Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Ukrainian In Spirit, If Not In Name: Euromaidan's First Victims

Serzh Nihoyan, an ethnic Armenian Ukrainian who was the first Euromaidan protester killed.
Serzh Nihoyan, an ethnic Armenian Ukrainian who was the first Euromaidan protester killed.
By Yulia Ratsybarska, Daisy Sindelar and Franak Viachorka
The first day of Ukraine's new laws restricting public demonstrations erupted in chaos and bloodshed on January 22 as the country's two-month-old Euromaidan protest claimed its first victims, two men killed by gunfire amid clashes between demonstrators and police.

Fellow demonstrators said both men had been Euromaidan stalwarts for weeks. Many today paused to praise the two -- one an ethnic Armenian, the other a Belarusian native -- for taking up Ukraine's democratic cause.

The first victim identified was Serhiy Nihoyan, a 21-year-old from Bereznovativka, a small village outside the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipropetrovsk.

Nihoyan's Armenian parents reportedly immigrated to Ukraine from the embattled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in 1992, a year before Serhiy was born.

His father, Garik, told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that he had hoped to discourage his son from joining the Euromaidan protesters but that Serhiy, who had recently fallen into a depression after breaking up with his girlfriend, had insisted on traveling to Kyiv.

"We were very critical of his decision from the start, but he wouldn't listen," he said. "We asked if someone was forcing him to go, but he said, 'No, no one's forcing me, I can leave whenever I want.' But he had other problems, with a girl. He was depressed, he started growing a beard. And then he contacted some girl over the Internet, and the next day he got up and left."

Enthusiastic And Charismatic

Activists say Nihoyan, with his distinctive dark beard, was a permanent fixture from early December at the Euromaidan demonstrations, where he chopped wood or served as security -- standing guard on the perimeter of the crowd, often with the red-blue-and-orange Armenian flag draped around his shoulders.

Many on January 22 referred to him as a "hero" and "Euromaidan's first martyr."

One woman recounted on Facebook how she met him after bringing hot tea to the protest: "Unlike a lot of the other guards, he didn't approach me -- he didn't leave his post. I walked up to him myself, and only then he took the tea and gratefully kissed my hand."

Many supporters circulated a video showing Nihoyan standing at the protests and raising a clenched fist as he recites the following passage from "The Caucasus," a poem by Ukraine's 19th-century poet and artist Taras Shevchenko that depicts the struggle of Circassians to free themselves from Russian oppression:

And glory, freedom's knights, to you,
Whom God will not forsake.
Keep fighting -- you are sure to win!
God helps you in your fight!
For fame and freedom march with you,
And right is on your side!

WATCH: Serhiy Nihoyan Reads 'The Caucasus' (In Ukrainian)

Serhiy Proskurnia, a Ukrainian filmmaker who has produced a series of the Shevchenko videos to mark the 200th anniversary of the poet's birth, says he was struck by Nihoyan's charisma.

"He enthusiastically agreed to take part in our project," Proskurnia says. "For me, it was very interesting because he was an Armenian who spoke very good Ukrainian. He fulfilled all my producer's recommendations -- this 'rot front' gesture, the raised hand with a tight fist, and two flags, Ukrainian and Armenian. This clip has made him recognizable; a lot of people noticed him. Now, unfortunately, it's become the main clip of our project."

Other observers, however, have attempted to cast doubts about Nihoyan's background, with several tweeting journalists and at least one blogger, Graham Phillips, suggesting Nihoyan was a paid mercenary or right-wing terrorist trained by members of an Armenian liberation movement.

Phillips offers no evidence to back his claims but includes a link to Nihoyan's VKontakte page, which contains photographs of Nihoyan in combat fatigues, holding a gun and in some cases brandishing an Armenian flag.

Defenders have argued that the pictures are likely from Nihoyan's one-year military service, which remains obligatory for young men in Ukraine. Other pictures show Nihoyan holding the Armenian flag in a variety of settings, including at the beach. Still others show him at the Euromaidan protests, in one instance holding a placard reading, "God speaks through the voice of the people."

Nihoyan's Father, Fellow Villagers Remember Slain Ukrainian Protesteri
January 23, 2014
In the village of Bereznuvativka in Ukraine's eastern Dnipropetrovsk region, Harik Nihoyan, the father of Serhiy Nihoyan -- one of the first victims of violent clashes between demonstrators and police in Kyiv -- told RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service that his son participated in the antigovernment protests despite the family's disapproval. A fellow villager remembered Serhiy as a "good, calm boy." (Video by RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service)
​(​WATCH: Nihoyan's father speaks about his son)

"He loved history, both Armenian and Ukrainian," said his mother, Venera, saying that he remembered to light a candle every December 7 in memory of Armenia's devastating Spitak earthquake in 1988. "That's the kind of guy he was. He had never been to Armenia. But he dreamed of getting a passport and getting to travel there."

The "Kyiv Post" quotes Oleh Musiy, the coordinator of medical services for the Euromaidan demonstration, as saying Nihoyan had been shot four times, including in the head and neck. He strongly suggested that conventional bullets had been used in the shooting. (Ukraine's Interior Ministry has denied responsibility for the killings, saying the guns used by their forces were loaded with rubber bullets.)

The second victim was Mikhail Zhyzneuski, a native of Belarus.

The Belarusian Foreign Ministry said it was seeking to clarify information about Zhyzneuski, who had immigrated to Ukraine in 2005, reportedly citing political persecution.

Opposed To Russian Influence

Zhyzneuski, who was in his late 20s, reportedly died of a gunshot wound to the heart. Since moving to Ukraine, he had become a member of UNA-UNSO, a sometimes controversial Ukrainian nationalist organization that is militantly opposed to Russian influence.

RFE/RL's Belarus Service quotes friends and acquaintances as saying that Zhyzneuski, who went by the codename Loki, was "brave and smart," and had been one of the most active UNA-UNSO members in the Euromaidan protests.

"He was a very responsible and energetic person, very sociable, always in a positive mood," one friend said.
Mikhail Zhyzneuski in KyivMikhail Zhyzneuski in Kyiv
Mikhail Zhyzneuski in Kyiv
Mikhail Zhyzneuski in Kyiv

UNA-UNSO has confirmed the death of one of its "soldiers," saying Zhyzneuski was killed by a bullet from a Makarov pistol.

"I want to thank the brotherly nation of Belarus for raising such a serious man and son of the Belarusian nation," said Mykola Karpyuk, one of the group's leaders. "He's a real hero. The Ukrainian nation will give him glory and honor."

Numerous international organizations have condemned the deaths.

Ranko Krivokapic, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said the killings "represent a dangerous escalation in the unrest...and should convince the government and the opposition -- more than any outside calls can -- that constructive dialogue is essential."

Amnesty International also expressed dismay at the fatalities, saying that "there must be no impunity for law enforcement officers who resort to abusive use of force."

"The Ukrainian authorities must do all in their power to stop the escalation of violence in Kyiv before more people are killed," said Amnesty Ukraine expert Heather McGill. "If, as they say, they are interested in a peaceful resolution of the ongoing political crisis in the country, they should respect the people’s rights and not seek to take away their freedoms through sweeping legislation, crushing of peaceful protest, and allowing police to use abusive force with impunity."

Written in Prague by Daisy Sindelar based on reporting by Yulia Ratsybarska in Bereznovativka and Franak Viachorka in Minsk. Natalia Churikova contributed to this report.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 22, 2014 21:07
RIP Nihoyan and Zhyzneuski.
In Response

by: Stanislaw Miasik from: Canada, Montreal
January 24, 2014 20:09

What if an owner of a private enterprise
commits a private wrong against and employee.
...What should be done in case like this?

What if a private eye in a private law conceals a doctor
who in a private practice commits a crime against a private patient.
...What should be done in case like this?

What if a private member's private secretary graduates from a private school
and covers up a private sector fraud which a private press commits.
...What should be done in case like this?

What if a private bill allows a private hotel owner to touch
private parts of a sleeping female comer.
...What should be done in case like this?

What if a private soldier in a private life has a private view about a private war.
...What should be done in case like this?

...the word "private" is taken from
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English


In a private jail there is a private electric chair.
...What should be done in case like this?

by: Peter Wasyliw from: London
January 22, 2014 22:29
RIP Serhiy Nihoyan and Mikhail Zhyzneuski..Respect
In Response

by: john from: us
January 23, 2014 19:51
LOL, Ya respect to brainwashing western regimes.

by: Anonymous
January 23, 2014 01:06
"""Numerous international organizations have condemned the deaths."""

I would like to understand
these alleged "Organizations"
also will condemn the violent actions of protest
the serious threats to the lives of police men
(I've seen many molotv launched on men who did not respond)

or we must only hear condemn a government
somehow or other, has had the patience to wait for two months for the matter be resolved?

THE so-called "Western democracies" had already many deaths on their conscience
supporting rivouzioni and revolutionary
all over around the Mediterranean basin!

Now we just need to organize a conference of
"friends of Ukraine"
with which legitimize these violent revolutionaries
and then the scenario will be completed .

I inform you that in turkey at istanbul
there is another revolution on course
but they
the very democratic Western forces
prefer turn a blind eye
no , 2
Turks for better or worse
are important allies in the born
better to turn away
In Response

by: konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 24, 2014 05:14
You "anonymous" status is well known,
"Union of Russian People", Russian Nazi clown.
Police and "apparatus of violence" are "regions" in Ukraine,
Sons of masters of "Golodomor" and Russia's "karantine",
Hiding coal dust of Donbas to burn to much of the gas,
Stolen from Tatars, to bankrupt Ukraine for the boss,
The expanding Russian Empire. Ukraine is victim
Of imperial resurrection - avoid being provoked.
Armenian possibly killed by error by the team
That thought he was Georgian singer, Otto...
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 19:17
I am italian

by: parvenu from: US
January 23, 2014 02:34
Ok but don't these people ever have to work?
In Response

by: Irene from: US
January 23, 2014 18:35
When there is a war in your country, businesses shut down, banks closed, protesters kidnapped, beaten, killed by berkut and the police, trust me, "work" isn't thought about.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 24, 2014 17:32
Dear Irene, there is a "war" in Ukraine because these guys were paid by the Beavuses to start it and to lose it. The same way as the US- and Saudi-financed terrorists started the war in Syria and today we see how Hezbollah is finishing them off. You can be sure that - should the need arise - Putin and Yanek will be even more efficient in this respect than Hezbollah is.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 18:50
In Response

by: parvenu from: US
January 25, 2014 03:00
Banks closed, businesses shut down- since... November? I doubt that
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 23, 2014 21:39
they are working. for us and certain European government special services to destablixe the country.
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
January 25, 2014 04:27
To work as slave for occupying Russia?
Even USA emigrants from USSR and CIS are used.
The Russian home-help and nurses, with help of "Prussia"
And using low level chemical-biological warfare abuse,
Here in USA, use us and elderly - earning for kasha,
Killing us in immobility for joy and breed of Russia.

by: weareallNigoyans from: USA
January 23, 2014 07:55
Well written article, but I am interested if it's mandatory for RFE/RL to try to find an opposing view point and also interested to know how many hours did they have to search the Internet to find a low-life such as Graham to quote his baseless and flat out stupid comments, and finally, I'm interested to know how long the authors had to contemplate to include the link. Shame RFE/RL. R.I.P. Nigoyan.

by: Paula from: Canada
January 23, 2014 13:05
These deaths will cause the fall of the Ukrainian regime. Ukrainians are going to stop Putin at his tracks.

The writers of this article are paid agents who purposely are distorting the reputation of Nihoyan. I will provide no proof but write it anyway....because it seems to correspond to the rules of RFE/RL.

If Graham Phillips has offered no evidence of Nihoyan's "terrorist background" why then his views were published by RFE ?
In Response

by: john from: us
January 23, 2014 22:00
lol, dream on!
In Response

by: Henri from: Montreal
January 23, 2014 22:17
Because Radio Free Europe is the quintessence of bad journalism.
The following phrase of the article is just ridiculous and totally absurd.
"Graham Phillips, suggesting Nihoyan was a paid mercenary or right-wing terrorist trained by members of an Armenian liberation movement."

In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 11:54
""Ukrainian regime"" ?!?!

which regime?
At government there are people democratically elected !

And instead
who have democratically delegated to the insurgents to act on their behalf?

Do You know that in the rest of Ucraina nothing happen ?

There is no revolution in course
there are just thousands of bandits in Kiev,
and that's it!
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 18:53
Paula, how come you are confused so much?
In Response

by: Paula
January 30, 2014 23:09
I'm not confused, you just don't get it.

by: Peter Wasyliw from: London
January 23, 2014 15:18
The police whether willing or not are protecting a dictatorship that has stolen millions from the ukrainian people..murdered, imprisoned and are no different to nazi scum..long live the fight for Ukraines freedom
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 11:55
government was democratically elected!

who democratically delegated insurgents to act on their behalf?

by: john from: us
January 23, 2014 19:49
it yet another attempt to do regime change by hook or by crook by west. by bankrolling and brainwashing people this just another face of western deciet and need be by unleashing terrorists as they are doing in Syria Libya and as they did in Iraq. or as they attempted to do by their Georgian sucassvill puppet.

it is all part of the same game the west is playing. changing masks and tactics as need be.
In Response

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 24, 2014 17:38
Yes, John, you are absolutely right: this is a NATO-promoted attempt to carry out a regime change, but the same way they did not achieve their goals in Syria or Venezuela, they will not achieve anything in Ukraine either - Putin and Yanek will not allow them.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 18:54
Hi John,
Looks like you one with great comments here, the rest of them are confused and lost.

by: Peter Wasyliw from: London
January 23, 2014 23:11
Regime change is vital in Ukraine..and it's coming from within the 'west' just agrees. Have you not seen what's goingon & it only a small part. Explain to me why presidents son oleksanda is worth around £160 millon since his dads been in charge..he's a dentist by the way

by: Ulviya from: Baku
January 24, 2014 08:27
Is it normal that he posted photos and logos of terrorist organizations and expressed his commitment to them in his page in the social network t? If you look at the other photos, you will see lots of them with him posturing hostilely with cold steel or firearms. I suppose, experts will give a more precise assessment of it.
In Response

by: Anonymous
January 24, 2014 19:25

go to see Ukrainian section

seems to be at the press service of the riotous
Comments page of 2

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