutely…
Ashton: Well, [?Verislav?] is going with the Visegrad Group [an alliance of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia] Friday. Friday, Saturday. William Haig (unintelligible) on Sunday. I will be back again Monday.
Paet: Yes, I heard also that Canadian Minister is going on Friday. And yesterday also William Burns [the American Deputy Secretary of State] was there, so we met …
Ashton: Yes, I saw Bill.
Paet: We met also with Burns there in Kiev yesterday.
Ashton: Yeah, good. Yeah, I didn’t know that John Baird was going. I will get hold of him. Okay, my friend. It was great to talk to you. 10:26
Paet: Well, thanks for these comments, and wish you well. Nice Australia.
Ashton: Yeah. What?
Paet: Nice Australia. Enjoy!
Ashton: I am not going to go. I got to delay it because I’m going to do more Ukraine instead.
Paet: OK, good, good.
Ashton: All right, my friend …
Paet: OK. Thank you. Thank you. And all the best to you. Bye.
END OF TRANSCRIPT