28 February 2015
As eastern Ukraine languishes under the threat of a renewed escalation of violence launched from the occupied territories of the Donbas, and local residents of areas bordering the separatist regions worry from day to day about the fate of their homes and families, it is worth reflecting on the tragic legacy of Moscow’s rule over Ukraine over the last hundred years.
Beginning with the period of Ukrainian independence from Moscow before most of it was incorporated into the Soviet Union (1917-1921), we see terror – in the form of ‘state terror’ deliberately decreed from the Kremlin – on a scale that exceeded any previous revolution. This was particularly true in eastern Ukraine, in and around the city of Kharkiv (‘Kharkov’ in Russian). As if to outdo the Jacobins of 18th-century revolutionary France, Lenin directed units of the Soviet secret police – then known as the ‘Emergency Committee’ (originally called the All-Russian Emergency Commission for Combating Counter-Revolution and Sabotage) or ‘Cheka,’ for short – to wipe out all signs of counterrevolution or the “bourgeois” class in the area. The tortures and executions that took place at the hands of the ‘Chekists,’ by contemporary accounts, were so horrific and prolific that many who survived are reported to have gone insane with nightmares.
Taken from material published on the Gulag website, the following is a grave indictment of Muscovite rule over Ukraine, but is only a relatively brief episode in the long history of repression and atrocity meted out on smaller nations by the Russian central government. In the wake of the February 22nd, 2015, bombing of a peaceful demonstration in Kharkiv, killing four people, it may be instructive to remember the ‘Red Terror’ in Ukraine during the period when the Bolsheviks were uniting the Soviet Union by force. The atrocities in this historical account cover Bolshevik rule in not only Kharkiv, but also Kherson, Odessa, Mykolaiv and other areas of Ukraine that lie within the boundaries of Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial ‘Novorossiya’ project. Furthermore, since the current Russian regime seeks to honor the memory of the Soviet tyranny, since Russia’s president believes the collapse of the USSR was one of the greatest tragedies of all time, and since the outside world is unable to gain unfettered access to areas controlled by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, the Soviet experience of mass murder and terror is not irrelevant.
Summary information about the crimes and wrongs of the Bolsheviks
June 29, 1919, № 4338, Yekaterinodar.
Kharkiv: The reign of terror unleashed by the Bolsheviks during the period of their occupation of Kharkiv was so severe that many descended into madness from persistent and frequent nightmares. One who distinguished himself for his special brutality was Commissar Saenko, fortunately captured by volunteers. The Bolsheviks shot people mercilessly, including women and children.
On two streets and in the basements of several houses they dug corridors, at the end of which those who were to be shot were stood. When these fell, they were covered with earth. […] The next day, in the same place, the next victims were shot, then again covered with earth, and so on up to the top.
Then the next series would start in the same corridor. […] In one of these corridors lay up to 2,000 who had been shot. Some women were shot simply for refusing the romantic advances of the commissars. In the basements they found people crucified on the floor and bolted to the floor with screws. Many women had had the skin removed from their hands and feet in the form of gloves and stockings, and all the skin flayed off from the front of their bodies.
[…] An unusual flash of red terror marked the last period of Soviet power in the city.
The Kharkiv Cheka (Bolshevik secret police), numbering up to 1,500 agents, and worked around the clock. Every day, hundreds were arrested. In the basement of the house in which the Cheka was located (on Sumy Street) were three large rooms. These rooms were always so crowded that those arrested were forced to stand.
At the disposal of the Cheka was a special Chinese company that tortured those arrested under interrogation, and shot the condemned. Forty to fifty people were shot every day, with this figure increasing greatly during the final days.
Among others the Bolsheviks shot were former Irkutsk Governor Bantysh and his son, Generals Nechayev and Kuskov, and Prince Putyatin. It is estimated that the Bolsheviks shot more than 1,000 people in Kharkiv at this time.
In the concentration camp on Tchaikovsky Street, thirty-three corpses of hostages shot by the Bolsheviks were dug up. The Bolsheviks not only shot the hostages, but they cut them down with swords in ready dug graves, buried people alive in the graves, and threw hostages down manholes. The underground dungeons were full of water, in which the hostages drowned.
It was established that […] Captain Sorokin and the merchant Velichko were shot.
According to eyewitnesses, the bodies are buried in the courtyard of House No. 47 on Sumy St., which housed the commandant of the Cheka. The corpses of the former employee of “New Russia” Captain V.G. Plaks-Zhdanovich and the merchant Shikhovsky, both shot on the same day, should be buried here.
If anyone showed signs of life after being shot, Saenko finished them with his own dagger.
On Sumy and Tchaikovsky Streets, living quarters were full of the smell of rotting corpses. Victims of the Bolshevik atrocities were shot by the ‘Chekists’ themselves and immediately buried there. The dead bodies were barely covered with earth.
In the basement of House No. 47 on Sumy Street was found a board, on which those sentenced to death had recorded their last words. There are some signatures on it: Kulinin, Andreyev, Znamensky, Broblovsky.
A moat and barbed wire fence surrounded the buildings in which so recently had been placed a concentration camp for the bourgeoisie and counter-revolutionaries, and where the sadist Saenko committed his atrocities. It was only possible to enter the house across a small bridge. The whole house is now completely empty.
In the courtyard, two enormous mass graves were arranged in which those shot were buried one on top of the other. How many bodies were buried in these mass graves has not yet been established.
Excavation of the graves of the victims of the Red Terror continues. So far, 239 corpses have been exhumed. The protocol of the forensic research has established the facts of burial alive, abuse and torture.
Volchansk: Information was received that before leaving the city the Bolsheviks shot 64 hostages in the custody of the “Emergency” commission. Among the murdered were the headmistress of a school for girls and prominent public figures.
Executions of Kyivans: The Kyiv Cheka, headed by Sorokin, cultivated a system of executions. Many prominent public figures charged with fantastic conspiracies against the Soviets were killed. Among the prominent people of Kyiv, apart from Professors Armashevsky, Florinsky, Pr[ince] Trubetskoy were shot; Mr. Razmitalsky [well-known in Kyiv]; City Bank Director Tsitovich; the barrister Palibin; Kyivan financiers Penes and Rubinstein; the barrister Lurie; and many others. Lukyanivka Prison and all other detention chambers were crammed with arrestees.
Terror in Odessa: 400 people were sent into forced labor for non-payment of indemnities.
Throughout Ukraine, the Bolsheviks carried out looting and violence. The Red Army visited one rich peasant and asked him for 40,000 rubles. He was only able to provide 4,000. Not satisfied with this, the Red Army bound the man and his wife and began to burn their heels with a candle.
Executions in Petrograd: According to the information received, by decision of the Cheka in Petrograd, the following persons were shot: Navy Capt. Ganych; Lt. Paskevich; Col. Chetyrkin; Commander of the Baltic Minelayer “Lena” Brun; Kuteinikov; Midshipman Ovchinnikov; Navy Lt. Shteyngetter; Chausov; Midshipman Kuchinsky; the Central Staff officers Sibiryakov , Zubchaninov, Popov, Sergeyev, Tchaikovsky, Nadypov, Kaportsov, Zeykov, Durnov, Karasyuk, Vasiliev, Ivanov, Dalypin-Shaylekov, Rogachev, Kotov, Bolshakov, Khmyzov-Smirnov Vykholkov, Yastyakov, Safronov, Borisov, Akimov, Anto-Samsonov. The sentences were signed by Chairman Skorokhodov and Secretary Chudin.
In addition, by order of the same Cheka officers, employees of “Russian flag” Luka Zlotnikov, I.V. Revenko, L. N. Bobrov, V.N. Mukhin, A.D. Ha-ryavin, N.A. Larin, and others; officers: R.R. Depner, N.S. Surmonov, Y.Y. Tyagunov, D.N. Karpov, V.K. Kospeletsky, N.B. Shklovsky, S.M. Pomochnikov, M.P. Bazykin, P.S. Belyakov, G.I. Gazan and others.
In the vicinity of Perm, Countess Gendrikov and Ms. Schneider, who accompanied the royal family during her journey from Omsk to Yekaterinburg, were found dead. They were taken under escort to Perm, where they died at the hands of the Bolsheviks.
Summary information of the crimes and wrongs of the Bolsheviks
26 August 1919, № 110195, Rostov-on-Don.
Odessa: […] In the basement of the Odessa “Cheka,” instruments of torture and many corpses of torture victims were found. Among the instruments of torture, particular attention is being paid to specific devices such as chains for stretching limbs. The British command brought members of their ships’ crews to the “Cheka” dungeons. The instruments of torture made a painful impression on the British sailors.
Kherson: The population remembers with horror the atrocities of the Bolshevik Cheka, which had reached a fever pitch with the arrival in Kherson of two Chinese experts in torture, dissection of living people, skinning of feet and hands, and sticking pins under fingernails. In recent days, the Bolsheviks had killed many public figures to paralyze public life after the withdrawal of the Bolsheviks from Kherson.
Mykolaiv: Officers who have taken refuge from the Bolsheviks in the surrounding towns and villages are continuously coming to the commandant for registration. They recount horrors. The villages are glowing, set alight by the Bolsheviks. Sailors are destroying the provincial good, burning all the bread they are unable to carry with them. Domestic cattle are being shot; agricultural machinery is being destroyed.
In a place where the peasants had once revolted against the Bolshevik government, the Bolsheviks, not encountering men in the villages, took out their grudge on the women and children. For example, in one village, where the population had defeated a unit of Communists, the Bolsheviks stripped women naked and forced them to walk in front of a drunken crowd. Many corpses of children with severed limbs were found.
Kremenchug: In Kremenchug, excavations of those shot and tortured by the Bolsheviks are ongoing. The number of dead […] has reached up to 2,500 persons. A group of telegraph employees has been exhumed: 5 men, 1 woman. Executions were carried out by a large part of the sailors. The condemned were sat on the edge of the grave and shot in the head. When the grave was filled with the bodies of those killed, they began to fill the next one.
Penza: An individual from the Land of the Soviets paints a picture of life in Penza. In the cathedral, the Communists arranged a club where concerts and family parties for the Communists and their relatives were held. A Cheka unit was stationed in the bishop’s house, and carried out shootings day and night. A massive number of intellectuals and clergy were shot, and those remaining were mobilized for public work schemes.
In Cathedral Square, the Chinese and Latvians protected a monument to Karl Marx But one night the monument was destroyed, and the red terror began. 156 officers were arrested and imprisoned together with criminals. The latter escaped, and when some of them were caught, they gave up the officers who had organized the uprising against Soviet rule. All 156 officers were shot. The sailor, who was standing at the post at the place of execution, personally recounted that he could not bear the picture of horror and ran from his post. The woman in power during the terror was the Communist Yevgenia Bosch, now located in Astrakhan.
Kyiv: In the proceedings of the Kyiv Executive Committee of the Soviet of Workers’ Deputies, a list of those shot in Kyiv by the local Cheka was published: Prof. Armashevsky, I.A. Bashin, A.M. Beduinevich, an employee of the South-Eastern Railroad; N.S. Boch, high school teacher; A.P. Bebir, director of accounting courses; G.K. Bubnov, merchant; A.Y. Buravkin, former landlord of the “Grand National Hotel”; E.A. Bocharov, state counselor; N.E. De Vecchi, landlady; I.M. Dembitsky, merchant; G.K. Danilov, merchant; N.D. Kalkin, employee of the South-Eastern Railroad; Arkady Moiseyevich Grigoriev, barrister, lieutenant of artillery; N.F. Ivanov, former superintendent of Kyiv School District; B.V. Konoklin, a merchant; N.F. Kupyansk, engineer homeowner; M.T. Maninka, barrister; P.M. Mozhalovsky, assistant prosecutor; G.G. Molodovsky, homeowner; I.I. Nekludov, former vice-governor; A.F. Novikov, director of the 3rd High School, member of the State Duma; G.I. Pristupa, barrister; K.G. Pechenov, an employee of the railway; N. Rajic, deputy chairman of the District Court; P.G. Rudakov, homeowner; F.G. Sadovsky, employee of the railway; A.T. Slinko, 80-year-old; V.V. Stankov, merchant; Stakhov; N.I. Sukovkin, former governor of Kyiv; K.V. Tikhonov, homeowner; A.A. Tobolin, former director of the State Bank; A.L. Tsitovich, homeowner; S.N. Shchegolev, publicist.
Statistics of Chekist lies
Official data of the Cheka on those shot does not reflect, of course, even 10% of the real numbers. According to official data, 6,185 people were executed in 1918 (including 22 for the first half of the year), and in just three years – 12,733; 14,829 people were imprisoned in 1918. In the concentration camps, 6,407 were imprisoned and 4,068 taken hostage (in 1919 – 5,491). Not to mention the fact that, in addition to the Cheka sentences to which these data relate (possibly covering not all local organs of the Cheka, in any case), according to existing instructions “counterrevolutionaries” were to be shot on the spot. By this method, a large number of people were also liquidated, leaving behind even unidentified people (the Cheka executions were carried out by decree by revolutionary tribunals and military courts).
But the main thing that deprives the given figures of any credibility as somehow complete is the fact that mass executions had been carried out by the Cheka long before the official announcement of the Red Terror (hundreds, for example, by the Kazan organization, Yaroslavl affair, and many others, when allegedly only 22 people were shot).
According to the estimates of S.P. Melgunov published in the Soviet (central and some provincial) newspapers, random and very incomplete data for this time indicate that 884 people were shot. More than two months before the official declaration of terror, Lenin (in a letter to Zinoviev, dated 26 June 1918) wrote that, “it is necessary to encourage energy and mass-scale terror against the counter-revolutionaries, and especially in St. Petersburg, as a decisive example.”
And according to the Bolshevik newspapers themselves, it is easy to see that the executions of the Cheka, first, began long before the shooting of officers of the Semyonovsky Regiment, the brothers A.A. and V.A. Cherep-Spiridovich on 31 May 1918 (later announced as having been the first executions), and, secondly, the number shot on the published lists is much higher than what was announced later. In large cities, according to the observations of eyewitnesses, a few dozen were shot every day (in Kyiv, in particular, 60-70).
Finally, by many accounts, the lists did not include anywhere near the total number shot. In the case of Shchepkin in Moscow, more than 150 were shot according to a list of 66 in September 1919. In Kronstadt, in July of the same year, 100-150 were shot from a list of 19, and so forth. For the first three months of 1919, according to the calculations of the newspaper Will of Russia, 13,850 people were shot.
In January 1920, on the eve of the proclamation of the abolition of the death penalty (formally from 15 January to 25 May 1920, but which, of course, no one in fact canceled – Izvestia itself reported the shooting of 521 people from January to May), a wave shootings that swept through the prisons in Moscow alone killed more than 300 people; in Petrograd – 400; Saratov – 52; etc. According to official data alone, the revolutionary military tribunals shot 3,887 people from May to September 1920.
While the terror was officially announced on September 2, mass executions had begun the day before. An idea of its course is given by sketchy reports from the field (reflecting, of course, only a very small part of the repression). Here are only those reports where there are direct references to the officers, but the absolute majority of them do not identify the make-up of those shot, but only a total number and a general description such as “hostages,” “counter-revolutionaries,” “bourgeois,” “enemies of the proletariat,” etc.
At this time, officers made up a higher percentage of those shot than later, especially in 1919. They were arrested and shot first.
The first information about the terror, an editorial article of Soviet officialdom, commented as follows: “Reports came from all over of mass arrests and executions. We do not have a list of all who were executed with the designation of their social position, in order to create accurate statistics in this regard, but according to the individual, random and far from complete lists that reach us, it was mostly former officers who were shot… representatives of the bourgeoisie in civilian clothes were an exception.
In Petrograd, with the announcement of the “Red Terror” on 2 September 1918, according to an official report, 512 people (almost all officers) were shot. But this number did not include the hundreds of officers who were shot in Kronstadt (400) and Petrograd at the behest of the local Soviets, and taking into account that the number of executions reached 1,300. In addition, as the English priest Lombard reported to Lord Curzon, “in late August, two barges filled with officers sank, and their dead bodies were thrown onto the estate of one of my friends, located on the Gulf of Finland; many were bound in twos and threes with barbed wire.”
Agents of the Cheka went to the ships of the Baltic Fleet, and, as ordered, the team selected those officers whom they would take away to be shot. One of the survivors recalled: “When I went to the bridge in the morning, I saw a terrible sight. A crowd of sailors was returning from somewhere, carrying various items, officers’ clothing and boots. Some of them were covered with blood. The clothes of those who were shot the night before were being carried away for sale.”
In Moscow in early September, 765 people were shot. Every day in Petrovsky Park, 10-15 people were executed. In the newspapers from time to time they came across reports of small groups who had been shot. Such as occurred at the end of 1918 and all of 1919, 3 and 19 December, 24 January, 4 and 12 February (13 staff officers); March 23, April 12, 1, 5 and 10 May, 23 and 28 September, 20 December, 18 February 1920, etc.
28 February 2015
For many outside observers and analysts, Ukraine is “two countries” – east and west – and the two are supposedly hopelessly divided, both culturally and linguistically. This exaggerated view tends to divide the country into halves, with the east and south solidly pro-Russian and Russian-speaking, and the rest westward-looking and Ukrainophone. In fact, the areas inhabited by militantly pro-Russian separatists are confined to the extreme southeast (inside the areas now controlled by separatist rebels), and perhaps in Crimea, annexed by Russia in March 2014. The rest of Ukraine’s population is mostly content to be considered “Ukrainian,” and would no sooner take up arms against Kyiv in support of Putin than would people living in Lithuania.
But what is inescapable for foreigners from Western countries visiting Ukraine is the extent to which pro-Western Ukrainians view their compatriots in the separatist territories with disdain – not just for the war, but for habits, style and way of life. Many examples of Westernizing Ukrainians’ mockery of their Russophile fellow countrymen from the Donbas – particularly the two main cities of Donetsk and Luhansk (‘Lugansk’ in Russian) – can be found on the Internet. The Russophile Ukrainians and ethnic Russians of the Donbas are “rednecks” or “hicks,” and many Kyivans, for example, will describe them as grotesque, unfathomable, and more trouble than they are worth.
Here is one from the Ukrainian Glavpost.com website profiling the “women of the terrorists.” For foreigners, this article – even more than profiling eastern Ukrainians themselves – illustrates the way western-leaning Ukrainians view them.
The Terrorists of the Donbas: They’re not just men with guns, but women too!
As the militants receive support from wives who carry food to the checkpoints, so they receive even more from young and middle-aged militant friends who come to the occupied buildings.
Someone from the women sincerely believes in the ideals of the self-proclaimed republics, like the wife of the so-called Governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR), Yekaterina Gubareva, who occupies a post in the self-proclaimed government and is trying to get a plot of land.
podrobnosti.ua chose the brightest girls of the Donbas terrorists. Read the stories of the careers of five local celebrities.
Pyaterikova: She scolds Europe and does the striptease
The best known friend of the terrorists – Anastasia Pyaterikova – began her career in the [Progressive Socialist] party of Natalia Vitrenko.
After the Luhansk party cell quarreled with the chairwoman, Pyaterikova and her colleague Alexander Kharitonov broke out in an independent organization, the “Lugansk Guard,” which later became the nucleus of the separatist movement of Luhansk region.
It is the guards who first put up a tent city in Luhansk. They also seized the regional administration building. However, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) soon came for Kharitonov, and he was arrested and put in a detention center in Kyiv.
Anastasia Pyaterikova became frightened and ran away to Voronezh, Russia. There, she successfully gave interviews to Russian channels, talking about the atrocities of Ukrainian army soldiers and the killers from Kyiv.
With the help of sponsors in Voronezh, this friend of the terrorists organized the supply of weapons, food, uniforms and all the things that are still used by the self-proclaimed representatives of the Lugansk People’s Republic.
But in peacetime, Pyaterikova worked in area nightclubs.
Anastasia’s career was swift: in March 2014, she was broadcast during the daytime from the stage of Antimaidan in Lugansk, urging pensioners to reclaim the country and abandon the corrupt values of Europe.
And at night she went to work at a strip club, where she rendered services of an intimate nature, including to foreigners. This was the main job of Pyaterikova up to her escape to Voronezh.
Now this keeper of morals is the director of the “Tricolor” society, which raises money in Russia, buys weapons and goods there, and brings them to Luhansk – straight to the terrorists in the seized administration building and SBU.
“Koshkina”: Communist calendar girl
Another promoter of the idea of the “Russian Spring” in the Donbass is Yevgenia Borovenskaya, who took the nickname “Koshkina” (‘Cat’). In politics, she came up through the Communist Party of Petro Symonenko.
Already at the beginning of her political career, Koshkina became famous thanks to the calendar issued for May Day. On the pages of the glossy calendar, Koshkina posed in the buff, covering her body with a banner with the words “loyal to the people.”
That photo has not been preserved on the Internet, but there are others – for example, against the backdrop of a waterfall.
After an incident in which the head of the Luhansk cell of the Communist Party and Koshkina’s lover, Maxim Chalenko, was caught drunk behind the wheel of his car in the presence of girls of easy virtue, Koshkina became disappointed in the ideology of the Communist Party and went over to the separatists.
Yevgenia regularly attended all meetings and rallies, seizures of buildings and attacks on border units. When one company after another began to shut down in Luhansk, and the owners of the businesses fled Luhansk, Koshkina realized that to be a separate republic is not so easy, and she began to beg for help.
But even in spite of all the difficulties, Yevgenia continues to help the terrorists, collecting signatures for petitions on her page on the social network Vkontakte, participating in roundtables organized by the self-appointed governor of Luhansk region, Valery Bolotov. In short, he will not retreat from her position. However, her image has changed a little.
Gubareva: wife and foreign minister
Yekaterina Gubareva, wife of self-proclaimed Governor Pavel Gubarev and appointed by him to the post of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, also has a rich portfolio.
Previously, Kate worked in the Patison nightclub in Donetsk. She was an artist and yoga instructor, famous for her photographs on foreign beaches.
Appearing in the office of the pseudo-ministry, Gubareva demanded that deputies of the Donetsk regional council allocate land to her for the construction of a house and for farming. However, members of this initiative were not happy with this initiative and refused the land.
Gubareva readily gives interviews about the atrocities of Kyiv, convinced in comparison with the Maidan, the war in Donetsk is peace and tranquility.
“It is no longer believable that the Kyiv government is trying to calm us down. We just want to live in peace and well-being,” says the wife of Pavel Gubarev wife, on whose conscience lie the lives of dozens of soldiers and peaceful civilians in Donetsk.
As expected of a combat girlfriend, Yekaterina accompanies her husband on meetings and records video messages. She loves to pose with guns.
Shumakova: journalist with a Russian passport
28-year-old Inga Shumakova never hides her position in relation to the terrorists. Being a journalist Luhansk channel “LOT,” Shumakova prepared stories in defense of “Berkut” on the Maidan. [‘Berkut’ – or ‘Golden Eagle’ – was the name of the unit of riot police in Ukraine that attempted to suppress the Maidan uprising in late 2013 and early 2014, and which was abolished after the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. – Ed.]
During the period when the separatists were becoming active in Luhansk, Shumakova began regularly attending meetings and the seizures of buildings, showing members of the local militia her Russian passport, and never forgetting to cover events in a positive light for the terrorists.
Inga works closely with Alexander Tkachenko, deputy mayor of Luhansk, and also loves the noisy company of bikers. Recently, bloggers declared that the shooting down an Ilyushin-76 over Luhansk was her fault.
After all, the journalist has tried to post to Facebook the conversations of the pilots of all aircraft flying over the city. She says that she ostensibly listened to everything at home.
After the scandal with the downed aircraft, Shumakova clearly expressed her political position.
“I am not a vatnik, a terrorist or a separatist. My position is known to all my friends. I am against joining Russia, but I am in favor of removing the current government in Kyiv, which has led the country to civil war,” Shumakova has written in Facebook.
Shkoda: Medvedchuk and narcobusiness
A hater of Ukraine and admirer of Alexander Dugin’s “Eurasianism” ideas, Oksana Shkoda had time to visit the war of Russia against Georgia. There, Oksana gathered documents for Moscow like an expert, trying to accuse Saakashvili of genocide.
The former press secretary of Natalia Vitrenko has recently worked in the “Ukrainian Choice” party of Viktor Medvedchuk, although in an interview she denied that she was his assistant, and considers herself a victim of political conflicts.
“The fact is that there is now a massive campaign to discredit Medvedchuk. Shortly before that, the eyes of opponents fell on me,” says Oksana.
She actively supports the separatists, is photographed with the leader of the Donbas terrorists, Igor Girkin, and gives press conferences in Moscow demanding the entry of Russian troops to the territory of Ukraine.
But earlier, Oksana Shkoda, who now writes articles in various publications, served five years in prison for drug trafficking.
27 February 2015
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has published instructions from Putin adviser Vladislav Surkov to the invaders and pro-Russian rebels in the Donbas.
The SBU claims it has obtained the most recent instructions of Russian Presidential Adviser Vladislav Surkov to the terrorist gangs of the “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR). This was announced today at a briefing by the head of the SBU, Valentyn Nalyvaychenko, the a correspondent of LigaBusinessInform.”One of the pieces of evidence that this person (Surkov – Ed.) has not ceased his activities of military and political intervention in the life of Ukraine… I want to show you a circular of the DNR terrorist organization in the author’s language and the writing style – how and what to do with this report… It is by means of such circulars that this citizen of the Russian Federation violates the laws of our state and, by the way, the law of their state,” said Nalyvaychenko.
The SBU chief also said that this circular (see photo below) is not the only one that the service’s specialists have managed to intercept.
“This is one of the last circulars we have intercepted, in February of this year. This is one of, and not the last” – he said.
27 February 2015
Yelena Masyuk: Nadezhda Savchenko may die in a matter of days
A member of the Council on Human Rights (CHR) of the President of Russia, Yelena Masyuk, has called for the transfer to house arrest of the Ukrainian pilot Nadezhda Savchenko, who has been on hunger strike in a Moscow pre-trial detention center for more than 70 days.
Masyuk called upon other members of the CHR to support her call and appeal to the Russian authorities with a request to change the conditions of Savchenko’s detention.
“Before you decide, respected colleagues, to oppose me for the reason that – possibly – you consider Savchenko a criminal and a murderer, and you insist that that a court will decide everything, remember my words: Nadezhda Savchenko may die in the next few days,” Masyuk said in her statement.
According to her words, the health of Savchenko in recent days has sharply worsened. She has already refused injections of glucose for 15 days, and she now has serious problems with her internal organs, explained Masyuk.
“It is not in our powers to free Nadezhda Savchenko from arrest, but we are right to appeal to that which can change the conditions of her detention. For example, to house arrest within the walls of the Ukrainian Embassy in Moscow or in an apartment rented by lawyers in Moscow. This will save her life,” stressed Masyuk.
On Tuesday, the Moscow City Court recognized as legal the extension of Savchenko’s arrest until the middle of May and refused to approve the petition of protection for changes to her conditions of detention. The Ukrainian’s defense expressed doubt that the case will reach court because the investigative organs, in the words of lawyer Ilya Novikov, cannot complete the investigation.
Savchenko is accused of participation in the murder of two Russian journalists in summer of law year near Luhansk. She rejects the accusations.
Earlier on Thursday, the European Union called upon the Russian authorities to quickly release Nadezhda Savchenko.
“The Russian side bears responsibility for the very poor health of Savchenko,” declared a representative of the head of diplomatic relations of the EU, Federica Mogherini.
Swedish Euro MP Anna Maria Corazza Bildt in the name of 61 MPs sent a letter to the representative of Russia for the European Union Vladimir Chizhkov with a call to free Savchenko.
A few days ago, German doctors at their request were allowed to visit the starving pilot.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Germany announced that Savchenko’s state of health had become alarmingly disturbing.
The famous Russian writer Vladimir Voinovich also turned to Vladimir Putin with an appeal to free Nadezhda Savchenko.
In his words, it is predicted that the international community will react more severely to the death of the pilot “than to the annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbas.”
“And the name of Savchenko will become larger than life. Legends will be told about her, books will be written, films will be made. Streets and squares will be named after her,” the writer said in an open letter to the President.
24 February 2015
The name of Igor Girkin (nom de guerre ‘Strelkov’) has remained in the news despite his having left the theater of war in eastern Ukraine many months ago. Girkin, a Russian national from Moscow who holds no Ukrainian citizenship, led the insurgency in its early days as ‘minister of defense’ of the Donetsk People’s Republic, until he was apparently recalled to Russia. He has since appeared often in Russian media, usually to complain about the way the war is being conducted, and how the Kremlin is beytraying the neo-imperial ‘Novorossiya’ project. Here, he points the blame at a key figure from Putin’s inner circle, and says that chaos and banditry are rife in the Donbas thanks to the breakdown of military authority.
While Girkin is by all appearances a violent extremist with revanchist ambitions, his incentive for remaining in the limelight is surely – at least in large part – to avoid being assassinated. As someone who was a serving Russian military intelligence officer at the start of the Russo-Ukrainian war, he may very well feel betrayed by the authorities in the Kremlin. It is unclear the extent to which his initial war activities were part of a coordinated, official, Russian government policy, but from the way Girkin speaks, it sounds as if he was encouraged to lead a rebellion, only to find the “wind at his back” when the hostilities escalated. As such, his public statements are not to be ignored for the logic inherent in them.
The former leader of the rebels of the “DNR” [‘Donetsk People’s Republic], Igor Girkin (nicknamed ‘Strelkov’), believes that Vladislav Surkov, an aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin, is responsible for the war in the Donbas.
He said this in an interview with the Serbian weekly Pechat, writes Ostrov.
“Surkov is certainly the moderator of the situation that we have at the moment. And we have an ongoing war, which is gradually turning the Donbas into a scorched desert. This, of course, is his fault because it was he who led the negotiating process,” said Girkin, adding, “Surkov is deliberately sabotaging the orders of the President of Russia and deliberately putting ‘Novorossiya’ under attack.”
In addition, according to the ex-leader, anarchy and banditry now thrive in the Donbas, and these can only defeated by a military dictatorship.
“… masses of weapons, lots of armed men, a ton of outstanding personalities among the commanders, and a complete lack of authority with sufficient powers. To restore order in Novorossiya, martial law is essential, and dictatorship is essential. Instead, they have introduced a kind of ‘military democracy,’ which translates into banditry,” said Girkin.
He also said that in the Donbas now, “anarchy and Makhnovism – this is a fact… Every war requires a dictatorship. And we are trying to fight a war without going on a war footing. Moreover, it creates the conditions in which it is impossible to introduce any martial law at all. Accordingly, we get a comprehensive Makhnovshchina.” [‘Makhnovshchina’ refers to the reign of terror of bands of marauders led by the peasant anarchist Nestor Makhno in Ukraine during the period of pre-Soviet independence – Ed.]
Separately, the former “DNR-ite” once again confirmed that Russia is directly involved in the war in the Donbas, and that the Russian Federation has removed him from his post.
“I cannot say that I left voluntarily. They threatened me with a cut-off of supplies from Russia, and without supplies, war is impossible,” admitted Strelkov. Recall that an earlier edition of the scandalous Kiselev selected “very interesting fragments” of an interview with the militant Girkin. [Dmitry Kiselev is a Russian television presenter who has made several outrageous comments, including boasting that Russia could turn America into ‘radioactive ash’ – Ed.]
23 February 2015
Putin comments on Poroshenko’s statement about return of Crimea
The Russian leader has described the intention of Kyiv to regain control of the annexed Autonomous Republic of Crimea as of a “revanchist character.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has rejected the possibility of war with Ukraine, calling such a scenario apocalyptic.
“I think that this apocalyptic scenario is hardly possible, and I hope it never comes,” Putin was quoted as saying by the BBC’s Russian Service.
At the same time, according to the Russian leader, the Ukrainian authorities must “establish relations” with the residents of the Donbas.
“The leadership of such a large European country as Ukraine, first of all, must return the country to normalcy, to adjust the economy and social sphere, to establish their relations with the “southeast” of the country in a civilized manner, to ensure the legitimate rights and interests of the people who live in the Donbas,” said Putin.
Commenting on the statement of Ukrainian President Poroshenko on his intention to return Russian-annexed Crimea, Putin stressed these were, in his opinion, “things of a revanchist character.”
Recall that on February 23, Poroshenko said that Ukraine had begun work on the return of Russian-annexed Crimea.
17 February 2015
During the quarter century of Ukraine’s post-Soviet independence, the country’s state institutions have remained fragile, and efforts to strengthen and consolidate them have been undermined by corruption and an inability of the Ukrainian national authorities to assert sovereign control. Nowhere was this more true than in military and security structures, where the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) – independent Ukraine’s successor to the Soviet KGB – was until very recently open to Russian spying. In an interview with Radio Liberty’s Ukrainian service, former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk explains these problems and sheds light on why the situation is so worrying today, when Russian-backed forces continue to attack Ukrainian territory in the east, and Russian President Vladimir Putin – reputedly – has boasted to an EU official that his armies could be in Kyiv “in two weeks.”
A career officer of the Soviet KGB, Marchuk became the first head of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) in 1991, upon Ukraine’s independence. In addition to serving as prime minister, Marchuk has been defense minister, a member of parliament and secretary of the National Security and Defense Council. He has held the rank of army general since 1994. In December, he was appointed head of an international secretariat on security and civil cooperation between Ukraine and NATO and between Ukraine and the EU.
Vitaly Portnikov’s guest is former Prime Minister Yevhen Marchuk.
Vitaly Portnikov: What happened to Ukrainian defense and security structures on the eve of the Maidan, and what is happening to them today? Why aren’t we seeing any real answers, on a conceptual level, from the perspective of providing for the security of the country? How will the Russo-Ukrainian conflict change the future of the Russian defense and security forces? I’ll be discussing this with our guest, former Prime Minister of Ukraine Yevhen Marchuk. The first question I have for you is historical, and is not even really directed to you as a man who once headed the Ukrainian government, but rather as a former defense minister, former chairman of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), and former secretary of the Security and Defense Council of Ukraine. Haven’t I listed all your power positions?
Yevhen Marchuk: That’s enough.
Vitaly Portnikov: In any case, you are the classic Ukrainian strongman, who headed all the structures, and who a year ago – as it turned out – was unable (to put it mildly) to answer calls. How is it that there was no real army, no real security? The Security and Defense Council was literally created from scratch last year?
Yevhen Marchuk: First of all, we shouldn’t start counting from 1991, with the collapse [of the Soviet Union – Ed.], because I remember very well what was going on in Ukraine militarily and in terms of security during the years 1991-1995. I think the situation wouldn’t have been so dramatic in 2014 if Yanukovych’s team hadn’t come to power in 2010. Of course, the SBU and Ministry of Defense even prior to Yanukovych had experienced a negative transformation to some extent, especially when a kind of commercialization of the SBU’s activities occurred in 1999-2000. But the most dramatic events began in 2010, when the defense ministers were people from Russia, including Defense Minister Solomatin. Incidentally, journalists have now unearthed the location of his home, the FSB general who was his neighbor, and so on. The same thing happened with the SBU. But the most important thing is that during this time, about three and a half years into Yanukovych’s tenure, people were appointed to leadership positions who were not only 100% pro-Russian but were also under the control of Russian state structures, so that in practical terms an intrusion into the management sector took place, into the administrative sphere – this is what I know thoroughly. This is the SBU and the Ministry of Defense.
True, the National Security Council had turned into a kind of tool for preparing the acceleration of the Maidan, and it almost got out of control, besides the fact that the SBU participated in the bloody events on the Maidan. Thus, the invasion, which occurred through the cadres – through a so-called partnership – ended as a result of the fact that the Russian security services virtually took control of the Defense Ministry and the SBU. On this occasion, there is a lot of evidence that they were already legalized – from documents of the Ministry of Defense. Every country has top secret documents regulating the activities of the armed forces in critical situations, including as a result of aggression. All these documents have, unfortunately, become the property of the Russian security services, not to mention the fact that in Ukraine before the Maidan there was a large group of employees of the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB), which had almost taken over the SBU for its own interests.
Here it would have seemed that a simple element, like the transition of the armed forces from conscript to contract system, was, like, a positive thing, but Ukraine was not ready for this, neither legally nor financially. When they announced the transition to contract-based service, they practically stopped the normal, regular call-up in accordance with Ukraine law. And then, when critical circumstances arose in connection with the aggression in the Donbas and the annexation of Crimea, it turned out that military conscription had been virtually neutralized. To begin at least some sort of call-up, it was necessary to initiate the call for the formation of the military.
On the other hand, the question is very often asked: what happened to the border? Why is the infiltration of militants, mercenaries and regular armed forces from Russia so easy? What is called a reliable border was blurred until 2014. Border guards – these are not defense forces, but border guards – these represent regulation and security. Defense, according to the Law of Ukraine on Defense, rests with the Ministry of Defense. Protection of state borders lies with the Ministry of Defense and border guards. That is, the real border, adjusted for the people, is the border guards. In addition, there are the regular territorial organs of the SBU – that is, not the military but police units, the migration service, and, in the last instance, the armed forces. So in almost all normal states, the borders are constructed, i.e., the military doesn’t stand on the border, but is in the third echelon.
Vitaly Portnikov: We did not have this third echelon.
Yevhen Marchuk: In fact it did exist, but the border was blurred over the course of three years. In addition, the Russo-Ukrainian border is not demarcated. That is, borders – even in the European sense – practically didn’t exist. A field, in the middle of a field was a country road, on the left was Russia, and on the right – Ukraine.
Vitaly Portnikov: In Russia, as I understand it, there are these elements of protection of the border?
Yevhen Marchuk: They existed. When the blurring of borders occurred in a defensive sense, then military units were withdrawn from the border, and only border guards were left. They cannot engage in long-term warfare. That is, it was a multi-directional erosion of the defense potential of Ukraine’s security in the physical and conceptual sense. What do I mean by “conceptual”? We remember how noisily provisions of the law on the foundations of national security were eliminated, provisions which anticipated an opportunity for the country to accede to military-political blocs in the future, in the interests of national security.
Vitaly Portnikov: Without personalization of the bloc.
Yevhen Marchuk: In the interests of national security – joining military-political blocs, in particular, the North Atlantic alliance, while maintaining good relations with Russia and other CIS countries. I led this legislation through parliament, so I remember this formula exactly. It was not that Ukraine would enter at a certain time, and so on. It was simply a kind of vector. But under this, the emphasis was on the fact that the procedure itself and the actions themselves should be balanced in terms of political understanding of this process.
Vitaly Portnikov: Viktor Yanukovych completely abandoned this item.
Yevhen Marchuk: First, Leonid Kuchma removed all of it. The new doctrine of cooperation with NATO was adopted in 2002, but it was enshrined, in law in 2003. In 2004, when Kuchma wanted to give a nod to the West because he couldn’t get himself out of isolation as a result of well-known scandals (the Gongadze case, “Kolchuga,” and so on), he gives a command, and six weeks before the NATO summit in Istanbul the same provision is introduced to the military doctrine as was in the law: the possibility of joining NATO in the future in the interests of security. After the Istanbul summit, when not everything happened the way the Ukrainian side wanted, whether before the summit in Sochi or in Yalta, Kuchma ordered the immediate removal of this provision from the military doctrine.
Vitaly Portnikov: It changed, depending on what meetings were held.
Yevhen Marchuk: Three months remained before the presidential election in 2004. Thus, Kuchma virtually cleared the way for Yanukovych, who within a week as presidential candidate and current prime minister said: when I become president, Ukraine will not join NATO – that is, the vector is being removed. Then he gives the command – and his puppet Verkhovna Rada removes this from the law.
Vitaly Portnikov: You were heading…
Yevhen Marchuk: It’s called the ‘International Secretariat for Security and Civilian Co-operation between Ukraine and NATO, and the countries of the EU.’
Vitaly Portnikov: And it was – under the SBU?
Yevhen Marchuk: Under the SBU, only because the SBU has a Department of International Cooperation, and the service provides us with some sort of base.
Vitaly Portnikov: What is the meaning of this service? How did you feel about the NATO alliance, toward the position of the alliance on this conflict? It is not easy, probably, to cooperate.
Yevhen Marchuk: I was compelled to be at the headquarters of NATO last year and to meet with functionaries at various levels. The situation for Ukraine is not easy now, to the extent that the level of desire to join NATO in the near future is greatly elevated in public opinion. It is clear what has caused this: real Russian aggression against Ukraine, starting with the annexation of the Crimea. Who would deny that not only are there all the signs of aggression, but also specific graves throughout Ukraine, the graves of young men killed by Russian weaponry. Many monuments have such inscriptions. In public opinion, this trend is strong, but realists – those who know the reality (and I include here myself among them) – understand very well that this road is very long and very difficult. We know the recent statements by Francois Hollande on the fact that France will not support the potential entry of Ukraine into NATO. We do understand that there cannot be entry into NATO now for a variety of reasons, not to mention the fact that we are almost at war with Russia (to be honest), and on the other hand, NATO consists of 28 countries, this is a consensus procedure, and not to mention the fact that it’s 28 parliaments. Even if at some point, at a NATO summit, they decide to award Ukraine the partnership regime for entry, still you need to conduct this through parliaments, and it’s all ambiguous. And most importantly, that the NATO standards 30% of the requirements for the candidate are for the military sphere, and 70% for the economy, human rights, the judicial system, democratic institutions, and so on. That is, Ukraine needs just a very difficult path of inner transformation in order to get closer to NATO standards, even in this sense.
Vitaly Portnikov: And does Ukraine in the current situation have time to do all this?
Yevhen Marchuk: No. In one of my interviews I said that, even if you adhere to such requirements only in peacetime, it could be drawn out for decades. On the other hand, a very serious transformation of European security in general can occur, and it has already occurred. I – even in NATO headquarters – spoke about getting away from standards at least regarding the procedure for getting to the partnership mode of Ukraine in the interests of membership.
Vitaly Portnikov: Can NATO take such a step?
Yevhen Marchuk: I understand that it is not very easy, especially if the French leader says France is against it. We know that Germany as well, Merkel, is not very keen… Moreover, a year ago, she did say that Ukraine did not need to join NATO now. We do understand that this will not happen tomorrow, but the process… Today the Parliament removed the so-called non-aligned status from the law (though it is only a verbal formulation), so that in the interests of the security of Ukraine it is possible to choose the path of accession to NATO. But if today the Ukrainian leadership is very cautious and adapts to the French mood (not to mention Russia’s opposition), then, unfortunately, it can, on the one hand, do great damage to public opinion, and on the other hand, significantly slow down the process. This same Hollande – the president is not 10 years old, and there may also occur a certain transformation. I still see that, little by little, Russia “helps” us on our way to NATO, since the annexation of Crimea, and especially in recent weeks, despite all the negotiation processes that are now going on and, probably, will be going on for a long time to come. But given Russia’s behavior towards Ukraine and in this context Russia’s behavior in negotiations with Western partners, the United States and Europe, it’s obvious that the evolution is happening in our favor, in the sense that Ukraine should seek to enter the mode of partnership for membership – this is the first thing.
Second, the Ukrainian army, willingly or unwillingly, has undergone very rapid transformation, including via the Russian “assistance.” In peacetime, such a transformation would have to take a very long time. Not only that, but Ukrainian military structures have gained experience of real war (and in fact, today there is a Russo-Ukrainian war). I think that the main problems on this path – it’s unquestionably our internal economic, political, and judicial transformation. We know NATO is a club of aristocrats. The states created a system that provides peace of mind.
Vitaly Portnikov: Speaking of these club commitments, I want to go back to the beginning of our conversation, when you talked about the infiltration of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, the Ministry of Defense and the SBU by Russian agents of influence.
Yevhen Marchuk: Not only this, but also professional staff.
Vitaly Portnikov: Can this infiltration be eliminated in a short space of time?
Yevhen Marchuk: This is, of course, a problem. The situation itself has helped a little bit. We know that almost the entire leadership fled.
Vitaly Portnikov: Top management?
Yevhen Marchuk: Ministry of Defense and SBU, and not only these, but the politicians escaped too. This process can go for a long time. In the SBU there are specific examples when, in “standby” mode, their sources had to reveal themselves. In addition to the mechanism of lustration, there are mechanisms for intelligence activities. Yes, this process will be a serious obstacle for us. But there has been a major revival of counterintelligence, almost the entire leadership down to the lowest levels was been laid off, and those who were laid off during the Yanukovych era are being called to service. We see that military intelligence and counterintelligence, like units of the SBU, are now showing relatively good results. Professionals do not need much proof that the Russian intelligence services are working actively and aggressively not only in eastern Ukraine. Unfortunately, cases have arisen in the SBU, including acts of subversion – not plans, but specific acts almost throughout Ukraine, from Transcarpathia to eastern Ukraine, from Chernihiv to Odessa. Indicative of this was the recent remark by [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov, who said that today national minorities in Ukraine (he named, it seems, Hungarians and Romanians) have drawn attention to the fact that men of these nationalities are being called up in disproportionately large numbers. This, of course, is utter nonsense. But most importantly, it’s a kind of wick, which is associated with the activities of the intelligence agencies to ignite what Russia hopes to ignite.
Vitaly Portnikov: This is an ongoing search for weaknesses.
Yevhen Marchuk: The match runs – they say, there’s also some tension there, and Russia is demonstrating that it’s kind of like a defender…
Vitaly Portnikov: … not only of the Russian-speaking population, but also of national minorities in general.
Yevhen Marchuk: We understand what it means when Lavrov says such things. I can give an absolute guarantee that it was ordered from the FSB – that it’s necessary to entertain such a thought. But I’m absolutely sure that nothing will happen. I know these tricks.
Vitaly Portnikov: There weren’t tricks that you wouldn’t know? I wonder whether the Russian security services have been modified over the years?
Yevhen Marchuk: I warned a few days beforehand about everything Russia has done with the annexation of the Crimea, and in the Donbas. Crimean annexation – whatever it’s called in Russia, but it is the de facto annexation of the Crimea – is exactly as it was in 1993, 1994 and 1995, down to the minutest detail. A festival – they send young, good-looking guys with short hair from the Kuban to Crimea, and they all obey their elders. The rise of political parties, the seizure of parliament, seizure of the TV station, and the rise of the brigade of marines of the Black Sea Fleet.
Vitaly Portnikov: So it was a delayed annexation?
Yevhen Marchuk: The president at the time was Yuri Meshkov. It was almost a prewar composition, a prewar component – it was all the same.
Vitaly Portnikov: Let’s you and I meet again specifically to talk about this story of deferred annexation of Crimea. I think our viewers and listeners will be very interested.
Yevhen Marchuk: It’s amazing, I was surprised how the GRU – we know that it’s the professionals of the highest level, this is not the Foreign Intelligence Service, although it also – and the GRU is repeating… I think, perhaps, that there’s no one in Ukraine who won’t read the sequence of these actions.
Vitaly Portnikov: It’s possible to read the sequence, but there is no way to defend ourselves.
Yevhen Marchuk: We read, but we just had anarchy when they did it – they calculated well. In a hotel, we identified a group from the Russian security services, headed up by a general. We brought in our secret service in helicopters at low altitude. Then – 20 years ago, in fact – we prevented the seizure of Crimea.
13 February 2015
The identity of the separatists in eastern Ukraine is a curious subject. Ukrainian and Western accusations that Russian regular armed forces personnel are operating in the conflict zones have tended to obscure the reality that many of the insurgents are, in fact, volunteers from a variety of backgrounds – extreme rightists, liberals, unemployed males with nothing to do, and others. Undoubtedly, many of those who have gone to join the insurgency in eastern Ukraine have done so in the earnest belief that Russia was about to be invaded by fascists and Nazis.
Below is a brief profile of ten such volunteers from the Glavpost website, translated from Russian, including information about their possible motives for joining a fight against the citizens of a historically fraternal country. It is a strange mix, often sad and usually brutal, and some of the photographs are gruesome. Readers should proceed with caution…
Who is fighting in the Donbas insurgency? Where did these people come from? Below are ten volunteer insurgents, their photos, family, and views on life. Some of them are no longer alive, some are still fighting, and some have returned to Russia. You can think of these ten people (a whole platoon) as a sociological slice: who in Russia is really ready to go to war, and for what.
At the same time, to an extent the goals of people who are going off to war are at odds with the goals of those who started the war and are supplying the weapons. The former (volunteers) are fighting “for Rus,” and the latter (the Kremlin), are trying in Moscow to rescue their (stolen) capital from the Maidan. And these two vectors are strangely united in the Donbas.
1. Matvei Yefremov, St. Petersburg
Political beliefs: monarchist, activist of the Russian Imperial Movement (RID)
From the RID manifesto:
“The top priority tasks of the Russian national authorities, from RID’s point of view, are:
Proclamation, on the territory of the Russian Federation, of the Russian Empire with a monarchical form of government; appointment of a Supreme Ruler (regent, dictator) prior to convening the All-Russian Zemsky Sobor to call the new monarch to the tsardom.”
Matvei Yefremov was killed on 4 July 2014 on the road between Semyonovka and Slovyansk. The minibus with rebels in it was ambushed. Matvei is survived by his wife and three children.
2. Oleg Melnikov, St. Petersburg
Political beliefs: liberal.
Defender of the Khimki Forest protests on Bolotnaya on 6 May 2012 against the “re-election” of the dictator Putin.
On 4 July 2014, Oleg Melnikov was riding in the van with the monarchist Matvei Yefremov on the way from Slovyansk in Semenivka. Oleg was lucky. He was only injured.
3. Aleksei Yurin, Mozhaisk
Alexei is a paratrooper from Russia who served in the 45th Separate Airborne Regiment for Special Tasks (Kubinka, Moscow Region.).
Political beliefs: unknown.
4. Nikolai Leonov, Dnipropetrovsk
A world kickboxing champion, he had finished Poltava Theological Seminary, wrote songs in the style of “Orthodox Christian Rap” (and this happens, it turns out).
Political beliefs: monarchist.
On 26 May 2014, Nikolai Leonov was killed in the battle for the airport with paratrooper Alex Yurin from Russia. He was buried in his native Dnipropetrovsk.
5. Alexei Lemets, Nizhnaya Krynka, Donetsk Region
He is a miner from the Donbas, 31 years old, and father of three children. His political views are not known. He enlisted in the militia, and was killed on 19 June 2014 near Slovyansk by a direct hit from a mortar. Nothing was left of his body.
Yelena Lemets, widow:
“He wanted to protect his family, his children, and his native land. I dared not, could not dissuade Lyosha, because after all he was a man, and he always made the decisions,” says Lena.
Lena received the terrible news at night, when Alexei’s brother came and said bluntly: “You no longer have a husband, nor I a brother.” Together with Lyosha were killed two of his comrades. They buried them there in Slovyansk, in a mass grave.”
The family of miner Alexei Lemets lived in poverty (pictured left: in their house). Now they are left without any means at all.
6. Artur Gasparyan, from Moscow
He came to Moscow to work in 2011 from Armenia. He was a migrant worker.
Political views: unknown.
Struck by the events in Odessa on 2 May 2013, he enlisted with the volunteers in the Donbas. He fought for a bit, miraculously survived the meat grinder at the airport on May 26th, and then became disillusioned with the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). He again moved back across the border and returned to Russia. He gave a detailed interview with US Radio Liberty about his trip to the Donbas. First in Moscow there was a meeting with a recruiter, then training camp near Rostov, and then he was flown to Donetsk. He was not promised any money.
“No per diem or travel expenses, only free meals, uniforms, weapons, and a guarantee that the body would be brought to Rostov and given to relatives, if, of course, it was found…”
On the composition of the militia and local resident-travelers:
“Most [of the rebels] were Russians, Chechens, Ingush, and like me, from Armenia. I talked with the locals, they said what was required of us, and we did it. I said: ‘What do you need?’ They say: “We’ve voted, and the rest depends on you.” The referendum on the self-determination of the Donbas meant we don’t want to fight. One said to me: “I want to receive my salary and drink until the next paycheck.”
About the events in Donetsk Airport on 25 May:
“On the night of 25-26 May, we raised the alarm… We got into civilian buses and drove to the airport. In a detachment of a hundred people, we entered the building and were also joined by Ossetians… Ukrainian military were around the airport. It was all cocked hats, like we’re so cool and all everyone’s afraid of us. But it turned out quite the opposite. At two o’clock, helicopters and airplanes flew in and began to bomb the port.
“We went down to the first floor, and just sat and waited for death. To go out was impossible. Someone called our commander – his nickname was “Spark” – whose subordinate hundred people heard the command to get into the “KamAz” trucks. It was already evening. Machines were inside the terminal. I did not want to get into the “KamAz,” as I understood that it was risky. “Spark” said to me: “If you’re going to debate an order, I’ll shoot you on the spot.
“We grabbed tents, open cars, chock full of volunteers. Our “KamAZ” left the terminal, and we begin to shoot in all directions… In five hundred meters a grenade hit our car, a shell fell under the driver’s cab, and we turned over. We turned out to be lucky: we flew out and hurt ourselves, but no fractures. The car that was hit first was finished off with machine gun bullets in the crossfire…”
Having miraculously survived Donetsk, Gasparyan became disappointed in the DNR:
“All is futile, disorganized. There are so many commanders… Every third declares himself a commander. Some group organizes its own group. There is no unified command. I thought it would be like in the army: a strict regime, organization, communications, teamwork. There was none of this, so I left.”
7. Kirill Rimkus, St. Petersburg
Rimkus, standing second from left, holds the flag of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR)
Political beliefs: Nazi.
By the way, Kirill Leonidovich Rimkus did not go to fight Ukrainian fascism in the Donbas alone, but with a friend – Alexei Yurievich Milchakov.
8. Aleksei Milchakov, St. Petersburg
Political beliefs: Nazi.
Hobbies: sadism and sadistic flaying of animals
In 2011, he was made famous throughout the Internet by posting on his vKontakte [Russian imitation of Facebook – Ed.] page a photo of himself slaughtering a puppy in preparation for shish kebab.
Among the Nazis of St. Petersburg, his nickname is “Fritz.”
Shortly after the puppy atrocity, it came time for Milchakov to enter the army. The Nazi Flayer named Fritz ended up in the elite Pskov Airborne Division. There is a strict selection process there, and only the most deserving are accepted. There he served in the Emergency 234th Guards of the Order of Kutuzov 3rd Degree Airborne Assault Regiment.
He served, and in June 2014 he went to the Donbas. Ukrainian media in July 2014 published reports that the sadist-guard Fritz was killed there.
However, these reports have not been confirmed by independent sources. Anyway, Milchakov’s vKontakte page is regularly updated. (Besides, several Russian TV shows have been released with his participation. – Ed.)
UPDATE: Subsequent to the publication of this post, it has become clear (some might say unfortunately) that Milchakov is very much alive. At the ‘International Russian Conservative Forum’ held in St. Petersburg, Russia on 22 March 2015, Milchakov appeared and spoke with journalists. As readers no doubt know, the forum was sponsored by the Russian ‘Motherland’ party, and the organizers invited representatives from all the best-known European ultra-right-wing parties, such as Hungary’s Jobbik, Greece’s Golden Dawn, France’s National Front and many more. People of Milchakov’s ilk were bound to show up at such an event, and so any rumors of the young neo-nazi’s death are evidently exaggerated.
9. Anton Rayevsky, St. Petersburg
Political beliefs: Nazi.
Previously, Anton Raevsky was an activist of the Nazi organization Russian National Unity (RNU) and the “National Socialist Initiative” (NSI). In the photo from 2010, Rayevsky (far left) and his colleagues on the NSI, including (second from left) Dmitri Bobrov, nicknamed “Schultz,” the famous St. Petersburg Nazi, who was imprisoned for a term of 6 years in the case of the group “Schultz-88.”
I’ve somehow had thought naively that anti-fascists were like those who fought in the International Brigade in Spain in the 1930s. But it is not important whether it was in the pro-Soviet brigades (as Ernest Hemingway) or the Trotskyists (George Orwell). But anyway still not Fritzes with Schultzes. Therefore, of course it’s a bit strange to see, among the ranks of the “anti-fascist” resistance of the Donbas, people with swastika and Hitler tattoos, and fans of “National Socialism.” Especially from the city that National Socialism’s founder nearly starved to death in 1941-42. Especially receiving weapons from the Russian government. Especially its (this government’s) haters. And by the way:
From Rayevsky’s vKontakte page, 3 July 2014:
“It is very amusing to read posts and comments from Ukros (Ukrainians) and Putinoids. These and others call me a Russian fascist and Nazi. If everything is clear with the Ukrainian chauvinist-Russophobes, then especially for the fans of Putin, Starikova, Kurginyan and other Kremlinites, I say: among the rebels, in the army of the DNR is a large number of Russian National Assemblyists and monarchists, and NOT ONE member of the “Party of the Great Fatherland,” the “United Russia” party, and “Matter of Time.”
10. Sergei Zhdanovich, Elektrogorsk (Moscow Region)
Special Forces instructor. Previously fought in Chechnya (46th Separate Brigade of the Special-Purpose VV), and served in the riot police.
Political beliefs: Member of the “United Russia” Party. He could have lived without grief, spending the rest of his days quietly as a retired veteran.
But at the call of the party, Sergei Borisovich (Zhdanovich) went to the Donbas to help the separatists. On 14 May 2014, he left, telling his family that he was going to the military camp in Rostov-on-Don. He was killed on 26 May in Donetsk.
Sergei Zhdanovich was killed trying to capture the airport. He was buried in Elektrogorsk quietly, without fanfare. In attendance at the funeral were children from the local military-patriotic club “Thunder,” which was in charge of the deceased in the city. Now the club is named after him.
11 February 2015
As previously noted in posts to this site, Odessa represents a key goal of the Russian regime’s neo-imperial “Novorossiya” project to carve away large portions of Ukrainian territory and put them under the control of forces subservient to the Kremlin. This is because Odessa is the largest Ukrainian port on the Black Sea, and also because the Odessa region borders the pro-Russian separatist region of Transnistria in Moldova, and would thus give the Transnistrian regime an outlet to the sea.
As investigations proceed, it is becoming increasingly clear that the fire in the Odessa House of Trade Unions that killed over 40 people on 2 May 2014 was a Russian intelligence operation designed to destabilize the region. Persons who had crossed the Ukrainian border from Transnistria have been identified as being involved in the atrocity. Now, another act of violence as occurred in the city of Odessa. Could this be another act of terror and subversion by the forces of Novorossiya?
Doctors say nobody is injured
One more explosion has rocked a hostel downtown Odesa. The blast destroyed the walls and windows even in residential buildings nearby.
Residents of building were not allowed to return to their apartments.
Mariya Kulesh, Local resident: “We heard an explosion at 11 at night. We were afraid and we looked out the windows. We saw debris. Fragments of this window frame reached that window!”
Explosives experts previously say the explosion was caused by a bomb with half a kilogram of TNT. Now the police are investigating the reasons of the explosion.
Oleksandr Breslavets, Doctor: “No one is injured. We can’t say more, because now the investigation is being conducted.”
Ukrainian State Security Service on February 5 prevented an attempt to blow up an Odesa railway track. Other blasts targeted volunteer organisations and bank offices.
Putin is knocking Ukraine’s space industry out of orbit
The Kremlin’s reorganized space agency is cutting ties with longtime Ukrainian suppliers
The launch of a new European space plane on Wednesday, Feb. 11, is a rare instance of good news for Ukraine’s space industry, which has been increasingly at risk from the grinding conflict with Russia.
Ukraine’s state-owned Yuzhnoye Design Bureau helped develop the rocket that carried the European Space Agency’s new IXV experimental reentry vehicle from the Kourou launch center in French Guiana. Yuzhnoye, descended from a Soviet-era designer of ballistic missiles, has developed a business supplying rocket technology to Western partners. Its headquarters in the city of Dnepropetrovsk sits less than 150 miles from the fighting in eastern Ukraine. Still, says Oleg Ventskovsky, the company’s representative in Brussels, “it’s more or less business as usual.”
The rest of Ukraine’s space industry hasn’t been so fortunate. Russia was its biggest customer, and sales have cratered. That’s partly Ukraine’s doing: In June, President Petro Poroshenko halted all military sales to Russia, including some dual-use missile and rocket technologies made by Ukrainian companies. A far bigger blow came earlier this month with Russia’s decision to stop buying the mostly Ukrainian-made Zenit rocket, a mainstay of Russian satellite launches since Soviet times. Russia also announced it would end a joint program with Kiev that furnishes Ukrainian-built Dnepr rockets for satellite launches.
Russia’s action also raises questions about the future of Sea Launch, a company with operations based in Long Beach, Calif., that has used Zenit rockets to launch satellites from a floating platform at sea. Sea Launch was co-founded in the 1990s by Boeing, although it is now controlled by a Russian state company, Energia, following its emergence from bankruptcy in 2010. Energia has decided to replace the Zenit with Russian-made Angara rockets on future launches, according to Russian news media reports.
Ukrainian rocket maker Yuzhmash, which produces both the Zenit and the Dnepr, says it was facing a “catastrophic” situation even before Russia’s action. Sales to Russia plummeted from $1.7 billion in 2011 to only $28 million last year, Yuzhmash said in a statement posted on its website last month. The Dnepropetrovsk-based company owes some $140 million in back wages to its 15,000 workers and partially suspended manufacturing operations until late February. The company did not respond to calls from Bloomberg Business.
Not long ago, Ukraine’s space industry was a relatively bright spot in an otherwise-bleak economy. Communist-era central planners had designated the country a locus of rocket design and manufacturing. After the breakup of the Soviet Union, some Ukrainian aerospace companies found new markets in the West. Virginia-based Orbital ATK uses Yuzhmash-made components in its Antares launch system, and Ukraine and Brazil have a joint venture that plans to launch Ukrainian-built rockets from a launch site in northeastern Brazil. Yuzhmash also built the fourth-stage engine of the Vega rocket to be used in the Feb. 11 European Space Agency launch.
By 2013, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister told the website Space News, the country was making about $600 million a year from commercial space ventures. But Russia still accounted for about 80 percent of sales at Yuzhmash, Vladimir Tkachenko, the company’s assistant general manager, told the BBC earlier this month. Yuzhmash, he said, “is in dire need of orders.”
In the meantime, local government is trying its best to keep a major bulwark of the Ukrainian space industry afloat—just not with orders for new rockets. Yuzhmash, for one, has received orders for agricultural equipment from Dnepropetrovsk’s governor, according to Ventskovsky. Western patrons of the Ukrainian aerospace sector can only watch and wait.
9 February 2015
As the war in Ukraine rages on, and the West dithers over how to confront Russia, Putin often appears a leader of formidable power. He may be increasingly resented in Western capitals for pursuing what was recently unthinkable: unilateral annexation of another country’s territory, and fomentation of armed separatism in Europe’s second largest state. Yet he also appears outwardly to be firmly in control of Russia’s polity, and determined to press forward with securing his vision of a Russian sphere of influence, oblivious to international opinion. He apparently enjoys such huge approval among his own citizenry that he can afford to appear “dictatorial,” even if he cannot actually exercise absolute dictatorial power in the age of the Internet. Whatever anyone thinks of Putin as a person, he seems – for the time being – a “decisive leader.”
But, within limits, Putin is not immune to domestic criticism. Analysts and commentators inside Russia do express opinions critical of the Russian leader, as long as they are “constructive” and do not lay blame for the country’s current crisis entirely at his feet. One such analyst is Gleb Pavlovsky, the former Soviet dissident who was dismissed as an advisor to the Kremlin in 2012 for criticizing the presidential election that returned Putin to Russia’s highest state post. Yet Pavlovsky loyally approves of the Russian annexation of Crimea (which he describes as ‘more Russian than Moscow’), and his past comments indicate an affinity with Putin’s own view of Ukraine as “not a real country.” As such, his views on the integrity of the Putin regime are illuminating, expressed as they are in the same breath with compliments toward the man who fired him. Reading between the lines for greater objectivity, we can interpret the Russian leadership as perhaps less solid and stable than most Western commentators might suggest. It is, at least, cause for hope that the policy of “Novorossiya” may – with greater Western resolve – be stoppable.
The following are comments of Pavlovsky in an interview with the Russkii Yevrei (‘Russian Jew’) publication:
Russian political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, a well-known Ukrainophobe, has been evaluating Putin’s actions. The editorial board of Russkii Yevrei (‘Russian Jew’) has decided to release a significant fragment of his interview, because it believes an assessment of the Russian regime’s current state is interesting and fit for discussion.
“At the heart of the system that has emerged in the last 15 years is the resolution of a general problem: how to create a consensus on the new state, a consensus Yeltsin failed to achieve. Yeltsin left office because this hadn’t been achieved, and because no one supported him except for small groups in his immediate circle. Putin solved this problem, and in fact he solved it a long time ago. But after he solved it, when people stopped living in some sort of eternally destroyed Soviet Union and recognized the new state, the Kremlin team wanted to go on ruling by the same old means. There is nothing to boast about here, because I was certainly among those who were partly self-deceived – and who partly deceived others – and none of us believed that we were going where we’ve now arrived. And now Putin really is riding a wave, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense to describe all this in comic-book form, where dark villains or conspirators lurk behind Putin’s back.
Everything is much simpler. This is a strategic crisis, a loss of control. And in fact we have just seen the consequences of this, in connection with the ruble (the rate collapse – Ed.). This was a crisis of the system and demonstrated that it couldn’t work any more. In particular, this is a system in which there is simply no government. Calls by the Kremlin to the White House and the Central Bank cannot be a substitute for government. I think this is one of the first tasks that should be addressed in the next year: the creation of a functioning government. It is not a question of personalities. By the way, I think the main problem of Russian policy now is its extreme person-centrism. Everyone talks about one man – as if he were a god and had a solution, or at least a set of goals. He doesn’t have any solutions or even a formulation of the problems. He’s just a man who’s lost his head. He’s a talented man, capable, and he actually still has a choice: to conduct an audit of reality – to realize what is happening with the country – or to sink further into a fantasy world, whereby somehow he’ll disappear before he leaves the Kremlin, because he’ll simply cease to mean anything. It is the most sad and most likely prospect, more so than any upheavals.
Our crisis is this, and it consists of the fact that we recognize neither any real structure in this very complex country, nor the actual state of the people who both hope and fear, and who need assurances of their security. And Putin is the only one who offers them a guarantee. The opposition does not offer any guarantees, therefore it does not exist politically, because it has no real agenda for the people. This is a very complex country. New groups have grown up in it in all areas – new bureaucrats – and a very interesting life is going on now in the regions. The problem is that all this is not projected onto the national screen, which is occupied by a picture of reality even more falsified than the Soviet picture. It looks as if someone has been continuously shouting at some person. It is very difficult to think, and nothing can be done if we are constantly in a state of collapse of government. It is a very dangerous situation. And I would like it if Putin pulled himself together soon.
Now, our censorship is stunning the ruling class itself, stunning the elites. And lately, Putin also looks – if you look at his performance – like a man who’s stunned, like someone repeating after his own leaders (propagandists – Ed.), whom he could fire in one call. This is some kind of nonsense. I think it’s really been going on for months. If it had not been for sanctions, primarily American, I think a new consensus would already have begun to take shape among the ruling elites about the fact that a serious revision of policy is needed. But while we’re still in an atmosphere of sanctions, which look like a war against Russia, Putin can’t even twitch, because the population won’t understand this. Well, and here there are competitions over who’s who: objective processes in the economy, in the world, the country, or you have these neuroses of the ruling elite. I think the next year (2015 – Ed.) will be a more dynamic year than this one, and there will be more conflict within the country.
Putin cannot compensate for the lack of his own system. He is alone, the symbolic center of the system, but he cannot be a substitute even for simple government. I think a run of some kind of internal conflicts awaits us. Here, unfortunately, no one can help us, an “offensive of clarity” is needed, and the media for the most part – electronic, anyway – are switched off to significantly relevant information. In the worst case, they’re conducting a vicious campaign to deepen the split in the country, to inflate distrust between citizens of Russia. And all this, ultimately, is working on flipping over the iceberg, on the conflict within society. 84 per cent to 16 – this is a sign of instability, this iceberg, which is ready to turn over…
… Putin is capable of change. He has done this several times, including in my eyes. Putin is in no way similar to Putin 15 years ago. And 15 years ago, Putin was not like Putin 10 years ago. He has been changing, powerfully changing, and he knows how to learn. The problem, of course, is in the error that he does not want to reconsider, error of 2011, when he – in the form in which it was done – went for a third term.
But now society’s internal mobility is enhanced. After all, in fact, volunteers in the east of Ukraine – this is also a sign of social mobility, and this was impossible to imagine five years ago. Here, too, it is necessary to distinguish some malicious propaganda from people who genuinely went, as they believe, “to help their brothers in the east of Ukraine.” As for the West (which certainly is not helping Russia now), it is a factor aggravating the situation. But I am not a conspiratorialist, and I don’t think this was specifically intended. This has led to the fact that Russia is now the world’s whipping boy, and this complicates our situation, amplified by various black scenarios, and they are possible. But, I repeat, all this will be the result of the internal social and political development of the country.
If our citizens prove unable to pull themselves together – and here Putin is only a part of the problem – then they will have to pay a lot for this. We will all have to pay dearly for this.
7 February 2015
As German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande were meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin, attempting to bargain for a lasting peace in Ukraine, separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine were issuing a “memorandum” – a declaration drawing on Soviet history to justify their continued territorial conquests and self-declared independent statehood. The rebels cited an entity from 1918, the “Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic” (DKSR), which encompassed swathes of territory far outside the areas they control today, namely, the Yekaterinoslav, Kharkov and Taurida Guberniya [guberniya were ‘governorates’ – Tsarist Russian areas ruled by a governor on behalf of the Russian emperor – Ed.]. The implication is that the separatist rebels now controlling parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions presume legal entitlement to the Dnipropetrovsk and Kharkiv regions, as well as most of Ukraine’s coastline. They are trying to lay the “legal” groundwork for the “land corridor” connecting Crimea with mainland Russia, completely depriving the Kyiv authorities of any access to the Sea of Azov.
The Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic only existed for about a year before it was abolished by the very entity to which it had claimed to belong: the Soviet Russian Republic. Furthermore, the Kremlin soon augmented the territory of Ukraine following the Bolsheviks’ victory in the Russian Civil War, so that ultimately all of the DKSR was absorbed by “Ukraine” (as was Crimea, eventually, as well). This means that, even if one ascribes tremendous international legal importance to internal Soviet border-drawing almost a century ago, the rebels’ identification of their separatist territory in 2015 with the DKSR of 1918 (probably at Moscow’s instigation) is not necessarily a bad omen for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. It may also be significant that the DKSR does not lay claim to all of Ukraine’s Black Sea coast, but rather only up to the Dnipro River. The Odessa Region – which would connect the “Novorossiya” territory with the pro-Russian separatist Transnistria region in Moldova – remains outside the Putinist imperial map [See ‘Novorossiya’: Phase 2].
It would require Odessa’s local authorities to make a similar declaration of historical inheritance vis-a-vis the “Odessa Soviet Republic” (also briefly in existence in 1918) to put the prospect of a completely landlocked Ukrainian rump state on the map of international geopolitical consciousness. While pro-Russian separatism has not flared in Odessa thus far, a massacre in the city in May 2014 was very likely an attempt by the Russian security services to sow violence, chaos and terror – and thus anti-Kyiv sentiment – among the locals [See Ukraine analysis: Odessa massacre was Russian intelligence op]. We should not be surprised to see further Russian-sponsored subversion and lethal violence in Odessa in the months ahead.
6 February 2015
The self-proclaimed “Donetsk People’s Republic” has declared that it considers itself the successor of the “Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic” (DKR) proclaimed by the Bolsheviks in 1918 at the 4th Congress of Soviets Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Basin. This is stated in the so-called “Memorandum” adopted on February 6th in Donetsk by the “People’s Council of the DNR.” This is reported on the OstroV website.
In the “memorandum it is emphasized” that in 1918 the DKR included “the territory of the Kharkov and Yekaterinoslav Guberniya, the Krivorozhye and Kherson Guberniya, some of the counties of the Taurida Guberniya, and industrial areas of the region of the Don Cossack Army.” The rebels mistakenly assert that – de jure – the “Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic” has never ceased to exist.
On the basis of this, the authors of the “memorandum” exhort the people living on the territory of Ukraine that was never “part of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Republic, as well as other areas… to become equal subjects of the “Donetsk People’s Republic.”
The terrorists justify their “memorandum” using the principles of international law embodied in the Charter of the United Nations and the results of the unrecognized “referendum” of 11 May 2014.
Reference: Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic was a Soviet republic of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR – or Soviet Russia) established by the Bolsheviks in the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Basin in opposition to the Ukrainian People’s Republic. On 17 February 1919, the Defense Council of the RSFSR passed a resolution on the liquidation of the Donetsk-Krivoy Rog Soviet Republic.