Titushky (plural; Ukrainian: тітушки, Russian: титушки; sometimes titushkos, titushkas) is a term for mercenary agents who supported the Ukrainian police force during the administration of Viktor Yanukovych, often posing as street hooligans with the express purpose of performing illegal acts. The 'Titushki raid' is a widely used term in Ukrainian mass media and by the general public 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 with a reported daily pay of 200 hryvnia. Some of them were also suspected to be illegal formations of combat troops carrying concealed pistols. Their aim was to intimidate and disperse demonstrations by opponents of the government, and attack participants and representatives of the media.
Titushky blend in with a crowd or mob and then instigate a violent fight. During the events in Ukraine in 2013-2014 known as Euromaidan, they became a collective term for provocateurs and thugs hired by the Party of Regions and law enforcement agents in civilian clothing. Supporters of President Yanukovich also used the term 'tituskhy' to refer to pro-opposition thugs.
The term derives from the surname of Vadym Titushko (Ukrainian: Вадим Тітушко) (also known as Vadik Rumyn (Ukrainian: Вадiк Румин), meaning Vadik "the Romanian"), a mixed martial artist from Bila Tserkva who attacked journalists of the 5th Channel on May 18, 2013. 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 (Вести. Репортер) 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 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 Zhytomerska using bats and iron pipes. Titushky also blocked a polling station in Mykolaiv during the presidential election on 25 May 2014.
The word ititushky or ititushkas (pronounces "ajtitushky") (Ukrainian: айтітушки) appeared in the Myslovo (Ukrainian: Мислово) dictionary of modern Ukrainian slang. A portmonteau 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.
- Plainclothes — police(men/women), militia(men/women) or soldiers disguised in civilian clothes.
- Undercover operation.
- Katarzyna Kwiatkowska (2014). "Titusski - napadają, wyciągają ludzi z aut, palą i grabią" [Titushky swarm in, drag people out of cars, burn them and rob]. WP.PL Wiadomości (in Polish) (1123). Archived from the original on 9 November 2013. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Беркут" и "титушки" дерутся с митингующими у здания Кабмина (in Russian). Retrieved 6 December 2013.
- Як на Банкову звозили "тітушок" автобусами та під наглядом силовиків (ВІДЕО) (in Ukrainian). Mukachevo.net. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013.
- Администрацию президента штурмовали на заказ, - СМИ (in Russian). news.liga.net. 2 December 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013.
- "Several hundred 'titushkis' advance on protester barricades in Kyiv, but then retreat". Kyiv Post. 8 February 2014. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
- "За что они милицию бьют – быдлы, сволочи?" - как в Донецке и Макеевке оценивают столичные события (in Russian). Archived from the original on 22 February 2014.
- Вадим Титушко: "У меня с детства ненависть к гопникам" (in Russian). Archived from the original on 9 November 2013.
- "From Maidan To Berkut: A Ukraine Protest Glossary". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 18 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013.
- "Prawdziwy Tituszko krytykuje "tituszków": Poparłbym EuroMajdan". Dziennik.pl (in Polish). 4 February 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "From Maidan To Berkut: A Ukraine Protest Glossary". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 4 December 2013. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013.
- Frode Larsen (2 January 2014). "Ukrainian top general: There is proof of Russian intervention in Ukraine". Uriks.no. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 2 January 2014.
- News (19 February 2014). "24 Hours of Hell". What's On Kiev (№6/2014). Archived from the original on 23 April 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2014.
- "У Миколаєві "тітушки" вчинили безлад на одній з дільниць" [In Mykolaiv "titushky" made a mess in one of the polling stations]. 5 Kanal. 25 May 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- Ajtitushky at Ukrainian slang dictionary Myslovo
- Айтітушки: нове слово сучасної української мови, Watcher.com.ua