31 May 2015
Observers of the Russo-Ukrainian conflict from its early stages in 2014 may remember a lone Russian academic, political science Prof. Andrei Zubov of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), who dared to publicly oppose the annexation of Crimea in March 2014, comparing it to Hitler’s annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland in 1938. Taking this stance in today’s Russia is enough to invite severe reprisals, and Prof. Zubov was fired soon after making his remarks. Indeed, the only member of the Russian parliament to vote against Crimea’s annexation was publicly lambasted as a ‘traitor’ in a campaign of vilification involving huge billboards in Russian cities accusing him of treason. The MP ultimately fled abroad. Prof. Zubov has recently gone further in his criticism of the Russian regime, at the 8th Kyiv Security Forum from 28-29 May 2015…
29 May 2015 ~ Ukrinform
Modern Russia is a hybrid state: essentially fascist, but with the shell of the Soviet past.
Russian Professor Andrei Zubov made this comment at the 8th Kiev Security Forum, an UKRINFORM correspondent reported.
‘In Russia we have a hybrid state. As a matter of fact it is fascist, but it is to some extent coated with a shell of the Soviet past,’ said the scholar.
In his opinion, such a state ‘does not have a positive future.’
Zubov said that during the Putin regime ‘a restoration of the Soviet past’ has been observed. This is occurring in many ways, but not completely: if the USSR was ruled by a socialist economy, now in Russia, ‘almost half of the private property is in the hands of about 30 private owners, and the rest is in the hands of the state.’
‘That is why we what we have now is not a socialist form, but – rather – we have a corporate state, a national-corporate state. And this national-corporate state resembles the Fascist Italy of the Mussolini era significantly more than it resembles the Soviet Union,’ he said.
Commenting on the conflict in the Donbas, Professor Zubov said that is not a war between two countries, but a struggle between two principles: the European-humanistic, and the Soviet-totalitarian. ‘And the whole struggle that we are now seeing between Ukraine and Russia – this is in fact a struggle between these two approaches to life. One approach puts the person at the center, and the second is when something else is at the center, and the person is a means for the existence of some great concept, abstract principle: state, nation, race,’ he said.
To convince the professor, the whole problem is that in the countries of the USSR, with the exception of the Baltic republics, the process of de-Communization and de-totalitarianization was not fully carried out. Ukraine has embarked on this path, proof of which was the Revolution of Dignity.
30 May 2015
According to a separatist militant from the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ (‘DNR’) in eastern Ukraine, who appears in a video posted to YouTube on May 29th, leaders of the self-declared, separatist entity are being arrested, and figures who governed the area during the era of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych are returning to power. The man laments what he sees as a betrayal of a ‘patriotic’ cause, and claims that people are coming ‘from Kiev’ to take over local leadership posts. He names leaders of the so-called ‘Republican Guard’ among those arrested. He also refers to the assassination of Alexey Mozgovoy, reported in some outlets as the handiwork of Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU (Main Intelligence Directorate). If true, the reports suggest that Moscow may be preparing to abandon the de facto leaders of the separatist Ukrainian republics in favor of more competent, experienced and reliable local governors. The story is still new, and the date of the video is unclear. The speaker refers to the assassination of Mozgovjy ‘yesterday,’ implying that the video itself could have been made a week ago.
30 May 2015 – 62.ua
A full-scale ‘purge’ is taking place at top of the ‘DNR’ [Donetsk People’s Republic], as well-known rebel leaders are being rounded up and arrested.
A rebel gunman of the ‘DNR’ from the ‘Vargan’ group reported this in a video that appeared on social networks.
‘Right now full-scale arrests are taking place here. They have arrested Vanya Russky of the Republican Guard arrested Ivan ‘Russky,’ the commander of the guards, and his deputy, Mikhail ‘Pyatiy,’ and Mozgovoy was killed in Lugansk.
‘Today we are witnessing a definite purge of national-patriotic forces that were capable of governing and defending [the region]…
‘Those who are not arrested, who are very afraid – these stupidly disappear. The current government, the so-called DNR, is a completely criminal structure,’ concludes the gunman.’
The terrorist also noted that people who were there under Yanukovych are returning to power in the ‘DNR.’
25 May 2015
Recent events hint that Moscow may have ‘blinked’ in its stand-off with the West over Ukraine. Last week, leaders of the self-proclaimed separatist republics of the Donbas – the Donetsk and Lugansk ‘People’s Republics’ – declared publicly that the ‘Novorossiya’ project was ‘closed.’ Russian President Vladimir Putin had used the term ‘Novorossiya’ in early 2014, shortly after the overthrow of pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine. The term referred to a ‘historically Russian’ area of Ukraine extending from Kharkiv through the Donbas and across Ukraine’s coastal areas to Odessa region. Putin’s use of it implied that Russia would try to ‘carve away’ this vast territory by force. This fear seemed validated as separatist war escalated in eastern Ukraine.
It appears that Moscow is backing away from the ‘Novorossiya’ venture and also taking steps to de-escalate the war in the Donbas. On Saturday, May 23rd, an adviser to the Ukrainian minister of internal affairs reported that the commander of the ‘Prizrak’ (Ghost) Battalion of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LNR) and six of his bodyguards had been killed by special forces of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU – the Russian military intelligence agency), reputedly for refusing to follow orders. On the same day, Ukrainian counter-intelligence reported that Russia’s 3rd Spetsnaz (Special Operations) Brigade had hastily withdrawn from Luhansk region after the capture of two Russian GRU Spetsnaz troops on May 16th. The reported reason: fear of mutiny. At the end of April, Russian media were reporting that LNR ‘President’ Igor Plotnitsky had been detained in Moscow, and would not be returning because he had stolen humanitarian aid in Luhansk.
While none of these stories have been independently confirmed, a Russian climb-down looks credible in the context of conciliatory behavior by US Secretary of John Kerry in traveling to Sochi, Russia, to meet Putin on May 12th. Apart from exercising dubious diplomacy in meeting Putin on Russian soil, Kerry was limp-wristed on the issue of Russian supplies of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran, echoing Obama’s ‘surprise’ that the Kremlin had not made the deliveries earlier. Kerry also issued an ominous public warning to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko not to attempt to recapture the Donbas by force. Conspicuously, Kerry made no mention of Crimea, illegally annexed by Russia in March 2014, making it appear that Moscow and Washington might be cutting a deal over the heads of the Ukrainians. A quid pro quo might be the lifting of Western sanctions in return for an end to Russian military support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine – but no return of Crimea. Perhaps Kerry was trying to secure Russia’s cooperation with US aims in the Middle East. Perhaps he was simply trying to prevent the US from being dragged into a war in Ukraine.
For expert insight into what Putin and his regime may be thinking, the respected Russian political analyst Andrey Piontkovsky’s recent interview with the Russian webzine Apostrophe is useful. It is reproduced in English below.
Why the ‘Novorossiya’ project has failed
Russian President Vladimir Putin has sharply changed his tactics in Ukraine and offered the West a deal. At the same time, Russia itself faces the threat of absorption by China. This and more in an interview with Russian political analyst, journalist, politician and leading researcher at the Institute for Systems Analysis of the Russian Academy of Sciences Andrey Piontkovsky for Apostrophe’s Artyom Dekhtyarenko.
– Andrey Andreyevich, representatives of the DNR [Donetsk People’s Republic –Ed.] recently said that the ‘Novorossiya’ project had been terminated. What can the self-proclaimed ‘republics’ expect in this regard?
– The ‘Novorossiya’ project in its original form has been closed for a long time. This happened not because Moscow changed its intentions and became kinder to Ukraine, but simply because it failed. This project, which Putin thought about very seriously in March and April last year, was based on the inclusion of 8-10 Ukrainian regions in the new entity. And those provocations that occurred in Donetsk and Lugansk also took place in many other cities, among them Odessa and Kharkiv. However, they failed there, without having received any significant support. And, actually, ‘Novorossiya’ mutated into the so-called Lugandonia [a play on the ‘Lugansk,’ the Russian name for the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk – Ed.].
And Moscow has drastically changed its tactics. It is in any case not going to annex these depressed areas. It needs them to be like a cancer inside Ukraine, sowing chaos and instability. According to the Kremlin’s interpretation of the Minsk Agreement, Lugandonia should be a part of Ukraine (Lavrov emphasizes this ten times in a single day, in Brussels, in Paris, and elsewhere), and thus have the right of veto on the future foreign policy orientations of Ukraine.
These Zakharchenkos and Motorolas are dictating the new Constitution of Ukraine with their whole heads. [Alexander Zakharchenko is the de facto president of the DNR; ‘Motorola’ is the nickname of Arseny Pavlov, a Russian who commands one of the armed groups fighting against Ukraine on behalf of Russia – Ed.] This is a deliberate tactic of Moscow: to ‘stick’ these territories onto the makeup of Ukraine at the current stage of the conflict, so that it is possible to block Ukraine’s European choice from the inside.
– Do you think they will seek autonomy or agree to the terms of broad decentralization proposed by Ukraine?
– They have already formulated their demands, by submitting a draft of the new Constitution of Ukraine. Their demands extend much further than questions of local self-government. I have already said that there is talk there about influencing the foreign policy strategy of Ukraine, about non-aligned status, about federalization. These are the things demanded by Moscow. What Russia has been unable to take from Kyiv, it is trying to get from the Constitution written by the Motorolas and the demons.
– And what in this case indicates the accumulation of Russian troops and equipment in the Donbas?
– The accumulation of Russian troops is ongoing. A sharp increase in the Russian military budget is being fixed. But the prevailing tactic for today is the pressure on Kyiv via the preservation of the idea of Ukraine’s ‘territorial integrity’ as bait. A demonstration of military capabilities is parallel blackmail – not only of Ukraine, but of its Western partners: ‘Here, help us put pressure on Kyiv so that it agrees with our interpretation of the Minsk Agreement, otherwise a military escalation is possible.’ Your Western partners, of course, don’t want that. In the event of escalation, they will have to give even greater assistance to Ukraine. And they strongly want to avoid that.
– So the probability of an escalation in the Donbas in the near future is low?
– In the near future – it won’t happen. In any case, at least until the European Union’s decision on the renewal or non-renewal of sanctions. Now Moscow has declared the so-called new policy of peaceful co-existence with the West. It was very frankly formulated into a kind of seminal article by Lukyanov (Fyodor Lukyanov, Russian journalist. – Apostrophe) on April 16th in the Moscow Times: ‘Putin Wants Peaceful Coexistence With the West.’ Curiously, key provisions of this article were omitted in its Russian translation. That is why the Russian public was not aware of them. This is a direct appeal to the West, where Lukyanov explicitly recognizes that further military escalation in Russia would, as he writes, be ‘dangerous and extremely expensive.’ It is offering this deal to the West: Crimea is ours, and we keep our influence over Lugandonia, but we won’t go any further.
And this pleases the West very much. The reaction to this peaceful co-existence idea was the ‘fantastic’ visit by [John] Kerry, at which he asked for what had been written in the Russian press with great satisfaction. There, at the press conference, he happily chimed in with Lavrov, threatened Poroshenko with a wag of the finger, and never uttered the word ‘Crimea.’ In general, he behaved as Moscow would have liked within these parameters of new, peaceful co-existence. So on today’s agenda is a peaceful offensive simultaneous to a show of force: ‘If you do not respond to our peaceful aspirations, a further escalation of the conflict may follow.’
– What do you think about the suggestion that, during the last visit of John Kerry and Victoria Nuland to Sochi and Moscow, there may have been agreements concluded between Russia and the United States that did not serve the interests of Ukraine?
– It is a fact that this diplomatic activity suggests a new form of mutual relations. After all, one of the forms of the West’s opposition to the Russian Federation was the isolation of the Putin regime. Think of two television images: the first – two months ago, Lavrov was at the Munich conference, where the audience simply laughed at him and actually drove him off the stage, and these were top experts, international security experts and politicians; and the second – at the press conference in Sochi with Kerry. There, with the help of Russian journalists, Lavrov simply mocked him and drove him into a corner. These are completely different formats. Moscow seduced the West with the opportunity to declare that a peaceful settlement had been achieved. ‘Thus, we – the West – with our heroic support of Ukraine have ensured that Moscow will not go further. But what it has captured, it has captured.’
– What, in your opinion, gave Mr. Putin the confidence to seize the Crimea and start a war in the Donbas?
– He knows his Western partners well. He simply despises them. The favorite proverb of Kremlin political scientists when they describe how Putin will behave is to say that ‘for us, Ukraine is much more important than for the West.’ That is, roughly speaking, ‘for us it is much more important to rape Ukraine than for the West to protect it.’ Therefore, the game will go on by raising bets the whole time. Almost until the use of nuclear weapons. This basic method of discourse with the West – it’s just intimidated by the fact that the military conflict is dangerous for it, that Russia is more desperate, and that Putin is successfully portraying himself as a madman, saying: ‘I am willing to use nuclear weapons.’ This is a tactic of intimidation and pressure. And now even this carrot is being tossed in: ‘We’re good, and we won’t climb any further. You don’t have to be afraid of going to war with a nuclear Russia. But, really, what they’ve captured, they’ve captured.’ That kind of deal is, in fact, being proposed to the West.
– Now we see that Crimea is being transformed into a second Chechnya, to the detriment of other regions, as huge amounts of Russian money are being poured into the peninsula. Why is Vladimir Putin doing this?
– Putin is resolving his personal problems. He is resolving the question of his lifelong power. No dictator can base his power exclusively on violence. He needs some sort of inspirational idea, which at a certain time will blind a significant part of the population and draw it onto the side of the authorities… So it was in Nazi Germany, and in the Soviet Union. That Putin put forward the idea of the ‘Russian World,’ declaring it his sacred duty to protect not only citizens of Russia, but all ethnic Russians and Russian-speaking people throughout the world. At some point this idea was quite popular and was the ideological basis for Putin’s dictatorship. Russia’s economy is the same as the economy of Ukraine during the presidency of Viktor Yanukovych. It is a thieving regime of godfathers. The people at the top don’t care about the economic outlook of the country, but of holding on to power. In the context of resolving this problem, such uniting aggression was at one point the best political-technological path for the nation.
– So the occupied parts of the Donbas will be part of Ukraine, and Crimea will remain within the Russian Federation?
– I wouldn’t divide them. I think – and have spoken about this repeatedly – that the attempt to lure the Ukrainian leadership with the illusion of territorial integrity (I mean Lugandonia) must be opposed with tougher stance: both Crimea and the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions – these are captured regions of Ukraine, which does not recognize the capture. But it cannot take them back today by force. The Ukrainian army cannot fight with the full might of the Russian army. The occupying power bears full responsibility for everything that happens there. This position, it seems to me, is the most advantageous for Ukraine and will not allow it to be dragged into the kinds of scenarios wherein it would lose sovereignty over its entire territory, enticed by the phantom of alleged preservation of its territorial integrity. Anyway, this Lugandonia is fully controlled by the Russian security forces.
You see, all this time Ukraine has been frightened by Transnistria. But what Putin wants to do now is much worse. First of all, Moldova does not feed Transnistria and does not support it economically, and that’s what they are trying to make Ukraine do. And second, and more importantly, the Transnistrian field commanders are not rewriting the Constitution of Moldova, and do not have any veto rights over the determination of the country’s policy.
– During the last Victory Day parade in Moscow, we saw that of the most significant leaders in the international arena, only People’s Republic of China leader Xi Jinping came to the event. What, in your opinion, is this closeness between China and Russia evidence of?
– This is not the strengthening of ties between Russia and China. This has long been coming, but after the Ukrainian crisis, the process of Russia’s absorption by China dramatically intensified. After all, a symbolic thing happened at that parade, something that had not happened in the thousand-year history of Russia. In the parade in front of the Russian leaders – indeed, what Russian leaders – sitting there in the middle was Putin with Mr. Jinping and his wife. Medvedev and the other members of the Russian political beau monde weren’t even there. A parade was held of three services of the Chinese Armed Forces: Army, Air Force and Navy.
For the Chinese, who attach great importance to symbols, it was a kind of victory parade. It was a foretaste of their total victory over Russia. By the way, I remind you that about a year ago, also in May, at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum in the presence of Putin and Medvedev, the second man in the Chinese hierarchy, Prime Minister Li said the following: ‘You have – the Russians have – a large territory, and we have a lot of hard-working Chinese people. Let us join these resources to enhance our overall economic potential.’ The Chinese have never allowed themselves to speak with such blatant arrogance. They are fully confident that Putin’s Russia, by cutting itself off from Western civilization, has become very easy prey. Moreover, there are rather influential schools of political-scientific thought in Russia that welcome this process, that consider the Golden Horde to be the Golden Age of Russian history. They believe the process of Russia’s absorption by China to be Russia’s return to its deepest historical roots. There is truth to this. And in many ways, in my opinion, the Russo-Ukrainian conflict is to a significant extent the conflict between the heirs of Kievan Rus and the heirs of the Golden Horde.
– But at the same time we see that the West’s attitude to Russia is changing: the parliament of the Czech Republic has not ratified the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, Hungary is agreeing to cooperate with Russia in the energy sector, and so on. Could the break-up of Europe and the lifting of sanctions occur in this context?
– Germany plays the key role in the European Union. Here we must pay due tribute to the consistent policy of Merkel. Thanks to Europe’s response, the dismemberment of Ukraine was tougher than either I or, very likely, your audience expected. Merkel has to face dual pressures: German business, which wants to further develop its relations with Russia, to make money and close its eyes to anything it doesn’t want to see, and Putin’s fifth column in the EU, at the forefront of which, paradoxically, are the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary – a country that, more than anyone else, should remember the years 1956 and 1968 (when Soviet troops suppressed popular demonstrations in these countries – Apostrophe), and more than anyone should feel sympathy for Ukraine. Merkel’s experience of living in the GDR is a plus. She understands very well the Chekist psychology of Putin, his mentality. She knows who she is dealing with. Merkel is a person whose youth was spent in a state run by the Stasi.
Kerry represents quite the opposite example. I’m not very enthusiastic about Obama’s policy, but Kerry is simply a clinical idiot. He doesn’t understand who he is dealing with, how they are using him, how they are mocking him, and how they are rubbing his face in it. That’s the nature of the West’s misunderstanding of the Putin regime: the idea that this is the same kind of regime as in other G8 members, and that it’s possible to reach agreement – this is what defines the weakness of the West. Still, the West did understand something small this year. It realizes that the unqualified success, the triumph of Putin in Ukraine makes his next move in implementing the ‘Russian World’ concept inevitable.
The polite little green men will appear in the Baltics. And there will be a completely different layout there. It will be impossible to say there, as Obama and Rasmussen (former Secretary General NATO – Apostrophe) said on the first day of the seizure of the Crimea: ‘Ukraine is not a NATO member, and we have no military obligation to the country. Therefore, we exclude any military intervention.’ There [in the Baltics -Ed.], the West will face an agonizing dilemma: either demonstrate a complete collapse of the NATO alliance by failing to fulfill its obligations for the protection of NATO member countries, or go to war with a nuclear power that is constantly threatening to use nuclear weapons.
Therefore, the West will in its own interests take steps, limiting the expansion of Russia in Ukraine, and – in my opinion – the boundaries of this compromise are already defined. The West will be forced to react to further military escalation by Putin, both with tougher economic sanctions against Russia and supplies of weapons to Ukraine. But now it will convince Ukraine to agree to Putin’s set of conditions for peaceful coexistence: Crimea is ours, and Lugandonia will be retained within Ukraine, enjoying huge rights not only of local self-government, but blocking the country’s foreign policy path as a whole…
– You mentioned an interesting detail, that at the Victory Parade Vladimir Putin distanced himself from some representatives of the Russian elite. This raises the question: how is the power vertical arranged in Russia? Does anyone have influence with Vladimir Putin?
– He probably has to reckon with someone. Well, for example, with [President of Chechnya] Ramzan Kadyrov. But in any case, not with Medvedev. Medvedev is a complete and utter non-entity – an ‘iPhone-chik.’ That’s my brand. I named him that. He is seen that way. In Russia, of course, there are different points of view: there is the party of peace and the party of the war. The position of the party of peace is: ‘Yes, Vladimir Vladimirovich. You won a great victory. Crimea is ours! Let’s obsess over yet another thing. Do not let the damned Americans drag us into direct military conflict in Ukraine, which could become a second Afghanistan for us. Don’t worry: we will strangle Ukraine by economic and political means. Without the direct use of regular troops.’ That’s how the party of peace differs from the war party, which demands full-scale aggression.
Putin listens to them. He maneuvers. Different views exist with regard to Chechnya. During the investigation into the murder of Nemtsov, it became clear that the FSB wanted to use this killing – in which it was itself apparently involved – to limit the power of Kadyrov or even remove him. Putin definitely does not like this. Some conflicts and discussions arise, as in any human collective, as in the Politburo of the Russian kleptocracy. But on the whole, Putin is maintaining control, acting as the mediator of different clans.
– And does a conflict between Putin and Kadyrov really exist, as the media is bleating about?
– There is another conflict. The siloviki [state officials of the ‘power’ ministries, such as defense, security, internal affairs and intelligence – Ed.] have long hated Kadyrov. Basically, they have disliked Putin’s ‘Project Kadyrov’ all along. After all, Putin actually gave all the power to Kadyrov and his forces. He even pays tribute to him in the form of budgetary transfers. That is, Kadyrov has more independence than Dudayev and Maskhadov (both of whom led the movement for the independence of Chechnya at different times – Apostrophe) could dream. The only thing he does is he formally declares loyalty not even to Russia, but to Putin personally. The security officials believe that Putin has deprived them of what they call victory in Chechnya. Victory for them would be the genocide of the Chechen population, as was done by General Shamanov and Colonel Budanov. And here, in the investigation into the murder of Nemtsov, they found the chance to publicly express their dissatisfaction with Kadyrov.
But Putin cannot hand over Kadyrov. [Putin’s] legitimacy largely depends on him. Do you remember how he (Vladimir Putin – Apostrophe) came to power? Explosions in buildings were organized, and we were told: ‘Here’s a heroic intelligence officer who will protect us from the terrorists.’ After that, it was announced that Putin had won in Chechnya. And if now it turns out that Kadyrov is a criminal, then at a minimum he has to remove him… But how do you remove him if he has a battle-ready army numbering in the tens of thousands?
So begins a third Chechen war, and this is absolutely unacceptable for Putin. So he will never surrender Kadyrov. And, judging by recent events in the development of the conflict, Putin has proposed some sort of compromise, which Kadyrov and the militants have agreed to. That is that the killer [of Nemtsov] is some Dadayev [the name of a Chechen security official who killed himself in Chechnya soon after Nemtsov’s killing – Ed.], and it all ends with him. He is the contractor and the organizer.
– In the previous answer you used the word ‘kleptocracy.’ In connection with this, your article of 2010 – ‘How we can defeat the kleptocracy’ – co-written with Alexei Kondaurov, immediately springs to memory. In it, among other things, you talked about a single candidate from the opposition forces. Is there such a candidate in Russia now, and was Nemtsov one?
– Boris Nemtsov was definitely not considered in that article. Then, on the eve of the presidential election, they talked about the kind of candidate who could unite both the left and the liberal opposition. Now this issue has lost all relevance. Any fight against the authoritarian regime, including by parliamentary means, using elections, requires two factors. The first is a kind of mass protest movement on the street (this doesn’t mean that there has to be a majority of the population, as all revolutions are made by an active minority). There was such a movement in 2011-2012, when just such problems were being discussed in connection with our article. 100,000-150,000 demonstrators came out to the protests. But a second factor is also needed. It is what happened in all revolutions in both Eastern European and the Middle East, and in the Ukrainian revolution. A split of the elites is absolutely necessary. These are two processes inducing each other: the protest movement on the street and the split of elites.
Look at Egypt: up to a million came out there, but nothing moved as long as the generals decided not to oppose Mubarak. So here in Russia, December 2011 was very busy for the government. It was the perfect moment to split the elites. But they showed their solidarity: not the slightest hint of a split. I assure you that if there were such signals, such as the resignation of half of the members of the government or any movements of those same iPhone-chiks, the next day it would not have been 100, but 500 thousand people on the street. There was no kind of split. The Russian elite has shown that it is unhappy with Putin, even afraid of him. But more than that it is afraid to remain without Putin, one on one with society. All of the Russian elites are linked by common crimes, common theft, a common origin of their wealth. Then and now, during the Ukrainian crisis, they have once again shown their solidarity. Their personal, selfish interests are more precious to them than the fate of the country. See how this absolute conformity of our so-called elite prolongs the agony of the Putin regime. But it is making the finale more dramatic.
– What can still facilitate this split?
– The history of Russia says that the split of elites and radical changes in the country facilitate major foreign policy defeats. None of us want an escalation of the conflict in Ukraine, but if Putin goes for this escalation – and that really would be a crazy move – it will end in a crushing defeat. This defeat will accelerate the split of elites and the fall of the Putin regime. But it would be cynical to wish to achieve this goal by such means.
– In that article five years ago, in 2010, you wrote about the kleptocracy, about the elite… How much has the situation in Russia changed since that time?
– The position has worsened. It has been an experiment. History created a social experiment in 2011-2012: are the so-called systemic liberals or some other group within the elite ready to support the protest movement? The experiment indicated that they were not. They were not ready. And without the support of the elite, the protest movement is doomed to failure. The result of this experiment inspired Putin. He showed that his rear was strong enough, on the one hand, and on the other hand, in order to provide mass ideological support, he went on an adventure, which for some time created the illusion of patriotic enthusiasm and popular support. But even that was not the main reason for the aggression against Ukraine. Putin was really frightened by the Association Agreement between Ukraine and Europe. In it, he saw the prospect of Ukraine moving on a European course – on the path of reform, providing political and economic competition. This movement was very dangerous for Putin, because it would have created an inspiring example for Russia.
– What do you think about another topical theme: the capture of the Russian soldiers in the Donbas? What kind of reaction has this caused in Russia?
Shortly before our interview I listened to the transmission of Echo Moskvy [‘Echo of Moscow’ – Ed.], in which the audience was simply asked: ‘Who is to blame: the government, or these two people?’ And the majority – about 80%? – responded that responsibility lay with the state. And this is indeed true. This is an important situation.
For example, the war criminal Motorola – whom, I hope, will be convicted at some point – he went there voluntarily, at the call of his Motorola heart. He went to kill, including unarmed prisoners. And the two men, the sergeant and the officer, followed orders. And the guilty party is, of course, the state, in giving such a criminal order. Generally, these are not the first people who have found themselves at the hands of Ukrainian security officials. It’s just that until recently, the Ukrainian authorities and Poroshenko, who holds his talks with Putin. have avoided putting Moscow in an awkward position.
I was very impressed by the recent interview of Poroshenko, in which he says that he doesn’t trust Putin but is forced to negotiate with him because he wants to prevent a war. However, the most recent steps of the Ukrainian leadership suggest that it is becoming increasingly difficult for him not to call a spade a spade for the sake of preserving some sort of trustworthy channels of communication with Moscow. I think the intention to put these military personnel on trial is evidence of this, to prove to Western and Russian public opinion the fact of the presence of Russian troops in Ukraine. And the decision to break military-technical cooperation with Moscow. The Ukrainian authorities are getting closer to full realism in relations with Russia.
– What, in your opinion, will result from the exchange of threats about weapons: the United States has long been considering the possibility of supplying lethal types of weapons to Ukraine, and Russia is allegedly ready to sell Iran the S-300 [Russian-made missile defense system – Ed.]?
– Russia does not threaten to supply the S-300 systems. It just delivers them. The supply agreement was frozen and has now resumed. At the same conference in Sochi, Kerry made a strange statement. He said everything was all right. With regard to the supply of weapons by the United States, public opinion there is very firmly on the side of Ukraine. It seems to be that Obama is also not a very big fan of Putin. He just saves this step in the event of military escalation. After all, he’ll have to react somehow. That’s why Moscow has also come to the conclusion that military escalation would be more dangerous and much more costly for it.
– How do you see future relations between Ukraine and Russia? What should be done to ensure that they once again become warm and friendly?
– For this the Putin regime must fall. While Putin is in power, until the last day, until the last breath of his political life, he will continue to try to strangle Ukraine by all means available to him.
23 May 2015
Russian Brutality in Independent Ukraine ~ January 1918
In January 1918 the Bolsheviks captured Kyiv for the first time, and for an entire three weeks – the period when the city was under their control – robbed and killed its residents. Kyiv had not seen this sort of atrocity since the days of the Mongol invasion in the thirteenth century. Indeed, this comparison can often be found in the memories of those Kyivans who had had the chance to see with their own eyes the first entry of the Muscovite ‘liberators’ of the working class into their city at the beginning of 1918.
Shortly before this, on November 7th, 1917, when the Winter Palace fell in Petrograd, the Central Rada – the first Ukrainian parliament – had proclaimed Ukraine’s autonomy. Winter came, which was bad news for the Bolsheviks, for without Ukrainian bread they wouldn’t have lasted long. Thus, in December, their leader – Vladimir Lenin – declared: ‘Right now, two issues take precedence over all other political affairs: bread and peace.’ The Bolsheviks went to Brest [Poland] to make peace at talks with the German high command, intending to take Russia out of the First World War. But for the bread, they had to go to Ukraine.
It was just then that an uprising of workers at the Arsenal factory started in Kyiv, and the Central Rada decided to disarm the rebels. In response, Lenin put forward an ultimatum demanding that the pro-Bolshevik movement not be stopped. In Kyiv, Petrograd’s reaction was only noted, at which point Lenin decided to use force.
In Kharkiv, a Ukrainian Bolshevik government was hastily formed. Since practically no one dared take personal responsibility for managing this entity, it was headed by four secretaries: Yevgenia Bosch, Voldemar Aussem, Vladimir Zatonsky and Yuriy Kotsiubynsky. These ‘people’s secretaries’ turned to ‘Big Brother’ – Lenin and his team – for help in restoring order in Ukraine.
At that time, there was a serious problem among the military personnel of the Russian Bolsheviks. The army was commanded by Warrant Officer Nikolai Krylenko; the fleet – by the sailor Pavel Dybenko. The revolutionary fervor of these two was of little relevance to the demands of larger operations.
The only Red among the leadership who had any proper military training was Vladimir Antonov-Ovseyenko, who hailed from a noble family from Chernihiv. He led a punitive expedition to his historical homeland. As his chief of staff, Antonov-Ovseyenko had appointed tsarist officer Mikhail Muravyov, a man with his own methods of warfare.
Mikhail Muravyov – the son of a peasant – enjoyed great prestige among the soldiers. He had a simple mode of communication, despite possessing the aura of a self-made man. From February 1917 [date of the first Russian revolution, which overthrew the tsar – Ed.], Muravyov had tried to further his career in different political groups. At one time he was even in the political camp of Alexander Kerensky, head of the Provisional Government, becoming the commander of the Cabinet of Minister’s guards.
Then Muravyov began to entertain the idea of posing as the savior of the Russian army, which had suffered defeat on the German front. He thus created about a hundred so-called death squads.
Their structure included the most ideologically motivated soldiers and officers. But though these units had no success in the war with the Germans, their methods of formation and ideological development were useful in the war with Ukraine.
The leadership of the Ukrainian People’s Republic (UNR), led by the Central Rada and proclaimed after the Bolshevik coup in Petrograd [in October 1917 – Ed.], took literally Lenin’s first appeals for peace and his assurances of the right to self-determination of peoples of the Russian Empire.
The historian Mykhailo Hrushevsky, who led the parliament, and the writer Volodymyr Vynnychenko, head of government, treated the formation of the army of the young state somewhat carelessly. In October 1917, the UNR issued a declaration on the demobilization of the troops who were sworn to it. Historians say that they numbered no less than three hundred thousand. But they disarmed and dispersed the most battle-worthy corps – that of General Pavlo Skoropadsky – since the Ukrainian authorities considered such divisions unnecessary in a country built on socialist principles that was not going to war with anyone.
No one could imagine that loosely-organized gangs were invading Ukraine, and that their leader had one slogan: ‘Be ruthless!’ Those who knew Muravyov personally remembered that he was obsessed with power and eager for all sorts of military adventures, desirous of resembling his idol Napoleon.
However, the Russian Bonaparte was a mass of contradictions. Antonov-Ovseyenko said that Muravyov constantly threw money around and ‘sowed corruption’ in his midst, surrounding himself with ‘suspicious persons, among whom are a group of his bodyguards – some criminals, some drug addicts.’ Indeed, Muravyov himself was addicted to morphine.
The Bolsheviks first started making plans to attack Ukraine in early December 1917 in Moscow. Antonov-Ovseyenko wrote: ‘We had a long meeting. Maps were spread out on the floor, and we pored over them all day. We developed plans for action against Kaledin’s troops (on the Don), as well as against the Central Rada.’
At first, the Russian Bolsheviks were not planning to go to war with the UNR. The plan was to take over the Kharkiv-Simferopol rail links, seize the Tauride (current Kherson and Mykolaiv regions) and Yekaterinoslav (Dnipropetrovsk region and part of the Donbas) guberniya [‘governorates’ – tsarist-era territorial-administrative units – Ed.]. This would allow control of productive agricultural areas and block the path of Cossack units returning from the Don front. They had not yet thought about the liquidation of the UNR.
Muravyov developed the tactic of the ‘lightning echelon war,’ which proceeded without a declaration of war and took advantage of confusion in the enemy’s camp. The Red troops were to move quickly by rail into the country of the enemy, and in the absence of a front line. The plan worked: in five weeks, the Bolsheviks had defeated or forced the capitulation of the isolated garrisons of the UNR, and had occupied all routes of communication.
Zhidomazepintsy [‘Jewish Mazepists’ – a reference to followers of 18th century Ukrainian Hetman Ivan Mazepa – Ed.]
The leaders of the Red units did not have proper ideological justification for their incursion into Ukraine. The proletariat in these regions was too scarce and passive to play the role of the victim in need of rescue. Even the rebellious workers of the Kyiv Arsenal eventually backed the Central Rada. Wealthy Ukrainian peasants did not resemble an oppressed class at all. From the annals of Great Russian consciousness, it was necessary to resurrect stereotypes from the 200-year-old history of Hetman Mazepa, the betrayer of Peter the Great.
About two weeks have passed since the day of the zhidomazepintsy demonstration, but still the Russian people are worried. ~ ‘Double-Headed Eagle’ newspaper on the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Taras Shevchenko in 1914
The story was forgotten even before the war dragged in ultrapatriotic associations like the Club of Russian Nationalists or the Kievan Russian Assembly, which existed in Ukraine. In March 1914, when the centennial of the birth of Taras Shevchenko had been observed, their representatives demanded that the local authorities ban any demonstrations in connection with this anniversary. But they went ahead anyway. The Double-Headed Eagle newspaper was distressed about it: ‘It’s been about two weeks since the treacherous demonstrations of the zhidomazepintsy, and the Russian people still are uneasy, still worry.’ Then among many Russians there developed a phobia about a phantom conspiracy of Jews and Ukrainians against a united Russia. The Bolsheviks deliberately revived the danger of the zhidomazepintsy.
Muravyov’s troops entered Kharkiv on January 11th, 1917. After a few days, armored vehicles appeared on the streets of the city emblazoned with the words: ‘Death to the Ukrainians!’ Antonov-Ovseyenko recalled that the ‘liberators’ plundered public and private property, behaving criminally, ‘considering any white handle worthy of destruction,’ and treating Ukraine as the territory of a hostile power. Muravyov considered himself the repressor of ‘traitors to the motherland.’
The contemporary Ukrainian historian Victor Savchenko writes: ‘The officials of Soviet Ukraine begged Lenin and the Soviet military leaders to stop the abuse of the population, who were obedient to the Russian forces in Kharkiv. But to no avail… It was not safe to speak publicly in the Ukrainian language, to wear a traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirt… Often they would simply kill someone for a good pair of boots.’
The researcher goes on to describe the presence of Russians in Ukraine, as if foreseeing Putin’s methods of war in the Donbas: ‘Lenin’s cabinet, conducting a complex game ‘of Ukrainian sovereignty,’ declared the RSFSR a neutral state, shifting responsibility for the actions of the troops of Muravyov and Antonov-Ovseyenko onto the Bolshevik government of Ukraine, even though these forces had no intention of obeying their Ukrainian comrades.’
‘Kiev is ours.’
Stimulated by easy profits, the Bolsheviks decided to change the original plans and seize Kyiv. Since the volunteer units of the UNR were gathering very slowly, the government of Vynnychenko issued an order to untrained soldier-cadets to guard important facilities. Taking Poltava on January 19th, Muravyov ordered the execution of those military academy cadets who had not managed to withdraw. And on January 29th there occurred the legendary battle at the Kruty railway station, where 400 Ukrainian cadets and students came out against five thousand Red troops.
Muravyov and his warriors plundered the conquered territory. From the population of captured Chernihiv he gathered a 50,000-ruble contribution. With this money, as recalled by witnesses, the Red commander drank vodka for several days. In Hlukhiv, the ‘liberators’ put the sailor Tsyganka in charge. After another wave of looting, this drunk decided to start firing a cannon, but the shell exploded on his knees. At the funeral of the sailor the entire city was driven out under the muzzles of rifles.
Learning of these horrors advancing from the east, the Central Rada proclaimed the independence of the UNR on January 22nd. But it was unable to defend Kyiv, which was crowded with rich refugees from Moscow and St. Petersburg, officers and soldiers of the tsarist army who didn’t know whom to swear allegiance to. It was easy prey for Muravyov’s detachments.
Starting from January 27th from the Darnitsa, from the left bank of the Dnipro, the Reds shelled the city for several days. They unleashed more than fifteen thousand shells onto their designated districts. None of the peaceful population of Kyiv was ready for such a bombardment.
Muravyov later boasted of his exploits: ‘We’re going to establish Soviet power by fire and sword. I occupied the city and battered the palaces and churches. On January 28th, the Duma (of Kyiv) asked for a truce. In response, I decreed that they be choked with gas. Hundreds of generals, perhaps thousands, were mercilessly slaughtered… So we took revenge. We could have stopped the furious vengeance, but we didn’t because our motto was: Be ruthless!’
The Red commander then earnestly administered the poison gas, prohibited at the time by international treaties. This allowed him to freely enter Kyiv across the bridge over the Dnieper. Having captured the capital of the UNR, Muravyov gave his soldiers three days to plunder. According to various estimates, in only a week they exterminated two to three thousand Kyivans, of them about a thousand officers and generals.
‘Apart from the officers, they executed anyone who naively showed their red ticket – the certificate of proof of Ukrainian citizenship,’ the ethnographer Nikolai Mogiliansky recalled of the events. Having fled from the Bolsheviks in Petrograd, he was overtaken by them in Ukraine. Mogiliansky later wrote that the Reds systematically plundered Kyiv. Muravyov, as usual, demanded a tribute of five million rubles from the city. He collected the money fairly quickly. As a result, ‘sailors and soldiers rode around the city in cars and luxury cabs with wonderful Phaeton & Landos [early diesel engine cars – Ed.], often in a state of intoxication.’ They threw money around in restaurants and casinos, surrounded by ‘an atmosphere of revelry and debauchery of every kind.’
The Soviet government of Ukraine, moving from Kharkiv to Kyiv, discovered with horror the full extent of the atrocity in its sections. Thousands of corpses of peaceful civilians littered the parks of Kyiv. They demanded that Moscow immediately remove Muravyov from Ukraine. No one would listen to them.
Two days before the arrival of the Bolsheviks, the Central Rada had time to make it to Zhytomyr and quickly joined the peace negotiations between Germany and the Bolsheviks in Brest. The result was that after their stay of three weeks in Kyiv, the Muravyovites hastily left the city, with the arriving UNR allies – the German troops – already breathing down their necks. Suburban residents witnessed an endless trail of carts piles with booty going by for several days. Many of the Red ‘liberators’ were dressed in hussar uniforms looted from military depots.
They would be back briefly in 1919. And then in 1920 – for 70 years.
Photos of 1918 Ukraine courtesy of the Museum of the Ukrainian Revolution of 1917-1921
This material was published in Russian in Novoye Vremya (New Time) magazine №5 on 13 February 2015.
20 May 2015
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development of France knows for certain that ‘agents of the Russian security services’ were among the snipers who shot people on the Maidan in Kyiv in winter last year.
The director of the Continental Europe Department of the French Foreign Ministry, Eric Fournier, talks about this in a documentary film made for the France-3 television channel by French journalist and writer Serge Moati, reports an UkrInform correspondent.
‘At the time when I was with Laurent Fabius in the official building (on Bankova Street in Kyiv), snipers – elite gunmen – opened fire on the crowd, and we know that among the elite shooters were agents of the Russian security services… And further (there were) 70-80 killed during the day, we were still there (in the building) and were negotiating with Yanukovych on how to find a political solution…’ says Fournier in the 38th minute of the film about the events in February of last year.
Later, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Romain Nadal, answering a question from the UkrInform correspondent, did not deny this information, recalling at the same time that the investigation of this case in Ukraine is ongoing. ‘As for the events of February 2014 in Kiev, Ukraine, the investigation continues,’ said Nadal.
Eric Fournier in the film recounts his memories in a car, driving down Hrushevskoho Street in Kyiv three months after the shootings on the Maidan, that is, at the end of May 2014.
The documentary film Quai d’Orsay: The Wings of Diplomacy (Quai d’Orsay. Les coulisses de la diplomatie) is one hour and ten minutes in duration. Shot by Serge Moati, it talks about French diplomacy, led by the Minister Laurent Fabius, which embodies the foreign policy of France and defends the national interests, not only in peacetime but also in times of crisis. More than a third of the film is dedicated to the events in Ukraine and the role of French diplomacy in finding a way out of the crisis caused by Russia.
For his film the author used a large number of official statements, videos of the events on the Maidan, official meetings, official meetings and talks at the Quai d’Orsay (French Foreign Ministry), in Normandy with the participation of world leaders and chiefs of diplomacy. In particular, Francois Hollande, Petro Poroshenko, Queen Elizabeth II, Vladimir Putin, Laurent Fabius, John Kerry, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Sergei Lavrov and others.
The film features memories, opinions, advice and predictions about the discovery, development and deepening of solutions to the so-called ‘Ukrainian crisis,’ and in addition to Eric Fournier, those who share their opinions include the former director of the Department of Political Affairs of the French Foreign Ministry, and the current diplomatic adviser to the President of France Jacques Audibert.
The premiere of the film was held a month ago, on April 16th, 2015, at 11:30 p.m. at the French TV channel France-3. The full version is already available on YouTube.
19 May 2015
Ukrainian MP: Russian security services incite separatism in Odessa
In Odessa yesterday, May 16th, a second workshop of the so-called ‘People’s Council of Bessarabia’ introduced a bill on the ‘national and cultural autonomy of Bessarabian territory.’
The head of the ‘Information Resistance’ group, Ukrainian MP Dmytro F. Tymchuk, reported this on his Facebook page, according to UNIAN depo.ua.
‘This is another round of activity of the Russian security services on the territory of Ukraine. In parallel with preparing for an increase in large-scale attacks in the Donbas, the Kremlin is trying to ignite a ‘second front’ for the greatest possible destabilization of the situation in the South, a distraction of forces and a diversion of our law enforcement organs from the zone of the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO). At the same time, there is a probing of ground on the subject of further splitting Ukraine and stealing territory by a third scenario (after the first two: the bloodless ‘Crimean scenario’ or bloody ‘Donbas’). The neighboring Russian military springboard in Transnistria makes this scenario not so fantastic.’
Moreover, the nascent ‘Bessarabians’ are not making any particular effort to disguise the fact that they are being directed from Russia. Thus, the participants of the conference were congratulated from Moscow by one of the founders of the ‘People’s Council,’ A. Vetrov, a Russian Ukrainophobe well-known in Odessa, with the words: ‘Together with you, I will continue the struggle for a bright future for Bessarabia.’ The video communications included odious Russian lackeys like former ‘Minister of Foreign Affairs’ of Transnistria V. Yastrebchak,’ said Tymchuk.
He noted that the ‘Bessarabians’ are not particularly concerned about hiding the fact that the ‘draft bill on national-cultural autonomy for the Bessarabian territory’ was signed by people with very weak connections to Ukraine.
‘The ‘Russisms’ in the text of this paper [i.e. words that betray the fact that the bill was not composed by Ukrainian speakers – Ed.] are a dime a dozen. If the FSB [Russian Federal Security Service] lacks the intelligence to hire an editor to do proofreading for 10 dollars, then I feel sorry for the degenerate agents of the security services of the Russian Federation who are working under the guise of Panopticon ‘republics’ like the ‘People’s Council of Bessarabia,’ said Tymchuk.
‘Masking’ tricks like the promotion of the ‘purely cultural autonomy of Bessarabia within Ukraine’ should not mislead, said Tymchuk.
‘The essence of the project is to delineate an entire region from the territory of our country under the cover of a message about language and culture, followed by the establishment of a quasi-state formation similar to neighboring Pridnestrovian-Moldavian Republic [Transnistria]. A fool could understand who would administer this,’ he said.
‘The fact that the ‘Bessarabians’ (whose link to another Russian project – ‘LNR’ [Lugansk People’s Republic] – has been established by the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine]) have cut out the work of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine in their ‘draft bill’ and essentially seek to amend the Constitution of Ukraine – this, you will agree, is a joke. But the real the problem is that in the districts of Odessa listed in the ‘draft bill’ (districts which Moscow plans to use to constitute ‘Bessarabia’), this Russian initiative could actually win the support of certain segments of the population.
For one simple reason: the listed areas have totally or partially dropped out of the information field of Ukraine and are not covered by a Ukrainian digital TV signal (TV is the main source of information for local residents), as previously reported by the Information Resistance (IR) group. Instead, over the years, local residents have been zombified by Russian TV from Transnistria.
Although it is totally technically possible (without significant cost to the budget) to correct the situation there – the relevant experts are available in the IR group. But this is a question for our Ministry of Information Policy (by the way, a request on this subject has already been sent to Mr. Yuriy Stets [Information Policy Minister – Ed.] in my name). So the seed of hatred and separatism from the FSB can find very fertile ground in Odessa region. With all subsequent consequences,’ wrote Timchuk.
Recall that the founding congress of the ‘People’s Council of Bessarabia’ concluded in Odessa with mass arrests of the organizers of the event by SBU agents. Specifically, over 20 people were arrested.
18 May 2015
Media in both Ukraine and Russia have reported in the last couple of days that a couple of Russian ‘spetsnaz’ (special operations) soldiers were detained in Luhansk region by one of the Ukrainian volunteer battalions. Both are reported wounded and receiving treatment by Ukrainian doctors. The news is significant in light of continued denials by the Russian regime that any regular Russian military personnel are active in Ukraine. The Russian webzine ‘Snob‘ reported as follows on May 17th:
Soldiers of the Ukrainian volunteer battalion ‘Aydar’ have captured two Russian military personnel, reports a fighter with ‘Aydar,’ Yuriy Kasyanov, on facebook
The soldiers were detained on Saturday, May 16th, when they reached the city of Schastye, from which the 80th Separate Air Mobile Brigade had been brought out. ‘We had not even had time to cool the tracks of the 80th Brigade fighters when the enemy decided to test our defenses,’ said the ‘Aydar’ soldier. According to him, during the battle one Ukrainian soldier was killed, and several people were injured.
‘Two of the attackers – Russian military personnel from diversionary-intelligence units – were captured,’ said the soldier of the Ukrainian battalion.
The Ukrainian military detained Russian special operations agents from the city of Togliatti who were quartered in Luhansk, wrote Luhansk doctor Grigory Maximets on facebook. According to him, one prisoner is named Alexander Alexandrov; the second – Yevgeny Yeroveyev. Both soldiers were wounded: Yerofeyev received a bullet in the shoulder; Alexandrov – in the thigh.
‘As usual in such cases, the Russian saboteurs were very worried for their organs, which we doctor-murderers were supposed to have cut out for the purpose of selling, as their commanders had constantly warned. One of the occupier-officers even demanded that his shoulder be operated on without anesthesia – so he could guard his kidneys – and we went to meet him,’ said a doctor.
Near the city of Schastye, two officers of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian Defense Ministry were detained, ‘Interfax-Ukraine’ reports. ‘Two Russian soldiers were detained, and our investigators are working with them,’ confirmed Andriy Lysenko, representative of the Presidential Administration of Ukraine for the Anti-Terrorist Operation.
The Russian Defense Ministry has not yet commented on the reports of the detention of the special ops troops of the GRU. In the past, the Defense Ministry has repeatedly stated that Russian soldiers and officers are not involved in the war in the Ukraine.
The Ukrainian site InformNapalm, also reporting on May 17th to confirm reports of the capture and provide details, quotes a volunteer members of its team of reporters who appeals to the public to use the news of the capture of the Russian soldiers to counter Russian propaganda that no Russian army troops are engaged in hostilities on Ukrainian territory:
A video in which the young Sgt. Alexandrov is interrogated in hospital, identifying himself and his commander, Yerofeyev
Yesterday, during fierce fighting with Russian diversionary-sabotage units that engulfed the area around the settlement of Schastye, two Russian servicemen – soldiers of the Togliatti GRU spetsnaz, a captain and a sergeant of the Russian Armed Forces – were taken prisoner. Both were injured, and the severity of their injuries is currently unknown. Total losses on the side of the attackers are still being verified, while two were killed and three wounded from the Ukrainian security forces.
A volunteer on the InformNapalm team, Roman Burko, reported on these events on facebook on May 16th.
Roman also suggested that the Russian prisoners of war should be used to conducting informational-psychological measures and appealed to the public to prevent the concealment of this incident.
Today, May 17th, the headquarters of ATO also confirmed information on the Russian prisoners of war. This was announced at a press briefing by the spokesman for the ATO in the Presidential Administration, Col. Andriy Lysenko, when asked about the accuracy of the information on the detention by soldiers of ‘Aydar’ of two members of the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate.
Recall that in 2014, the media were full of headlines that a GRU spetsnaz brigade had been sent from Togliatti to Crimea for the protection of a strategic target.
In March 2015 there were reports that special operations forces from Togliatti (Samara Region, Russia) had been thrown into the Luhansk region.
UPD: Around 14:50 on May 17th, dispensary department physician Grigory Maximets also confirmed on his facebook page also confirmed the information about the two wounded Russian soldiers and posted their photos:
By the evening of May 17th on social networks there had appeared the photos and identity papers of the Russian prisoners of war which had been supplied by the militants of the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) in order to hide the fact of participation by these persons in the armed forces of the Russian Federation.
Senior intelligence officer, Russian Federation Armed Forces service contract Sgt. Alexander Anatolievich Alexandrov, 7 January 1987, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, call-name: ‘Alex.’
Reconnaissance group commander, Capt. Yevgeny Yerofeyev, 18 January 1985, Kuibyshev, Russia, call-name: ‘Dolphin.’
The InformNapalm Team sincerely hopes that the Ukrainian authorities and the public do not allow this fact to be silenced, and shall disseminate it not only at the most widely publicized global level, but also use it as a means of counter-propaganda.
We will be following developments surrounding this incident.
9 May 2015
Ukraine President links WWII to friendship of ‘maniacs’ Hitler and Stalin
Friday, May 8, 2015, 14:33 ~ Ukrainska Pravda
President Poroshenko has suggested that World War II would not have happened had it not been for the conspiracy of the Nazi German leader Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin, General Secretary of the USSR.
He stated this at a ceremonial meeting of the Verkhovna Rada dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the victory over Nazism in Europe and the Day of Memory for the victims of World War II.
‘In September 1939, together with the Poles, the Ukrainians… were the first to feel the effects of the collusion of two totalitarian regimes, Nazi and Communist,’ he said.
Therefore, according to Poroshenko, the Verkhovna Rada ‘absolutely justly’ and promptly passed a law that ‘legally equates the crimes of the Nazi and Communist misanthropic ideologies and murderous practices.’
‘And the fact is that for almost two years, from the autumn of 1939 to June 1941, Stalin’s Soviet Union was an ally of Nazi Germany,’ the President said.
‘A demonstrative symbol of this collaboration was a joint Soviet-Nazi parade in Brest on September 17th, 1939,’ he said.
‘But it did not save the Soviet Union from aggression, and the USSR – from having to pay with human lives for the friendship between Stalin and Hitler, these crazy maniacs who wanted to divide the world into two. As a result, almost every other person who died in World War II was a citizen of the USSR,’ said Poroshenko.
It is also believed that the Soviet Union would not have won the Second World War, if not for the Ukrainians.
‘They would not have won the war without Ukraine and Ukrainians! There isn’t even anything to argue about here!’ said Poroshenko.
‘But, by the way, it is debatable whether the war would have started if not for the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in the Kremlin. Because that was the pact that finally opened the floodgates that had held back the war,’ he said.
Poroshenko also pointed to the ‘fatal flaws’ of European leaders and the policy of appeasement of the aggressor as factors that contributed to World War Two.
3 May 2015
21 April 2015 ~ rus.newsru.ua
Speaking at a meeting of the State Duma on the annual report of the government, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that ‘if the external pressure increases, and the price of oil remains at an extremely low level for a long time, then we are going to have to develop a different economic reality.’
This was reported by Новости@Mail.Ru.
According to Medvedev, the cause of this is the unprecedented pressure created by the ‘merger’ of the Crimea with Russia.
Talking about the circumstances in which the Russian economy exists, Medvedev stressed that ‘the serious external economic pressure on our country was caused by a major political decision last year – the return of the Crimea to the Russian Federation.’
At the same time, Medvedev insisted that no other scenario was possible, and placed responsibility on the entire country, stressing that ‘all of us – the country as a whole, the government, the parliament’ are responsible for the decision.
It is noteworthy that the responsibility of the government and the State Duma came after that of ‘the whole country.’
Speaking about the ‘world-historical significance’ of the annexation of Crimea, Medvedev said that the development of the peninsula was ‘an exceptional case for our country.’
At the same time, he recalled that funding for the ‘socio-economic development of Crimea and Sevastopol up to 2020’ would be about 700 billion rubles, of which 660 billion rubles would come from the federal budget.
That is, Crimea had become a 95% subsidized region, which was very costly for the Russian budget.
In general, the incorporation of Crimea into Russia was worth even more. ‘If the external pressure increases, and the price of oil remains at an extremely low level for a long time, then we are going to have to develop a different economic reality,’ warned the prime minister. It is noteworthy that Russians did not really think about the ‘price’ of the annexation of Crimea a year ago.
According to him, there is not a single sector of the economy that would not be touched by the sanctions. In total, Medvedev said, the damage to the Russian economy in 2014 from the impact of sanctions is estimated at 25 billion euros, or about $30 billion (1.5% of GDP). In 2015, this could increase by several times.
Medvedev said that Russia’s regions, which were now deprived of a substantial part of budget finances, were already suffering from the annexation of Crimea. And these losses would only increase against the background of rising costs and falling budget revenues. ‘The revenues of the Russian Federation budget have fallen, while the costs, by contrast, have increased.’
Having read the mantra that ‘the overall situation is stabilizing,’ Medvedev was compelled to admit that ‘there should be no illusions.’
Recall that after the annexation of Crimea, the peninsula became almost completely subsidized: it has no electricity generation, is sorely lacking fresh water, and has almost completely severed its transport links, which is why last summer Russians had to wait in line for 40 hours in the heat for the Kerch ferry.
2 May 2015
A year ago today, violent clashes in the center of Odessa culminated in the deaths of some 48 people, most of them killed in a fire in the Regional House of Trade Unions. Who organized the violence remains unclear, but evidence emerged subsequent to the event indicating advance planning. The Ukrainian security services and police have arrested citizens of the Russian Federation in connection with the incident – some with close family connections to Russian security ministries. An anti-terrorist operation in Odessa region is ongoing.
Odessa is a vital port and one of the most strategically important cities in Ukraine. Capture of the district by pro-Russian separatists would practically deny Ukraine access to the Black Sea, since Russia’s annexation of Crimea has closed access from the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Straits. Further, the local political situation is uncertain. While governors in Ukraine are appointed by the president under Ukraine’s constitution, mayors and heads of sub-regional municipalities are elected by popular vote.
The current governor of Odessa region, Ihor Palytsia, appointed by the interim Ukrainian leadership in May 2014, is seen as loyal to the central government. The mayor, Gennadiy Trukhanov, is a former member of the Party of Regions and was elected on 25 May 2014, defeating the candidate of President Petro Poroshenko’s party. As the municipal authorities were already under suspicion for complicity in the violence of May 2nd, the stability of Odessa remained in question following the election, perhaps more so given Trukhanov having defeated the pro-presidential candidate without resort to massive fraud.
The issue of ‘fifth columns’ in Ukraine – particularly in cities and regions falling within Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s neo-imperial ‘Novorossiya’ project – continues to be of concern to the Ukrainian government, and security in Odessa continues to be a top priority. The following article from hromadske.tv offers video and photographic images of new security units deployed in Odessa to keep the peace over the May Day weekend.
1 May 2015 ~ hromadske.tv
At Kulykovo Field in Odessa, instruction of all police units involved in the protection of public order during the May holidays in Odessa has taken place.
Recall that, by decision of the local police, from 1-9 May the wearing of balaklavas and St. George ribbons was banned in Odessa.
After this, Odessans staged an impromptu photo session with the security forces and military equipment.