Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #1004 Update on Ukrainian Fascism and a Possible Third World War

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This broad­cast was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

Intro­duc­tion: Sup­ple­ment­ing pre­vi­ous cov­er­age of the Ukrain­ian cri­sis, this broad­cast fur­ther explores the role of Nazi for­ma­tions and indi­vid­u­als in the secu­ri­ty ser­vices of that benight­ed coun­try. In addi­tion, the broad­cast high­lights devel­op­ments in Ukraine’s mil­i­tary indus­try and bur­geon­ing inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty alliances.

Ukrain­ian Nazis hon­or David Lane’s pass­ing. Lane was a mem­ber of The Order and mint­ed the 14 words, from which  C14 takes its name.

The Kiev city gov­ern­ment recent­ly gave C14 –Svo­bo­da’s para­mil­i­tary cadre lit­er­al­ly named after the white suprema­cist ’14 words’ slo­gan – the right to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets there. ” . . . . But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a ‘munic­i­pal guard’ to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities. . . .”

The C14 police for­ma­tions crack­ing down on polit­i­cal activists, includ­ing LGBT and anti-war pro­po­nents.

It is not sur­pris­ing that C14 mili­tia mem­bers have used their office to attack and harass Roma, one of the “out” groups that have been the focus of social oppression/genocide from the Third Reich’s above-ground man­i­fes­ta­tion through the present resur­gence of fas­cism in Europe.

C14 and the munic­i­pal patrol duties they have been grant­ed in Kiev have pro­vid­ed a plat­form to attack the Roma, with the full sup­port of local author­i­ties ( includ­ing the police and the media.)   ” . . . . the police appear to see no need to take action and mere­ly state that they have received no com­plaints. It is also alarm­ing how many Ukrain­ian media (such as TSNChan­nel 5) have sim­ply report­ed this ‘raid’ effec­tive­ly in Mazur’s words, with­out con­sid­er­ing what threats must have been used to ‘per­suade’ around 15 fam­i­lies to leave their makeshift homes in such haste. If Mazur is telling the truth, then the mea­sures to remove the Roma fam­i­lies who had report­ed­ly come to Kyiv from Tran­scarpathia in search of work were the result of col­lab­o­ra­tion between C14 mem­bers of the so-called ‘Munic­i­pal Guard’ and the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion. . . .”

In addi­tion, the C14 cadre are:

  1. Appar­ent­ly func­tion­ing as some­thing of a “freiko­rps,” serv­ing as puni­tive mus­cle for impor­tant donors from the pri­vate sec­tor. ” . . . . On 26 Feb­ru­ary 2018, C14 post­ed an adver­tise­ment on their Face­book page which quite open­ly offered their ser­vices as thugs to reg­u­lar donors. This said that ‘C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For reg­u­lar donors, we are open­ing a box for wish­es. Which of your ene­mies would you like to make life dif­fi­cult for? We’ll try to do that.’ . . .”
  2. Work­ing in con­junc­tion with Nazis from the large Nazi milieux in Rus­sia and Belarus. ” . . . . On 19 Jan­u­ary 2018, C14 activists pre­vent­ed the tra­di­tion­al remem­brance gath­er­ing for Sev­astopol jour­nal­ist Anas­ta­sia Baburo­va and Russ­ian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, mur­dered in Moscow in 2009 by neo-Nazi Russ­ian nation­al­ists. The claim that those hon­our­ing the two slain anti-fas­cists were ‘sep­a­ratists’ was pre­pos­ter­ous, and Volodymyr Chemerys, one of the orga­niz­ers of the remem­brance event, asserts that they were con­front­ed not only by C14 thugs, but by Russ­ian and Belaru­sian neo-Nazis. . . .”
  3. Receiv­ing tac­ti­cal, logis­ti­cal assis­tance from uni­formed police author­i­ties. ” . . . . They instead detained eight peo­ple who had come to hon­our Baburo­va and Markelov. The police involved lat­er tried to claim that there had been no deten­tion, and that the activists had been ‘invit­ed’ to the police sta­tion. There was no sug­ges­tion that the ‘invi­ta­tion’ could have been turned down. The detained activists report­ed lat­er that they had been ‘hunt­ed down’ by the far-right thugs after leav­ing the police sta­tion. A mem­ber of the Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only dis­cov­ered which sta­tion the activists were being held in from the police them­selves. . . .

Com­bat hel­mets of the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

The Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion is also spawn­ing civ­il police for­ma­tions as well.

Ukrain­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions have pow­er­ful polit­i­cal pro­tec­tion, because of the close rela­tion­ship between Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov (an impor­tant backer of the Azov Bat­tal­ion) and fig­ures like Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial.

Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty is the main part­ner in the par­lia­men­tary coali­tion led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. Should Petro Poroshenko decid­ed to chal­lenge Avakov and, as a result, the grow­ing role of these neo-Nazi mili­tias, his gov­ern­ing coali­tion might col­lapse.

” . . . . In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival, and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias. . . .”

” . . . . Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty, this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid. . . .”

Stephan Ban­dera, head of the OUN/B

For­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Vadim Troy­an was a point ele­ment in the assump­tion of police duties by Azov Bat­tal­ion and C14. He became act­ing head of the Nation­al Police after the res­ig­na­tion of Kha­tia Dekonoidze. ” . . . . Vadim Troy­an, who takes over as Act­ing Head, is not polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent and there­fore unsuit­ed to the post.  Doubts about the for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion commander’s suit­abil­i­ty for high police posts were first expressed after his appoint­ment as head of the Kyiv region­al police and they remain of con­cern. . . .”

Troy­an is now Arsen Avakov’s Deputy Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter” . . . . The Cab­i­net of Min­is­ters of Ukraine has appoint­ed the first Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police Vadym Troy­an as Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs of Ukraine. . . . ”

The milieu of  the Azov Bat­tal­ion has influ­en­tial pro­po­nents in the U.S.

The same smear machine that tar­get­ed for­mer Rep. John Conyer’s over his oppo­si­tion to arm­ing the neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion is turn­ing its focus on Rep. Ro Khan­na (Demo­c­rat from Cal­i­for­nia) after Khan­na ensured that the ban on funds going to arm­ing or train­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion remained in place in the con­gres­sion­al spend­ing bill that passed a cou­ple weeks ago. In a par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­gust­ing op-ed in The Hill, Kristofer Har­ri­son – a for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er to Sen. Ted Cruz’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and who also hap­pens to a co-founder of a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in Russ­ian “infor­ma­tion war­fare,” with offices in Wash­ing­ton and Kyiv – declared that Khanna’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the Azov Bat­tal­ion as neo-Nazi in nature is ridicu­lous and part of a big lie pushed by Putin.

OUN/B World War II Ukrain­ian prime min­is­ter Jaroslav Stet­zko and then Vice-Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush

Roman Zvarych, Jaroslav Stet­zko’s sec­re­tary and Min­is­ter of Jus­tice under Vik­tor Yuschenko

We note again that Harrison–whom we have not­ed attacked John Cony­ers as “Putin’s Man in Con­gress”–relies on Roman Zvarych for his exon­er­a­tion of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. In addi­tion to being the spokesman for Azov, Zvarych was:

  1. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice under Vik­tor Yuschenko.
  2. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice under both Tymoshenko gov­ern­ments.
  3. An advis­er to Petro Poroshenko.
  4. In the 1980’s, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­zko, the wartime head of the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ment in Ukraine. Stet­zko imple­ment­ed Nazi eth­nic cleans­ing in Ukraine dur­ing World War II.

Next, we revis­it the issue of the sniper attacks dur­ing the Maid­an demon­stra­tions, cov­ered at length in FTR #‘s 982 and 993. In what appears to be a fac­tion fight in the Ukrain­ian fas­cist milieu, for­mer Ukrain­ian far-right folk hero Nadia Savchenko has echoed the charge that Svo­bo­da Par­ty’s par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy was involved with the sniper attacks dur­ing the Maid­an coup. Pushed on her charge, she equiv­o­cat­ed that it was a dif­fer­ent mem­ber of the Rada (Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.)

In a devel­op­ment that could light a match to the Ukrainian/Russian tin­der­box, Ukraine is angling toward NATO mem­ber­ship.This is to be eval­u­at­ed against the back­ground that Ukraine has now test­ed a new cruise mis­sile and is employ­ing Tony Teth­er, the for­mer head of DARPA to aug­ment its weapons devel­op­ment pro­grams. DARPA is also direct­ly aid­ing Ukraine.

Among the nations most hos­pitable to the post-World War II OUN/B dias­po­ra is Cana­da, a NATO mem­ber.

In FTR #948, we not­ed that Canada’s For­eign Min­is­ter Chris­tia Free­land’s grand­fa­ther, Michael Cho­mi­ak was a Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor. (“For­eign Min­is­ter” is the Cana­di­an equiv­a­lent of Sec­re­tary of State. Free­land describes her grand­fa­ther as a major influ­ence on her.) Now, four Russ­ian diplo­mats have been expelled from Cana­da for telling the truth about Cho­mi­ak and Free­land.)

In con­clu­sion, we note that the “Pro­pOrNot” group attacked Robert Par­ry after his death. (Mr. Emory inter­viewed Robert Par­ry a num­ber of times. Par­ry was one of the few jour­nal­ists in the U.S. will­ing to tell the truth about the OUN/B suc­ces­sor orga­ni­za­tions and their pro­found pres­ence in Ukraine.) In FTR #943, we not­ed the pres­ence of Pro­pOrNot in the OUN/B milieu.

1a. The Kiev city gov­ern­ment recent­ly gave C14 –Svo­bo­da’s para­mil­i­tary cadre lit­er­al­ly named after the white suprema­cist ’14 words’ slo­gan – the right to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets there. ” . . . . But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a ‘munic­i­pal guard’ to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities. . . .”

They’re also crack­ing down on polit­i­cal activists, includ­ing LGBT and anti-war pro­po­nents.

As the arti­cle below also notes, Ukrain­ian fas­cist orga­ni­za­tions have pow­er­ful polit­i­cal pro­tec­tion, because of the close rela­tion­ship between Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and fig­ures like Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky and Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial.

Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty is the main part­ner in the par­lia­men­tary coali­tion led by Poroshenko’s Bloc. Should Petro Poroshenko decid­ed to chal­lenge Avakov and, as a result, the grow­ing role of these neo-Nazi mili­tias, his gov­ern­ing coali­tion might col­lapse.

” . . . . In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival, and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias. . . .”

” . . . . Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty, this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid. . . .”

“Com­men­tary: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi prob­lem” by Josh Cohen; Reuters; 03/19/2018

As Ukraine’s strug­gle against Rus­sia and its prox­ies con­tin­ues, Kiev must also con­tend with a grow­ing prob­lem behind the front lines: far-right vig­i­lantes who are will­ing to use intim­i­da­tion and even vio­lence to advance their agen­das, and who often do so with the tac­it approval of law enforce­ment agen­cies.

A Jan­u­ary 28 demon­stra­tion, in Kiev, by 600 mem­bers of the so-called “Nation­al Mili­tia,” a new­ly-formed ultra­na­tion­al­ist group that vows “to use force to estab­lish order,” illus­trates this threat. While the group’s Kiev launch was peace­ful, Nation­al Mili­tia mem­bers in bal­a­clavas stormed a city coun­cil meet­ing in the cen­tral Ukrain­ian town of Cherkasy the fol­low­ing day, skir­mish­ing with deputies and forc­ing them to pass a new bud­get.

Many of the Nation­al Militia’s mem­bers come from the Azov move­ment, one of the 30-odd pri­vate­ly-fund­ed “vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions” that, in the ear­ly days of the war, helped the reg­u­lar army to defend Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry against Russia’s sep­a­ratist prox­ies. Although Azov usesNazi-era sym­bol­ism and recruitsneo-Nazis intoits ranks, a recent arti­cle in For­eign Affairs down­played any risks the group might pose, point­ing out that, like oth­er vol­un­teer mili­tias, Azov has been “reined in” through its inte­gra­tion into Ukraine’s armed forces. While it’s true that pri­vate mili­tias no longer rule the bat­tle­front, it’s the home front that Kiev needs to wor­ry about now.

When Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea four years ago first exposed the decrepit con­di­tion of Ukraine’s armed forces, right-wing mili­tias such as Azov and Right Sec­tor stepped into the breach, fend­ingoff the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists while Ukraine’s reg­u­lar mil­i­tary regrouped. Though, as a result, many Ukraini­ans con­tin­ue to regard the mili­tias with grat­i­tude and admi­ra­tion, the more extreme among these groups pro­mote an intol­er­ant and illib­er­al ide­ol­o­gy that will endan­ger Ukraine in the long term. Since the Crimean cri­sis, the mili­tias have been for­mal­ly inte­grat­ed into Ukraine’s armed forces, but some have resist­ed full inte­gra­tion: Azov, for exam­ple, runs its own children’s train­ing camp, and the careers sec­tion instructs recruits who wish to trans­fer to Azov from a reg­u­lar mil­i­tary unit.

Accord­ing to Free­dom House’s Ukraine project direc­tor Matthew Schaaf, “numer­ous orga­nized rad­i­cal right-wing groups exist in Ukraine, and while the vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions may have been offi­cial­ly inte­grat­ed into state struc­tures, some of them have since spun off polit­i­cal and non-prof­it struc­tures to imple­ment their vision.”Schaaf not­ed that “an increase in patri­ot­ic dis­course sup­port­ing Ukraine in its con­flict with Rus­sia has coin­cid­ed with an appar­ent increase in both pub­lic hate speech, some­times by pub­lic offi­cials and mag­ni­fied by the media, as well as vio­lence towards vul­ner­a­ble groups such as the LGBT com­mu­ni­ty,” an obser­va­tion that is sup­port­ed by a recent Coun­cil of Europe study.

In recent months, Ukraine has expe­ri­enced a wave of unchecked vig­i­lan­tism. Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, a local pro-democ­ra­cy NGO, report­ed that activists are fre­quent­ly harassed by vig­i­lantes when hold­ing legal meet­ings or ral­lies relat­ed to polit­i­cal­ly-con­tro­ver­sial posi­tions, such as the pro­mo­tion of LGBT rights or oppo­si­tion to the war. Azov and oth­er mili­tias have attacked anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tions, city coun­cil meet­ings, media out­letsart exhi­bi­tionsfor­eign stu­dents and Roma. Pro­gres­sive activists describe a new cli­mate of fear that they say has been inten­si­fy­ing ever since last year’s near-fatal stab­bing of anti-war activist Stas Ser­hiyenko, which is believed to have been per­pe­trat­ed by an extrem­ist group named C14 (the name refers to a 14-word slo­gan pop­u­lar among white suprema­cists). Bru­tal attacks this month on Inter­na­tion­al Women’s Day march­es in sev­er­al Ukrain­ian cities prompt­ed an unusu­al­ly force­ful state­ment from Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al, which warned that “the Ukrain­ian state is rapid­ly los­ing its monop­oly on vio­lence.”

Ukraine is not the only coun­try that must con­tend with a resur­gent far right. But Kiev’s recent efforts to incor­po­rate inde­pen­dent armed groups into its reg­u­lar armed forces, as well as a con­tin­u­ing nation­al sense of indebt­ed­ness to the mili­tias for their defense of the home­land, make address­ing the ultra­na­tion­al­ist threat con­sid­er­ably more com­pli­cat­ed than it is else­where. Accord­ing to Schaaf and the Insti­tute Respub­li­ca, Ukrain­ian extrem­ists are rarely pun­ished for acts of vio­lence. In some cas­es — such as C14’s Jan­u­ary attack on a remem­brance gath­er­ingfor two mur­dered jour­nal­ists — police actu­al­ly detain peace­ful demon­stra­tors instead.

To be clear, the Kremlin’s claims that Ukraine is a hor­nets’ nest of fas­cists are false: far-right par­ties per­formed poor­ly in Ukraine’s last par­lia­men­tary elec­tions, and Ukraini­ans react­edwith alarm to the Nation­al Militia’s demon­stra­tion in Kiev. But con­nec­tions between law enforce­ment agen­cies and extrem­ists give Ukraine’s West­ern allies ample rea­son for con­cern. C14 and Kiev’s city gov­ern­ment recent­ly signed an agree­ment allow­ing C14 to estab­lish a “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets; three such mili­tia-run guard forces are already reg­is­tered in Kiev, and at least 21 oper­ate in oth­er cities.

Com­bat hel­mets of the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

In an ide­al world, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko would purge the police and the inte­ri­or min­istry of far-right sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has close ties to Azov leader Andriy Bilet­sky, as well as Sergei Korotkykh, an Azov vet­er­an who is now a high-rank­ing police offi­cial. But Poroshenko would risk major reper­cus­sions if he did so; Avakov is his chief polit­i­cal rival, and the min­istry he runs con­trols the police, the Nation­al Guard and sev­er­al for­mer mili­tias.

As one Ukrain­ian ana­lyst not­ed in Decem­ber, con­trol of these forces make Avakov extreme­ly pow­er­ful and Poroshenko’s pres­i­den­cy might not be strong enough to with­stand the kind of direct con­fronta­tion with Avakov that an attempt to oust him or to strike at his pow­er base could well pro­duce. Poroshenko has endured fre­quent ver­bal threats, includ­ing calls for rev­o­lu­tion, from ultra­na­tion­al­ist groups, so he may believe that he needs Avakov to keep them in check.

Avakov’s Peo­ples’ Par­ty sta­tus as the main part­ner in Ukraine’s par­lia­men­tary coali­tion increas­es Avakov’s lever­age over Poroshenko’s Bloc. An attempt to fire Avakov could imper­il Poroshenko’s slim leg­isla­tive major­i­ty, and lead to ear­ly par­lia­men­tary elec­tions. Giv­en Poroshenko’s cur­rent unpop­u­lar­i­ty, this is a sce­nario he will like­ly try to avoid.

Despite his weak posi­tion, Poroshenko still has some options for reduc­ing the threat from the far right. Though Avakov con­trols the Ukraine’s police and Nation­al Guard, Poroshenko still com­mands Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty and intel­li­gence ser­vices, the SBU, and could instruct the agency to cut its ties with C14 and oth­er extrem­ist groups. Poroshenko should also express pub­lic sup­port for mar­gin­al­ized groups like the Roma and LGBT com­mu­ni­ties, and affirm his com­mit­ment to pro­tect­ing their rights.

West­ern diplo­mats and human rights orga­ni­za­tions must urge Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment to uphold the rule of law and to stop allow­ing the far right to act with impuni­ty. Inter­na­tion­al donors can help by fund­ing more ini­tia­tives like the Unit­ed States Agency for Inter­na­tion­al Development’s projects

sup­port­ing train­ing for Ukrain­ian lawyers and human rights defend­ers, and improv­ing equi­table access to the judi­cial sys­tem for mar­gin­al­ized com­mu­ni­ties. . . .

1b. C14 and the munic­i­pal patrol duties they have been grant­ed in Kiev have pro­vid­ed a plat­form to attack Roma, with the full sup­port of local author­i­ties ( includ­ing the police and the media.)   ” . . . . the police appear to see no need to take action and mere­ly state that they have received no com­plaints. It is also alarm­ing how many Ukrain­ian media (such as TSNChan­nel 5) have sim­ply report­ed this ‘raid’ effec­tive­ly in Mazur’s words, with­out con­sid­er­ing what threats must have been used to ‘per­suade’ around 15 fam­i­lies to leave their makeshift homes in such haste. If Mazur is telling the truth, then the mea­sures to remove the Roma fam­i­lies who had report­ed­ly come to Kyiv from Tran­scarpathia in search of work were the result of col­lab­o­ra­tion between C14 mem­bers of the so-called ‘Munic­i­pal Guard’ and the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion. . . .”

In addi­tion, the C14 cadre are:

  1. Appar­ent­ly func­tion­ing as some­thing of a “freiko­rps,” serv­ing as puni­tive mus­cle for impor­tant donors from the pri­vate sec­tor. ” . . . . On 26 Feb­ru­ary 2018, C14 post­ed an adver­tise­ment on their Face­book page which quite open­ly offered their ser­vices as thugs to reg­u­lar donors. This said that ‘C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For reg­u­lar donors, we are open­ing a box for wish­es. Which of your ene­mies would you like to make life dif­fi­cult for? We’ll try to do that.’ . . .”
  2. Work­ing in con­junc­tion with Nazis from the large Nazi milieux in Rus­sia and Belarus. ” . . . . On 19 Jan­u­ary 2018, C14 activists pre­vent­ed the tra­di­tion­al remem­brance gath­er­ing for Sev­astopol jour­nal­ist Anas­ta­sia Baburo­va and Russ­ian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, mur­dered in Moscow in 2009 by neo-Nazi Russ­ian nation­al­ists. The claim that those hon­our­ing the two slain anti-fas­cists were ‘sep­a­ratists’ was pre­pos­ter­ous, and Volodymyr Chemerys, one of the orga­niz­ers of the remem­brance event, asserts that they were con­front­ed not only by C14 thugs, but by Russ­ian and Belaru­sian neo-Nazis. . . .”
  3. Receiv­ing tac­ti­cal, logis­ti­cal assis­tance from uni­formed police author­i­ties. ” . . . . They instead detained eight peo­ple who had come to hon­our Baburo­va and Markelov. The police involved lat­er tried to claim that there had been no deten­tion, and that the activists had been ‘invit­ed’ to the police sta­tion. There was no sug­ges­tion that the ‘invi­ta­tion’ could have been turned down. The detained activists report­ed lat­er that they had been ‘hunt­ed down’ by the far-right thugs after leav­ing the police sta­tion. A mem­ber of the Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only dis­cov­ered which sta­tion the activists were being held in from the police them­selves. . . .

“Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi C14 vig­i­lantes dri­ve out Roma fam­i­lies, burn their camp” by Halya Coy­nash; Kharkiv Human Rights Pro­tec­tion Group; 04/23/2018

A promi­nent activist from the far-right C14 orga­ni­za­tion has boast­ed on his Face­book page about an oper­a­tion which result­ed in Roma fam­i­lies flee­ing their camp on Lysa Hora in Kyiv. Despite the fair­ly unveiled hints in Ser­hiy Mazur’s two Face­book posts, as well as clear signs that the Roma fled with­out tak­ing children’s cloth­ing, etc., the police appear to see no need to take action and mere­ly state that they have received no com­plaints. It is also alarm­ing how many Ukrain­ian media (such as TSNChan­nel 5) have sim­ply report­ed this ‘raid’ effec­tive­ly in Mazur’s words, with­out con­sid­er­ing what threats must have been used to ‘per­suade’ around 15 fam­i­lies to leave their makeshift homes in such haste.

If Mazur is telling the truth, then the mea­sures to remove the Roma fam­i­lies who had report­ed­ly come to Kyiv from Tran­scarpathia in search of work were the result of col­lab­o­ra­tion between C14 mem­bers of the so-called ‘Munic­i­pal Guard’ [«???????????? ?????»] and the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion. As report­ed, this ‘Munic­i­pal Guard’, which is head­ed by Ser­hiy Bon­dar from C14, signed a mem­o­ran­dum of coop­er­a­tion with both the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion and the Holosiyiv Nation­al Police back in Decem­ber 2017.

In his report on 19 April and else­where, Mazur omits two let­ters in order to use a term now gen­er­al­ly felt to be offen­sive when refer­ring to Roma.

He says that the Roma have “occu­pied Lysa Hora” and that there are more of them this time “and of their rub­bish”.

Togeth­er with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Holosiyiv admin­is­tra­tion, he says, they “pre­sent­ed an ulti­ma­tum to leave the pro­hib­it­ed ter­ri­to­ry of the park by TOMORROW.

If they don’t car­ry out this demand, they will be asked in a dif­fer­ent way to go. With­in the frame­work of the law”.

Men­tion of the law here seems on a par with semi-avoid­ance of offen­sive labels, and lacks any cred­i­bil­i­ty. If the local admin­is­tra­tion is enti­tled to issue an ulti­ma­tum, it should then approach law enforce­ment offi­cials if the ulti­ma­tum is ignored.

Any ‘oth­er’ meth­ods hint­ed at in Mazur’s post are either not the busi­ness of C14 activists or are a code term for means of duress which are assured­ly not law­ful.

The rest of the post is sim­ply offen­sive. If, which can be dis­put­ed, it falls with­in the bound­aries of free speech, such effec­tive incite­ment to enmi­ty and prej­u­dice against any eth­nic or oth­er group is cer­tain­ly unac­cept­able from top rep­re­sen­ta­tives of an orga­ni­za­tion which is work­ing with a pub­lic author­i­ty.

On 21 April, Mazur stat­ed in a post that there were no longer any Roma (not the term he uses) on Lysa Hora.

“Yes­ter­day they did not car­ry out the demand, and only some left the camp in the park. How­ev­er after con­vinc­ing law­ful argu­ments, the oth­ers also decid­ed to leave the pro­hib­it­ed ter­ri­to­ry. “ The C14 activists then “cleaned up almost all the rub­bish” and burned the tents.

If the so-called “con­vinc­ing argu­ments” had been law­ful, it seems unlike­ly that the Roma fam­i­lies would have left children’s clothes and food items behind.

Jour­nal­ist Yevhen Savateyev told Hro­madske Radio that “it looks as through the peo­ple who were liv­ing in this camp were forced to flee and didn’t even take most-need­ed items”.

He says that there were around 15 makeshift shacks, each ‘hous­ing’ one fam­i­ly.

Accord­ing to Zola Kon­durfrom the Chirik­li Roma Foun­da­tion, there has been an issue over this camp for the last four years.She says that the peo­ple liv­ing there want­ed to inte­grate and to coop­er­ate with the author­i­ties, how­ev­er oth­er res­i­dents of the dis­trict demand­ed that the Roma not be allowed onto minibus pub­lic trans­port and in shops. The pre­text giv­ing was that the res­i­dents feared being infect­ed with tuber­cu­lo­sis, although Kon­dur points out that a med­ical exam­i­na­tion did not find any tuber­cu­lo­sis or AIDs among the inhab­i­tants of the camp.

She accus­es the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion of not being will­ing to involve the social ser­vices and does not accept that the camp, posi­tioned deep inside the nature reserve at Lysa Hora and hard to find, was dis­turb­ing any­body.

This was not C14’s first such ‘raid’. Mazur report­ed on 18 April that the pre­vi­ous day “good peo­ple car­ried out a raid of the Rail­way Sta­tion which had been almost total­ly occu­pied by Gy..ies”. There are the usu­al offen­sive claims about “the neg­a­tive demon­stra­tions of behav­iour from the Roma” that their “walk” had sup­pos­ed­ly cur­tailed. Mazur also reports that they “checked for doc­u­ments and tick­ets. A day or two and there won’t be any of them here”, and asks why such ‘patrols’ are not car­ried out by the police. . . .

. . . . Mazur ends his post by claim­ing again that they are not fight­ing “Gy..ies”, only “the neg­a­tive demon­stra­tions of behav­iour of their rep­re­sen­ta­tives”, and invites oth­ers to join them. He has promised oth­er such ‘raids’ as those against the Roma on Lysa Gora.

There are com­pelling grounds for demand­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion by the law enforce­ment bod­ies into all of these ‘raids’ by C14 vig­i­lantes. If the meth­ods used to dis­perse the camp on Lysa Hora was indeed car­ried out togeth­er with the Holosiyiv Dis­trict Admin­is­tra­tion, an inves­ti­ga­tion would seem appro­pri­ate, as well as some seri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion as to whether such ‘coop­er­a­tion’ can be legit­i­mate­ly con­tin­ued.

Ques­tion­able ‘part­ner­ship’

C14 calls itself a ‘nation­al­ist’ orga­ni­za­tion and denies that it is neo-Nazi.Vyach­eslav Likhachev, who has been mon­i­tor­ing far-right move­ments in Ukraine for well over a decade, is uncon­vinced. He points out that the C14 activists who occu­pied the Kyiv City Admin­is­tra­tion build­ing dur­ing Euro­maid­an cov­ered it with neo-Nazi ban­ners and graf­fi­ti.

C14 activists try to present them­selves as fight­ing ‘sep­a­ratists’, ‘titush­ki’ or paid thugs (who worked close­ly with the police under the regime of Vik­tor Yanukovych), as well as cor­rupt courts, etc.

Their ratio­nale for deter­min­ing who are ‘sep­a­ratists’, or more gen­er­al­ly who to fight, gives con­sid­er­able grounds for con­cern.

On 19 Jan­u­ary 2018, C14 activists pre­vent­ed the tra­di­tion­al remem­brance gath­er­ing for Sev­astopol jour­nal­ist Anas­ta­sia Baburo­va and Russ­ian lawyer Stanislav Markelov, mur­dered in Moscow in 2009 by neo-Nazi Russ­ian nation­al­ists. The claim that those hon­our­ing the two slain anti-fas­cists were ‘sep­a­ratists’ was pre­pos­ter­ous, and Volodymyr Chemerys, one of the orga­niz­ers of the remem­brance event, asserts that they were con­front­ed not only by C14 thugs, but by Russ­ian and Belaru­sian neo-Nazis.

One of the most dis­turb­ing aspects of the events that day was the total fail­ure of the Kyiv police to react ade­quate­ly to the aggres­sive behav­iour of those oppos­ing the remem­brance gath­er­ing.

They instead detained eight peo­ple who had come to hon­our Baburo­va and Markelov. The police involved lat­er tried to claim that there had been no deten­tion, and that the activists had been ‘invit­ed’ to the police sta­tion. There was no sug­ges­tion that the ‘invi­ta­tion’ could have been turned down.

The detained activists report­ed lat­er that they had been ‘hunt­ed down’ by the far-right thugs after leav­ing the police sta­tion. A mem­ber of the Human Rights Infor­ma­tion Cen­tre who spoke with them believes that the thugs could have only dis­cov­ered which sta­tion the activists were being held in from the police them­selves.

C14 has been involved in attacks on activists tak­ing part in the annu­al Equal­i­ty March (Kyiv Pride), rights activists, on an art exhi­bi­tion and even pro­test­ers with strict­ly socio-eco­nom­ic demands. Their mem­bers may have been among the 50 young far-right louts who on 26 March 2018, descend­ed on events linked to the Kyiv Docu­d­ays Film Fes­ti­val, demol­ish­ing posters pro­mot­ing tol­er­ance and diver­si­ty abd try­ing to stop a pan­el dis­cus­sion on far-right move­ments.

There are oth­er rea­sons for con­cern over any coop­er­a­tion by oth­er local author­i­ties or the police with C14. Back in Decem­ber 2012 under the Vik­tor Yanukovych regime, Yevhen Karas and his C14 mates orga­nized an attack on rights activists and oth­ers protest­ing against a repres­sive leg­isla­tive bill which pro­posed the same ban on so-called ‘pro­pa­gan­da of homo­sex­u­al­i­ty’ as was passed in neigh­bour­ing Rus­sia. It was main­ly the pro­test­ers who were detained by police.

C14 has been involved in var­i­ous acts of vio­lence, and there are indeed reports that they attacked mem­bers of anoth­er local group on 13 Decem­ber 2017, with two peo­ple from that group end­ing up hos­pi­tal­ized with gun wounds. It seems like­ly that the con­flict was about estab­lish­ing their pow­er over a par­tic­u­lar area.

On 26 Feb­ru­ary 2018, C14 post­ed an adver­tise­ment on their Face­book page which quite open­ly offered their ser­vices as thugs to reg­u­lar donors. This said that “C14 works for you. Help us keep afloat, and we will help you. For reg­u­lar donors, we are open­ing a box for wish­es. Which of your ene­mies would you like to make life dif­fi­cult for? We’ll try to do that.” The orga­ni­za­tion has pre­sum­ably under­stood that such open­ness rather under­mines their attempts to pitch them­selves as prin­ci­pled defend­ers of Ukraine, and the post is now unavail­able. It can, how­ev­er, be seen here, and was on the sight for sev­er­al weeks. The invi­ta­tion to join in C14’s ‘raids’ on Roma peo­ple at the sta­tion or in places where they are liv­ing says noth­ing about motives required for tak­ing part in raids of high­ly-ques­tion­able legal­i­ty coat­ed in claims that incite hatred and xeno­pho­bia.

1c. In addi­tion to C14, the Azov Bat­tal­ion’s Nation­al Mili­tia have assumed police duties in Ukraine.

Azov Civ­il Corps

“In Ukraine, Ultra-Nation­al­ist Mili­tia Strikes Fear in Some Quar­ters” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 1/30/2018.

. . . . But Ukraine observers and rights groups are sound­ing the alarm, because this was not a typ­i­cal com­mence­ment, and the men are not police offi­cers. They are far-right ultra­na­tion­al­ists from the Azov move­ment, a con­tro­ver­sial group with a mil­i­tary wing that has open­ly accept­ed self-avowed neo-Nazis, and a civ­il and polit­i­cal fac­tion that has demon­strat­ed intol­er­ance toward minor­i­ty groups.

“We will not hes­i­tate to use force to estab­lish order that will bring pros­per­i­ty to every Ukrain­ian fam­i­ly!” reads a mes­sage along­side the video, pub­lished on the Face­book page of the new­ly formed group, called the Nation­al Mili­tia. In the clip, they vow also to pro­tect the nation “when gov­ern­ment organs can’t or won’t help Ukrain­ian soci­ety.”

That approach could con­cern West­ern back­ers in Kyiv’s cam­paign against armed Rus­sia-backed sep­a­ratists in the east­ern part of the coun­try, where a con­flict that has last­ed near­ly four years has killed at least 10,300 peo­ple.

Com­bat hel­mets of the Azov Bat­tal­ion.

“Ukraine would be vio­lat­ing its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions under human rights law if author­i­ties either tol­er­ate abu­sive mili­tia who under­mine [the] pop­u­la­tion’s lib­er­ty, secu­ri­ty, free­doms or pro­vide an abu­sive mili­tia with the col­or of law but [do] not impose on them exact­ing stan­dards on use of force,” Tanya Coop­er, Human Rights Watch (HRW)‘s Ukraine researcher in Kyiv, told RFE/RL in e‑mailed com­ments as media buzzed over the appear­ance of the Nation­al Mili­tia.

Matthew Schaff, Ukraine direc­tor of the U.S.-based NGO Free­dom House, told RFE/RL by phone that sim­ply their cre­ation “does dam­age to democ­ra­cy in Ukraine.”

Nation­al­is­tic Agen­da

Found­ed in 2014 as a vol­un­teer bat­tal­ion to help an over­matched Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary fight off the threat in its east, the Azov move­ment uses fas­cist sym­bols and has been accused by inter­na­tion­al human­i­tar­i­an orga­ni­za­tions of human rights abus­es in the con­flict zone.

The Nation­al Mili­tia is an inde­pen­dent group that is mere­ly the lat­est com­po­nent of Azov’s civil­ian and polit­i­cal wing, known as the Nation­al Cor­pus. It is led by law­mak­er and for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Andriy Bilet­sky, once the head of Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Social-Nation­al Par­ty, who attend­ed the cer­e­mo­ny.

Azov offi­cial­ly found­ed the Nation­al Cor­pus in Octo­ber 2016, incor­po­rat­ing two oth­er nation­al­ist groups, includ­ing Patri­ot Of Ukraine, which accord­ing to Halya Coy­nash of the Kharkiv Human Rights Group “espoused xeno­pho­bic and neo-Nazi ideas and was engaged in vio­lent attacks against migrants, for­eign stu­dents in Kharkiv, and those oppos­ing its views.”

That inau­gur­al cer­e­mo­ny arguably had pomp more rem­i­nis­cent of 1930s Ger­many than of post­war democ­ra­cy. It includ­ed nation­al­ist chants, raised fists, and a torch­light march through cen­tral Kyiv.

Emblem of the Ukrain­ian Azov Bat­tal­ion

Nation­al Cor­pus’s polit­i­cal aims at the time of its cre­ation includ­ed the restora­tion of Ukraine’s nuclear-pow­er sta­tus, which was aban­doned in a major boost to non­pro­lif­er­a­tion soon after the breakup of the Sovi­et Union; the nation­al­iza­tion of com­pa­nies that were owned by the gov­ern­ment when Ukraine gained inde­pen­dence in 1991; and the legal­iza­tion of firearms for per­son­al pro­tec­tion.

Its for­eign pol­i­cy sought to cut cul­tur­al, diplo­mat­ic, and trade ties with Rus­sia, and urged a pub­lic dis­cus­sion about restor­ing the death penal­ty in Ukraine for crimes such as trea­son and embez­zle­ment of gov­ern­ment funds.

While the Nation­al Cor­pus appears to draw lim­it­ed sup­port from Ukraine’s elec­torate — polls show it under the 5 per­cent thresh­old to enter par­lia­ment — its pub­lic pres­ence has grown, wor­ry­ing inter­na­tion­al observers and mak­ing it a favorite tar­get for Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da. Russ­ian state news agen­cies and politi­cians sug­gest the gov­ern­ment in Kyiv’s per­ceived tol­er­ance for the far-right move­ment makes it fas­cist. The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s fail­ure to aggres­sive­ly chal­lenge the group has done lit­tle to calm its crit­ics.

Police, Or Not Police

So it came as some­thing of a sur­prise on Jan­u­ary 30 when Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov, who has enjoyed a close rela­tion­ship with the Azov move­ment in the past, appeared to dis­tance him­self from the group, say­ing in a state­ment post­ed to the min­istry’s web­site that “in Ukraine, there is only one monop­oly on the use of force — the state: the Nation­al Guard, the Nation­al Police, and the Armed Forces.”

He added, “All oth­er para­mil­i­tary enti­ties that try to posi­tion them­selves on the streets of cities are not legal.”

Ivan Varchenko, an Avakov advis­er, told Hro­madske Radio that Ukrain­ian law pro­vides for reg­is­tra­tion of civic orga­ni­za­tions that assist law enforce­ment agen­cies.

Roman Chernyshov of the Nation­al Corps also tried to calm con­cerns, telling Hro­madske Radio that its mem­bers do not bear arms.

Armed or not, as news of the Nation­al Mili­tia spread across Ukrain­ian media, crit­ics raised seri­ous con­cerns about the type of order the unit may enforce on the streets of Kyiv.

“It’s the police respon­si­bil­i­ty to enforce the law on the street and hold peo­ple account­able for crimes they’ve com­mit­ted,” Free­dom House­’s Schaaf said. “When there are groups that are roam­ing the streets in units like this, with slo­gans like this, it def­i­nite­ly rais­es con­cerns about what are their inten­tions, how they will they be imple­ment­ing their visions, what rules they are try­ing to enforce.”

HRW’s Coop­er said one of her pri­ma­ry con­cerns was who would be tar­get­ed by the group. “Mem­bers of this polit­i­cal par­ty espouse intol­er­ance towards eth­nic minori­ties and LGBT peo­ple, so it seems com­plete­ly absurd that these peo­ple would be able [and will­ing] to pro­tect every­one,” she said of the Azovs.

She added, “The bot­tom line is that if these units are going to be car­ry­ing out any kind of polic­ing duty, they have to be held to the exact same human rights stan­dards as reg­u­lar police: on use of force, pow­ers of deten­tion, nondis­crim­i­na­tion, etc., and they have to be trained and held account­able just like reg­u­lar police are.”

Per­haps in an attempt to alle­vi­ate pub­lic con­cerns, Avakov insist­ed, “I, as a min­is­ter, will not allow for par­al­lel struc­tures that try to behave as alter­na­tive mil­i­tary for­ma­tions on the streets.”

2a. For­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion com­man­der Vadim Troy­an was a point ele­ment in the assump­tion of police duties by Azov Bat­tal­ion and C14. He became act­ing head of the Nation­al Police after the res­ig­na­tion of Kha­tia Dekonoidze. ” . . . . Vadim Troy­an, who takes over as Act­ing Head, is not polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent and there­fore unsuit­ed to the post.  Doubts about the for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion commander’s suit­abil­i­ty for high police posts were first expressed after his appoint­ment as head of the Kyiv region­al police and they remain of con­cern. . . .”

“Accu­sa­tions Fly­ing as Police Head Resigns, Leav­ing Con­tentious Deputy in Charge” by Halya Coy­nash; Human Rights in Ukraine; 11/15/2016.

Kha­tia Dekonoidze has resigned from her post as Head of Nation­al Police just one year after her appoint­ment, seem­ing­ly in frus­tra­tion at the lim­it­ed pow­ers she had to car­ry out real reform and polit­i­cal inter­fer­ence.  She also said that Vadim Troy­an, who takes over as Act­ing Head, is not polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent and there­fore unsuit­ed to the post.  Doubts about the for­mer Azov Bat­tal­ion commander’s suit­abil­i­ty for high police posts were first expressed after his appoint­ment as head of the Kyiv region­al police and they remain of con­cern. . . .

2b. For­mer Azov com­man­der Troy­an is now Avakov’s Deputy Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter. ” . . . . The Cab­i­net of Min­is­ters of Ukraine has appoint­ed the first Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police Vadym Troy­an as Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs of Ukraine. . . . ”

Vadim Troy­an, who took over as act­ing head of the Nation­al Police (right)

“Cab­i­net Appoints Troy­an as Deputy Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter” [Inter­fax Ukraine]; Kyiv Post; 2/8/2017.

The Cab­i­net of Min­is­ters of Ukraine has appoint­ed the first Deputy Head of the Nation­al Police Vadym Troy­an as Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs of Ukraine.

“We have appoint­ed Troy­an as the Deputy Min­is­ter of Inter­nal Affairs,” Min­is­ter of the Cab­i­net of Min­is­ters of Ukraine Olek­san­dr Sayenko told reporters after a cab­i­net meet­ing on Feb. 8. . . .

2c. The same smear machine that tar­get­ed for­mer Rep. John Conyer’s over his oppo­si­tion to arm­ing the neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion is turn­ing its focus on Rep. Ro Khan­na (Demo­c­rat from Cal­i­for­nia) after Khan­na ensured that the ban on funds going to arm­ing or train­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion remained in place in the con­gres­sion­al spend­ing bill that passed a cou­ple weeks ago. In a par­tic­u­lar­ly dis­gust­ing op-ed in The Hill, Kristofer Har­ri­son – a for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er to Sen. Ted Cruz’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign and who also hap­pens to a co-founder of a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in Russ­ian “infor­ma­tion war­fare,” with offices in Wash­ing­ton and Kyiv – declared that Khanna’s char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the Azov Bat­tal­ion as neo-Nazi in nature is ridicu­lous and part of a big lie pushed by Putin.

We note again that Harrison–whom we have not­ed attacked John Cony­ers as “Putin’s Man in Congress”–relies on Roman Zvarych for his exon­er­a­tion of the Azov Bat­tal­ion. In addi­tion to being the spokesman for Azov, Zvarych was:

  1. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice under Vik­tor Yuschenko.
  2. Min­is­ter of Jus­tice under both Tymoshenko gov­ern­ments.
  3. An advis­er to Petro Poroshenko.
  4. In the 1980’s, the per­son­al sec­re­tary to Jaroslav Stet­zko, the wartime head of the Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tionist gov­ern­ment in Ukraine. Stet­zko imple­ment­ed Nazi eth­nic cleans­ing in Ukraine dur­ing World War II.

“Did California’s Ro Khan­na get duped by Russia’s pro­pa­gan­da?” by Kristofer Har­ri­son; The Hill; 04/02/2018

Con­grat­u­la­tions, Rep. Ro Khan­na (D‑Calif.), it appears you were just duped by Rus­sia (and bragged about it). As a result, you pro­mot­ed Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da about Ukraine’s Azov Bat­tal­ion being Nazis with text in the behe­moth $1.3 tril­lion spend­ing bill. The ques­tion is, who put you up to it?

Ukraine is not your jam. Your focus is on vis­it­ing coal mine towns, antitrust issues and, as one of Sil­i­con Valley’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives, tech­nol­o­gy — all legit­i­mate issues. Yet, even though experts on Ukraine are typ­i­cal­ly unfa­mil­iar with the Azov Bat­tal­ion, you weighed in on the issue. Of course, it is always pos­si­ble that you have a secret obses­sion with Ukraine, but it’s more like­ly that some K Street swamp crea­ture asked for a favor.

Just know, the favor was for Vladimir Putin.

It is ridicu­lous non­sense that Ukraine is beset with a bunch of Nazis. The Rus­sians have been push­ing this fool­ish­ness for a while. In Rus­sia, if you want to dis­cred­it some­one, call them a Nazi. Putin is using it to jus­ti­fy his war to his sub­jects. Rus­sians are not par­tic­u­lar­ly keen on attack­ing Ukraine. But if it is to free them from the yoke of Nazis, well, that’s dif­fer­ent.

The rea­son why the Krem­lin is using infor­ma­tion war against the Azov Bat­tal­ion, specif­i­cal­ly, is par­tial­ly because they some­times make them­selves easy PR tar­gets. These are guys with guns fight­ing a Russ­ian inva­sion, not a PR agency with media train­ing. But the big­ger rea­son is that the Azov Bat­tal­ion is one of the most effec­tive defen­sive units.

Rus­sia can’t beat them on the bat­tle­field, so they use K Street lob­by­ist sell­outs to help crip­ple them. Who wants to pro­vide guns to fas­cists? Nobody. That is the ruse you fell for.

You are fill­ing illus­tri­ous shoes. In 2015, an uniden­ti­fied lob­by­ist snook­ered Rep. John Cony­ers (D‑Mich.) to do exact­ly what you have done. Cony­ers sin­gled out the Azov Bat­tal­ion to pre­vent it from get­ting assis­tance in the defense appro­pri­a­tions bill. The Defense Depart­ment object­ed, and the process of cor­rect­ing the mis­take in Con­fer­ence cre­at­ed yet anoth­er open­ing for Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da. Only, this time, the bill has been signed into law. So what­ev­er fix you choose has to make it to the president’s desk.

The tech­nique Rus­sia used was a clas­sic KGB tac­tic — that’s the sure tell that what duped you was a Krem­lin oper­a­tion. In the 1980s, the KGB used this tech­nique to spread the false­hood that the CIA cre­at­ed AIDS. Some­how, they con­vinced an Indi­an med­ical jour­nal to print an arti­cle “prov­ing” the case. They then ref­er­enced that arti­cle in pub­li­ca­tions all over the world.

In this instance, the Russ­ian active mea­sure began with an arti­cle in a pub­li­ca­tion that should know bet­ter: For­eign Pol­i­cy. John Cony­ers read the piece on the Con­gres­sion­al Record. It then spread like wild­fire among lazy jour­nal­ists and Russia’s net­work of fools, knaves and pro­pa­gan­dists.

Nat­u­ral­ly, cor­rect­ing the mis­take should be your first order of busi­ness. And Khan­na, should for­swear writ­ing laws, about which you have no exper­tise, at the insti­ga­tion of lob­by­ists. That is just good gov­er­nance. There is also a les­son here about how mas­sive, 2,000-plus page spend­ing bills lend them­selves to cor­rup­tion.

But this need not be a black mark on your record as the process of cor­rect­ing it presents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for you to help your coun­try. Help the coun­try smoke out the K Street sell­out. Iden­ti­fy who played you for a fool and left you hold­ing Putin’s dirty laun­dry.

Rus­sia is attack­ing the U.S., and quis­ling K Street lob­by­ists are help­ing them. Help us iden­ti­fy them.

Kristofer Har­ri­son worked for Defense Sec­re­tary Don­ald Rums­feld and Sec­re­tary of State Con­doleez­za Rice and was a for­eign pol­i­cy advis­er to Sen. Ted Cruz’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. He is a co-founder and prin­ci­pal of ITJ Strate­gies, a grass­roots PR con­sul­tan­cy, and of AMS, a com­pa­ny that spe­cial­izes in Russ­ian infor­ma­tion war­fare, with offices in Wash­ing­ton and Kyiv. The com­pa­ny does not do any work on behalf of the Azov Bat­tal­ion or relat­ed inter­ests.

3. In what appears to be a fac­tion fight in the Ukrain­ian fas­cist milieu, for­mer Ukrain­ian far-right folk hero Nadia Savchenko has echoed the charge that Svo­bo­da Par­ty’s par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy was involved with the sniper attacks dur­ing the Maid­an coup. Pushed on her charge, she equiv­o­cat­ed that it was a dif­fer­ent mem­ber of the Rada (Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment.)

” ‘War Hero’ Savchenko Accused of Ter­ror Plot, Lev­els Own Accu­sa­tions in Ukraine” [Reuters]; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 3/15/2018. 

Law­mak­er and for­mer Russ­ian cap­tive Nadia Savchenko has trad­ed incen­di­ary accu­sa­tions with senior Ukrain­ian author­i­ties and faces pos­si­ble arrest over what Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko alleged was a detailed plan for a dev­as­tat­ing “ter­ror­ist” attack on par­lia­ment.

Savchenko, a for­mer mil­i­tary avi­a­tor who spent 22 months in Russ­ian pris­ons after being detained by sep­a­ratists in the con­flict zone in east­ern Ukraine, claimed on March 15 that law­mak­er Ser­hiy Pashin­skyy played a promi­nent role in a dead­ly crack­down on pro-Euro­pean demon­stra­tors dur­ing antigov­ern­ment Maid­an protests that top­pled Rus­sia-friend­ly Pres­i­dent Vik­tor Yanukovych in Feb­ru­ary 2014.

Speak­ing to jour­nal­ists in front of the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU) head­quar­ters in Kyiv, before she was ques­tioned as a wit­ness in a case against a man arrest­ed last week on sus­pi­cion of plot­ting to kill Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko and oth­er offi­cials in a series of armed attacks, Savchenko also assert­ed that Lut­senko cov­ered up what she alleged was cur­rent par­lia­ment speak­er Andriy Paru­biy’s involve­ment in sniper shoot­ings that author­i­ties say killed dozens of peo­ple dur­ing the crack­down on the Maid­an protests.

How­ev­er, Savchenko said lat­er that she meant to accuse not Paru­biy but Pashin­skyy, and pub­licly apol­o­gized to the par­lia­ment speak­er for “a slip of the tongue.”

Law­mak­ers in the Verk­hov­na Rada swift­ly respond­ed by kick­ing Savchenko out of the sin­gle-cham­ber par­lia­men­t’s nation­al secu­ri­ty and defense com­mit­tee. Lut­senko, mean­while, told par­lia­ment that Savchenko had planned an attack using grenades, mor­tars and auto­mat­ic weapons.

Inves­ti­ga­tors have “irrefutable proof that Nadia Savchenko...personally planned, per­son­al­ly recruit­ed, and per­son­al­ly gave instruc­tions about how to com­mit a ter­ror­ist act here, in this cham­ber,” Lut­senko said. He asked the Rada to strip her of her par­lia­men­tary immu­ni­ty so that she could be arrest­ed.

Lut­senko claimed that Savchenko’s plan includ­ed destroy­ing the Rada’s roof cupo­la and killing sur­viv­ing law­mak­ers with assault-rifle fire. . . .

. . . . More than 100 pro­test­ers were killed in the 2013–14 demon­stra­tions, cen­tered on Kyiv’s Maid­an Neza­lezh­nost (Inde­pen­dence Square) that pre­ced­ed Yanukovy­ch’s flight to Rus­sia. Forty-eight of them were alleged­ly gunned down in Feb­ru­ary 2014 by snipers who Ukrain­ian author­i­ties claim received direct orders from the Moscow-friend­ly Yanukovych.

In her remarks on March 15, Savchenko said that she saw Paru­biy, who was on the antigov­ern­ment side at the time, “lead­ing snipers into the Hotel Ukraine,” which looms over the Maid­an. “I saw a blue minibus and armed peo­ple com­ing out of it, I have said ear­li­er [to inves­ti­ga­tors] who those peo­ple were. Those peo­ple are now law­mak­ers.”

She said the deaths on the Maid­an will nev­er be thor­ough­ly inves­ti­gat­ed, assert­ing that the gov­ern­ment that came to pow­er after Yanukovy­ch’s down­fall does not want it to hap­pen. . . . 

4. Ukraine has test­ed a new cruise mis­sile.

“Ukraine Tests New Cruise Mis­sile (VIDEO)” by Illia Pono­marenko; The Kyiv Post; 1/30/2018.

A new Ukrain­ian ground-based cruise mis­sile under­went a suc­cess­ful test launch on Jan. 30, Ukrain­ian Nation­al Secu­ri­ty and Defense Coun­cil Sec­re­tary Olek­san­dr Turchynov announced.

Accord­ing to the Turchynov, the mis­sile, a sole­ly Ukrain­ian project designed by the Kyiv-based Luch defense devel­op­ment bureau, can deliv­er pre­cise strikes on ground and seaborne tar­gets.

“Dur­ing the suc­cess­ful tests, the missile’s flight effi­cien­cy and sys­tems oper­a­tions were checked,” Turchynov said. . . .

5. Ukraine has employed Tony Teth­er, the for­mer head of DARPA to upgrade its mil­i­tary capa­bil­i­ties. He may very well be the archi­tect of Ukraine’s new cruise mis­sile.

“What is DARPA Doing in Ukraine?” by Aaron Mehta; Defense News; 3/1/2018.

DARPA, the Pentagon’s high-tech office, is work­ing with the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine to devel­op capa­bil­i­ties to help Kiev in its hybrid war­fare chal­lenge.

DARPA direc­tor Steven Walk­er, who recent­ly took over that job after five years as the agency’s deputy, told reporters that he had per­son­al­ly vis­it­ed the coun­try in 2016 for talks with Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary, intel and indus­try lead­ers.

“We did have a good vis­it to the Ukraine,” Walk­er said Thurs­day at a break­fast host­ed by the Defense Writer’s Group. “Yes, we have fol­lowed up with them, and through the U.S. Euro­pean Com­mand, we have start­ed sev­er­al projects with the Ukraine, most­ly in the infor­ma­tion space.”

“Not pro­vid­ing them weapons or any­thing like that, but look­ing at how to help them with infor­ma­tion,” Walk­er added, before declin­ing to go into fur­ther detail.

Ukraine has become a test­ing ground for hybrid war­fare tech­niques from Rus­sia and Russ­ian-backed mil­i­tant groups ever Russia’s inva­sion of Ukrain­ian ter­ri­to­ry in 2014, includ­ing dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paigns. While that has allowed Moscow to test out new capa­bil­i­ties and tech­niques, it also pro­vides an oppor­tu­ni­ty to devel­op counter tech­niques — which may ben­e­fit the U.S. and its allies in the long term.

“I think we’ve got to get bet­ter, as a coun­try, in infor­ma­tion war­fare and how we approach info war­fare,” Walk­er said. “I think there are capa­bil­i­ties there that we need to improve upon, and DAPRA is work­ing in some of those areas.”

This is not the first tie between DARPA and Kiev. The Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has hired Tony Teth­er, who led DARPA for the entire­ty of the George. W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion, to help lead a reor­ga­ni­za­tion of their sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy efforts, some­thing Teth­er in a LinkedIn post said was nec­es­sary in part because so much of Ukraine’s S&T facil­i­ties were in the ter­ri­to­ry seized by Rus­sia.

The for­mer DARPA head has also con­sult­ed for the Ukroboron­prom group, Ukraine’s largest defense con­trac­tor, and just a few weeks ago was added to the group’s super­vi­so­ry board in a move that Ukrain­ian pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko called a “sym­bol of effec­tive coop­er­a­tion between Ukrain­ian and Amer­i­can part­ners.” . . . .

7. In a devel­op­ment that could light a match to the Ukrainian/Russian tin­der­box, Ukraine is angling toward NATO mem­ber­ship.

“Ukraine’s NATO Bid Risks Even Worse U.S.-Russia Ties’ ” by Will Porter; Con­sor­tium News; 4/18/2018.

. . . . But a more recent devel­op­ment has impli­ca­tions that are rarely explored in Amer­i­can media, despite what it could mean for broad­er U.S. inter­na­tion­al rela­tions. Ukraine is vying to take its place as NATO’s newest mem­ber state, a move that could seri­ous­ly esca­late ten­sions between Wash­ing­ton and Moscow beyond their cur­rent high point.

“It’s safe to say that Rus­sia would be, and has been, opposed to NATO mem­ber­ship for Ukraine,” James Car­den, for­mer advi­sor to the State Department’s U.S.-Russia Bilat­er­al Pres­i­den­tial Com­mis­sion, said in an email exchange.

Neigh­bor­ing states such as Ukraine and Geor­gia, Car­den added, “are red lines for Rus­sia and we should take them at their word.”

In a March Face­book post, Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine’s “next ambi­tion” on its path to mem­ber­ship was to seek a Mem­ber­ship Action Plan (MAP). Coun­tries seek­ing to join NATO must go through a mul­ti-step process that ensures the prospec­tive mem­ber meets the alliance’s var­i­ous oblig­a­tions in areas rang­ing from mil­i­tary spend­ing to law.

“This is what my let­ter to [NATO Sec­re­tary Gen­er­al] Jens Stoltenberg in Feb­ru­ary 2018 was about, where, with ref­er­ence to Arti­cle 10 of the North Atlantic Treaty, I offi­cial­ly [put for­ward] Ukraine’s aspi­ra­tions to become a mem­ber of the Alliance,” Poroshenko wrote on Face­book.

The renewed effort to join the alliance, if suc­cess­ful, could fur­ther ratch­et up ten­sions between Rus­sia and the Unit­ed States, who–in case any­one could forget–preside over the world’s two largest hydro­gen bomb arse­nals. . . .

. . . . Found­ed in 1949 as a bul­wark against alleged Sovi­et expan­sion­ism in post-war Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion func­tions as a mutu­al defense pact between its 29 mem­ber states. Until the ear­ly 1990s, NATO exist­ed osten­si­bly to counter the Sovi­et Union’s anal­o­gous alliance, the War­saw Pact.
In Decem­ber of last year, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Archive at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty pub­lished a series of declas­si­fied doc­u­ments which reveal that strong assur­ances were giv­en to the crum­bling USSR that NATO, in the words of then-Sec­re­tary of State James Bak­er, would not advance “one inch east­ward” in the post-Sovi­et era.

Yet between the time those promis­es were made, begin­ning in ear­ly 1990, and the present, NATO has expand­ed to encom­pass thir­teen addi­tion­al states, all of them in East­ern Europe. In 1999, the Czech Repub­lic, Poland and Hun­gary joined; in 2004 the alliance expand­ed to include Bul­gar­ia, Esto­nia, Latvia, Lithua­nia, Roma­nia, Slo­va­kia and Slove­nia, while Alba­nia and Croa­t­ia fol­lowed in 2009. . . . .

8. Among the nations most hos­pitable to the post-World War II OUN/B dias­po­ra is Cana­da, a NATO mem­ber. In FTR #948, we not­ed that Canada’s For­eign Min­is­ter Chris­tia Free­land’s grand­fa­ther, Michael Cho­mi­ak was a Ukrain­ian Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor. (“For­eign Min­is­ter” is the Cana­di­an equiv­a­lent of Sec­re­tary of State. Free­land describes her grand­fa­ther as a major influ­ence on her.) Now, four Russ­ian diplo­mats have been expelled from Cana­da for telling the truth about Cho­mi­ak and Free­land.)

“Why did Cana­da expel four Russ­ian diplo­mats? Because they told the truth” by Thomas Walkom; The Star; 04/05/2018

We now know how the Rus­sians have been sub­vert­ing Cana­di­an democ­ra­cy. They have been prop­a­gat­ing truth­ful news.

That infor­ma­tion comes cour­tesy of Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau who on Wednes­day final­ly explained the motive behind his government’s deci­sion last week to expel four Russ­ian diplo­mats and refuse entry to three more.

At the time, Ottawa said it was mak­ing the move in sup­port of Britain, which blames Rus­sia for using a dead­ly nerve agent to poi­son a dou­ble agent liv­ing in Eng­land.

But in a writ­ten state­ment, For­eign Affairs Min­is­ter Chrys­tia Free­land also said the Rus­sians had been using their diplo­mat­ic sta­tus “to inter­fere in our democ­ra­cy.”

How exact­ly the Rus­sians had been inter­fer­ing was not explained. Efforts to get more infor­ma­tion from Freeland’s office were unsuc­cess­ful. In an inter­view on CBC, Defence Min­is­ter Har­jit Saj­jan said that he had to stay mum for rea­sons of nation­al secu­ri­ty. Nobody else would talk.

Then, on Wednesday,Trudeau spilled the beans. The Rus­sians are being pun­ished for say­ing that Freeland’s grand­fa­ther was a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

Trudeau called this an effort “by Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­dists” to smear Free­land, which per­haps it was.

The only trou­ble with all of this is that the Rus­sians were telling the truth. Freeland’s mater­nal grand­fa­ther, Michael Cho­mi­ak, was a Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tor dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

A Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist, he fled Stalin’s advanc­ing armies in 1939 and sought refuge in what was then Ger­man-occu­pied Poland.

There, under the aegis of the Nazis he edit­ed a Ukrain­ian-lan­guage, anti-Semit­ic news­pa­per.

I first learned of this from a front-page sto­ry in that well-known vehi­cle of Russ­ian pro­pa­gan­da, the Globe and Mail.

The Globe got its infor­ma­tion by inter­view­ing Freeland’s uncle, a his­to­ri­an who in 1996 wrote – with some assis­tance from his niece – a schol­ar­ly arti­cle detail­ing Chomiak’s wartime activ­i­ties.

Was the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment hap­py to see this being made pub­lic? I expect it was. Free­land is a vocal crit­ic of Moscow’s heavy-hand­ed approach to Ukraine and is cur­rent­ly per­sona non gra­ta in Rus­sia.

The Russ­ian gov­ern­ment also finds it con­ve­nient to paint all of its crit­ics in Ukraine as unre­con­struct­ed fas­cists. And while Free­land is cer­tain­ly no fas­cist, she has pub­licly praised her grand­par­ents for their influ­ence on her and for their com­mit­ment to Ukrain­ian inde­pen­dence.

Giv­en all of that, the Cho­mi­ak sto­ry was a gift to the Rus­sians. Soon after Freeland’s appoint­ment as for­eign affairs min­is­ter last year, pro-Moscow web­sites began to pick it up.

To use Trudeau’s words, Moscow was prob­a­bly try­ing to push a “pro-Rus­sia nar­ra­tive.”

But is it ille­git­i­mate for coun­tries to use ver­i­fi­able facts to make a case?

Cer­tain­ly, the West doesn’t think so when it comes to the nerve agent sto­ry. Its deci­sion to blame Moscow for the attack is based on one fact – that the poi­son used was first devel­oped in the old Sovi­et Union.

The pos­si­bil­i­ty that some oth­er enti­ty might have copied it is nev­er enter­tained.

Instead, the world is pre­sent­ed with a com­pli­cat­ed expla­na­tion that goes some­thing like this: After years of ignor­ing retired dou­ble agent Sergei Skri­pal, Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin final­ly decides to kill him.

In order to show who is respon­si­ble, Putin has his min­ions use a sig­na­ture Russ­ian nerve agent. But in order to hide who is respon­si­ble, he has anoth­er set of min­ions vig­or­ous­ly deny Russ­ian cul­pa­bil­i­ty.

The attack isn’t par­tic­u­lar­ly suc­cess­ful, since Skri­pal is still alive.

All of this is done for no appar­ent rea­son oth­er than pure evil. . . .

9. In FTR #943, we high­light­ed the Ukrain­ian fas­cist “Pro­pOrNot” group as a con­trib­u­tor to the “Rus­sia-Gate” hys­te­ria. Now, the group has launched a posthu­mous attack on Robert Par­ry.

 

 

 

Discussion

14 comments for “FTR #1004 Update on Ukrainian Fascism and a Possible Third World War”

  1. This is rather remark­able: over 50 mem­bers of the the US con­gress signed a let­ter put forth by Ro Khan­na con­demn­ing the laws in Ukraine and Poland that either glo­ri­fy the per­pe­tra­tors of the Holo­caust or down­play the role local cit­i­zens may have played. And it’s bipar­ti­san too. You can see the let­ter here. It’s quite scathing, appro­pri­ate­ly so.

    So while it’s pret­ty clear that Rep. Khan­na was going to end up on the ene­mies list of the var­i­ous lob­by­ing groups seek­ing to min­i­mize any crit­i­cism of Ukraine’s embrace of the far right after Khan­na man­aged to get a pro­vi­sion added to the 2018 con­gres­sion­al bud­get ban­ning mil­i­tary aid to the neo-Nazi Azov bat­tal­ion, that list of ‘prob­lem’ con­gress per­sons who aren’t tow­ing the line on Ukraine pre­sum­ably just got a lot longer:

    Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency

    Con­gress mem­bers call out Ukraine gov­ern­ment for glo­ri­fy­ing Nazis

    April 25, 2018 3:25pm

    (JTA) — More than 50 U.S. Con­gress mem­bers con­demned Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion that they said “glo­ri­fies Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors” and there­fore goes fur­ther than Poland’s laws on rhetoric about the Holo­caust.

    The con­dem­na­tion came in an open bipar­ti­san let­ter to Deputy Sec­re­tary of State John Sul­li­van that was ini­ti­at­ed by Demo­c­ra­t­ic Reps. Ro Khan­na of Cal­i­for­nia and David Cicilline of Rhode Island.

    While not­ing that Poland pass­ing a law in Feb­ru­ary that crim­i­nal­izes blam­ing the Pol­ish nation for Nazi crimes was “cause for con­cern,” the let­ter uses much harsh­er and like­ly prece­dent-set­ting lan­guage about devel­op­ments in Ukraine that thus far have received rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle atten­tion in the West, observers of these process­es said.

    “Ukraine’s luck of fly­ing beneath the radar has final­ly run out,” Dovid Katz, the founder of the Defend­ing His­to­ry web­site about Holo­caust dis­tor­tion in East­ern Europe, wrote on Twit­ter about the let­ter. “Nev­er imag­ined we’d see this day.”

    The lan­guage on Ukraine “is bru­tal — and rich­ly deserved,” he added.

    The let­ter states that “It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­bling that much of the Nazi glo­ri­fi­ca­tion in Ukraine is gov­ern­ment-sup­port­ed.” It not­ed cer­e­monies, ges­tures and leg­is­la­tion ven­er­at­ing lead­ers of the UPA and OUN mili­tias, who fought along­side Nazi Ger­many dur­ing World War II and whose troops par­tic­i­pat­ed in atroc­i­ties against Jews and oth­er vic­tims.

    Khanna’s office in a state­ment also not­ed how city author­i­ties in Lviv allowed the cel­e­bra­tion of the anniver­sary of the 14th Gali­cian divi­sion of the Waf­fen SS at events this month fea­tur­ing men parad­ing in Nazi SS uni­forms on the street. The state­ments also cit­ed JTA’s cov­er­age of a teacher and local politi­cian who alleged­ly cel­e­brat­ed Adolf Hitler’s birth­day on Face­book and took pic­tures of her stu­dents at the pub­lic school where she taught his­to­ry per­form­ing the Nazi salute with her. She has since been fired.

    “The State Depart­ment must use all avail­able diplo­mat­ic chan­nels to work with the Ukrain­ian and Pol­ish gov­ern­ment to com­bat the rise of this hate­ful ide­ol­o­gy which has his­tor­i­cal­ly threat­ened peace and secu­ri­ty in the region,” the Con­gress mem­bers wrote to Sul­li­van.

    In Ukraine, a rev­o­lu­tion in 2013 that end­ed the rule of a key Krem­lin ally ush­ered in a wave of nation­al­ism that coin­cid­ed with what Israeli researchers of anti-Semi­tism in Jan­u­ary called a mas­sive increase in anti-Semit­ic inci­dents amid gov­ern­ment inac­tion.

    The glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of fight­ers who allied with the Nazis against Russ­ian dom­i­na­tion increased con­sid­er­ably in vol­ume after 2013. In 2015, the Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment passed a law that crim­i­nal­izes deny­ing the “hero­ism” of some of these allies of Nazi Ger­many, which over­saw the near anni­hi­la­tion of the region’s Jews.

    The let­ter also calls on the State Depart­ment to appoint a spe­cial envoy to mon­i­tor and com­bat anti-Semi­tism, a posi­tion that has remained vacant for more than a year though it was man­dat­ed by law.

    “The longer this posi­tion, which has world­wide reach, sits unfilled, the more it sends the mes­sage that the U.S. will tol­er­ate anti-Semi­tism and Holo­caust denial,” the let­ter says.

    ...

    ———-

    “Con­gress mem­bers call out Ukraine gov­ern­ment for glo­ri­fy­ing Nazis”; Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency; 04/25/2018

    ““Ukraine’s luck of fly­ing beneath the radar has final­ly run out,” Dovid Katz, the founder of the Defend­ing His­to­ry web­site about Holo­caust dis­tor­tion in East­ern Europe, wrote on Twit­ter about the let­ter. “Nev­er imag­ined we’d see this day.””

    Yeah, it is kind of hard to believe this hap­pened, but it it hap­pened.

    And while it men­tions Poland’s new laws, the text is far far harsh­er on Ukraine’s laws, and appro­pri­ate­ly so giv­en how much fur­ther the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment has gone towards actu­al­ly glo­ri­fy­ing the local groups that actu­al­ly car­ried out the Holo­caust:

    ...
    While not­ing that Poland pass­ing a law in Feb­ru­ary that crim­i­nal­izes blam­ing the Pol­ish nation for Nazi crimes was “cause for con­cern,” the let­ter uses much harsh­er and like­ly prece­dent-set­ting lan­guage about devel­op­ments in Ukraine that thus far have received rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle atten­tion in the West, observers of these process­es said.

    ...

    The lan­guage on Ukraine “is bru­tal — and rich­ly deserved,” he added.

    The let­ter states that “It’s par­tic­u­lar­ly trou­bling that much of the Nazi glo­ri­fi­ca­tion in Ukraine is gov­ern­ment-sup­port­ed.” It not­ed cer­e­monies, ges­tures and leg­is­la­tion ven­er­at­ing lead­ers of the UPA and OUN mili­tias, who fought along­side Nazi Ger­many dur­ing World War II and whose troops par­tic­i­pat­ed in atroc­i­ties against Jews and oth­er vic­tims.

    Khanna’s office in a state­ment also not­ed how city author­i­ties in Lviv allowed the cel­e­bra­tion of the anniver­sary of the 14th Gali­cian divi­sion of the Waf­fen SS at events this month fea­tur­ing men parad­ing in Nazi SS uni­forms on the street. The state­ments also cit­ed JTA’s cov­er­age of a teacher and local politi­cian who alleged­ly cel­e­brat­ed Adolf Hitler’s birth­day on Face­book and took pic­tures of her stu­dents at the pub­lic school where she taught his­to­ry per­form­ing the Nazi salute with her. She has since been fired.
    ...

    So it will be inter­est­ing to see how the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment (and affil­i­at­ed lob­by­ists in the US) respond to this.

    But there’s already a response from Poland’s gov­ern­ment. As we should expect, they aren’t pleased and refute the accu­sa­tion:

    Asso­ci­at­ed Press

    Poland crit­i­cizes US claim that Pol­ish law glo­ri­fies Nazism

    By VANESSA GERA
    04/26/2018

    WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Pol­ish offi­cials on Thurs­day crit­i­cized the claim of a U.S. con­gress­man that a new Pol­ish law glo­ri­fies Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and denies the Holo­caust.

    The charge was made by Ro Khan­na, a Demo­c­rat from Cal­i­for­nia, one of two con­gress­men lead­ing a bipar­ti­san effort urg­ing the U.S. State Depart­ment to pres­sure Poland and Ukraine to com­bat state-spon­sored anti-Semi­tism.

    “Our gov­ern­ment should be con­cerned with the resur­gence of anti-Semi­tism in Ukraine and Poland. Both coun­tries recent­ly passed laws glo­ri­fy­ing Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and deny­ing the Holo­caust,” Khan­na wrote Wednes­day.

    In the Pol­ish case, Khan­na referred to a new law that makes it a crime to blame Poland for the Holo­caust crimes of Nazi Ger­many. The law has sparked crit­i­cism in the U.S. and par­tic­u­lar­ly in Israel, where some fear its aim is to quash dis­cus­sions about Pol­ish anti-Semit­ic vio­lence dur­ing the Ger­man occu­pa­tion in World War II. How­ev­er, even crit­ics to date have not tried to argue that the law glo­ri­fies Nazism.

    Andrzej Pawluszek, an advis­er to Pol­ish Prime Min­is­ter Mateusz Moraw­iec­ki, told The Asso­ci­at­ed Press on Thurs­day that Khanna’s words were “irre­spon­si­ble and shock­ing.”

    Pol­ish deputy for­eign min­is­ter Bar­tosz Cichoc­ki retort­ed Wednes­day on Twit­ter: “Sir, I would appre­ci­ate if you indi­cat­ed a sin­gle law passed in my home­land Poland (recent­ly or not), which glo­ri­fies Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and/or denies Holo­caust.”

    In a sep­a­rate post, he added: “Equal­ly, I would love to learn what exact­ly your gov­ern­ment did to com­bat (the) Holo­caust after being request­ed to do so by the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment-in-exile.”

    Dur­ing Germany’s occu­pa­tion of Poland dur­ing the war, the Pol­ish gov­ern­ment-in-exile strug­gled to warn the world of the mass killing of Jews — a mes­sage that was large­ly ignored.

    The Auschwitz-Birke­nau state muse­um also weighed in, say­ing “there is no law in Poland that would glo­ri­fy col­lab­o­ra­tors of the Ger­man Nazis or that would deny the Holo­caust.”

    ...

    ———-

    “Poland crit­i­cizes US claim that Pol­ish law glo­ri­fies Nazism” by VANESSA GERA; Asso­ci­at­ed Press; 04/26/2018

    “Pol­ish deputy for­eign min­is­ter Bar­tosz Cichoc­ki retort­ed Wednes­day on Twit­ter: “Sir, I would appre­ci­ate if you indi­cat­ed a sin­gle law passed in my home­land Poland (recent­ly or not), which glo­ri­fies Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and/or denies Holo­caust.””

    And that’s prob­a­bly going to be how Poland offi­cial­ly deals with these charges going for­ward: by refut­ing charges that weren’t actu­al­ly made.

    Because as we’ve seen, the prob­lem with Poland’s now law isn’t that it denies the Holo­caust or glo­ri­fies the col­lab­o­ra­tors. The prob­lem is that it basi­cal­ly makes it ille­gal to point out that many locals took part in the Holo­caust, and if you point this out in Poland you’re com­mit­ting a crime.

    So if some­one in Poland was to actu­al­ly point out to Poland’s deputy for­eign min­is­ter how Poland’s law denies aspects of the Holo­caust, specif­i­cal­ly the sig­nif­i­cant role played by the local pop­u­lace, they would poten­tial­ly be fac­ing a prison sen­tence. Hence the con­dem­na­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 26, 2018, 1:47 pm
  2. Superb and thor­ough update about the past & cur­rent machi­na­tions in Ukraine. Thanks to both you Dave & Pter­rafractyl for your astute research. This hor­rif­ic sto­ry must be kept alive, espe­cial­ly now that few know of the wors­en­ing esca­la­tions by the Ukraine Jun­ta mil­i­tary against the Don­bas, but now being direct­ed under NATO advi­sors.

    Posted by Susan Shpak | April 27, 2018, 1:47 am
  3. Well, this was inevitable: The may­or of the West Ukrain­ian town of Skole, Vlodimyr Moskal, just went on a tirade dur­ing a lec­ture before the city coun­cil­men that was basi­cal­ly a rehash of the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion. He called Ukaine’s Jew­ish prime min­is­ter, Volodymyr Groys­man, a “Mus­covite Jews”, and quot­ed Hen­ry Ford about Jew­ish schemes for world dom­i­na­tion. World dom­i­na­tion that uses cos­mopoli­tanism and lib­er­al­ism as a tool to destroy all nations. So, as is often the case for rants of this nature, while it was pri­mar­i­ly anti-Semit­ic in nature it was also using anti-Semi­tism as a means of attack­ing any­one who isn’t a far right zealot.

    The fol­low­ing arti­cle also notes anoth­er dis­turb­ing recent inci­dent, when an employ­ee of Ukraine’s con­sulate in Ham­burg, Ger­many, blamed Jews for World War II on Face­book, say­ing “death to the anti-fas­cists” on his pri­vate Face­book page. And bunch of oth­er recent anti-Semit­ic inci­dents. It’s a reflec­tion of the rate at which inci­dents of this nature are tak­ing place in Ukraine: when there’s an arti­cle about some new anti-Semit­ic act all the oth­er recent acts need to be includ­ed just to pro­vide con­text.

    And as we’ll see in the sec­ond arti­cle below, it appears Moskal gave this rant at a con­fer­ence of the Dontsov Sci­en­tif­ic and Ide­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter, which is name after Dmytro Dontsov, the chief the­o­rist behind the devel­op­ment of Ukrain­ian Inte­gral Nation­al­ism which formed a the­o­ret­i­cal basis for OUN-UPA. So Moskal, along with a bunch of city coun­cil­men, were appar­ent­ly attend­ing an event at this cen­ter, point­ing towards prob­lems with the local gov­ern­ment of Skole that go beyond Moskal.

    And when ques­tioned about his tirade, Moskal responds by cit­ing the work of Vladimir Vya­tro­vich and Ukaine’s Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry, say­ing:

    “From his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion and now Vladimir Vya­tro­vich reveal­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly truth­ful doc­u­ments [we know]: When the Bol­she­viks came to pow­er from 70% to 95% were Jews who destroyed the nation and its peo­ples.”

    And that’s what was inevitable about this: If your coun­try cre­ates an offi­cial revi­sion­ist his­to­ry insti­tu­tion ded­i­cat­ing to white­wash­ing the his­to­ry of Nazi-allied move­ments, at some point all that white­wash­ing is going to cre­ate a body of ‘evi­dence’ that Ukrain­ian politi­cians like Moskal can cite to jus­ti­fy what amounts to the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion:

    Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency

    Ukrain­ian may­or and diplo­mat caught engag­ing in anti-Semit­ic rhetoric

    May 15, 2018 5:01am

    (JTA) — Amid inter­na­tion­al pres­sure on Ukraine over its per­ceived tol­er­ance of anti-Semi­tism, a local may­or and a diplo­mat were doc­u­ment­ed engag­ing hate speech against Jews.

    The may­or of the vil­lage of Skole, locat­ed 60 miles south­west of Lviv, inveighed against Jews dur­ing a recent lec­ture before city coun­cil­men. Eduard Dolin­sky, direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee, post­ed a video on Face­book of May­or Vlodimyr Moskal’s address on Mon­day.

    Quot­ing Hen­ry Ford’s anti-Semit­ic writ­ings about Jew­ish schemes for world dom­i­na­tion, Moskal said: “A lot of that work is devot­ed to the death of the goy­im,” Hebrew for non-Jews. “Chris­tians, Arabs, Bud­dhists, they are not peo­ple to them after their reach­ing world dom­i­na­tion, which they are clear­ly try­ing to do through cos­mopoli­tanism and lib­er­al­ism in order to destroy all nations, to leave the polit­i­cal nation, to mix every­one into one lump, migrants, blacks,” the may­or said. He also called the gov­ern­ment, whose prime min­is­ter, Volodymyr Groys­man, is Jew­ish, “Mus­covite Jews”– an insult in a coun­try where anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment is rife.

    Sep­a­rate­ly, screen­shots shared online show that Vasyl Marushchynets, who works at Ukraine’s con­sulate in Ham­burg, Ger­many, blamed on Face­book Jews for World War II and say­ing “death to the anti-fas­cists” on his pri­vate Face­book page, Reuters report­ed Mon­day. Marushchynets and the Ham­burg con­sulate did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for com­ment but Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry con­firmed his sus­pen­sion.

    “Anti-semitism[sic] and those who stir up inter-eth­nic dis­cord can have no place either in civ­i­lized soci­ety or in the for­eign min­istry,” Ukrain­ian For­eign Min­is­ter Pavlo Klimkin said on Twit­ter.

    Ukraine has seen a spate of anti-Semit­ic inci­dents in recent weeks, includ­ing van­dal­ism at two mon­u­ments for Holo­caust vic­tims. One of the mon­u­ments was fire­bombed; uniden­ti­fied par­ties wrote neo-Nazi slo­gans, on the oth­er.

    Last month, hun­dreds of peo­ple in Lviv attend­ed a nation­al­ist march fea­tur­ing Nazi sym­bols. The march com­mem­o­rat­ed a World War II Waf­fen SS unit that had includ­ed many local vol­un­teers.

    On May 4, Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko con­demned “any man­i­fes­ta­tions of intol­er­ance and anti-Semi­tism” in his coun­try.

    These inci­dents and the march coin­cid­ed with a let­ter signed by 57 U.S. con­gress­men con­demn­ing what they called Ukrain­ian leg­is­la­tion that “glo­ri­fies Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors.” The let­ter, which Ukrain­ian media report­ed on, is the harsh­est pub­lic rebuke in years of Ukraine’s anti-Semi­tism by Amer­i­can elect­ed offi­cials. The let­ter decried a world­wide “rise of this hate­ful ide­ol­o­gy.”

    A rev­o­lu­tion in 2013 that end­ed the rule of a key Krem­lin ally in Ukraine ush­ered in a wave of nation­al­ism. This coin­cid­ed with what Israeli researchers of anti-Semi­tism have called a mas­sive increase in anti-Semit­ic inci­dents amid gov­ern­ment inac­tion.

    The glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of fight­ers who allied with the Nazis against Russ­ian dom­i­na­tion increased con­sid­er­ably in vol­ume after 2013. In 2015, the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment passed a law that crim­i­nal­izes deny­ing the “hero­ism” of some of these allies of Nazi Ger­many, which over­saw the near anni­hi­la­tion of the region’s Jews.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukrain­ian may­or and diplo­mat caught engag­ing in anti-Semit­ic rhetoric”; Jew­ish Tele­graph­ic Agency; 05/15/2018

    “The may­or of the vil­lage of Skole, locat­ed 60 miles south­west of Lviv, inveighed against Jews dur­ing a recent lec­ture before city coun­cil­men. Eduard Dolin­sky, direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee, post­ed a video on Face­book of May­or Vlodimyr Moskal’s address on Mon­day.”

    That was the audi­ence of the may­or’s tirade: the city coun­cil­men.

    And it was tirade that explic­it­ly said Jews are plot­ting to kill off all non-Jews using lib­er­al­ism and cos­mopoli­tanism:

    ...
    Quot­ing Hen­ry Ford’s anti-Semit­ic writ­ings about Jew­ish schemes for world dom­i­na­tion, Moskal said: “A lot of that work is devot­ed to the death of the goy­im,” Hebrew for non-Jews. “Chris­tians, Arabs, Bud­dhists, they are not peo­ple to them after their reach­ing world dom­i­na­tion, which they are clear­ly try­ing to do through cos­mopoli­tanism and lib­er­al­ism in order to destroy all nations, to leave the polit­i­cal nation, to mix every­one into one lump, migrants, blacks,” the may­or said. He also called the gov­ern­ment, whose prime min­is­ter, Volodymyr Groys­man, is Jew­ish, “Mus­covite Jews”– an insult in a coun­try where anti-Russ­ian sen­ti­ment is rife.
    ...

    Adding con­text to the pres­ences of fas­cist sym­pa­thiz­ers in Ukraine’s gov­ern­ment, the arti­cle also men­tions a recent inci­dent where a Ukrain­ian con­sulate employ­ee in Ham­burg, Ger­many, blamed Jews for WWII and declared “death to the anti-fas­cists” on Face­book:

    ...
    Sep­a­rate­ly, screen­shots shared online show that Vasyl Marushchynets, who works at Ukraine’s con­sulate in Ham­burg, Ger­many, blamed on Face­book Jews for World War II and say­ing “death to the anti-fas­cists” on his pri­vate Face­book page, Reuters report­ed Mon­day. Marushchynets and the Ham­burg con­sulate did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to requests for com­ment but Ukraine’s for­eign min­istry con­firmed his sus­pen­sion.
    ...

    Then, to add more con­text, the arti­cle points out a num­ber of oth­er recent anti-Semit­ic inci­dents, includ­ing the hun­dreds of peo­ple in Lviv who attend­ed a com­mem­o­ra­tion for WWII Waf­fen SS unit and fea­tur­ing Nazi sym­bols. Keep in mind that Skole is near­by Lviv:

    ...
    Ukraine has seen a spate of anti-Semit­ic inci­dents in recent weeks, includ­ing van­dal­ism at two mon­u­ments for Holo­caust vic­tims. One of the mon­u­ments was fire­bombed; uniden­ti­fied par­ties wrote neo-Nazi slo­gans, on the oth­er.

    Last month, hun­dreds of peo­ple in Lviv attend­ed a nation­al­ist march fea­tur­ing Nazi sym­bols. The march com­mem­o­rat­ed a World War II Waf­fen SS unit that had includ­ed many local vol­un­teers.
    ...

    And these recent inci­dents are mere­ly the lat­est in a wave of neo-Nazi acts fol­low­ing a Maid­an rev­o­lu­tion that swept in a gov­ern­ment that not only large­ly tol­er­ates such acts but went on to glo­ri­fi­ca­tion Ukraine’s WWII Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors and make it ille­gal to deny their “hero­ism”:

    ...
    A rev­o­lu­tion in 2013 that end­ed the rule of a key Krem­lin ally in Ukraine ush­ered in a wave of nation­al­ism. This coin­cid­ed with what Israeli researchers of anti-Semi­tism have called a mas­sive increase in anti-Semit­ic inci­dents amid gov­ern­ment inac­tion.

    The glo­ri­fi­ca­tion of fight­ers who allied with the Nazis against Russ­ian dom­i­na­tion increased con­sid­er­ably in vol­ume after 2013. In 2015, the Ukrain­ian Par­lia­ment passed a law that crim­i­nal­izes deny­ing the “hero­ism” of some of these allies of Nazi Ger­many, which over­saw the near anni­hi­la­tion of the region’s Jews.
    ...

    So in that con­text it should come as no sur­prise that Moskal appears to have giv­en this speech at the Dontsov Sci­en­tif­ic and Ide­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter and end­ed up cit­ing Ukraine’s Insti­tute for Nation­al Mem­o­ry as evi­dence of the truth of his claims:

    Defend­ing His­to­ry

    Exam­ple from Ukraine: East Euro­pean Holo­caust Revi­sion­ism Feeds Direct­ly Into Bla­tant Anti­semitism

    17 May 2018

    KIEV—Evidence con­tin­ues to mount that the nox­ious far-right, state-sup­port­ed mem­o­ry pol­i­tics of Volodymyr Viatrovych’s “Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry” are direct­ly lead­ing to grow­ing anti­semitism in Ukraine.

    The may­or of a town in West­ern Ukraine says the cur­rent gov­ern­ment is a “Mus­covite-Yid.” What’s strik­ing is how he cites how Vyatrovych’s Insti­tute to embold­en and legit­imize his views:

    “From his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion and now Vladimir Vya­tro­vich reveal­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly truth­ful doc­u­ments [we know]: When the Bol­she­viks came to pow­er from 70% to 95% were Jews who destroyed the nation and its peo­ples.”

    The full video has added to the pic­ture pro­vid­ed by var­i­ous recent quotes from the may­or in pub­lic venues:

    “The per­for­mance of the Moscow-Jew­ish author­i­ties is drag­ging on for four years.” “For four years, the per­for­mance is not Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, but, say it cor­rect­ly, the Moscow-Jew­ish author­i­ties.”

    The may­or also asserts that he ana­lyzed the “extract from the Kab­bal­ah and the Torah” in the book of Pavel Stepanov Mafia and Ukraine and came to the con­clu­sion that Jew­ish chil­dren are taught from child­hood to rec­og­nize the ene­my and how to destroy him: “By the way, a lot of that work is devot­ed to the death of the goy­im: they con­sid­er any­one except the Jews to be goy­im, all of them — Chris­tians, Arabs, Bud­dhists, they are not peo­ple, they are not peo­ple for them. After their com­ing to world dom­i­na­tion, because they are clear­ly head­ing for this, they form the pol­i­cy of cos­mopoli­tanism and lib­er­al­ism, to destroy all nations, to leave the polit­i­cal nation, mixed up in a heap, with migra­tions, with Blacks,” the may­or said.

    He added that “World Jew­ry” pro­vid­ed Joseph Stal­in with a vic­to­ry in World War II, and admir­ing­ly not­ed that the Amer­i­can indus­tri­al­ist Hen­ry Ford once called for “iso­lat­ing the 50 rich­est Jews” so that there would be no more wars.

    Com­ment­ing on the ethics of his state­ments, the may­or said: “Who did I offend? I just told the truth.” Moskal has been the may­or of Skole since 2010.

    Judg­ing by the poster behind the mayor’s back, he uttered his mono­logue at a con­fer­ence of the Dontsov Sci­en­tif­ic and Ide­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter. For those famil­iar with the 1930s in this part of the world, Dmytro Dontsov was the chief the­o­rist behind the devel­op­ment of Ukrain­ian Inte­gral Nation­al­ism (kind of a fan­cy way of say­ing: fas­cism), which formed a the­o­ret­i­cal basis for OUN-UPA, a World War Two-era ultra­na­tion­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion which engaged in mass mur­der of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jew­ish and Pol­ish civil­ians in its quest to build an eth­ni­cal­ly pure Ukrain­ian state.

    ———-

    “Exam­ple from Ukraine: East Euro­pean Holo­caust Revi­sion­ism Feeds Direct­ly Into Bla­tant Anti­semitism”; Defend­ing His­to­ry; 05/17/2018

    “Evi­dence con­tin­ues to mount that the nox­ious far-right, state-sup­port­ed mem­o­ry pol­i­tics of Volodymyr Viatrovych’s “Ukrain­ian Insti­tute of Nation­al Mem­o­ry” are direct­ly lead­ing to grow­ing anti­semitism in Ukraine.”

    Yep, it turns out cre­at­ing a state-run his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ism insti­tute ded­i­cat­ing to white­wash­ing and glo­ri­fy­ing Nazi col­lab­o­ra­tors might nor­mal­ize Nazi ide­olo­gies. Imag­ine that:

    ...
    The may­or of a town in West­ern Ukraine says the cur­rent gov­ern­ment is a “Mus­covite-Yid.” What’s strik­ing is how he cites how Vyatrovych’s Insti­tute to embold­en and legit­imize his views:

    “From his­tor­i­cal infor­ma­tion and now Vladimir Vya­tro­vich reveal­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly truth­ful doc­u­ments [we know]: When the Bol­she­viks came to pow­er from 70% to 95% were Jews who destroyed the nation and its peo­ples.”

    ...

    Com­ment­ing on the ethics of his state­ments, the may­or said: “Who did I offend? I just told the truth.” Moskal has been the may­or of Skole since 2010.
    ...

    And not sur­pris­ing­ly, the venue for his speech appeared to be the Dontsov Sci­en­tif­ic and Ide­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter, named after the ide­o­log­i­cal god­fa­ther of the OUN-UPA:

    ...

    Judg­ing by the poster behind the mayor’s back, he uttered his mono­logue at a con­fer­ence of the Dontsov Sci­en­tif­ic and Ide­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter. For those famil­iar with the 1930s in this part of the world, Dmytro Dontsov was the chief the­o­rist behind the devel­op­ment of Ukrain­ian Inte­gral Nation­al­ism (kind of a fan­cy way of say­ing: fas­cism), which formed a the­o­ret­i­cal basis for OUN-UPA, a World War Two-era ultra­na­tion­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion which engaged in mass mur­der of hun­dreds of thou­sands of Jew­ish and Pol­ish civil­ians in its quest to build an eth­ni­cal­ly pure Ukrain­ian state.
    ...

    And notice how he did­n’t lim­it his “Mus­covite Jews” slur to Volodymyr Groys­man. He basi­cal­ly called the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment as a whole the “Moscow-Jew­ish author­i­ties”:

    ...
    “The per­for­mance of the Moscow-Jew­ish author­i­ties is drag­ging on for four years.” “For four years, the per­for­mance is not Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, but, say it cor­rect­ly, the Moscow-Jew­ish author­i­ties.”
    ...

    He cites the state-run his­tor­i­cal revi­sion­ist insti­tute as pro­vid­ing evi­dence of a Jew­ish plot to destroy soci­ety while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly declar­ing the cur­rent gov­ern­ment to be run by Mus­covite Jews. It’s a snap­shot of Ukraine’s zeit­geist.

    So what’s the next act of open Nazi lov­ing going to be from Ukraine’s politi­cians? We’ll see, but if the far right ends up fol­low­ing through with is long-stand­ing pledge to “march on Kiev” and over­throw the gov­ern­ment it’s pret­ty clear the may­or of Skole will be march­ing with them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 18, 2018, 1:37 pm
  4. https://www.timesofisrael.com/ukrainian-teacher-allegedly-praises-hitler-performs-nazi-salute-with-students/

    Ukrain­ian teacher alleged­ly prais­es Hitler, per­forms Nazi salute with stu­dents

    Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty leader says ‘gov­ern­ment inac­tion’ lead­ing to increase in anti-Semit­ic inci­dents

    By JTA
    24 April 2018, 3:54 am 0
    NOTE PRINTED IN: The Times of Israel

    A pub­lic school teacher in Ukraine alleged­ly post­ed birth­day greet­ings to Adolf Hitler on Face­book and taught her stu­dents the Nazi salute.

    Mar­jana Batjuk, who teach­es at a school in Lviv and also is a coun­cil­woman, post­ed her greet­ing on April 20, the Nazi leader’s birth­day, Eduard Dolin­sky, direc­tor of the Ukrain­ian Jew­ish Com­mit­tee, told JTA. He called the inci­dent a “scan­dal.”

    Batjuk also took some of her stu­dents to meet far-right activists who over the week­end marched on the city’s streets while wear­ing the uni­form of the 14th Waf­fen Grenadier Divi­sion of the SS, an elite Nazi unite with many eth­nic Ukraini­ans also known as the 1st Gali­cian.
    FREE SIGN UP
    Dis­play­ing Nazi imagery is ille­gal in Ukraine, but Dolin­sky said law enforce­ment author­i­ties allowed the activists to parade on main streets.

    Batjuk had the activists explain about their repli­ca weapons, which they parad­ed ahead of a larg­er event in hon­or of the 1st Gali­cian unit planned for next week in Lviv.

    The events hon­or­ing the 1st Gali­cian SS unit in Lviv are not orga­nized by munic­i­pal author­i­ties.

    Batjuk, 28, a mem­ber of the far-right Svo­bo­da par­ty, called Hitler “a great man” and quot­ed from his book “Mein Kampf” in her Face­book post, Dolin­sky said. She lat­er claimed that her Face­book account was hacked and delet­ed the post, but the Strana news site found that she had a his­to­ry of post­ing Nazi imagery on social net­works.
    She also post­ed pic­tures of chil­dren she said were her stu­dents per­form­ing the Nazi salute with her.

    Dolin­sky called the ven­er­a­tion of SS sol­diers whom some his­to­ri­ans say par­tic­i­pat­ed in atroc­i­ties against Jews and Poles “an out­ra­geous des­e­cra­tion of the mem­o­ry of the vic­tims.”

    Ukrain­ian Edu­ca­tion Min­istry offi­cials have start­ed a dis­ci­pli­nary review of her con­duct, the local KP news site report­ed.

    Sep­a­rate­ly, in the town of Polta­va, in east­ern Ukraine, Dolin­sky said a swasti­ka and the words “heil Hitler” were spray-paint­ed Fri­day on a mon­u­ment for Holo­caust vic­tims of the Holo­caust. The van­dals, who have not been iden­ti­fied, also wrote “Death to the kikes.”

    In Odessa, a large graf­fi­ti read­ing “Jews into the sea” was writ­ten on the beach­front wall of a hotel.

    “The com­mon fac­tor between all of these inci­dents is gov­ern­ment inac­tion, which ensures they will con­tin­ue hap­pen­ing,” Dolin­sky said.

    Posted by Mary Benton | May 23, 2018, 4:58 pm
  5. Here’s a pair of arti­cle that high­light an asym­me­try in how West­ern soci­eties per­ceive the poten­tial risks asso­ci­at­ed with peo­ple trav­el­ing to join, say, ISIS, and lat­er return­ing home vs the risk of some­one going off to join a Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi unit. It also high­lights how the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­men­t’s for­mal accep­tance of its neo-Nazi units facil­i­tates this:

    First, here’s an arti­cle that talks about a quirk in Aus­trali­a’s laws on cit­i­zens join­ing for­eign con­flicts. Under Aus­tralian law, any­one who par­tic­i­pates in acts mere­ly with the inten­tion of engag­ing in hos­tile activ­i­ties faces life in jail. That makes it ille­gal to join ISIS or even the Kurds in Syr­ia. But join­ing a Ukrain­ian neo-Nazi vol­un­teer unit is com­plete­ly legal under Aus­tralian law. Why? Because tak­ing arms along­side an army on their soil is legal. And don’t for­get, all those neo-Nazi Ukrain­ian ‘vol­un­teer units’ are basi­cal­ly part of the Ukrain­ian army at this point. Even Right Sec­tor. And Ukraine even passed a law in 2015 to let for­eign­ers for­mal­ly serve in the armed forces on a con­trac­tu­al basis. So the frame­work is in place for for­eign­ers to trav­el to Ukraine and join a neo-Nazi bat­tal­ion with the offi­cial bless­ing of the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment, which means Aus­tralia and any coun­tries with sim­i­lar laws intend­ed to pre­vent peo­ple from join­ing up with extrem­ist mil­i­tant groups that pro­mote vio­lent total­i­tar­i­an ide­olo­gies prob­a­bly need to update their laws when it comes to Ukraine:

    ABC.net.au

    From Neo-Nazi to mil­i­tant: The for­eign fight­ers in Ukraine who Aus­trali­a’s laws won’t stop

    By Sean Rubin­sztein-Dun­lop, Suzanne Dredge, and Michael Work­man, ABC Inves­ti­ga­tions
    May 01, 2018
    Updat­ed Sun, May 6, 2018 at 11:45pm

    When Aus­tralian for­mer Neo-Nazi and reg­is­tered gun own­er Ethan Till­ing flew into Bris­bane this year, he was return­ing under the radar of Aus­tralian author­i­ties with new­found com­bat expe­ri­ence from a bru­tal and for­got­ten war.

    Mr Till­ing, who was until recent­ly a mem­ber of the Nazi group Right Wing Resis­tance, had spent the Aus­tralian spring in the bit­ter cold of East­ern Ukraine fir­ing Kalash­nikovs, rock­et launch­ers and grenades at Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    The 23-year-old for­mer sol­dier from Bris­bane is one of two Aus­tralian ex-Defence Force per­son­nel iden­ti­fied by the ABC who have joined thou­sands of ultra­na­tion­al­ists flock­ing from across the world to take up arms in the east­ern Ukrain­ian region of Don­bass.

    Mr Till­ing and for­mer Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force air­man Jared Ben­net joined a patch­work of pro-Ukrain­ian mili­tia groups tak­ing on the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists in a chaot­ic and stut­ter­ing con­flict, which has become to right-wing extrem­ists what the war in Syr­ia is to jihadists.

    Unlike Aus­tralians who break strict for­eign fight­er laws by join­ing Islam­ic State or the Kurds who oppose them, nei­ther Mr Till­ing nor Mr Ben­net, from Mel­bourne, have bro­ken any Aus­tralian law by tak­ing up arms in Ukraine.

    The ABC does not sug­gest Mr Till­ing or Mr Ben­net pose any threat, but Aus­tralian and inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty experts say the cas­es high­light an incon­sis­ten­cy in the law which leaves Aus­tralia vul­ner­a­ble to the brand of vio­lent right-wing extrem­ism that is spread­ing across the US and Europe.

    From the Aus­tralian Army to Nazism

    Like many young men attract­ed to the glob­al ultra­na­tion­al­ist move­ment, Mr Till­ing reveres the Norse gods of war and grew up des­per­ate to become a war­rior him­self.

    “I think it’s a rite of pas­sage for every man,” he said.

    “Some men feel they should defend some­thing or go to war. It’s part of the things they have to do in their life.”

    Mr Till­ing’s body is plas­tered in tat­toos which he says mere­ly hon­our his Scan­di­na­vian ances­tors, but among them are emblems worn by white suprema­cists.

    By Mr Till­ing’s account, he was a vio­lent teenag­er.

    At the age of 18, he joined the Aus­tralian Army but he did not serve out his con­tract and was dis­charged after serv­ing 18 months with the 8th/12th artillery reg­i­ment in Dar­win.

    Two months after his dis­charge in late 2015, when anti-Islam­ic sen­ti­ment was boil­ing over in Aus­tralia, Mr Till­ing wore a South­ern Cross flag to a Reclaim Aus­tralia anti-Islam protest in Bris­bane.

    He said it was there that he met a New Zealand-based Neo-Nazi group called Right Wing Resis­tance, which describes itself on its web­site as “an active army of white nation­al­ists” com­mit­ted to white suprema­cy.

    “I just became increas­ing­ly wor­ried about the immi­gra­tion into Aus­tralia and who was com­ing in, and whether or not we could guar­an­tee those peo­ple would­n’t harm us.”

    Mr Till­ing joined Right Wing Resis­tance’s tiny Bris­bane chap­ter but said he quick­ly became frus­trat­ed with the com­mit­ment shown by its three oth­er local mem­bers.

    “They had no agen­da for polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic reform,” he said.

    “They were there because they had no-one else.

    “It was­n’t even any part of why I went to the Ukraine.”

    ‘It’s hard to join a for­eign army’

    Mr Till­ing aban­doned the group after just six months and three meet­ings, but said he remained a Nazi skin­head for about anoth­er half a year.

    Still “an Aus­tralian nation­al­ist, a patri­ot … very much anti-immi­gra­tion” and “def­i­nite­ly anti-Mus­lim”, Mr Till­ing turned his mind to fight­ing a war.

    He was ini­tial­ly drawn to fight­ing against Islam­ic State in Syr­ia, but Aus­tralians who joined the Kur­dish forces were being threat­ened with charges under for­eign fight­er laws.

    Under Aus­tralian law, any­one who par­tic­i­pates in acts mere­ly with the inten­tion of engag­ing in hos­tile activ­i­ties faces life in jail, but tak­ing up arms along­side an army on their soil is per­fect­ly legal.

    Mr Till­ing set about try­ing to find a for­eign army that would take him.

    “It was actu­al­ly a lot hard­er to join a for­eign army than peo­ple might think,” he said.

    “I jumped on the inter­net and for weeks and weeks, I tried to find arti­cles and reviews about for­eign legions tak­ing for­eign nation­als vol­un­tar­i­ly into their forces and then fight­ing from there.”

    It was a YouTube video that drove him to sign up with the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion, an inter­na­tion­al unit of for­eign fight­ers in Ukraine includ­ing Amer­i­cans, Brits and Euro­peans.

    The video fea­tured Craig Lang, a for­mer US sol­dier who had fled Amer­i­ca after alleged­ly steal­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment and threat­en­ing to kill his ex-wife.

    Till­ing arrives on the front­line

    After con­tact­ing the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion and assur­ing the unit he was not break­ing any laws, Ethan Till­ing land­ed on the front­line of Lugan­sk, the site of the most intense bat­tles of the war in east­ern Ukraine.

    The Geor­gian Nation­al Legion was among a mish­mash of mil­i­tant groups which had gained strength and pop­u­lar­i­ty in Ukraine when the ill-pre­pared and under-resourced Ukrain­ian army strug­gled to beat back Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists after war broke out in 2014.

    Groups on both sides of the con­flict were a mag­net for thou­sands of ultra­na­tion­al­ist ama­teur mil­i­tants who were on an ide­o­log­i­cal “pil­grim­age”, accord­ing to Dr Kacper Rekawek, from the GLOBSEC Pol­i­cy Insti­tute in Slo­va­kia.

    “There’s been a dream of these guys of hav­ing a war right next door to Europe ... to pre­pare them­selves for a war back at home,” he said.

    Dr Rekawek esti­mat­ed at least 17,000 peo­ple had trav­elled to fight in Ukraine from more than 50 coun­tries, with most of them com­ing from Rus­sia to join the sep­a­ratists.

    Mr Till­ing said his ide­ol­o­gy had noth­ing to do with his deci­sion to fight in Ukraine.

    He said the war was not what he expect­ed.

    “When you’re in com­bat, it smells like smoke, it smells like gun­pow­der. Every­one’s let­ting off about 50,000 rounds in 60 sec­onds. It’s almost like out of a film.”

    The legion fought along­side the Ukrain­ian army, under con­stant artillery fire from Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists, who seized a large swathe of east­ern Ukraine in 2014.

    Fight­ers were equipped with Sovi­et-era machine guns, small rock­et launch­ers, semi-auto­mat­ic grenade launch­ers and sniper rifles, Mr Till­ing said.

    ...

    Mr Till­ing told the ABC he wit­nessed atroc­i­ties but nev­er engaged in any war crimes.

    “There were cer­tain­ly things going on there that would be con­sid­ered war crimes,” he said.

    “We found one of our guys with his fin­gers, toes, his tes­ti­cles and his penis cut off in a field with his throat slashed.”

    The ABC was unable to inde­pen­dent­ly ver­i­fy Mr Till­ing’s account, but the com­man­der of the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion, Mamu­ka Mamu­lashvili, and an inde­pen­dent observ­er con­firmed there had been instances of bod­ies of fight­ers being muti­lat­ed.

    ‘We do not tol­er­ate nation­al­ism’

    With­in days Mr Till­ing found him­self dis­mayed by the chaos sur­round­ing him and again dis­il­lu­sioned by the incom­pe­tence of his peers.

    Fight­ers were often drunk and some­times high.

    “That was com­bined with things like walk­ing around at night-time with lights on, singing at night, point­ing loaded guns at your own team,” he said.

    Mr Till­ing walked off the bat­tle­field in anger after less than two months in Ukraine.

    Com­man­der Mamu­lashvili said Mr Till­ing left after rais­ing con­cerns about a severe lack of food and water.

    He described Mr Till­ing as a “moti­vat­ed” and “good sol­dier”, but expressed con­cern at learn­ing he was a for­mer Nazi.

    “We have Mus­lims, we have Jew­ish guys, we have Amer­i­cans, we have British guys, we are a big fam­i­ly,” he said.

    “We do not tol­er­ate nation­al­ism here.”

    A for­mer RAAF air­man joins the war

    A year before Mr Till­ing flew to Ukraine, anoth­er for­mer Aus­tralian Defence Force ser­vice­man trad­ed his sub­ur­ban life in Mel­bourne’s north for the bat­tle­fields of Donet­sk.

    After end­ing a five-year stint with the Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force, Jared Ben­net, 30, had spent his days going to the gym and his nights dri­ving trucks.

    Like Mr Till­ing, Mr Ben­net was inspired by social media to take up arms in Ukraine.

    Mr Ben­net told the ABC the cat­a­lyst to join the war was the Face­book posts from the front­line of a for­mer US mil­i­tary friend he had met on a train­ing exer­cise in Aus­tralia while in the air force.

    Mr Ben­net said he trav­elled to Ukraine in 2016 to fight for the coun­try’s rad­i­cal ultra­na­tion­al­ist Right Sec­tor.

    A spokes­woman for the Right Sec­tor-aligned Volvi­ka Tac­ti­cal Group told the ABC that Mr Ben­net returned to Ukraine to fight with the unit again last year, but Mr Ben­net refused to respond to the claim.

    Mr Ben­net served along­side Craig Lang, the same Amer­i­can ex-sol­dier who had fled the US for Ukraine after alleged­ly threat­en­ing to kill his ex-wife and who lat­er joined Mr Till­ing’s unit.

    The Right Sec­tor Volvi­ka Tac­ti­cal Group was not the only ultra­na­tion­al­ist cause Mr Ben­net was drawn to on social media.

    On Face­book, he likes the pages of the Aus­tralia First Par­ty and self-styled ultra­na­tion­al­ist leader Blair Cot­trell, as well as right-wing army vet­er­ans groups and bikie clubs includ­ing the Rebels.

    The ABC does not sug­gest Mr Ben­net is an extrem­ist.

    Uneven approach a ‘dan­ger’ to Aus­tralia

    Aus­trali­a’s for­mer watch­dog on nation­al secu­ri­ty laws, Bret Walk­er SC, called for changes to Aus­trali­a’s for­eign fight­er laws in response to the ABC’s rev­e­la­tions that Aus­tralians had fought with mil­i­tant groups in Ukraine.

    Mr Walk­er said Aus­tralia was vul­ner­a­ble to any returned ultra­na­tion­al­ist fight­ers who go on to become vio­lent.

    “Those are peo­ple whose skills, expe­ri­ences and lack of sen­si­tiv­i­ty are very like­ly to con­sti­tute dan­gers in this coun­try,” he said.

    “There is a domes­tic con­cern, not just a con­cern about Aus­trali­a’s oblig­a­tions in rela­tion to pro­hibit­ing war, but also domes­tic con­cern in terms of ter­ror­ist dan­gers in Aus­tralia.”

    Mr Walk­er said the incon­sis­ten­cy in the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion was high­light­ed by the fact Aus­tralians could legal­ly fight with the forces of for­eign gov­ern­ment dic­ta­tors like Syr­i­a’s Bashar al-Assad.

    As the Inde­pen­dent Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Leg­is­la­tion Mon­i­tor in 2014, Mr Walk­er SC made a rec­om­men­da­tion to Fed­er­al Par­lia­ment for the law to be changed so that all for­eign fight­ing would be ille­gal unless offi­cial­ly approved by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.

    His rec­om­men­da­tions were ignored.

    “There’s very lit­tle sign that there was — let alone at par­lia­men­tary lev­el — any con­sid­er­a­tion of them,” Mr Walk­er said.

    “They have been utter­ly silent in rela­tion to the basic prin­ci­ple that Aus­tralians should not fight abroad except for Aus­tralia or with Aus­trali­a’s approval.”

    ‘I’m not a Neo-Nazi any­more’

    In Feb­ru­ary this year, Mr Till­ing was vis­it­ed by two offi­cers from the Queens­land Police Counter-Ter­ror­ism Com­mand who inter­viewed him about his time in Ukraine.

    Police also con­tact­ed him after neigh­bours com­plained he was fir­ing rifles and shot­guns, which he is reg­is­tered to own.

    Queens­land Police refused to shed any light on the vis­its, say­ing it was unable to com­ment on spe­cif­ic indi­vid­u­als.

    But the ABC under­stands counter-ter­ror­ism author­i­ties had doubt­ed whether Mr Till­ing had even fought in Ukraine, despite being fea­tured in a Ukrain­ian TV news sto­ry from the Don­bass front­line, in Ukrain­ian army pro­pa­gan­da on YouTube and in pic­tures shared by some Aus­tralians on Face­book.

    Mr Till­ing said the vis­its from police were unnec­es­sary because nei­ther he nor any ultra­na­tion­al­ists posed any threat to Aus­tralia.

    “We’ve com­mit­ted no crimes here, we’ve nev­er com­mit­ted a ter­ror­ist attack in this coun­try,” he said.

    “I’m no longer asso­ci­at­ed with those groups and I cer­tain­ly did­n’t go to the Ukraine with that as my moti­va­tion.

    “I would have gone to Syr­ia to help the Kurds and of course the Kurds are Arabs — or sor­ry they’re Mid­dle East­ern peo­ple — so you can see that I’m not that way inclined any­more.”

    Mr Till­ing defend­ed the right of Aus­tralians to fight in dis­tant wars, say­ing it was a male rite of pas­sage.

    “I cer­tain­ly meet a lot of men in my cir­cles who feel a lot of dis­con­tent with the cur­rent sys­tem,” he said.

    “It’s part of them just being a man in a mod­ern world, that they want to go out and do some­thing brave, or do some­thing incred­i­ble. They just want to believe in some­thing.”

    ———-

    “From Neo-Nazi to mil­i­tant: The for­eign fight­ers in Ukraine who Aus­trali­a’s laws won’t stop” By Sean Rubin­sztein-Dun­lop, Suzanne Dredge, and Michael Work­man, ABC Inves­ti­ga­tions; 05/01/2018

    “When Aus­tralian for­mer Neo-Nazi and reg­is­tered gun own­er Ethan Till­ing flew into Bris­bane this year, he was return­ing under the radar of Aus­tralian author­i­ties with new­found com­bat expe­ri­ence from a bru­tal and for­got­ten war.”

    Yep, those neo-Nazis and extrem­ists going off to fight in the Ukrain­ian con­flict don’t nec­es­sar­i­ly stay in Ukraine. And if they return they’re going to return with an abun­dance of new com­bat expe­ri­ence. It’s one of the rea­sons the con­flict in Ukraine has become to right-wing extrem­ists what the war in Syr­ia was for jihadists:

    ...
    Mr Till­ing, who was until recent­ly a mem­ber of the Nazi group Right Wing Resis­tance, had spent the Aus­tralian spring in the bit­ter cold of East­ern Ukraine fir­ing Kalash­nikovs, rock­et launch­ers and grenades at Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    The 23-year-old for­mer sol­dier from Bris­bane is one of two Aus­tralian ex-Defence Force per­son­nel iden­ti­fied by the ABC who have joined thou­sands of ultra­na­tion­al­ists flock­ing from across the world to take up arms in the east­ern Ukrain­ian region of Don­bass.

    Mr Till­ing and for­mer Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force air­man Jared Ben­net joined a patch­work of pro-Ukrain­ian mili­tia groups tak­ing on the Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists in a chaot­ic and stut­ter­ing con­flict, which has become to right-wing extrem­ists what the war in Syr­ia is to jihadists.

    Unlike Aus­tralians who break strict for­eign fight­er laws by join­ing Islam­ic State or the Kurds who oppose them, nei­ther Mr Till­ing nor Mr Ben­net, from Mel­bourne, have bro­ken any Aus­tralian law by tak­ing up arms in Ukraine.

    The ABC does not sug­gest Mr Till­ing or Mr Ben­net pose any threat, but Aus­tralian and inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty experts say the cas­es high­light an incon­sis­ten­cy in the law which leaves Aus­tralia vul­ner­a­ble to the brand of vio­lent right-wing extrem­ism that is spread­ing across the US and Europe.
    ...

    In Aus­trali­a’s case, this loop­hole avail­able to neo-Nazis and oth­er far right extrem­ists is large­ly cre­at­ed by two fac­tors: it’s legal to join an army on their soil and Ukraine is more than hap­py to accept for­eign fight­ers at this point:

    ...
    Under Aus­tralian law, any­one who par­tic­i­pates in acts mere­ly with the inten­tion of engag­ing in hos­tile activ­i­ties faces life in jail, but tak­ing up arms along­side an army on their soil is per­fect­ly legal.

    Mr Till­ing set about try­ing to find a for­eign army that would take him.

    “It was actu­al­ly a lot hard­er to join a for­eign army than peo­ple might think,” he said.

    “I jumped on the inter­net and for weeks and weeks, I tried to find arti­cles and reviews about for­eign legions tak­ing for­eign nation­als vol­un­tar­i­ly into their forces and then fight­ing from there.”

    It was a YouTube video that drove him to sign up with the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion, an inter­na­tion­al unit of for­eign fight­ers in Ukraine includ­ing Amer­i­cans, Brits and Euro­peans.

    The video fea­tured Craig Lang, a for­mer US sol­dier who had fled Amer­i­ca after alleged­ly steal­ing mil­i­tary equip­ment and threat­en­ing to kill his ex-wife.
    ...

    So Ethan Till­ing go search­ing for an army to join, finds a YouTube video from the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion, an inter­na­tion­al unit of for­eign fight­ers in Ukraine, and ends up on the front lines. As one expert describes it, this basi­cal­ly liv­ing ‘the dream’ for extrem­ists. A dream of hav­ing a war right next door to Europe ... to pre­pare them­selves for a war back at home:

    ...
    Till­ing arrives on the front­line

    After con­tact­ing the Geor­gian Nation­al Legion and assur­ing the unit he was not break­ing any laws, Ethan Till­ing land­ed on the front­line of Lugan­sk, the site of the most intense bat­tles of the war in east­ern Ukraine.

    The Geor­gian Nation­al Legion was among a mish­mash of mil­i­tant groups which had gained strength and pop­u­lar­i­ty in Ukraine when the ill-pre­pared and under-resourced Ukrain­ian army strug­gled to beat back Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists after war broke out in 2014.

    Groups on both sides of the con­flict were a mag­net for thou­sands of ultra­na­tion­al­ist ama­teur mil­i­tants who were on an ide­o­log­i­cal “pil­grim­age”, accord­ing to Dr Kacper Rekawek, from the GLOBSEC Pol­i­cy Insti­tute in Slo­va­kia.

    “There’s been a dream of these guys of hav­ing a war right next door to Europe ... to pre­pare them­selves for a war back at home,” he said.

    Dr Rekawek esti­mat­ed at least 17,000 peo­ple had trav­elled to fight in Ukraine from more than 50 coun­tries, with most of them com­ing from Rus­sia to join the sep­a­ratists.
    ...

    And then there’s Jared Ben­neit, a for­mer mem­ber of the Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force who end­ed up trav­el­ing to Ukraine to fight for the overt­ly neo-Nazi out­fit Right Sec­tor:

    ...
    A for­mer RAAF air­man joins the war

    A year before Mr Till­ing flew to Ukraine, anoth­er for­mer Aus­tralian Defence Force ser­vice­man trad­ed his sub­ur­ban life in Mel­bourne’s north for the bat­tle­fields of Donet­sk.

    After end­ing a five-year stint with the Roy­al Aus­tralian Air Force, Jared Ben­net, 30, had spent his days going to the gym and his nights dri­ving trucks.

    Like Mr Till­ing, Mr Ben­net was inspired by social media to take up arms in Ukraine.

    Mr Ben­net told the ABC the cat­a­lyst to join the war was the Face­book posts from the front­line of a for­mer US mil­i­tary friend he had met on a train­ing exer­cise in Aus­tralia while in the air force.

    Mr Ben­net said he trav­elled to Ukraine in 2016 to fight for the coun­try’s rad­i­cal ultra­na­tion­al­ist Right Sec­tor.

    A spokes­woman for the Right Sec­tor-aligned Volvi­ka Tac­ti­cal Group told the ABC that Mr Ben­net returned to Ukraine to fight with the unit again last year, but Mr Ben­net refused to respond to the claim.

    Mr Ben­net served along­side Craig Lang, the same Amer­i­can ex-sol­dier who had fled the US for Ukraine after alleged­ly threat­en­ing to kill his ex-wife and who lat­er joined Mr Till­ing’s unit.

    The Right Sec­tor Volvi­ka Tac­ti­cal Group was not the only ultra­na­tion­al­ist cause Mr Ben­net was drawn to on social media.

    On Face­book, he likes the pages of the Aus­tralia First Par­ty and self-styled ultra­na­tion­al­ist leader Blair Cot­trell, as well as right-wing army vet­er­ans groups and bikie clubs includ­ing the Rebels.

    The ABC does not sug­gest Mr Ben­net is an extrem­ist.
    ...

    “The ABC does not sug­gest Mr Ben­net is an extrem­ist.” LOL!

    And this is why peo­ple are sound­ing the alarm on this mas­sive neo-Nazi loop­hole in Aus­trali­a’s laws: There real­ly are neo-Nazis get­ting very real train­ing and for Aus­tralians it’s com­plete­ly legal thanks to Ukraine’s ready embrace of such fig­ures:

    ...
    Uneven approach a ‘dan­ger’ to Aus­tralia

    Aus­trali­a’s for­mer watch­dog on nation­al secu­ri­ty laws, Bret Walk­er SC, called for changes to Aus­trali­a’s for­eign fight­er laws in response to the ABC’s rev­e­la­tions that Aus­tralians had fought with mil­i­tant groups in Ukraine.

    Mr Walk­er said Aus­tralia was vul­ner­a­ble to any returned ultra­na­tion­al­ist fight­ers who go on to become vio­lent.

    “Those are peo­ple whose skills, expe­ri­ences and lack of sen­si­tiv­i­ty are very like­ly to con­sti­tute dan­gers in this coun­try,” he said.

    “There is a domes­tic con­cern, not just a con­cern about Aus­trali­a’s oblig­a­tions in rela­tion to pro­hibit­ing war, but also domes­tic con­cern in terms of ter­ror­ist dan­gers in Aus­tralia.”

    Mr Walk­er said the incon­sis­ten­cy in the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion was high­light­ed by the fact Aus­tralians could legal­ly fight with the forces of for­eign gov­ern­ment dic­ta­tors like Syr­i­a’s Bashar al-Assad.

    As the Inde­pen­dent Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Leg­is­la­tion Mon­i­tor in 2014, Mr Walk­er SC made a rec­om­men­da­tion to Fed­er­al Par­lia­ment for the law to be changed so that all for­eign fight­ing would be ille­gal unless offi­cial­ly approved by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.

    His rec­om­men­da­tions were ignored.

    “There’s very lit­tle sign that there was — let alone at par­lia­men­tary lev­el — any con­sid­er­a­tion of them,” Mr Walk­er said.

    “They have been utter­ly silent in rela­tion to the basic prin­ci­ple that Aus­tralians should not fight abroad except for Aus­tralia or with Aus­trali­a’s approval.”
    ...

    And with that sto­ry from Aus­tralia in mind, here’s a chill­ing reminder of just how poten­tial­ly dan­ger­ous these extrem­ist train­ing grounds could end up being for a soci­ety: So you know that sto­ry about the Atom­waf­fen mem­ber, Devon Arthurs, who end­ed up shoot­ing his neo-Nazi room­mates, Andrew Oneschuk and Jere­my Him­mel­man, and claimed they were plot­ting ter­ror attacks includ­ing using mor­tars to attack a nuclear plant and trig­ger a nuclear melt­down in Flori­da for the pur­pose of cre­at­ing a Fourth Reich? Well, guess which for­eign con­flict one of those mur­dered neo-Nazi room­mates, Andrew Oneschuk, was about to join while in high school before his par­ents inter­vened and stopped him: Ukraine’s neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion:

    Rolling Stone

    All-Amer­i­can Nazis

    How a sense­less dou­ble mur­der in Flori­da exposed the rise of an orga­nized fas­cist youth move­ment in the Unit­ed States

    By Janet Reit­man
    May 2, 2018

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jere­my Him­mel­man had been liv­ing in Tam­pa, Flori­da, for two weeks when, on Fri­day, May 19th, 2017, their room­mate Devon Arthurs picked up an AK-47 rifle and shot them at close range. Oneschuk had just turned 18. Him­mel­man was 22. They’d been stay­ing in a lush gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty near the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da, in a two-bed­room, ter­ra-cot­ta con­do rent­ed by their fourth room­mate, 21-year-old Bran­don Rus­sell, a rich kid from the Bahamas who worked at a gun shop and served in the Flori­da Nation­al Guard. Oneschuk, a prep-school dropout, was hop­ing to become a Navy SEAL. Him­mel­man also con­sid­ered the mil­i­tary, though he was more of a drifter. Eigh­teen-year-old Arthurs, a pale, freck­led kid who some­times called him­self “Khalid,” was unem­ployed and spent most of his time play­ing video games. All four had met one anoth­er online, in forums and chat rooms pop­u­lar with the more extreme seg­ment of the so-called alt-right.

    It was about 5:20 p.m. when Arthurs, dressed in jeans and a green polo shirt, casu­al­ly strolled into the com­mu­ni­ty’s leas­ing office and announced he’d just com­mit­ted mur­der. “He was extreme­ly calm,” one wit­ness recalled, and he gave “a lit­tle speech” about U.S. war crimes in the Mid­dle East. Then he wan­dered across the street and into a strip-mall smoke shop, where, bran­dish­ing a Glock semi­au­to­mat­ic pis­tol, he took three peo­ple hostage. The cops arrived with­in min­utes. “I was nev­er going to shoot any­one,” Arthurs said as he sur­ren­dered. They drove back to the con­do, arriv­ing just as Rus­sell, in his mil­i­tary fatigues, ran out the door “hys­ter­i­cal and scream­ing,” as one cop put it. Arthurs seemed unmoved. “He does­n’t know what’s going on,” he said about his room­mate, “and he just found them like you guys just did.”

    The bod­ies lay in a small bed­room at the top of a car­pet­ed stair­case: Him­mel­man, a beefy kid in black bas­ket­ball shorts and a black T‑shirt, was slumped on a futon, with the back of his skull blown off. Oneschuk, lying supine on the floor in a white tank top and khakis, had also been shot in the head. In a sec­ond bed­room, the police dis­cov­ered a 12-gauge shot­gun and two large met­al ammu­ni­tion box­es full of live rounds. Also found in the con­do: sev­er­al copies of Mein Kampf, a gas mask, a trove of neo-Nazi and white-suprema­cist pro­pa­gan­da, and a framed pho­to of Okla­homa City bomber Tim­o­thy McVeigh.

    The local bomb squad was called to exam­ine the con­tents of the garage: a “mini lab” of chem­i­cals, as fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors lat­er put it. In one cor­ner, a small cool­er marked with the name “Bran­don” was filled with HMTD, a white cake­like sub­stance often used in mak­ing home­made explo­sives. Rus­sell, a one­time physics major, lat­er told police he’d used the HMTD to boost DIY rock­ets with his col­lege engi­neer­ing club. “It’s not ille­gal,” he said. “You can go on eBay and buy it.”

    Arthurs told a dif­fer­ent sto­ry. “It’s all there specif­i­cal­ly to kill peo­ple,” he said. Sit­ting in a small inter­ro­ga­tion room in his sweat socks, he explained to the cops that his room­mates were “nation­al social­ists” and mem­bers of a neo-fas­cist group called Atom­waf­fen Divi­sion, Ger­man for “nuclear weapons.” Rus­sell had found­ed the group, which Arthurs – who’d recent­ly con­vert­ed to Islam – claimed had about 60 or 70 mem­bers nation­wide. “Atom­waf­fen is a ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tion,” he said. He’d tak­en part in online chats where Rus­sell and the oth­ers dis­cussed plans to bomb pow­er lines, syn­a­gogues, even Miami’s Turkey Point nuclear plant. “Bran­don is lit­er­al­ly some­body that has the knowl­edge to build a nuclear bomb,” he said. “I’m not meme-ing about that,” he added, Inter­net-speak for “fuc king around.”

    The detec­tive, strik­ing a dubi­ous tone, asked him why his friends would make bombs. Arthurs looked at him, dumb­found­ed. “Because,” he said, “they want to build a Fourth Reich.”

    1. The Red Pill

    “We knew that Andrew had some big­ot­ed right-wing views, and of course we hat­ed that,” Walt Oneschuk tells me. Months after the mur­ders, Andrew’s par­ents, Walt and Chris, still strug­gle to make sense of what hap­pened to their youngest child and only son. “I’ve seen long Face­book threads of com­ments from peo­ple say­ing things like, ‘Good, I’m glad he’s dead,’?” says Walt, a pained-look­ing man with a dark mus­tache. “He was bare­ly 18.”

    The Oneschuks live on a wood­ed cul-de-sac in Wake­field, Mass­a­chu­setts, an upper-mid­dle-class sub­urb just north of Boston. When I arrive at their house one win­ter evening, Chris, a deter­mined­ly cheer­ful woman in jeans and a fleece pullover, gives me a prayer card from Andrew’s funer­al. On it is a pho­to of a hand­some teenag­er with light-brown facial hair, wear­ing a gray snowflake sweater. The pic­ture was tak­en on a hik­ing trip in the White Moun­tains, one of Andrew’s favorite spots. Grow­ing up, Chris tells me, he liked to don his head­lamp and head into the woods behind his fam­i­ly’s large tan colo­nial to spend the night amid the trees. His par­ents show me pho­tos: Andrew hik­ing Mount Wash­ing­ton; in a scu­ba mask dur­ing a fam­i­ly trip to Hawaii. “He enjoyed a lot of out­door things,” says Walt.

    Nonethe­less, Andrew often seemed mis­er­able – anger was “his default emo­tion,” his old­er sis­ter, Emi­ly, lat­er tells me. He attend­ed two dif­fer­ent pri­vate schools, each of which he hat­ed. Team sports did­n’t inter­est him. Nei­ther did most of his peers. “The antithe­sis of what Andrew want­ed to be was a white sub­ur­ban prep-school kid,” says Emi­ly, who now serves as a junior offi­cer in the Navy. “I think we were both look­ing for adven­ture, some­thing big­ger and more inter­est­ing.”

    Like Emi­ly and his father, a for­mer Navy pilot, Andrew want­ed a mil­i­tary career. In grade school, he pored over sto­ries of the French For­eign Legion. At 12, he start­ed col­lect­ing pins belong­ing to the Spet­snaz, the Russ­ian Spe­cial Forces. The next year, he became obsessed with the Ger­man Wehrma­cht, whose weapons and uni­forms he painstak­ing­ly mem­o­rized. One day he went online and ordered a repli­ca SS jack­et – he liked the “aes­thet­ic,” he said.

    Emi­ly believes that some of her broth­er’s prob­lems stem from their father’s absence – in 2010, when Andrew was enter­ing mid­dle school, Walt, an engi­neer who served in the Navy Reserve, deployed to Iraq for a year, fol­lowed by a lengthy stint shut­tling back and forth to Afghanistan as a con­trac­tor. “That’s when Andrew began to warp,” she says. Crushed by his father’s absence, he lashed out at Chris. “It was a rough sit­u­a­tion with­out Wal­ter there,” says Chris’ close friend Ani­ta Roman.

    Andrew began throw­ing around the word “nig ger,” his sis­ter says, though she repeat­ed­ly scold­ed him. At school, he com­plained the oth­er boys were “fag­gots,” a favorite term he used so often that his fam­i­ly, find­ing him increas­ing­ly hard to dis­ci­pline, tuned it out. Walt wor­ried about alien­at­ing his teenage son, whose inchoate anger had become more pro­nounced. “You’re a cuck,” he told Walt at one point.

    Increas­ing­ly, Andrew obsessed over issues like cli­mate change and the Syr­i­an refugee cri­sis. He’d also embraced an apoc­a­lyp­tic and con­spir­a­to­r­i­al world­view in which West­ern civ­i­liza­tion was doomed, and he, a white male, was a vic­tim. He was amazed at his par­ents’ com­pla­cen­cy. Did­n’t they real­ize blacks were respon­si­ble for 80 per­cent of the crime in Amer­i­ca? he’d false­ly claim, using sta­tis­tics that seemed drawn from nowhere. “Amer­i­ca is shit,” he said. “My gen­er­a­tion is fail­ing.”

    By fresh­man year, Andrew was spend­ing most of his time seclud­ed on the third floor of the house, chat­ting online. He seemed to be active on var­i­ous forums for Air­soft, a para­mil­i­tary game that attracts most­ly white men from the U.S. and Europe, some of them sol­diers, oth­ers who would like to be. Rus­sia, in par­tic­u­lar, has a thriv­ing Air­soft com­mu­ni­ty, which large­ly pro­motes itself through YouTube. “Andrew watched tons of YouTube videos,” Emi­ly says.

    Before long, he had an account on the Russ­ian social-net­work­ing site VK, a cen­tral plat­form for Ukrain­ian sep­a­ratists look­ing for ide­al­is­tic recruits. Andrew, who was one-eighth Ukrain­ian, took to the cause, chat­ting with fight­ers and their allies. He began for­mu­lat­ing a plan to join the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a noto­ri­ous­ly bru­tal band of inter­na­tion­al fight­ers help­ing in the resis­tance against the Rus­sians. In Jan­u­ary 2015, Andrew bought a fake pass­port and a one-way tick­et to Kiev. The day before he was set to leave, hav­ing packed his camp­ing gear and arranged for a lim­ou­sine to Logan Air­port, he casu­al­ly told his moth­er on the way home from school, “I think I’m going to go to Ukraine.”

    “We went into cri­sis mode,” Chris tells me. Two days after they can­celed his trip to Kiev, the Oneschuks brought Andrew to a psy­chi­a­trist at Boston Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. He had been to see sev­er­al coun­selors by this point. “They always said he was fine, just being a kid,” she says. Chris sus­pect­ed he manip­u­lat­ed the coun­selors. For the next few months, he attend­ed reg­u­lar ther­a­py ses­sions but “accom­plished zero,” she says. Mean­while, Andrew com­plet­ed his sopho­more year in almost total iso­la­tion. “His pol­i­tics were just too weird,” says his sis­ter. “He alien­at­ed peo­ple.”

    Emi­ly had been con­cerned when Andrew went through his Ger­man-army phase, though some of her friends told her that they’d also thought the SS was cool when they were younger. “I don’t think they under­stood they were actu­al­ly bad guys,” says Emi­ly. “It’s more like the bad guys in Indi­ana Jones with the cool car.” But Andrew took it fur­ther, even­tu­al­ly adopt­ing the online han­dle “Borovikov,” after a famous Russ­ian neo-Nazi gang leader. That spring, he hung an SS flag in his bed­room as well as a giant swasti­ka. Emi­ly was aghast. “I plead­ed with my father to make Andrew take them down,” she says. “I real­ly don’t think my par­ents got how appalling it was.”

    She walked into Andrew’s room and ripped the flags off the wall. “You’re a Nazi,” she said.

    “I’m not a Nazi,” he replied. “I’m a nation­al social­ist.”

    ...
    ———-

    “All-Amer­i­can Nazis” by Janet Reit­man; Rolling Stone; 05/02/2018

    Andrew Oneschuk and Jere­my Him­mel­man had been liv­ing in Tam­pa, Flori­da, for two weeks when, on Fri­day, May 19th, 2017, their room­mate Devon Arthurs picked up an AK-47 rifle and shot them at close range. Oneschuk had just turned 18. Him­mel­man was 22. They’d been stay­ing in a lush gat­ed com­mu­ni­ty near the Uni­ver­si­ty of South Flori­da, in a two-bed­room, ter­ra-cot­ta con­do rent­ed by their fourth room­mate, 21-year-old Bran­don Rus­sell, a rich kid from the Bahamas who worked at a gun shop and served in the Flori­da Nation­al Guard. Oneschuk, a prep-school dropout, was hop­ing to become a Navy SEAL. Him­mel­man also con­sid­ered the mil­i­tary, though he was more of a drifter. Eigh­teen-year-old Arthurs, a pale, freck­led kid who some­times called him­self “Khalid,” was unem­ployed and spent most of his time play­ing video games. All four had met one anoth­er online, in forums and chat rooms pop­u­lar with the more extreme seg­ment of the so-called alt-right.”

    So Andrew Oneschuks, one of the mur­dered neo-Nazi room­mates, was hop­ing to becom­ing a Navy SEAL. But as we saw, he was also one-eighth Ukrain­ian and began chat­ting with the Ukrain­ian fight­ers and their allies in 2014 while still a fresh­man in high school. And by Jan­u­ary 2015, Oneschuks had a plan for join­ing the Azov Bat­tal­ion. He bought a fake pass­port and a one-way tick­et to Kiev. It was only a day before the flight that his par­ents found out and pre­vent­ed it:

    ...
    By fresh­man year, Andrew was spend­ing most of his time seclud­ed on the third floor of the house, chat­ting online. He seemed to be active on var­i­ous forums for Air­soft, a para­mil­i­tary game that attracts most­ly white men from the U.S. and Europe, some of them sol­diers, oth­ers who would like to be. Rus­sia, in par­tic­u­lar, has a thriv­ing Air­soft com­mu­ni­ty, which large­ly pro­motes itself through YouTube. “Andrew watched tons of YouTube videos,” Emi­ly says.

    Before long, he had an account on the Russ­ian social-net­work­ing site VK, a cen­tral plat­form for Ukrain­ian sep­a­ratists look­ing for ide­al­is­tic recruits. Andrew, who was one-eighth Ukrain­ian, took to the cause, chat­ting with fight­ers and their allies. He began for­mu­lat­ing a plan to join the Azov Bat­tal­ion, a noto­ri­ous­ly bru­tal band of inter­na­tion­al fight­ers help­ing in the resis­tance against the Rus­sians. In Jan­u­ary 2015, Andrew bought a fake pass­port and a one-way tick­et to Kiev. The day before he was set to leave, hav­ing packed his camp­ing gear and arranged for a lim­ou­sine to Logan Air­port, he casu­al­ly told his moth­er on the way home from school, “I think I’m going to go to Ukraine.”

    “We went into cri­sis mode,” Chris tells me. Two days after they can­celed his trip to Kiev, the Oneschuks brought Andrew to a psy­chi­a­trist at Boston Chil­dren’s Hos­pi­tal. He had been to see sev­er­al coun­selors by this point. “They always said he was fine, just being a kid,” she says. Chris sus­pect­ed he manip­u­lat­ed the coun­selors. For the next few months, he attend­ed reg­u­lar ther­a­py ses­sions but “accom­plished zero,” she says. Mean­while, Andrew com­plet­ed his sopho­more year in almost total iso­la­tion. “His pol­i­tics were just too weird,” says his sis­ter. “He alien­at­ed peo­ple.”
    ...

    Keep in mind that Oneschuks had bare­ly turned 18 when he was killed, so he was clear­ly under 18 when his par­ents stopped him from trav­el­ing to Kiev. If he had been over 18, on the oth­er hand, it’s hard to see what would have stopped him.

    So that almost hap­pened: the Amer­i­can neo-Nazi who was appar­ent­ly plot­ting ter­ror attacks in Flori­da before he was killed by his room­mate almost man­aged to join the Azov Bat­tal­ion. And sure, there’s a decent chance that Oneschuks would have been killed in Ukraine and unable to bring is com­bat skills back to Flori­da. But there’s prob­a­bly a bet­ter chance that he would have sur­vived.

    It’s all a reminder that, for all the under­stand­able con­cern about peo­ple join­ing jihadist groups like ISIS and return­ing home to car­ry out a vio­lent extrem­ist goals, those under­stand­able con­cerns are far less under­stand­able if they’re lim­it­ed to jihadists.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 30, 2018, 3:26 pm
  6. Well, this is turn­ing out to be a typ­i­cal­ly bizarre sto­ry com­ing out of Ukraine: It turns out a suc­cess­ful assas­si­na­tion on dis­si­dent Russ­ian jour­nal­ist resid­ing in Ukraine, Arkady Babchenko, was all a hoax. A hoax per­pe­trat­ed by the SBU in coop­er­a­tion with Babchenko. The whole thing was revealed a day after reports about Babchenko’s demise.

    So why did the SBU arrange for the fake assas­si­na­tion of a jour­nal­ist? Accord­ing to the SBU, this was all done in order to expose the cul­prits behind a vast Russ­ian plot. The alleged Russ­ian plot was appar­ent­ly going to involve the assas­si­na­tion of Babchenko and 29 oth­er peo­ple in Ukraine, along with some sort of addi­tion­al ter­ror attacks. Two peo­ple were arrest­ed as part of this plot. A mid­dle­man alleged­ly in con­tact with Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices who was tasked with find­ing a hit­man. The puta­tive hit­man was also arrest­ed.

    The mid­dle­man was report­ed­ly also sup­posed to pur­chase a large quan­ti­ty of weapons and explo­sives, includ­ing 300 AK-47 rifles and “hun­dreds of kilos of explo­sives.” So this sounds like more than just an assas­si­na­tion plot.

    And who is this mid­dle­man and hit­man? This, of course, is where things get weird. While we don’t know very much about these two indi­vid­u­als there are some details avail­able. Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of Ukraine’s Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU), described the mid­dle­man as a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine accord­ing to one of the arti­cles below. On the sur­face, that sounds like a descrip­tion of some­one who had been pre­vi­ous­ly fight­ing for pro-Russ­ian sep­a­ratists. But the hit­man alleged­ly hired by this mid­dle­man is described as a for­mer “vol­un­teer Ukrain­ian sol­dier”, and that ter­mi­nol­o­gy is typ­i­cal­ly used to describe a mem­ber of a mili­tia unit like the neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion.

    So did the SBU catch wind of a Moscow plot to arrange for a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er to find some con­tract killers for a mass assas­si­na­tion cam­paign and did this for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er end up hir­ing a for­mer far right sol­dier to do the actu­al killing? Well, it gets weird­er. Aric Tol­er, a researcher at Belling­cat, has been look­ing over the Face­book page of the alleged mid­dle­man and it’s appar­ent­ly filled with Nazi iconog­ra­phy and pic­tures of the guy giv­ing Nazi salutes. And it’s notable that the indi­vid­ual Tol­er has iden­ti­fied does indeed have a strong resem­blance to one of the sus­pect sketch­es released by Ukraine’s inte­ri­or min­istry (see sketch here).

    That same fig­ure appears to have been iden­ti­fied as Hierodea­con Arys­trakh, aka Alex­ei Zym­ba­lyuk, who is a mem­ber of Right Sec­tor, although there appears to be some con­fu­sion over whether or not he was the hit­man or the mid­dle­man.

    And as we’ll see below, there’s also a report that the hit­man him­self actu­al­ly went to the SBU and revealed the whole thing two months ago after the mid­dle­man hired him. Arkady Babchenko him­self says he was informed of this assas­si­na­tion plot two months ago and told about this hoax plan a month ago.

    So, to sum­ma­rize what we know about this:

    1. The killing of Babchenko was a com­plete hoax but treat­ed as com­plete­ly real until the next day.

    2. The alleged Krem­lin plot involved the Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices con­tact­ing a Ukrain­ian to act as a mid­dle­man who would hire a hit­man to kill Babchenko. And this was to be just the first killing in a list of 30 peo­ple on hit list.

    3. The mid­dle­man may be a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine accord­ing to one report.

    4. But accord­ing to Belling­cat researcher Aric Tol­er, the mid­dle­man appears to have a Face­book page filled with Nazi sym­bols and pic­tures of him­self in Nazi pos­es.

    5. At the same time, anoth­er per­son appears to have iden­ti­fied this same per­son as Hierodea­con Arys­trakh, aka Alex­ei Zym­ba­lyuk, who is a mem­ber of Right Sec­tor and referred to him as the alleged hit­man.

    6. Accord­ing to one report, the hit­man him­self approached the SBU two months ago after the mid­dle­man tried to con­tact him.

    7. Ukraine’s author­i­ties say the fake assas­si­na­tion need­ed to take place in order to iden­ti­fy all the peo­ple involved.

    8. This was all a pre­lude to a much larg­er ter­ror plot requir­ing 300 AK-47s and large quan­ti­ties of explo­sives.

    And that all rais­es the obvi­ous ques­tion: Does any of this make sense?

    Ok, so start this off, let’s take a look at Babchenko’s remarks on the oper­a­tion dur­ing the stun­ning news con­fer­ence reveal­ing the hoax:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Tran­script: Arkady Babchenko’s Remarks After SBU Sting Oper­a­tion

    May 30, 2018 15:40 GMT

    A par­tial tran­script of Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko’s remarks at SBU head­quar­ters in Kyiv on May 30. Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty offi­cials said they had faked the death of the dis­si­dent Russ­ian jour­nal­ist in an effort to catch peo­ple it says were involved in a Russ­ian plot to kill him:

    “Good after­noon. I’ll be speak­ing Russ­ian. Apolo­gies for that.

    “First, I’d like to apol­o­gize for every­thing you’ve had to go through. I’ve been at the funer­al of many friends and col­leagues, and I know this nau­seous feel­ing. Sor­ry for impos­ing this upon you, but there was no oth­er way.

    ...

    “I’d also like to thank the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice for sav­ing my life. ... This oper­a­tion has been pre­pared for two months. I was told about this a month ago.

    “Over this month, I’ve seen the guys work hard like bulls. We’ve been in con­stant con­tact and planned our actions. The result was this spe­cial oper­a­tion that end­ed up in arrest­ing the guy. He is in cus­tody. Or has been detained. I don’t know the details.

    “The crime is a proven fact. All the evi­dence is there and, most impor­tant­ly, apart from sav­ing my life, for which I’m very thank­ful, big­ger and more seri­ous ter­ror­ist attacks have been pre­vent­ed. These ter­ror­ist attacks were pre­pared thor­ough­ly.

    “A week or two ago, Rus­sia announced that [Islam­ic State] were prepar­ing ter­ror­ist attacks before the Cham­pi­ons League [final in Kyiv]. I think it was going to be my [assas­si­na­tion].

    “What else to say?

    “As I said, two months ago I was approached and told that my assas­si­na­tion has been com­mis­sioned and mon­ey allo­cat­ed. Forty-thou­sand dol­lars. It turns out I’m quite valu­able!

    “I was shown my pass­port details and pho­to that exists only in my pass­port. I had this pho­to tak­en when I was 25. It exists only in my pass­port and [Russ­ian] reg­istry office. So it was clear that this infor­ma­tion comes from Russ­ian gov­ern­men­tal ser­vices. Only spe­cial forces can obtain that kind of infor­ma­tion.

    “I was offered to take part in this oper­a­tion. There were no oth­er options: Either we do it or we do it any­way. I agreed and we pre­pared this oper­a­tion for a month. The guys worked hard like bulls.

    “There was pres­sure from [those who ordered the killing]. They only gave three weeks to do it.”

    Trans­la­tion by Petr Sere­bryani
    ———-

    “Tran­script: Arkady Babchenko’s Remarks After SBU Sting Oper­a­tion”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 05/30/2018

    ““I’d also like to thank the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice for sav­ing my life. ... This oper­a­tion has been pre­pared for two months. I was told about this a month ago.”

    So Babchenko ini­tial­ly states at the press con­fer­ence that the oper­a­tion has been pre­pared for two months and he was informed about this a month ago. Lat­er he states that he was told about this assas­si­na­tion plot two months ago:

    ...
    “As I said, two months ago I was approached and told that my assas­si­na­tion has been com­mis­sioned and mon­ey allo­cat­ed. Forty-thou­sand dol­lars. It turns out I’m quite valu­able!
    ...

    And regard­ing the ques­tion of whether or not the hit­man or mid­dle­man was work­ing with the SBU, note how Babchenko refers to author­i­ties arrest­ing “the guy”. Not “the guys”:

    ...
    “Over this month, I’ve seen the guys work hard like bulls. We’ve been in con­stant con­tact and planned our actions. The result was this spe­cial oper­a­tion that end­ed up in arrest­ing the guy. He is in cus­tody. Or has been detained. I don’t know the details.
    ...

    And note how Babchenko claims that the evi­dence col­lect­ed by this oper­a­tion includes evi­dence of a much larg­er ter­ror plot:

    ...
    “The crime is a proven fact. All the evi­dence is there and, most impor­tant­ly, apart from sav­ing my life, for which I’m very thank­ful, big­ger and more seri­ous ter­ror­ist attacks have been pre­vent­ed. These ter­ror­ist attacks were pre­pared thor­ough­ly.

    “A week or two ago, Rus­sia announced that [Islam­ic State] were prepar­ing ter­ror­ist attacks before the Cham­pi­ons League [final in Kyiv]. I think it was going to be my [assas­si­na­tion].
    ...

    Ok, now lets look at an RFE/RL arti­cle with com­ments from Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of Ukraine’s Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU). Hryt­sak refers to “a sus­pect­ed orga­niz­er” being detained. He does­n’t refer a sec­ond detained per­son. And note how the arti­cle says Hryt­sak described the detained indi­vid­ual as “a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine”. So was fight­ing sep­a­ratists or a mem­ber of the sep­a­ratists? It’s unclear at this point:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    ‘I’m Alive’: Russ­ian Jour­nal­ist Babchenko Reap­pears After Kyiv Sting

    Last Updat­ed: May 30, 2018 16:50 GMT

    KYIV — Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty offi­cials said they faked the death of a dis­si­dent Russ­ian jour­nal­ist in an effort to catch peo­ple it says were involved in a Russ­ian plot to kill him.

    Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of Ukraine’s Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU), shocked reporters at the SBU head­quar­ters in Kyiv on May 30 when he announced that jour­nal­ist and Krem­lin crit­ic Arkady Babchenko was still alive, a day after Ukrain­ian author­i­ties announced he had been killed by a gun­man out­side of his Kyiv apart­ment.

    Hryt­sak told reporters that Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence sources learned that Rus­si­a’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices had ordered the killing of Babchenko sev­er­al months ear­li­er.

    Hryt­sak also said a sus­pect­ed orga­niz­er of an attempt­ed mur­der plot against Babchenko, iden­ti­fied as a Ukrain­ian nation­al, was detained as a result of a “spe­cial oper­a­tion” by the SBU.

    “We have pre­vent­ed an attempt­ed mur­der of Babchenko by car­ry­ing out a spe­cial oper­a­tion,” Hryt­sak said on May 30. “Thanks to this oper­a­tion, we were able to foil a cyn­i­cal plot and doc­u­ment how the Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice was plan­ning for this crime.”

    Babchenko made a dra­mat­ic appear­ance at the live May 30 tele­vi­sion brief­ing after Hryt­sak’s announce­ment, say­ing the fic­ti­tious reports of his death were part of an SBU oper­a­tion that had been pre­pared for two months.

    “As far as I know, this oper­a­tion was pre­pared for two months. A result of that was this spe­cial oper­a­tion,” Babchenko told the brief­ing. “They saved my life. I want to say thanks. Larg­er ter­ror­ist attacks were pre­vent­ed.”

    Babchenko did not spec­i­fy what those oth­er planned attacks were. But Hryt­sak said the SBU had received infor­ma­tion about a plot to kill 30 peo­ple in Ukraine, includ­ing Babchenko. The secu­ri­ty ser­vice declined to say who the oth­er 29 peo­ple were.

    Hryt­sak said the detained Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen in the case — a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine — had been recruit­ed by Rus­sia to find some­one to kill Babchenko. The SBU said the Ukrain­ian sus­pect was giv­en $40,000 to orga­nize the killing of Babchenko — $30,000 for the killer and $10,000 for being an inter­me­di­ary.

    “It is known that once the killing was done, [the sus­pect] was plan­ning to leave Ukraine…He was plan­ning to trav­el to Rus­sia via a third coun­try,” Hryt­sak said.

    “We man­aged not only to break this cyn­i­cal provo­ca­tion but also to doc­u­ment the prepa­ra­tion of this shame­ful crime by Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vices,” he added.

    Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko, who appeared along­side Babchenko at the May 30 press brief­ing, said it was nec­es­sary to fake the jour­nal­ist’s death so that the orga­niz­ers of the plot to kill him would believe they had suc­ceed­ed.

    Babchenko said he had no choice but to take part in the oper­a­tion.

    “I did my job. I’m still alive,” Babchenko said.

    “I would like to apol­o­gize for what you have all had to go through,” said Babchenko, who broke into tears at times. “I’m sor­ry, but there was no oth­er way of doing it. Sep­a­rate­ly, I want to apol­o­gize to my wife for the hell that she has been through.”

    Ukrain­ian Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko said his gov­ern­ment would pro­vide round-the-clock pro­tec­tion to Babchenko and his fam­i­ly and called the secu­ri­ty ser­vices’ effort a “bril­liant oper­a­tion.”

    “Ukrain­ian law enforce­ment agen­cies are becom­ing stronger every day in coun­ter­ing Russ­ian aggres­sion,” Poroshenko said on Twit­ter. “It is unlike­ly that Moscow will calm down — I’ve giv­en an order to pro­vide Arkady and his fam­i­ly with pro­tec­tion.”

    ...

    Mean­while, the Reporters With­out Bor­ders media watch­dog crit­i­cized Ukrain­ian author­i­ties for stag­ing Babchenko’s death, say­ing it “would not help the cause of press free­dom.”

    “It is pathet­ic and regret­table that the Ukrain­ian police have played with the truth, what­ev­er their motive...for the stunt,” Christophe Deloire, the head of the group, said.

    “All it takes is one case like this to cast doubt on all the oth­er polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions,” he said, refer­ring to the deaths and attempt­ed assas­si­na­tions of sev­er­al Krem­lin crit­ics out­side of Rus­sia in recent years.

    ...

    Kyiv police and offi­cials from Ukraine’s Inte­ri­or Min­istry had announced on May 29 that Babchenko had died in an ambu­lance on the way to a hos­pi­tal after being shot in the back at his Kyiv apart­ment, where he has lived in exile since August 2017.

    Reports of the 41-year-old’s sup­posed death had stunned col­leagues and added to ten­sion between Moscow and Kyiv, whose ties have been bad­ly dam­aged by Rus­si­a’s seizure of Crimea and back­ing for sep­a­ratist mil­i­tants in a dev­as­tat­ing war in east­ern Ukraine.

    In a post to Face­book just hours after news of Babchenko’s death emerged, Prime Min­is­ter Volodymyr Hroys­man said, “I am con­vinced that the Russ­ian total­i­tar­i­an machine could not for­give his hon­esty and prin­ci­pled posi­tion.”

    ...

    Babchenko is well-known for his crit­i­cism of the Krem­lin.

    His report­ing about Moscow’s sup­port for pro-Rus­sia sep­a­ratist fight­ers in east­ern Ukraine brought him severe crit­i­cism by Russ­ian state media and from Russ­ian offi­cials.

    Babchenko told RFE/RL in Decem­ber 2016 that “all of the ele­ments” of Rus­si­a’s state “pro­pa­gan­da machine” were engaged against him after he post­ed com­ments to Face­book about the crash of a Russ­ian mil­i­tary plane in the Black Sea.

    All 92 peo­ple on board were killed, includ­ing mem­bers of the Russ­ian Army’s renowned choir, the Alek­san­drov Ensem­ble, who were trav­el­ing to give a per­for­mance for Russ­ian troops in Syr­ia.

    Babchenko said the reac­tion by state offi­cials and state media to his remarks was intend­ed to send a sig­nal to Russ­ian soci­ety that “we must be in one line; we must express sad­ness; we must appear sad — and any­one who doesn’t must be destroyed.”

    ‘Forced To Flee’

    Babchenko told RFE/RL in late 2016 that State Duma Deputy Vitaly Milonov, Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil mem­ber Frants Klint­se­vich, and Russ­ian media like Chan­nel One and Life News were “stitch­ing togeth­er some fake news” about him.

    Babchenko said: “A major effort is being orga­nized. They aren’t inves­ti­gat­ing why the plane crashed but instead are per­se­cut­ing me.”

    In Feb­ru­ary 2017, writ­ing for Britain’s The Guardian news­pa­per, Babchenko said: “I can tell you what polit­i­cal harass­ment feels like in [Pres­i­dent Vladimir] Putin’s Rus­sia. Like many dis­si­dents I am used to abuse, but a recent cam­paign against me was so per­son­al, so scary, that I was forced to flee.”

    Babchenko served in the Russ­ian Army dur­ing the first sep­a­ratist war in Chech­nya in the 1990s before he became a jour­nal­ist.

    He worked as a mil­i­tary cor­re­spon­dent and wrote for sev­er­al Russ­ian media orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the Moskovsky Kom­so­mo­lets dai­ly news­pa­per and Novaya Gaze­ta, as well as TV Tsen­tr, and Chan­nel One TV.

    He had been scathing­ly crit­i­cal of the Krem­lin in recent years. He moved to Kyiv in the autumn of 2017, where he worked as a host for the Crimean Tatar TV sta­tion, ATR.

    ———-

    “ ‘I’m Alive’: Russ­ian Jour­nal­ist Babchenko Reap­pears After Kyiv Sting”; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 05/30/2018

    “Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of Ukraine’s Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice (SBU), shocked reporters at the SBU head­quar­ters in Kyiv on May 30 when he announced that jour­nal­ist and Krem­lin crit­ic Arkady Babchenko was still alive, a day after Ukrain­ian author­i­ties announced he had been killed by a gun­man out­side of his Kyiv apart­ment.”

    So did Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of the SBU, tell the world about this hoax oper­a­tion. For starters, that Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence sources learned about the plot sev­er­al months ago (so it’s up to a 3 month time­frame at this point)

    ...
    Hryt­sak told reporters that Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence sources learned that Rus­si­a’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices had ordered the killing of Babchenko sev­er­al months ear­li­er.
    ...

    Also note how Hryt­sak appeared focused on the mid­dle­man, fur­ther indi­cat­ing the hit­man was work­ing with the SBU (although the arti­cle below has some com­ments from Hryt­sak about the hit­man). And this mid­dle­man is described as “a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine”:

    ...
    Hryt­sak also said a sus­pect­ed orga­niz­er of an attempt­ed mur­der plot against Babchenko, iden­ti­fied as a Ukrain­ian nation­al, was detained as a result of a “spe­cial oper­a­tion” by the SBU.

    “We have pre­vent­ed an attempt­ed mur­der of Babchenko by car­ry­ing out a spe­cial oper­a­tion,” Hryt­sak said on May 30. “Thanks to this oper­a­tion, we were able to foil a cyn­i­cal plot and doc­u­ment how the Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vice was plan­ning for this crime.”

    ...

    Babchenko did not spec­i­fy what those oth­er planned attacks were. But Hryt­sak said the SBU had received infor­ma­tion about a plot to kill 30 peo­ple in Ukraine, includ­ing Babchenko. The secu­ri­ty ser­vice declined to say who the oth­er 29 peo­ple were.

    Hryt­sak said the detained Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen in the case — a for­mer sep­a­ratist fight­er in east­ern Ukraine — had been recruit­ed by Rus­sia to find some­one to kill Babchenko. The SBU said the Ukrain­ian sus­pect was giv­en $40,000 to orga­nize the killing of Babchenko — $30,000 for the killer and $10,000 for being an inter­me­di­ary.

    “It is known that once the killing was done, [the sus­pect] was plan­ning to leave Ukraine…He was plan­ning to trav­el to Rus­sia via a third coun­try,” Hryt­sak said.

    “We man­aged not only to break this cyn­i­cal provo­ca­tion but also to doc­u­ment the prepa­ra­tion of this shame­ful crime by Russ­ian spe­cial ser­vices,” he added.

    Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko, who appeared along­side Babchenko at the May 30 press brief­ing, said it was nec­es­sary to fake the jour­nal­ist’s death so that the orga­niz­ers of the plot to kill him would believe they had suc­ceed­ed.
    ...

    Ok, now let’s take a quick look at a Dai­ly Beast sto­ry that con­tains a bit of infor­ma­tion on the alleged hit­man. Accord­ing to the arti­cle, the hit­man is “a for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier”, which is the kind of lan­guage typ­i­cal­ly used to describe some­one in a group like Azov Bat­tal­ion or Right Sec­tor:

    The Dai­ly Beast
    THE STING

    Anoth­er Putin Crit­ic Mur­dered in Ukraine? Nope. His ‘Death’ Was a Sting That Caught Alleged Assas­sin
    The famous war reporter received many death threats from Russ­ian offi­cials and Russ­ian-backed rebels. Final­ly he and police act­ed to catch a killer – but first fooled the world.

    Anna Nemtso­va
    05.30.18 2:21 AM ET

    Editor‘s Note: Arkady Babchenko, one of the bravest and most famous of Russia’s war reporters, is not dead, although Tues­day he want­ed the world to believe he was, includ­ing those who are his friends. And now we find out it was all part of a sting to cap­ture those who real­ly did want him dead.

    On Wednes­day Babchenko appeared alive and well at a press con­fer­ence, say­ing that he had to fake his death as a part of a Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice oper­a­tion. A sus­pect report­ed­ly is in cus­tody.

    This is not the first time secret ser­vices have pulled off such an oper­a­tion to embar­rass their ene­mies and cap­ture con­spir­a­tors. In 1984, the Egyp­tians faked the mur­der of a lead­ing oppo­nent of Libyan strong­man Muam­mar Kaddafi.. But in today’s news envi­ron­ment, such a spec­tac­u­lar exam­ple of “fake news” risks dis­cred­it­ing those who pull it off as well as those who would com­mit the crime in the first place.

    – World News Edi­tor Christo­pher Dick­ey

    Anna Nemtso­va, who wrote the orig­i­nal sto­ry report­ing Babchenko‘s death, filed this update from Moscow:

    No fake news ever shocked reporters work­ing in Rus­sia and Ukraine more than this sto­ry.

    On Tues­day Ukrain­ian author­i­ties con­vinced the world that the famous Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko was killed in Kiev. A pho­to­graph of Babchenko in a pud­dle of blood with three gun­shot wounds on his back was released to the pub­lic. Ukrain­ian par­lia­ment mem­ber Anton Geraschenko told a detailed sto­ry about the mur­der on his Face­book page, giv­ing details of the assas­si­na­tion. The Ukrain­ian police released a com­pos­ite sketch of the sup­posed killer.

    Thou­sands of Babchenko’s fans and friends wept for hours. Respect­ful pub­li­ca­tions wrote trib­utes. Russ­ian politi­cians blamed Kiev and Ukraini­ans blamed Moscow for order­ing Babchenko’s mur­der; the Unit­ed Nations demand­ed an inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But at the Wednes­day press con­fer­ence the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the SBU, broke a hap­py news: Babchenko was alive. Accord­ing to Ukrain­ian offi­cials, the sting was a top secret spe­cial oper­a­tion con­duct­ed to find the real would-be “killer.”

    “When a live Babchenko appeared on TV screens on Wednes­day after­noon, all of his col­leagues at ATR, a Tatar TV chan­nel in Kiev, began to scream in shock in the news­room, they had no idea,” Pavel Kany­gin, Babchenko’s friend, told The Dai­ly Beast.

    Kany­gin, as well as sev­er­al oth­er friends flew to Kiev on Wednes­day morn­ing to help Babchenko’s wife orga­nize the funer­al. There were too many real assas­si­na­tions of Russ­ian jour­nal­ists and politi­cians crit­i­cis­ing Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin to doubt Babchenko’s mur­der sto­ry.

    Dur­ing the press brief­ing on Wednes­day Babchenko appeared before his col­leagues and said: “The SBU oper­a­tion, con­duct­ed in order to pre­vent large scale ter­ror­ist attacks, was pre­pared for two months.”

    Appar­ent­ly a for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier had received $15,000 to kill Babchenko. The head of SBU Vasi­ly Grit­sak told reporters that the deten­tion of the assas­sin helped to pre­vent dozens of oth­er con­tract killings in Ukraine, that the list of poten­tial vic­tims includ­ed at least 30 names.

    In Rus­sia, Babchenko’s friends were cry­ing and laugh­ing, hap­py to hear the news. “We have the entire news­room at Echo of Moscow scream­ing too, some curse bad­ly,” Tanya Fel­gen­hauer, deputy chief edi­tor of Echo of Moscow told her friends.
    ...

    ———-

    “Anoth­er Putin Crit­ic Mur­dered in Ukraine? Nope. His ‘Death’ Was a Sting That Caught Alleged Assas­sin” by Anna Nemtso­va; The Dai­ly Beast; 05/30/2018

    Appar­ent­ly a for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier had received $15,000 to kill Babchenko. The head of SBU Vasi­ly Grit­sak told reporters that the deten­tion of the assas­sin helped to pre­vent dozens of oth­er con­tract killings in Ukraine, that the list of poten­tial vic­tims includ­ed at least 30 names.”

    A “for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier”. That’s the ini­tial descrip­tion we got of the hit­man. And he was indeed detained, which Hryt­sak (Grit­sak) char­ac­ter­izes as help­ing to pre­vent dozens of oth­er con­tract killings in Ukraine. So dur­ing this ini­tial press con­fer­ence both the mid­dle­man and hit­man are char­ac­ter­ized as being ‘caught’ by the SBU. And, in fact, the whole point of the hoax assas­si­na­tion was to find the real would-be “killer”

    ...
    But at the Wednes­day press con­fer­ence the Ukrain­ian Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the SBU, broke a hap­py news: Babchenko was alive. Accord­ing to Ukrain­ian offi­cials, the sting was a top secret spe­cial oper­a­tion con­duct­ed to find the real would-be “killer.”
    ...

    So, accord­ing to this sto­ry, the SBU arranged for a fake assas­si­na­tion of Babchenko to...expose the real would-be assas­sin?! That, uh, does­n’t make a huge amount of sense. Unless, of course, the hit­man was in fact work­ing for the SBU the whole time. And sure enough, that’s what’s get­ting report­ed by a jour­nal­ist who is described as a close friend of the “hit­man”:

    Unian.info

    Babchenko’s ‘hit­man’ turns to SBU on his own – jour­nal­ist

    18:57, 31 May 2018

    Jour­nal­ist Shovkoshyt­nyi advis­es Babchenko to change his place of res­i­dence and to be more care­ful.

    An assas­si­na­tion attempt on Russ­ian jour­nal­ist and Krem­lin vocal crit­ic Arkady Babchenko has been solved thanks to the fact that the “hit­man” turned to the SBU Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine on his own.

    “The ‘hit­man’ has indeed par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Anti-Ter­ror­ist Oper­a­tion [ATO] for a long time. The orga­niz­er ordered the killing of Arkady Babchenko, try­ing to manip­u­late his patri­ot­ic sen­ti­ments. Hav­ing received the [jour­nal­ist’s] pro­file, the man imme­di­ate­ly turned to the SBU. It hap­pened about two months ago. The SBU opened a crim­i­nal case, and the ‘assas­sin’ went to get the advance pay­ment, hav­ing record­ing devices on him,” jour­nal­ist Rodi­on Shovkoshyt­nyi, a close friend of the “hit­man,” told Espres­so TV on May 31.

    The stag­ing of Babchenko’s mur­der was nec­es­sary to record the receipt of mon­ey for the “exe­cu­tion” of the con­tract hit from the man sus­pect­ed of order­ing the killing on behalf of the Russ­ian secret ser­vice.

    “I would advise Arkady to change his place of res­i­dence and to be more care­ful. Per­haps, he has not ful­ly real­ized that he is alive by coin­ci­dence. Rus­sians who live here – be care­ful, as [the Krem­lin’s] list is long,” Shovkoshyt­nyi said. At the begin­ning, only the SBU’s chiefs knew about this spe­cial oper­a­tion.

    ...

    ———-

    “Babchenko’s ‘hit­man’ turns to SBU on his own – jour­nal­ist”; Unian.info; 05/31/2018

    ““The ‘hit­man’ has indeed par­tic­i­pat­ed in the Anti-Ter­ror­ist Oper­a­tion [ATO] for a long time. The orga­niz­er ordered the killing of Arkady Babchenko, try­ing to manip­u­late his patri­ot­ic sen­ti­ments. Hav­ing received the [jour­nal­ist’s] pro­file, the man imme­di­ate­ly turned to the SBU. It hap­pened about two months ago. The SBU opened a crim­i­nal case, and the ‘assas­sin’ went to get the advance pay­ment, hav­ing record­ing devices on him,” jour­nal­ist Rodi­on Shovkoshyt­nyi, a close friend of the “hit­man,” told Espres­so TV on May 31.

    So accord­ing jour­nal­ist Rodi­on Shovkoshyt­nyi, described as a “close friend” of the alleged hit­man, the hit­man imme­di­ate­ly turned to the SBU about two months ago after the mid­dle­man tried to order the assas­si­na­tion. Now, grant­ed, this jour­nal­ist is the hit­man’s “close friend”, so we have to take his word with a big grain of salt. But at the same time, how on earth could a fake assas­si­na­tion make any sense at all UNLESS THE HITMAN WAS IN ON IT?! So of course the hit­man was in on it. This whole sto­ry makes absolute­ly no sense unless that’s the case.

    But even if the hit­man was in on it, there’s still quite a bit that does­n’t make sense. Espe­cial­ly since it looks like either the hit­man or mid­dle­man was a neo-Nazi mem­ber of Right Sec­tor. But in either case, this plot does­n’t make sense.

    And then there’s the much larg­er ter­ror plot that was appar­ent­ly part of all of this: the alleged planned pur­chase of 300 AK-47s and large quan­ti­ties of explo­sives:

    The Guardian

    Arkady Babchenko reveals he faked his death to thwart Moscow plot

    Russ­ian jour­nal­ist fools world’s media by stag­ing his mur­der in elab­o­rate scheme with Ukraine

    Luke Hard­ing and Andrew Roth

    Wed 30 May 2018 13.58 EDT
    Last mod­i­fied on Thu 31 May 2018 06.59 EDT

    Arkady Babchenko, the Russ­ian jour­nal­ist whose mur­der was dra­mat­i­cal­ly announced by Ukraine on Tues­day, emerged very much alive on Wednes­day and said he had faked his own death in order to thwart a plot by Moscow to kill him.

    ...

    Details of the pre­cise threat to Babchenko’s life were murky. Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of the SBU, said Russia’s spy agen­cies had con­tact­ed a mid­dle­man, iden­ti­fied only as G, and paid him $40,000 to arrange the mur­der. The mid­dle­man in turn approached a for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier to car­ry out the hit, togeth­er with addi­tion­al “ter­ror­ist acts”, he said.

    The mid­dle­man was now in cus­tody, Hryt­sak said, show­ing video of a mid­dle-aged, white-haired man being bun­dled by offi­cers into a van. Hryt­sak added that phone inter­cepts had revealed his con­tacts in Moscow. Dozens of con­tract killings had been avert­ed, he sug­gest­ed, claim­ing that the list of poten­tial vic­tims in Ukraine stretched to 30 names.

    The Ukrain­ian sus­pect was sup­posed to buy a large quan­ti­ty of weapons and explo­sive, includ­ing 300 AK-47 rifles and “hun­dreds of kilos of explo­sives”, Hryt­sak alleged.

    The gen­er­al pros­e­cu­tor, Yuriy Lut­senko, appeared along­side Babchenko, who was dressed at Wednesday’s press con­fer­ence in a black hood­ie. Lut­senko said it was nec­es­sary to fake the journalist’s death so the organ­is­ers of the plot to kill him would believe they had suc­ceed­ed.

    ...

    ———-

    “Arkady Babchenko reveals he faked his death to thwart Moscow plot” by Luke Hard­ing and Andrew Roth; The Guardian; 05/30/2018

    “Details of the pre­cise threat to Babchenko’s life were murky. Vasyl Hryt­sak, the head of the SBU, said Russia’s spy agen­cies had con­tact­ed a mid­dle­man, iden­ti­fied only as G, and paid him $40,000 to arrange the mur­der. The mid­dle­man in turn approached a for­mer Ukrain­ian vol­un­teer sol­dier to car­ry out the hit, togeth­er with addi­tion­al “ter­ror­ist acts”, he said.

    Assas­si­na­tion in addi­tion­al “ter­ror­ist acts”. That’s alleged­ly what the Russ­ian secret ser­vices hired this unnamed mid­dle­man to do. And those ter­ror­ist acts appar­ent­ly involved a large num­ber of peo­ple because 300 AK-47s were part of the plan, along with hun­dreds lf kilos of explo­sives:

    ...
    The Ukrain­ian sus­pect was sup­posed to buy a large quan­ti­ty of weapons and explo­sive, includ­ing 300 AK-47 rifles and “hun­dreds of kilos of explo­sives”, Hryt­sak alleged.
    ...

    Hmmm...does it make sense that the Russ­ian secret ser­vices hired a east Ukrain­ian sep­a­ratist to car­ry all this out, and that guy, in turn, hired a Right Sec­tor — a group that almost defines itself in its hatred of Rus­sia — to be the hit­man to car­ry out what was to be mere­ly the first killing in what was to be a mass ter­ror cam­paign? Because that seems like a remark­ably far-fetched sto­ry on many lev­els.

    So what’s going on here? That’s extreme­ly ambigu­ous at this point and we’re prob­a­bly just going to have to wait and see what addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion comes out. But there is one very notable oth­er sto­ry that might pro­vide part of the expla­na­tion: Recall how, back in March, it was learned that far right Ukrain­ian war hero, Nadia Savchenko, was alleged by Ukrain­ian author­i­ties a plot­ting a dev­as­tat­ing ter­ror plot on Ukraine’s par­lia­ment? Well, that was 2–3 months, right around the time the SBU alleged­ly got its intel­li­gence about about this new alleged Moscow-direct­ed assassination/terror plot. So is it pos­si­ble that we’re look­ing a Ukrain­ian oper­a­tion that’s effec­tive­ly try­ing to address the Savchenko ter­ror plot but do it under the guise of bust­ing a Russ­ian ter­ror plot so as not to over­ly piss off Ukraine’s far right? It seems like a stretch, but prob­a­bly not near­ly as much of a stretch as the expla­na­tion Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty ser­vices just gave the world for its hoax assas­si­na­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 31, 2018, 4:09 pm
  7. And the plot thick­ens. Specif­i­cal­ly, the plot around the bizarre hoax killing of dis­si­dent Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko:

    So it turns out that the ‘hit­man’ and ‘mid­dle­man’ in BOTH claim to have been work­ing for the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices. We also have con­fir­ma­tion on their iden­ti­ties.

    The ‘hit­man’ was indeed Alex­ei Zymbalyuk/Oleksiy Tsim­ba­lyuk, a for­mer monk and a dea­con in the Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church. He actu­al­ly changed his reli­gious affil­i­a­tion from the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church. And, yes, he’s a mem­ber of Right Sec­tor, or at least has pho­tos of him­self on his Face­book page in green com­bat fatigues with a Right Sec­tor patch. There’s also a 10 minute doc­u­men­tary about him that appeared online in Jan­u­ary 2017 where he called killing sep­a­ratists an act of mer­cy. Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices ini­tial­ly denied his claims that he had been work­ing with them all along but lat­er acknowl­edged this was true.

    The ‘mid­dle­man’, Boris L. Her­man, is per­haps even more inter­est­ing. Her­man claims in court that he has also been work­ing for Ukraine all along, although it sounds like Ukrain­ian offi­cials cur­rent­ly deny this (just as they did for the ‘hit­man’ before lat­er con­firm­ing his claims). But Her­man is also claim­ing that there real­ly was a Moscow-based assas­si­na­tion scheme. Accord­ing to Her­man, “I got a call from a long­time acquain­tance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him it turned out that he works for a Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine.” This was appar­ent­ly six months ago.

    Her­man does actu­al­ly give a some­what coher­ent expla­na­tion for why a fake killing had to take place: it was only after the ‘killing’ of Babchenko that his Russ­ian con­tact gave him the list of 30 more names.

    Intrigu­ing­ly, accord­ing to Her­man’s lawyer, Her­man is the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Schmeiss­er, a Ukrain­ian-Ger­man joint ven­ture that spe­cial­izes in mak­ing sights for sniper rifles. Schmeiss­er is also the only arms man­u­fac­tur­er in Ukraine NOT owned by the gov­ern­ment accord­ing to Her­man’s lawyer, although that does­n’t appear to actu­al­ly be the case (the League of Pri­vate Defense Indus­tries of Ukraine was formed in late 2016, for exam­ple).

    So, if we are to believe this sto­ry, a Putin-con­nect­ed foun­da­tion decid­ed to con­tact Her­man, the exec­u­tive of a Ukrain­ian-Ger­man arms man­u­fac­tur­er in Ukraine, to orches­trate an elab­o­rate assassination/terror plot six months ago. Her­man then con­tact Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices. Then they appar­ent­ly wait­ed like 4 months before con­coct­ing this fake assas­si­na­tion plot. Then Her­man recruit­ed a mem­ber of Right Sec­tor who also con­tact­ed Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices right away. All in all, it’s def­i­nite­ly one of those sto­ries where ‘less is more’ because the more we’re learn­ing the less sense this all makes:

    The New York Times

    After the Faked Jour­nal­ist Killing in Ukraine, the Murk Deep­ens

    By Neil Mac­Far­quhar
    June 1, 2018

    MOSCOW — The strange cast of char­ac­ters emerg­ing in the faked assas­si­na­tion of a promi­nent Putin crit­ic — includ­ing a Rus­sia-hat­ing right-wing priest and the direc­tor of a Ukrain­ian arms man­u­fac­tur­er — set the already bizarre case on a path to a murky, up-is-down mess of the sort that Ukraine seems to spe­cial­ize in.

    Both the priest and the exec­u­tive claimed to be work­ing for Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices. Ukrain­ian offi­cials at first denied that but, in the case of the priest, sub­se­quent­ly reversed them­selves and admit­ted he had played a role. They would not say what.

    Senior Ukrain­ian offi­cials have been on the defen­sive since Wednes­day, when the head of the secu­ri­ty ser­vices and the chief pros­e­cu­tor announced that they had staged the shoot­ing death of a dis­si­dent Russ­ian war cor­re­spon­dent in order to trace his would-be killers back to Russ­ian intel­li­gence.

    How­ev­er, in the absence of sol­id facts and real evi­dence about any plot to kill the dis­si­dent, Arkady Babchenko, some­what implau­si­ble fig­ures have emerged from the shad­ows, per­haps the most unlike­ly being the priest, who claimed he was hired to car­ry out the hit.

    Olek­siy Tsim­ba­lyuk, once a monk and a dea­con in the Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church who used the cler­i­cal name Aris­tarkh, wrote on his Face­book page that he was the man who went to the author­i­ties after being hired to kill Mr. Babchenko.

    The cler­ic has nev­er made a secret of his long­stand­ing antipa­thy toward Rus­sia, fight­ing Russ­ian-backed mili­tias in east­ern Ukraine and switch­ing his reli­gious affil­i­a­tion from the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church to a break­away branch of the Ortho­dox Church that has declared its inde­pen­dence from Moscow.

    Pic­tures on his Face­book page show him in green com­bat fatigues includ­ing a patch from the Right Sec­tor, a Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion that some, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Krem­lin, por­tray as a neo-Nazi group. In a 10-minute doc­u­men­tary about him that appeared online in Jan­u­ary 2017, he called killing mem­bers of the Russ­ian-backed mili­tias in east­ern Ukraine “an act of mer­cy.”

    Giv­en such strong and pub­licly avowed enmi­ty toward Rus­sia, it is odd to say the least that Mr. Tsim­ba­lyuk would be select­ed to car­ry out the con­tract killing of a promi­nent Krem­lin crit­ic.

    When he first post­ed the infor­ma­tion on Face­book, a spokes­woman for the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, known by its ini­tials, S.B.U., denied that he was involved. But she lat­er acknowl­edged that he had been.

    Then there is the accused orga­niz­er, who Ukrain­ian offi­cials said was just warm­ing up with the killing of Mr. Babchenko and had a list of some 30 oth­ers Moscow sup­pos­ed­ly want­ed to elim­i­nate.

    That man, Boris L. Her­man, was arraigned in a Kiev court on Thurs­day night and ordered to be held in cus­tody for two months. Pros­e­cu­tors said he had giv­en the sup­posed assas­sin a down pay­ment of $15,000, half what he was promised for car­ry­ing out the hit.

    In court, Mr. Her­man tried both to link the plot to Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin and to claim that he, too, had been work­ing for Ukraine all along. He was first con­tact­ed six months ago, he said.

    “I got a call from a long­time acquain­tance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him it turned out that he works for a Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine,” Mr. Her­man was quot­ed as say­ing by Inter­fax Ukraine, a news agency.

    Claim­ing that he was work­ing for Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, he said he had known per­fect­ly well that there would be no killing. A monk was hired because he would not kill an unarmed man, he said in court, and once Mr. Babchenko’s “assas­si­na­tion” had tak­en place, he said, his Russ­ian con­tact had giv­en him the list of 30 more names, which he says he passed to Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.

    Mr. Herman’s lawyer, Eugene Solod­ko, wrote on Face­book that his client was the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Schmeiss­er, a Ukrain­ian-Ger­man joint ven­ture and the only arms man­u­fac­tur­er in Ukraine not owned by the gov­ern­ment. It spe­cial­izes in man­u­fac­tur­ing sights for sniper rifles, he wrote.

    The prosecutor’s office denied that Mr. Her­man worked for Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.

    ...

    Ukraine faced con­tin­ued crit­i­cism from inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions, for­eign polit­i­cal lead­ers and jour­nal­ists for fak­ing the assas­si­na­tion, which they said had val­i­dat­ed the Kremlin’s all-pur­pose claim that it is false­ly blamed for every evil in the world by a “Rus­so­pho­bic” West.

    Aside from hint­ing that catch­ing the orga­niz­er hinged on com­plet­ing the killing, Ukraine has not made it clear why such a decep­tion was nec­es­sary. Nor has it pro­vid­ed any evi­dence about accom­plices or a coher­ent time line. Offi­cials said the ruse was two months in the plan­ning stages.

    The lev­el of inter­na­tion­al crit­i­cism was such that the Ukrain­ian Embassy in Lon­don felt com­pelled to issue a state­ment jus­ti­fy­ing what it called a “spe­cial oper­a­tion.” “The hybrid war waged by the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion against Ukraine demands unortho­dox approach­es,” it said.

    For his part, Mr. Babchenko said he was not privy to all the details of the inves­ti­ga­tion, but went along with the ruse because he believed his life was at risk. Numer­ous oth­er crit­ics of the Krem­lin who have gone into exile in Ukraine have been mur­dered on the streets of Kiev, the Ukrain­ian cap­i­tal, pre­vi­ous­ly.

    “They prob­a­bly had their rea­sons,” he said of the secu­ri­ty ser­vices at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day. “Maybe they want­ed to col­lect proof that was 100 per­cent sol­id.”

    A famous war reporter, Mr. Babchenko, 41, fled Rus­sia in ear­ly 2017 after a cam­paign of intim­i­da­tion against him fol­low­ing his crit­i­cism of Russ­ian involve­ment in the wars in Ukraine and Syr­ia. He said that Ukrain­ian agents approached him a month ago to tell him that the Russ­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices had put out a con­tract on him.

    “I said: ‘Great. Why have you been wait­ing a month?’ ” said Mr. Babchenko, who is now liv­ing under pro­tec­tion from the secu­ri­ty ser­vices.

    He also pro­vid­ed a few details about the stag­ing of the crime last Tues­day night. Secu­ri­ty offi­cers took one of his sweat­shirts and fired shots through it, then smeared it with pig’s blood after he put it back on.

    Tak­en to a hos­pi­tal after his wife, who was in on the plot, sum­moned an ambu­lance, he was first wheeled into an inten­sive care unit and pro­nounced dead, then tak­en to the morgue. It was only then that he stopped play­ing dead and began watch­ing the trib­utes to him pour in on tele­vi­sion.

    ———-

    “After the Faked Jour­nal­ist Killing in Ukraine, the Murk Deep­ens” by Neil Mac­Far­quhar; The New York Times; 06/01/2018

    Both the priest and the exec­u­tive claimed to be work­ing for Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices. Ukrain­ian offi­cials at first denied that but, in the case of the priest, sub­se­quent­ly reversed them­selves and admit­ted he had played a role. They would not say what.”

    Both the ‘perps’ claim to be work­ing for Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices. Ukrain­ian offi­cials deny this, but lat­er acknowl­edge that the ‘hit­man’ was actu­al­ly work­ing for them all along. It’s quite a sto­ry.

    And it’s not sur­pris­ing that Ukrain­ian author­i­ties lat­er admit­ted that the ‘hit­man’ was indeed work­ing for them because he would have be one of the most implau­si­ble Russ­ian assas­sins you can imag­ine when you look at who this ‘hit­man’ actu­al­ly is: A mem­ber of Right Sec­tor:

    ...
    How­ev­er, in the absence of sol­id facts and real evi­dence about any plot to kill the dis­si­dent, Arkady Babchenko, some­what implau­si­ble fig­ures have emerged from the shad­ows, per­haps the most unlike­ly being the priest, who claimed he was hired to car­ry out the hit.

    Olek­siy Tsim­ba­lyuk, once a monk and a dea­con in the Ukrain­ian Ortho­dox Church who used the cler­i­cal name Aris­tarkh, wrote on his Face­book page that he was the man who went to the author­i­ties after being hired to kill Mr. Babchenko.

    The cler­ic has nev­er made a secret of his long­stand­ing antipa­thy toward Rus­sia, fight­ing Russ­ian-backed mili­tias in east­ern Ukraine and switch­ing his reli­gious affil­i­a­tion from the Russ­ian Ortho­dox Church to a break­away branch of the Ortho­dox Church that has declared its inde­pen­dence from Moscow.

    Pic­tures on his Face­book page show him in green com­bat fatigues includ­ing a patch from the Right Sec­tor, a Ukrain­ian ultra­na­tion­al­ist orga­ni­za­tion that some, par­tic­u­lar­ly the Krem­lin, por­tray as a neo-Nazi group. In a 10-minute doc­u­men­tary about him that appeared online in Jan­u­ary 2017, he called killing mem­bers of the Russ­ian-backed mili­tias in east­ern Ukraine “an act of mer­cy.”

    Giv­en such strong and pub­licly avowed enmi­ty toward Rus­sia, it is odd to say the least that Mr. Tsim­ba­lyuk would be select­ed to car­ry out the con­tract killing of a promi­nent Krem­lin crit­ic.
    ...

    And note how it was Tsim­ba­lyuk him­self who basi­cal­ly out­ed him­self on Face­book and it was only after that that Ukrain­ian author­i­ties admit­ted he was work­ing for them (after an ini­tial denial). So it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that the author­i­ties nev­er actu­al­ly intend­ed for the world to learn that the ‘hit­man’ were their man:

    ...
    When he first post­ed the infor­ma­tion on Face­book, a spokes­woman for the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine, known by its ini­tials, S.B.U., denied that he was involved. But she lat­er acknowl­edged that he had been.
    ...

    But when it comes to the mid­dle­man, Boris L. Her­man, the author­i­ties con­tin­ue to main­tain he was­n’t work­ing for them. Her­man simul­ta­ne­ous­ly asserts that he real­ly was con­tact­ed six months ago by an acquain­tance in Moscow who was work­ing specif­i­cal­ly on the desta­bi­liza­tion of Ukraine for a Putin-affil­i­at­ed foun­da­tion. So, for the pur­pose of main­tain­ing the nar­ra­tive that there real­ly was an elab­o­rate Moscow plot afoot, deny­ing that Her­man was work­ing with Ukrain­ian author­i­ties will go a long way to uphold­ing that nar­ra­tive:

    ...
    Then there is the accused orga­niz­er, who Ukrain­ian offi­cials said was just warm­ing up with the killing of Mr. Babchenko and had a list of some 30 oth­ers Moscow sup­pos­ed­ly want­ed to elim­i­nate.

    That man, Boris L. Her­man, was arraigned in a Kiev court on Thurs­day night and ordered to be held in cus­tody for two months. Pros­e­cu­tors said he had giv­en the sup­posed assas­sin a down pay­ment of $15,000, half what he was promised for car­ry­ing out the hit.

    In court, Mr. Her­man tried both to link the plot to Pres­i­dent Vladimir V. Putin and to claim that he, too, had been work­ing for Ukraine all along. He was first con­tact­ed six months ago, he said.

    “I got a call from a long­time acquain­tance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him it turned out that he works for a Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine,” Mr. Her­man was quot­ed as say­ing by Inter­fax Ukraine, a news agency.

    Claim­ing that he was work­ing for Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence, he said he had known per­fect­ly well that there would be no killing. A monk was hired because he would not kill an unarmed man, he said in court, and once Mr. Babchenko’s “assas­si­na­tion” had tak­en place, he said, his Russ­ian con­tact had giv­en him the list of 30 more names, which he says he passed to Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.

    Mr. Herman’s lawyer, Eugene Solod­ko, wrote on Face­book that his client was the exec­u­tive direc­tor of Schmeiss­er, a Ukrain­ian-Ger­man joint ven­ture and the only arms man­u­fac­tur­er in Ukraine not owned by the gov­ern­ment. It spe­cial­izes in man­u­fac­tur­ing sights for sniper rifles, he wrote.

    The prosecutor’s office denied that Mr. Her­man worked for Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.
    ...

    ““I got a call from a long­time acquain­tance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him it turned out that he works for a Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine,” Mr. Her­man was quot­ed as say­ing by Inter­fax Ukraine, a news agency.”

    Note how Her­man’s expla­na­tion for why the fake assas­si­na­tion had to take place — so his Moscow con­tact could give him the list of 30 more tar­gets — actu­al­ly makes a lot more sense than the expla­na­tion the author­i­ties gave, which is that they need­ed to fake the hit in order to catch Her­man, the orga­niz­er of all this:

    ...
    Ukraine faced con­tin­ued crit­i­cism from inter­na­tion­al orga­ni­za­tions, for­eign polit­i­cal lead­ers and jour­nal­ists for fak­ing the assas­si­na­tion, which they said had val­i­dat­ed the Kremlin’s all-pur­pose claim that it is false­ly blamed for every evil in the world by a “Rus­so­pho­bic” West.

    Aside from hint­ing that catch­ing the orga­niz­er hinged on com­plet­ing the killing, Ukraine has not made it clear why such a decep­tion was nec­es­sary. Nor has it pro­vid­ed any evi­dence about accom­plices or a coher­ent time line. Offi­cials said the ruse was two months in the plan­ning stages.
    ...

    So, at this point, Her­man’s sto­ry is sound­ing a lot more plau­si­ble than the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties’ sto­ry. Espe­cial­ly since, as the arti­cle notes, they haven’t actu­al­ly pro­vid­ed a coher­ent time line for any of this. And yet Her­man’s sto­ry about his Moscow con­tact still does­n’t sound very plau­si­ble unless we sud­den­ly learn some­thing about Her­man’s back­ground that would explain why the exec­u­tive of a Ukrain­ian defense con­trac­tor would want to orches­trate a Russ­ian-backed assassination/terror cam­paign.

    One of the inter­est­ing thing to note in all this is Tsim­ba­lyuk’s expla­na­tion for why he out­ed him­self on Face­book: He claims he did it because the video Ukrain­ian author­i­ties released of Tsim­ba­lyuk and Her­man dis­cussing the plot in vehi­cle did­n’t hide his voice. So he deter­mined at that there was no point in hid­ing his iden­ti­ty. But he also says he won’t do any more inter­views in the near future due to a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment, sug­gest­ing that he was ini­tial­ly plan­ning on remain­ing an anony­mous ‘hit­man’, but only changed his mind after the author­i­ties acci­den­tal­ly out­ed him:

    UNIAN.info

    Babchenko’s ‘hit­man’ reveals iden­ti­ty: Ortho­dox monk, Right Sec­tor mem­ber, Don­bas war vet­er­an

    01:59, 01 June 2018
    He is a mem­ber of the Right Sec­tor Orga­ni­za­tion, which is out­lawed in Rus­sia.

    “Hit­man” who was hired to assas­si­nate Russ­ian jour­nal­ist and Krem­lin crit­ic Arkady Babchenko in Ukraine has revealed his iden­ti­ty: Olek­siy Tsym­bal­iuk is a for­mer Ortho­dox church monk, a Right Sec­tor mem­ber, a vol­un­teer and a Don­bas war vet­er­an.

    Tsym­bal­iuk explained his deci­sion by the fact that after tapes with his voice, which was not dis­guised, were made pub­lic, he saw no point in “hol­ing up.”

    “It’s won­der­ful that young and tal­ent­ed agents are work­ing for the [SBU Secu­ri­ty] Ser­vice who you can secure­ly share infor­ma­tion about a con­tract with. You work with them with­out being afraid that you’ll be giv­en up to the same cus­tomer for dol­lars,” he wrote on Face­book on May 31.

    “Hon­est­ly, I know noth­ing about my future, I’m a bit all nerves. But I know for sure that a detec­tive who was in charge of the inves­ti­ga­tion, an inves­ti­ga­tor in the case are peo­ple of hon­or,” Tsym­bal­iuk wrote.

    He said he would not give any inter­views in the near future as long as the inves­ti­ga­tion is under way. Besides, he signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.

    ...

    ———-

    “Babchenko’s ‘hit­man’ reveals iden­ti­ty: Ortho­dox monk, Right Sec­tor mem­ber, Don­bas war vet­er­an”; UNIAN.info; 06/01/2018

    “Tsym­bal­iuk explained his deci­sion by the fact that after tapes with his voice, which was not dis­guised, were made pub­lic, he saw no point in “hol­ing up.” ”

    That sure sounds like an “oops! That was­n’t sup­posed to hap­pen!” kind of sce­nario. But don’t plan on Tsim­ba­lyuk giv­ing any more infor­ma­tion about this oper­a­tion. He signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment:

    ...
    He said he would not give any inter­views in the near future as long as the inves­ti­ga­tion is under way. Besides, he signed a non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment.
    ...

    Yeah, it seems like that prob­a­bly was­n’t the only non-dis­clo­sure agree­ment involved in all this. We’ll pre­sum­ably have to wait for Ukrain­ian author­i­ties to screw up some more before we learn about the rest of them.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 1, 2018, 2:33 pm
  8. Here’s an inter­est­ing fun fact relat­ed to the increas­ing­ly bizarre hoax assas­si­na­tion of Arkady Babchenko by Ukraine’s SBU: The pho­to­graph of Babchenko lying face down in a pool of blood with appar­ent bul­let wounds in his back first appeared on the Face­book page of a for­mer Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Yevhen Lauer. Lauer claims he received it from a law enforce­ment source.

    And as the fol­low­ing report by Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty notes, Lauer has more recent­ly been work­ing with Tri­dent Group LLC, a DC-based cor­po­rate intel­li­gence firm that spe­cial­izes in con­sult­ing ser­vices for West­ern cor­po­ra­tions doing busi­ness in the for­mer Sovi­et republics. Tri­dent Group is found­ed and staffed by for Sovi­et intel­li­gence offi­cers and appears to be a con­sult­ing firm of choice for a num­ber of promi­nent US cor­po­ra­tions doing busi­ness in that region. Its client list is large­ly kept a secret, although known clients include the promi­nent law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld (recall how one of Akin Gump’s clients was Tyu­men oil, co-owned by the Alfa Group) .

    So the pho­to of Babchenko’s ‘dead’ body first showed up on the Face­book page of a guy known to be recent­ly work­ing with a high-end, expen­sive and dis­crete elite cor­po­rate intel­li­gence firm cater­ing to West­ern firms oper­at­ing in the for­mer Sovi­et republics. It’s not exact­ly the kind of fun fact that’s going to reduce sus­pi­cions over this intel­li­gence oper­a­tion:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    The Pho­to That Fueled The Hoax: Behind The Grue­some Image Of Babchenko’s ‘Death’

    Mike Eck­el
    May 30, 2018 19:16 GMT

    The killing of Arkady Babchenko did not hap­pen.

    But you’d cer­tain­ly be for­giv­en if, in the hours after the first reports emerged late on May 29, you had glimpsed a pho­to­graph of his body lying face down in a pool of blood and con­clud­ed that this was proof that anoth­er Russ­ian reporter had been mur­dered.

    The pho­to­graph was fake, seem­ing­ly part of the elab­o­rate hoax that Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty offi­cials said was con­coct­ed to thwart a mur­der plot against Babchenko.

    Who actu­al­ly took and staged the shot is not known. It’s not even cer­tain that it’s Babchenko in the pho­to. But how it came to light and cir­cu­lat­ed in the hours after the fake killing was report­ed is a key ele­ment of a law enforce­ment sting that enlist­ed a for­mer jour­nal­ist, a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er, and pos­si­bly many oth­ers.

    The pho­to was first pub­lished on Face­book page of a for­mer Ukrain­ian reporter who says he now works for a shad­owy con­sul­tan­cy orga­ni­za­tion based in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area.

    It quick­ly cir­cu­lat­ed among Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian reporters — though few, if any, media out­lets chose to pub­lish it, main­ly due to its gory con­tent.

    Yevhen Lauer, the reporter who pub­lished the pho­to along with a cap­tion read­ing “Damn It, Bitch­es,” told RFE/RL late on May 29 that he received it from a law enforce­ment source, whom he declined to iden­ti­fy.

    Lauer, who has worked for var­i­ous Ukrain­ian media out­lets in the past, has more recent­ly been affil­i­at­ed with Tri­dent Group LLC. Based in the Wash­ing­ton sub­urb of Arling­ton, the com­pa­ny says it spe­cial­izes “in law enforce­ment, inves­ti­ga­tions, intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and analy­sis, con­flict pre­ven­tion and con­flict res­o­lu­tion, inter­na­tion­al risk con­trol, exec­u­tive pro­tec­tion and spe­cial oper­a­tions.”

    The company’s pres­i­dent, Yuri Koshkin, con­firmed to RFE/RL that Lauer had done work for Tri­dent but said he knew noth­ing of Lauer’s involve­ment with the SBU sting oper­a­tion to nab Babchenko’s would-be killers.

    RFE/RL also declined to pub­lish the pho­to­graph when it first appeared, not only for the bloody con­tent but also because of con­cerns about its sourc­ing.

    Addi­tion­al ques­tions were raised about its tim­ing since Ukrain­ian offi­cials, includ­ing a law­mak­er, had said that Babchenko had died in an ambu­lance on the way to the hos­pi­tal, sug­gest­ing he was still alive when the pho­to was tak­en.

    In a post­ing to Face­book, the law­mak­er, Anton Herashchenko, defend­ed the secre­cy, and the decep­tion, of the SBU, which he said “was done to avoid even the slight­est pos­si­bil­i­ty of infor­ma­tion leak­ing.”

    “It was for this rea­son that a pho­to of the alleged vic­tim Arkady Babchenko was made,” he wrote.

    On May 30, after Babchenko appeared at a news con­fer­ence and Ukraine’s main secu­ri­ty agency, the SBU, revealed a sting oper­a­tion to arrest the alleged plot­ter, Lauer declined to answer fur­ther ques­tions about his involve­ment, respond­ing only with a text mes­sage of smi­ley face emo­jis.

    He did not respond to fur­ther mes­sages sent via Face­book.

    While Ukrain­ian offi­cials insist­ed that the oper­a­tion suc­ceed­ed in both pre­vent­ing Babchenko’s killing and uncov­er­ing the involve­ment of Russ­ian intel­li­gence agen­cies, the hoax more broad­ly was con­demned by many press advo­cates, who wor­ried about under­min­ing the cred­i­bil­i­ty of both law enforce­ment agen­cies and media orga­ni­za­tions.

    “All it takes is one case like this to cast doubt on all the oth­er polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions,” Christophe Deloire of the orga­ni­za­tion Reporters With­out Bor­ders said in a state­ment.

    And the faked pho­to­graph was already being used by at least one pro-Rus­sia Twit­ter user on May 30, who made the argu­ment that oth­er pho­tographs could now not be trust­ed – for exam­ple, the so-called White Hel­met res­cuers who aid civil­ians in war-torn Syr­ia.

    “Ukraine just owned the whole jour­nal­ism, from now on nev­er trust emo­tion­al arti­cles and pho­tos,” the user, iden­ti­fied as Antikara­tel, wrote.

    Next time you show me pho­tos from Syr­ia by ”White Hel­mets” I will show pho­to of ”dead Arkady Babchenko killed by Putin”.Ukraine just owned the whole jour­nal­ism, from now on nev­er trust emo­tion­al arti­cles and pho­tos. pic.twitter.com/77ch0XLesP— ???????????? (@Antikaratel) May 30, 2018

    ...

    And in a post­ing to Twit­ter lat­er, Babchenko made clear his opin­ion of the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    “I’ve promised to die when I’m 96, hav­ing danced on Putin’s grave and tak­ing a self­ie while stand­ing on an Abrams [tank] on Tver­skoi Boule­vard” in Moscow, he wrote. “I will try to do this.”

    ———-

    “The Pho­to That Fueled The Hoax: Behind The Grue­some Image Of Babchenko’s ‘Death’ ” by Mike Eck­el; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 05/30/2018

    ” Who actu­al­ly took and staged the shot is not known. It’s not even cer­tain that it’s Babchenko in the pho­to. But how it came to light and cir­cu­lat­ed in the hours after the fake killing was report­ed is a key ele­ment of a law enforce­ment sting that enlist­ed a for­mer jour­nal­ist, a Ukrain­ian law­mak­er, and pos­si­bly many oth­ers.

    Yep, we can’t ignore how the now noto­ri­ous fake pho­to actu­al­ly went pub­lic when exam­in­ing this mys­tery. And sure enough, the source of the pho­to only adds to the mys­tery: Yevhen Lauer, who told RFE/RL that he received it from a law enforce­ment source:

    ...
    The pho­to was first pub­lished on Face­book page of a for­mer Ukrain­ian reporter who says he now works for a shad­owy con­sul­tan­cy orga­ni­za­tion based in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., area.

    It quick­ly cir­cu­lat­ed among Ukrain­ian and Russ­ian reporters — though few, if any, media out­lets chose to pub­lish it, main­ly due to its gory con­tent.

    Yevhen Lauer, the reporter who pub­lished the pho­to along with a cap­tion read­ing “Damn It, Bitch­es,” told RFE/RL late on May 29 that he received it from a law enforce­ment source, whom he declined to iden­ti­fy.
    ...

    And Lauer just hap­pens to be recent­ly affil­i­at­ed with Tri­dent Group LLC, a promi­nent DC-based cor­po­rate intel­li­gence firm spe­cial­iz­ing in help­ing West­ern cor­po­ra­tions nav­i­gate the for­mer Sovi­et Republics. The pres­i­dent of Tri­dent con­firms that Lauer did indeed work for his firm, although he claims to know noth­ing about the Babchenko oper­a­tion:

    ...
    Lauer, who has worked for var­i­ous Ukrain­ian media out­lets in the past, has more recent­ly been affil­i­at­ed with Tri­dent Group LLC. Based in the Wash­ing­ton sub­urb of Arling­ton, the com­pa­ny says it spe­cial­izes “in law enforce­ment, inves­ti­ga­tions, intel­li­gence gath­er­ing and analy­sis, con­flict pre­ven­tion and con­flict res­o­lu­tion, inter­na­tion­al risk con­trol, exec­u­tive pro­tec­tion and spe­cial oper­a­tions.”

    The company’s pres­i­dent, Yuri Koshkin, con­firmed to RFE/RL that Lauer had done work for Tri­dent but said he knew noth­ing of Lauer’s involve­ment with the SBU sting oper­a­tion to nab Babchenko’s would-be killers.
    ...

    So that’s pret­ty inter­est­ing. Now here’s a 2012 WSJ pro­file of Tri­dent Group (via archive.org) that makes it clear that this firm real­ly is an elite cor­po­rate intel­li­gence firm with a num­ber of sig­nif­i­cant West­ern clients. It also hints at Tri­dent Group not being afraid to get ‘dirty’ when ful­fill­ing its clients needs.

    This is a good time recall close­ly this gen­er­al descrip­tion fits the pro­file of Black Cube, the Israeli pri­vate intel­li­gence firm used by Cam­bridge Ana­lyt­i­ca for ser­vices like hack­ing and oth­er dirty ser­vices for cor­po­rate clients. A cor­po­rate pri­vate intel­li­gence firm will­ing that’s will­ing to get a lit­tle ‘dirty’ for its clients.

    In oth­er words, while Tri­dent Group is found­ed and staffed by for­mer Sovi­et intel­li­gence agents, they have clear­ly demon­strat­ed over the years that they can be trust­ed by their West­ern clients and part of that trust has been built on a will­ing­ness to occa­sion­al­ly get ‘dirty’:

    The Wall Street Jour­nal

    Ex-Sovi­et Agent Thrives as Cor­rup­tion Inves­ti­ga­tor

    By C.M. Matthews
    Sep­tem­ber 13, 2012, 8:06 AM

    For com­pa­nies inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in Rus­sia, a for­mer Sovi­et intel­li­gence offi­cer is the “go-to guy.”

    So, when Deutsche Post had sus­pi­cions about poten­tial­ly cor­rupt cus­toms agents in Rus­sia, it turned to Yuri Koshkin and his Arling­ton, Va.-based con­sult­ing shop Tri­dent Group LLC.

    “Let’s just say they were very effec­tive,” James Min, an in-house lawyer at DHL, said at a con­fer­ence ear­li­er this year.

    Koshkin spent the first half of his career in Sovi­et mil­i­tary intel­li­gence study­ing his coun­ter­parts in the U.S. These days, West­ern com­pa­nies pay him and Tri­dent to look into their busi­ness part­ners and com­peti­tors in Rus­sia and a host of for­mer Sovi­et states.

    For­mer intel­li­gence offi­cers ply­ing their skills in pri­vate prac­tice aren’t unusu­al in today’s high-stakes busi­ness world. What sets Tri­dent apart is that it is found­ed and staffed pre­dom­i­nant­ly by for­mer Sovi­et agents. The firm has more than a dozen full-time employ­ees in the U.S., Rus­sia, and the Ukraine, the major­i­ty of who have an intel­li­gence back­ground.

    Increas­ing­ly, Koshkin says, the firm is being asked to inves­ti­gate cor­rup­tion-relat­ed mat­ters like whether a company’s third-par­ty bro­ker is brib­ing offi­cials in Ukraine or whether a joint ven­ture part­ner is actu­al­ly owned by the sub­sidiary of a cor­rupt for­eign offi­cial.

    Enforce­ment of the U.S. For­eign Cor­rupt Prac­tice Act and the U.K. Bribery Act has cre­at­ed a gold rush for lawyers, accoun­tants and cor­po­rate inves­ti­ga­tors. Not sur­pris­ing­ly, Koshkin’s com­pa­ny has shift­ed from a focus on lit­i­ga­tion sup­port and com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence five years ago to one that now counts anti-cor­rup­tion work as half its busi­ness.

    Koshkin says Tri­dent counts “icon­ic” U.S. com­pa­nies and well-known law firms as its clients, but wouldn’t divulge many of their names because of pri­va­cy agree­ments. Koshkin also wouldn’t dis­cuss his rates, say­ing they vary dra­mat­i­cal­ly case-to-case, but con­ced­ed that even basic due dili­gence could cost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

    Richard Dean, a well-known FCPA lawyer at Bak­er McKen­zie, said Koshkin is his “go-to guy” in Rus­sia.

    “What I like about Yuri is that you get the heart of the mat­ter,” Dean said. “He has for­mer law enforce­ment, intel­li­gence type guys from the whole range of agen­cies – FSB [Fed­er­al Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the KGB’s suc­ces­sor], mil­i­tary- and they all have good access.”

    The work sounds sexy enough, but most of it’s done from a desk, accord­ing to Koshkin. Work includes look­ing into whether the address a com­pa­ny has list­ed on its web­site is actu­al­ly its place of busi­ness and whether the phone num­ber on a busi­ness card actu­al­ly belongs to the per­son list­ed on the card.

    “Much of this is arti­fi­cial­ly glo­ri­fied,” Koshkin says. “What peo­ple don’t real­ize is that, in busi­ness intel­li­gence, the bulk of the work comes from pub­lic sources and the chal­lenge is to sift through the mass of infor­ma­tion that’s out there, ana­lyze it, and make the right con­clu­sions.”

    That’s not to say that Koshkin is above get­ting some dirt beneath his fin­ger­nails. When it’s called for, Koshkin and his team can avoid detec­tion or tap con­fi­den­tial sources.

    “If you’re inves­ti­gat­ing a com­pa­ny or a sit­u­a­tion and you want make sure there’s no cor­rup­tion… in my view, you have to do what you have to do short of break­ing the law or com­mit­ting an uneth­i­cal act.”

    Koshkin honed these inves­tiga­tive skills in the Sovi­et army. After study­ing lan­guages and mil­i­tary geog­ra­phy at the Mil­i­tary Insti­tute of the Sovi­et Min­istry of Defense, a famed breed­ing ground for KGB offi­cers, Koshkin grad­u­at­ed in 1980 and began work­ing in Africa as a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer.

    Koshkin is reluc­tant to speak about his intel­li­gence work except to say that he wasn’t real­ly a spy. But, he does recall being inter­cept­ed by F‑14s and F4s while fly­ing over neu­tral waters to Ango­la in a Tupolev Tu-95, snap­ping pic­tures of mil­i­tary instal­la­tions. “It was all very friend­ly,” he said. “We waved to each oth­er.”

    He came to the U.S. in the late 80s as part of a joint U.S.-Soviet mil­i­tary work­ing group. By that point Koshkin had grown cyn­i­cal about the Sovi­et Union, he said, and imag­ined a life in the West, but was only will­ing to leave the mil­i­tary “clean­ly and hon­or­ably.”

    That oppor­tu­ni­ty came in 1989 when the USSR began reduc­ing its armed forces lev­els and gave Koshkin leave. By 1991, he was liv­ing in San Fran­cis­co and work­ing for a pub­lic rela­tions com­pa­ny, the PBN Com­pa­ny, focused on the new­ly opened Russ­ian mar­ket.

    After two years at PBN, Koshkin began advis­ing U.S. com­pa­nies on doing busi­ness in the “wild, wild East,” and in 1996, Koshkin and attor­ney Yevge­ny N. Pshenich­ny, also a grad­u­ate of the Sovi­et Mil­i­tary Insti­tute, found­ed the Tri­dent Group.

    Much of the firm’s ear­ly work focused on lit­i­ga­tion sup­port. Tri­dent fig­ured promi­nent­ly in Amer­i­can investor Ken­neth Dart’s fight with Russ­ian oil giant Yukos. Koshkin helped Dart, a minor­i­ty share­hold­er in Yukos, in lit­i­ga­tion that accused for­mer oli­garch Mikhail Khodor­kovsky, then Russia’s rich­est man, of using share dilu­tions to try to force Dart out of Yukos. The two par­ties entered into a con­fi­den­tial set­tle­ment in 1999.

    By the mid-2000s, Koshkin says he began notic­ing a tan­gi­ble uptick in cor­rup­tion-relat­ed work. Not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, this came at the same time as the Jus­tice Department’s new-found vig­or enforc­ing the FCPA, which pro­hibits bribes to for­eign offi­cials to win busi­ness. West­ern com­pa­nies need­ed to know if they were in bed with cor­rupt Russ­ian offi­cials, and Koshkin knew how to find that out.

    Koshkin said that the FCPA moved cor­rup­tion work to the front burn­er, but that it had long been present in Russ­ian soci­ety. It’s tak­en some new forms in the past decade, Koshkin said, as a pletho­ra of new gov­ern­ment posi­tions were cre­at­ed and “an army of appa­ratchiks” looked to cash in on a tem­po­rary sinecure.

    Randy Breg­man, a part­ner at the Salans law firm, has been using Koshkin and his team for six years. Breg­man says he fre­quent­ly advis­es pri­vate equi­ty firms invest­ing over­seas, and turns to Koshkin when he needs to know if an acqui­si­tion tar­get is tied to cor­rupt gov­ern­ment offi­cials, or orga­nized crime.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ex-Sovi­et Agent Thrives as Cor­rup­tion Inves­ti­ga­tor” by C.M. Matthews; The Wall Street Jour­nal; 09/13/2012

    “For com­pa­nies inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in Rus­sia, a for­mer Sovi­et intel­li­gence offi­cer is the “go-to guy.””

    The co-founder of Tri­dent Group was the “go-to guy” for West­ern com­pa­nies inves­ti­gat­ing cor­rup­tion in Rus­sia. That was the gen­er­al char­ac­ter­i­za­tion in this 2012 WSJ pro­file. And while most of the fir­m’s clients remain anony­mous, those that do admit hir­ing Tri­dent Group give it rave reviews:

    ...
    So, when Deutsche Post had sus­pi­cions about poten­tial­ly cor­rupt cus­toms agents in Rus­sia, it turned to Yuri Koshkin and his Arling­ton, Va.-based con­sult­ing shop Tri­dent Group LLC.

    “Let’s just say they were very effec­tive,” James Min, an in-house lawyer at DHL, said at a con­fer­ence ear­li­er this year.

    ...

    Koshkin says Tri­dent counts “icon­ic” U.S. com­pa­nies and well-known law firms as its clients, but wouldn’t divulge many of their names because of pri­va­cy agree­ments. Koshkin also wouldn’t dis­cuss his rates, say­ing they vary dra­mat­i­cal­ly case-to-case, but con­ced­ed that even basic due dili­gence could cost tens of thou­sands of dol­lars.

    Richard Dean, a well-known FCPA lawyer at Bak­er McKen­zie, said Koshkin is his “go-to guy” in Rus­sia.

    “What I like about Yuri is that you get the heart of the mat­ter,” Dean said. “He has for­mer law enforce­ment, intel­li­gence type guys from the whole range of agen­cies – FSB [Fed­er­al Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the KGB’s suc­ces­sor], mil­i­tary- and they all have good access.”
    ...

    And none of these firms appear to be con­cerned that they’re hir­ing a bunch of ex-Sovi­et intel­li­gence offi­cer with this poten­tial­ly high­ly sen­si­tive work. It’s some­thing to keep in mind regard­ing Paul Man­afort’s long-time part­ner Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik and the assump­tion that he’s a Krem­lin stooge due to his Sovi­et-era intel­li­gence back­ground. The tru­ism of ‘once a KGB agent, always a KGB’ agent isn’t actu­al­ly true:

    ...
    Koshkin spent the first half of his career in Sovi­et mil­i­tary intel­li­gence study­ing his coun­ter­parts in the U.S. These days, West­ern com­pa­nies pay him and Tri­dent to look into their busi­ness part­ners and com­peti­tors in Rus­sia and a host of for­mer Sovi­et states.

    For­mer intel­li­gence offi­cers ply­ing their skills in pri­vate prac­tice aren’t unusu­al in today’s high-stakes busi­ness world. What sets Tri­dent apart is that it is found­ed and staffed pre­dom­i­nant­ly by for­mer Sovi­et agents. The firm has more than a dozen full-time employ­ees in the U.S., Rus­sia, and the Ukraine, the major­i­ty of who have an intel­li­gence back­ground.
    ...

    Not sur­pris­ing­ly giv­en the nature of ‘cor­po­rate intel­li­gence’ work, Koshkin acknowl­edges that he isn’t above ‘get­ting some dirt beneath his fin­ger­nails’:

    ...
    The work sounds sexy enough, but most of it’s done from a desk, accord­ing to Koshkin. Work includes look­ing into whether the address a com­pa­ny has list­ed on its web­site is actu­al­ly its place of busi­ness and whether the phone num­ber on a busi­ness card actu­al­ly belongs to the per­son list­ed on the card.

    “Much of this is arti­fi­cial­ly glo­ri­fied,” Koshkin says. “What peo­ple don’t real­ize is that, in busi­ness intel­li­gence, the bulk of the work comes from pub­lic sources and the chal­lenge is to sift through the mass of infor­ma­tion that’s out there, ana­lyze it, and make the right con­clu­sions.”

    That’s not to say that Koshkin is above get­ting some dirt beneath his fin­ger­nails. When it’s called for, Koshkin and his team can avoid detec­tion or tap con­fi­den­tial sources.

    “If you’re inves­ti­gat­ing a com­pa­ny or a sit­u­a­tion and you want make sure there’s no cor­rup­tion… in my view, you have to do what you have to do short of break­ing the law or com­mit­ting an uneth­i­cal act.”
    ...

    ““If you’re inves­ti­gat­ing a com­pa­ny or a sit­u­a­tion and you want make sure there’s no cor­rup­tion… in my view, you have to do what you have to do short of break­ing the law or com­mit­ting an uneth­i­cal act.””

    You have to do what you have to do. Now that’s a tru­ism it’s hard to argue with. But also a tru­ism that, in this con­text, appears to be an admis­sion of a will­ing­ness to essen­tial­ly engage in espi­onage. Which is the kind of ser­vice that Koshk­in’s firm is more than able to pro­vide giv­en the num­ber of for­mer spies it employs:

    ...
    Koshkin honed these inves­tiga­tive skills in the Sovi­et army. After study­ing lan­guages and mil­i­tary geog­ra­phy at the Mil­i­tary Insti­tute of the Sovi­et Min­istry of Defense, a famed breed­ing ground for KGB offi­cers, Koshkin grad­u­at­ed in 1980 and began work­ing in Africa as a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer.

    Koshkin is reluc­tant to speak about his intel­li­gence work except to say that he wasn’t real­ly a spy. But, he does recall being inter­cept­ed by F‑14s and F4s while fly­ing over neu­tral waters to Ango­la in a Tupolev Tu-95, snap­ping pic­tures of mil­i­tary instal­la­tions. “It was all very friend­ly,” he said. “We waved to each oth­er.”

    He came to the U.S. in the late 80s as part of a joint U.S.-Soviet mil­i­tary work­ing group. By that point Koshkin had grown cyn­i­cal about the Sovi­et Union, he said, and imag­ined a life in the West, but was only will­ing to leave the mil­i­tary “clean­ly and hon­or­ably.”

    That oppor­tu­ni­ty came in 1989 when the USSR began reduc­ing its armed forces lev­els and gave Koshkin leave. By 1991, he was liv­ing in San Fran­cis­co and work­ing for a pub­lic rela­tions com­pa­ny, the PBN Com­pa­ny, focused on the new­ly opened Russ­ian mar­ket.

    After two years at PBN, Koshkin began advis­ing U.S. com­pa­nies on doing busi­ness in the “wild, wild East,” and in 1996, Koshkin and attor­ney Yevge­ny N. Pshenich­ny, also a grad­u­ate of the Sovi­et Mil­i­tary Insti­tute, found­ed the Tri­dent Group.
    ...

    “Koshkin honed these inves­tiga­tive skills in the Sovi­et army. After study­ing lan­guages and mil­i­tary geog­ra­phy at the Mil­i­tary Insti­tute of the Sovi­et Min­istry of Defense, a famed breed­ing ground for KGB offi­cers, Koshkin grad­u­at­ed in 1980 and began work­ing in Africa as a mil­i­tary intel­li­gence offi­cer.”

    Again, note how Kohskin’s Sovi­et intel­li­gence back­ground is basi­cal­ly the same as Kon­stan­tin Kil­imnik’s in that they both stud­ied lan­guages at the Sovi­et Min­istry of Defense. In Kil­imnik’s case this is cit­ed as proof-pos­i­tive he’s a Russ­ian agent (despite being Ukrain­ian and years of work for the Inter­na­tion­al Repub­li­can Insti­tute), but in Koshk­in’s case those years of Sovi­et intel­li­gence train­ing are seen as an invalu­able asset for his West­ern clients.

    So that’s all some­thing to keep in mind as this bizarre Babchenko sto­ry unfolds. And while Tri­dent Group denies any ties to this oper­a­tion, and there’s no short­age of rea­sons they would have for deny­ing involve­ment if there was any, it’s also worth not­ing that one of the ser­vices Tri­dent Group offers to clients is iden­ti­fy­ing cor­rup­tion in Ukraine. So if it is the case that Tri­dent Group is work­ing with the Ukrain­ian intel­li­gence ser­vices, that might make those the ser­vices Tri­dent Group is offer­ing to clients about iden­ti­fy­ing cor­rup­tion asso­ci­at­ed with Ukrain­ian com­pa­nies seem a lit­tle, well, cor­rupt.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 2, 2018, 3:53 pm
  9. Here’s a quick update on the mys­tery of the hoax assas­si­na­tion of Arkady Babchenko and the claims that this was nec­es­sar­i­ly to uncov­er a Moscow-direct­ed assassination/terror plot: The ‘mid­dle­man’ in the case, Boris L. Herman/German, has giv­en the name of the old asso­ciate per­son he claims con­tact­ed him about set­ting up the assas­si­na­tions. Recall that Herman/German already claimed that, “I got a call from a long­time acquain­tance who lives in Moscow, and in the process of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with him it turned out that he works for a Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine.” Well, that asso­ciate is appar­ent­ly some­one named Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik. And The Bell, a Russ­ian-lan­guage pub­li­ca­tion, has tracked down an indi­vid­ual by that name who does indeed appear to have ties to Herman/German. Here’s a quick overview from Meduza.io on what The Bell found:

    Meduza

    Jour­nal­ists find busi­ness ties between the pri­ma­ry sus­pect in the Babchenko attempt­ed mur­der case and the Russ­ian man who alleged­ly ordered the hit

    Meduza
    08:44, 1 june 2018

    Late on May 31, a Kiev dis­trict court placed the busi­ness­man Boris Ger­man under arrest for alleged­ly orga­niz­ing the attempt­ed mur­der of the jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko. Ger­man says he start­ed coop­er­at­ing with Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence after he was approached by an “old acquain­tance” liv­ing in Moscow who “works at a Putin foun­da­tion, orga­niz­ing unrest in Ukraine.” He iden­ti­fied the man as Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik.

    Using the “SPARK” busi­ness-ana­lyt­ics sys­tem, the newslet­ter The Bell dug up infor­ma­tion about a man named Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik, find­ing that he man­ages or owns shares in five Ukrain­ian legal enti­ties. One of these com­pa­nies is Pub­lic Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine LLC, which Pivo­varnik cofound­ed with Sergey Ere­meye­vich Deyev, who’s men­tioned in news reports as an expert at a Russ­ian orga­ni­za­tion called the Nation­al and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Foun­da­tion. This enti­ty was head­ed by the Sovi­et gen­er­al Leonid Sher­sh­nev, until he died in 2014. Sher­sh­nev found­ed the nation­al­ist foun­da­tion “Rus­sians” and the Cen­ter for Assis­tance to Com­pa­tri­ots From Novorossiya and Ukraine.

    The Bell also man­aged to find a link between Pivo­varnik and Ger­man: the for­mer was the gen­er­al direc­tor of “Rus­con-Ukraine,” which was owned by a for­eign com­pa­ny called “Ener­gy Trade Ser­vices LTD.” This was pre­sum­ably the British com­pa­ny “NRV TRADE SERVICES LTD,” whose direc­tor is Boris Ger­man. Pivo­varnik and Ger­man are also friends on the social net­work Odnok­lass­ni­ki.

    Rus­con-Ukraine is a joint ven­ture with the Russ­ian con­tain­er oper­a­tor Rus­con, which is owned by for­mer State Duma deputy Sergey Shishkarev. The Russ­ian news media has tied Shishkarev to for­mer Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Dmit­ry Rogozin, who now heads the Roscos­mos State Cor­po­ra­tion for Space Activ­i­ties.

    ———-

    “Jour­nal­ists find busi­ness ties between the pri­ma­ry sus­pect in the Babchenko attempt­ed mur­der case and the Russ­ian man who alleged­ly ordered the hit”; Meduza; 06/01/2018

    “Using the “SPARK” busi­ness-ana­lyt­ics sys­tem, the newslet­ter The Bell dug up infor­ma­tion about a man named Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik, find­ing that he man­ages or owns shares in five Ukrain­ian legal enti­ties. One of these com­pa­nies is Pub­lic Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine LLC, which Pivo­varnik cofound­ed with Sergey Ere­meye­vich Deyev, who’s men­tioned in news reports as an expert at a Russ­ian orga­ni­za­tion called the Nation­al and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Foun­da­tion. This enti­ty was head­ed by the Sovi­et gen­er­al Leonid Sher­sh­nev, until he died in 2014. Sher­sh­nev found­ed the nation­al­ist foun­da­tion “Rus­sians” and the Cen­ter for Assis­tance to Com­pa­tri­ots From Novorossiya and Ukraine.”

    So based on The Bel­l’s find­ings, Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik man­ages or owns shared in five legal Ukrain­ian enti­ties. But the clos­est con­nec­tion they could find to Russ­ian foun­da­tion is that one of the com­pa­nies, Pub­lic Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine LLC, was cofound­ed with Sergey Ere­meye­vich Deyev, who is report­ed­ly an expert at a Russ­ian orga­ni­za­tion called the Nation­al and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Foun­da­tion. And this orga­ni­za­tion was, until 2014, head­ed by Sovi­et gen­er­al Leonid Sher­sh­nev who found­ed the Cen­ter for Assis­tance to Com­pa­tri­ots From Novorossiya and Ukraine. So Herman/German’s con­tact does have tan­gen­tial ties to a pair of Russ­ian foun­da­tions, but unless there’s some rev­e­la­tion about either the Nation­al and Inter­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Foun­da­tion or the Cen­ter for Assis­tance to Com­pa­tri­ots From Novorossiya and Ukraine being Krem­lin front groups focused on desta­bi­liz­ing Ukraine it’s hard to see this as a con­fir­ma­tion of Her­man’s claims.

    And The Bell also found some direct links between Pivo­varnik and Her­man:

    ...
    The Bell also man­aged to find a link between Pivo­varnik and Ger­man: the for­mer was the gen­er­al direc­tor of “Rus­con-Ukraine,” which was owned by a for­eign com­pa­ny called “Ener­gy Trade Ser­vices LTD.” This was pre­sum­ably the British com­pa­ny “NRV TRADE SERVICES LTD,” whose direc­tor is Boris Ger­man. Pivo­varnik and Ger­man are also friends on the social net­work Odnok­lass­ni­ki.
    ...

    So at this point it looks like we can con­clude that Her­man knows Pivo­varnik, they were busi­ness part­ners, and Her­man is will­ing to pub­licly accuse Pivo­varnik of orches­trat­ing an assassination/terror cam­paign.

    What can we con­clude about any ties to a “Putin foun­da­tion pre­cise­ly to orches­trate desta­bi­liza­tion in Ukraine?” Well, we can also con­clude that Pivo­varnik co-found­ed a com­pa­ny with a guy who is an expert at a foun­da­tion that was head­ed, until 2014, by a for­mer Sovi­et gen­er­al who found­ed the Assis­tance to Com­pa­tri­ots From Novorossiya and Ukraine foun­da­tion. That’s pret­ty much it at this point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 4, 2018, 4:36 pm
  10. Here’s the lat­est twists on the Babchenko fake mur­der mys­tery: It turns out Boris German/Herman has some mob ties. Specif­i­cal­ly, his father, Lev Her­man, was known to have deep roots to Semi­on Mogile­vich, the top Russ­ian mob boss (who was born in Ukraine). And accord­ing to John Herb­st, the for­mer US Ambas­sador to Ukraine and cur­rent direc­tor of the Atlantic Coun­cil’s Eura­sia Cen­ter, Boris him­self is also con­nect­ed to Mogile­vich like his father.

    Inter­est­ing­ly, the fact that Lev Her­man has these ties to Mogile­vich is char­ac­ter­ized as just a known thing in the arti­cle below and not a secret. So being the son of a known Mogile­vich asso­ciate and an asso­ciate your­self appar­ent­ly does­n’t hurt your chances of being the exec­u­tive as a Ukrain­ian defense con­trac­tor these days.

    And the fact that Mogile­vich was born in Ukraine rais­es an inter­est­ing regard­ing his orga­ni­za­tion and the Ukrainian/Russian con­flict: so whose side is Mogile­vich on? Has he picked a side? Is he try­ing to play all sides? It’s an exam­ple of a gener­ic ques­tion that rarely gets asked with the out­break of the Ukrain­ian con­flict: did the mafia have to pick sides, or is play­ing all sides an option?

    This fam­i­ly con­nec­tion to Mogile­vich is seen as pos­si­bly explain­ing why an exec­u­tive at a Ukrain­ian defense con­trac­tor would be alleged­ly approached to orga­nized a Russ­ian assassination/terror oper­a­tion. So it’s worth keep­ing in mind anoth­er fig­ure whose father was a know Mogile­vich asso­ciate: Felix Sater! And as Sater’s bio and exten­sive work help­ing the FBI and CIA reminds us, just because you’re the son of a known Mogile­vich asso­ciate with mob ties your­self does­n’t mean you can’t work for oth­er gov­ern­ments, which is a key fun fact to keep in mind with a case like this:

    The Dai­ly Beast

    How That Faked Mur­der of a Jour­nal­ist Exposed Russia’s Gang­sters and Spies
    There are still ques­tions about whether the sting oper­a­tion that “killed” Arkady Babchenko real­ly helped catch crim­i­nals. But it attract­ed atten­tion to a dan­ger­ous mob con­nec­tion.

    Anna Nemtso­va
    Christo­pher Dick­ey
    06.05.18 12:33 PM ET

    It’s been a week now since the wife of exiled Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko report­ed­ly heard shots and found him face down on the floor of their apart­ment in Kiev. Three bul­let holes were plain­ly vis­i­ble in his sweater, show­ing he’d been shot in the back. Beneath him was a pud­dle of blood. Some of it oozed out of his mouth.

    Then, the next day, Babchenko showed up alive and well at a press con­fer­ence the brass of the Ukraine Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice, the SBU, to announce the whole thing was a ruse—a sting, as they say in America—to flush out the con­spir­a­tors in a Krem­lin plot to mur­der crit­ics who sought safe­ty in Ukraine.

    Since then, Babchenko has spo­ken at some length with a small group of his col­leagues, and mean­while the main sus­pect in the con­spir­a­cy has appeared in court.

    The details sug­gest some very dark oper­a­tions, what Russ­ian spies used to call mokroye delo, wet work, mean­ing con­tract mur­ders or, in more anti­sep­tic Amer­i­can par­lance, tar­get­ed killings. There are also sug­ges­tions the plot­ters may have called on the ser­vices of orga­nized crime, which is not unusu­al in the over­lap­ping under­worlds of intel­li­gence and the mob.

    ...

    One glar­ing ques­tion left unan­swered, and often unasked, is why the Babchenko per­for­mance was nec­es­sary at all in order to arrest the one con­spir­a­tor who actu­al­ly appeared in the dock. By every indi­ca­tion, the case against him already was made. One is left with the impres­sion that the pur­pose of the sting was pri­mar­i­ly to pub­li­cize the inves­ti­ga­tion, which it cer­tain­ly did. But if new infor­ma­tion came to light because of it, that has not been revealed.

    ——Dou­ble Agents?——

    The alleged orga­niz­er of the attempt­ed assas­si­na­tion, Borys Her­man, appeared in a Ukraine court on Thurs­day, report­ed­ly hav­ing been detained the day before, pri­or to Babchenko’s tele­vised res­ur­rec­tion.

    Borys Her­man (also writ­ten Boris Ger­man) is a pudgy, round-faced 50-year-old inde­pen­dent arms man­u­fac­tur­er who appeared before the judges in a white short-sleeved shirt. He was iso­lat­ed in a glass box, and often grabbed his head, or shook it as if suf­fer­ing flash­es of phys­i­cal pain when he heard the accu­sa­tions he was involved with Russ­ian-backed ter­ror­ism.

    His lawyer argued that Herman’s arms com­pa­ny, Schmeiss­er, had worked close­ly with Ukraine’s defense min­istry, sell­ing to the country’s mil­i­tary weapons that were used in the fight against Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists.

    More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, Her­man declared that he was a dou­ble agent work­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly for Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence and a Putin-linked fund or foun­da­tion rep­re­sent­ed by an “old acquain­tance” of his in Moscow named Vyach­eslav Pivo­varnik.

    Her­man said this mys­te­ri­ous fund “orga­nizes unrest in Ukraine” and has been plot­ting “ter­ror­ist attacks” meant to impact next year’s Ukrain­ian pres­i­den­tial elec­tions. Putin spokesman Dmit­ry Peskov says no such fund exists.

    In Herman’s chronol­o­gy of events, he was con­tact­ed about six months ago by Pivo­varnik and quick­ly informed what he called “Ukrain­ian coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence.” Her­man claimed that these Ukrain­ian offi­cials first asked him to help inves­ti­gate the Kremlin’s plans for con­tract killings but then he was detained and accused of coop­er­at­ing with Moscow’s ter­ror­ist pro­gram.

    Tech­ni­cal­ly, at least, coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence is part of the SBU, as the pros­e­cu­tor point­ed out. Herman’s response: “Our coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence is in con­flict with the SBU. Every­body pulls the blan­ket in his direc­tion, instead of defend­ing the state togeth­er.”

    Such is the infight­ing in Ukraine that even the state pros­e­cu­tor in this case, for­mer inter­nal affairs min­is­ter Yuriy Lut­senko, has been inves­ti­gat­ed in the past for alleged cor­rup­tion.

    ——Mob Boss­es——

    Herman’s fam­i­ly back­ground might have made him seem a like­ly choice to orga­nize con­tract killings. His father, Lev Her­man is known in Ukraine for his deep-root­ed con­nec­tions to a famous Ukrain­ian-born Russ­ian crime boss, Semi­on Mogile­vich, who has many alleged links to top Russ­ian offi­cials.

    On Fri­day, in an inter­view with The Dai­ly Beast, for­mer U.S. Ambas­sador to Ukraine John Herb­st, who is now direc­tor of the Atlantic Council’s Eura­sia Cen­ter, con­firmed it is his “under­stand­ing” that Boris Her­man, like his father, “is con­nect­ed to Mogile­vich.”

    And that is very inter­est­ing indeed in the cur­rent con­text.

    Mogile­vich has been a tar­get of FBI inves­ti­ga­tions into mas­sive scams and frauds dat­ing back at least to the 1990s. (In those days, as it hap­pened, one of his top lieu­tenants lived in Trump Tow­er.)

    In 2008 Russ­ian police final­ly detained Mogile­vich, accus­ing him of a $2 mil­lion tax eva­sion case, but the fol­low­ing year the mob boss walked free because he sup­pos­ed­ly was con­sid­ered “not a dan­ger to the pub­lic.”

    That’s not the way the FBI saw it. The feds put him on their 10 Most Want­ed list in 2009, not­ing that the fraud case for which he’d been indict­ed was just one rel­a­tive­ly small ele­ment of a vast “inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal enter­prise.”

    The FBI press release about this “glob­al con artist and ruth­less crim­i­nal’ includ­ed these remarks by one of the agents who’d been track­ing Mogile­vich:

    “The FBI doesn’t have the juris­dic­tion to charge him with oth­er crimes tak­ing place sole­ly in oth­er coun­tries,” said Spe­cial Agent Peter Kowen­hoven, “but open-source report­ing shows him to be involved in weapons traf­fick­ing, con­tract mur­ders, extor­tion, drug traf­fick­ing, and pros­ti­tu­tion on an inter­na­tion­al scale.” ...

    “Vic­tims don’t mean any­thing to him,” [Kowen­hoven] said. “And what makes him so dan­ger­ous is that he oper­ates with­out bor­ders. Here’s a guy who man­aged to defraud investors out of $150 mil­lion with­out ever step­ping foot in the Philadel­phia area.”

    Mogile­vich, who is in his ear­ly 60s, is about 5‑feet-6-inch­es tall and weighs near­ly 300 pounds. He has pock­marks on his face, may have a mous­tache, and is a heavy smok­er. He is liv­ing in Moscow, where Russ­ian law pro­hibits his extra­di­tion to the U.S.

    Through his exten­sive inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal net­work, Mogile­vich con­trols exten­sive nat­ur­al gas pipelines in East­ern Europe, and he uses this wealth and pow­er to not only fur­ther his crim­i­nal enter­pris­es but to influ­ence gov­ern­ments and their economies, Kowen­hoven said.

    “With him, it’s all about money—money and influ­ence. And the real­ly chill­ing thing is that he seems will­ing to work with any crim­i­nals, regard­less of their ide­ol­o­gy.”

    Mogilevich’s mon­ey laun­der­ing net­work involved 27 nations around the world.

    — FBI “Most Want­ed” Notice for Semi­on Mogile­vich, 2009

    ——The Monk Who Got the Con­tract——

    Ukrain­ian pros­e­cu­tor gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko says that the Russ­ian secret ser­vices were behind the alleged plot to mur­der Babchenko, and they gave Her­man the job of pulling it all togeth­er. Her­man then hired Olek­siy Tsym­ba­lyuk, a for­mer monk and a vet­er­an of the war in east­ern Ukraine.

    Her­man said he gave the assign­ment to Tsym­ba­lyuk, along with a down pay­ment of $20,000 on a $40,000 con­tract, pre­cise­ly because he knew such a reli­gious war­rior would not kill an unarmed man.

    A long-time friend of Tsym­ba­lyuk also attest­ed to his char­ac­ter. Timur Nish­ni­an­idze, a for­mer Geor­gian diplo­mat based in Ukraine, told The Dai­ly Beast in a phone inter­view, “The so-called ‘hit­man’ is a Ukrain­ian nation­al­ist, a devot­ed patri­ot of Ukraine and my friend, he is a pal, very kind and fun, and well­re­gard­ed in Ukrain­ian secu­ri­ty ser­vices and in the mil­i­tary.”

    Nish­ni­an­idze told The Dai­ly Beast, “At a recent pri­vate meet­ing Tsym­ba­lyuk told us that some men came to him and offered thou­sands of dol­lars to kill the Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Babchenko; Tsym­ba­lyuk imme­di­ate­ly report­ed to SBU—that was his moral duty,” Nish­ni­an­idze added.

    Nobody dis­putes that Tsym­ba­lyuk coop­er­at­ed with the SBU, even record­ing the exchange of mon­ey at a meet­ing in a car.

    But if Tsym­ba­lyuk was work­ing with the police and there already was evi­dence against Herman—who may have been work­ing with anoth­er branch of the same secu­ri­ty service—what was the pur­pose of the sting? Did it fill some hole in the case against Borys Her­man? Did it fur­ther impli­cate his alleged accom­plice at the mys­te­ri­ous Putin fund? Did spies with­ing the SBU give them­selves away by their reac­tions? Babchenko’s fake death might have accom­plished any num­ber of things, but noth­ing pre­sent­ed so far shows what those were. The only cer­tain­ty is that it cre­at­ed a lot of noise.

    In the mean­time, what the infor­ma­tion actu­al­ly released about the case so far has done is intim­i­date a large group of peo­ple in Ukraine, many of them jour­nal­ists, who might be on an alleged Krem­lin hit list—and that is all the more omi­nous because the pub­lic has not been told what the names are.

    ——Gimme Shel­ter——

    On Fri­day Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Lut­senko stat­ed that the num­ber of peo­ple on the list for assas­si­na­tions alleged­ly pre­pared by the Russ­ian secret ser­vice and passed to Her­man was much high­er than the orig­i­nal list of 30 names men­tioned at the SBU’s Babchenko res­ur­rec­tion press con­fer­ence last week. Now the pros­e­cu­tor is talk­ing about 47 names.

    A source who has been briefed by secu­ri­ty ser­vices told The Dai­ly Beast that the alleged assas­sins were going to choose one or two vic­tims from this ros­ter of almost four dozen peo­ple. The idea would be to tar­get some­one whose death would cre­ate as a big a scan­dal as pos­si­ble but who would be clue­less and an easy tar­get. Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors say they have cor­re­spon­dence among the alleged orga­niz­ers of the hit dis­cussing the price on the head of a Ukrain­ian politi­cian.

    Some jour­nal­ists in Ukraine are very sus­pi­cious of the case pre­sent­ed thus far by the gov­ern­ment. They fear that what’s being called “The Sto­ry of 47” is meant to put more pres­sure on an already embat­tled press corps. By pub­li­ciz­ing a list like this—and then leak­ing the names of the jour­nal­ists and bloggers—the SBU is essen­tial­ly warn­ing them the way to stay safe is to work with the secu­ri­ty ser­vice. That was why Babchenko says he decid­ed to play along. He felt he had no choice.

    If the SBU had a bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion among reporters, coop­er­a­tion might be more accept­able, but Ukrain­ian reporters note they have yet to see a prop­er inves­ti­ga­tion into the real assas­si­na­tion of their friend the Ukrain­skaya Prav­da reporter Pavel Sheremet. He was blown up in his car in July 2016. Both Pavel and his girl­friend Ole­na Pry­tu­la, also a jour­nal­ist from Ukrain­skaya Prav­da, had received mul­ti­ple death threats for crit­i­ciz­ing Ukraine’s own author­i­ties, and had com­plained that some­body was tail­ing them.

    Such is the record of polit­i­cal assas­si­na­tions in Ukraine that all threats have to be tak­en seri­ous­ly. As Amb. Herb­st not­ed, when all is said and done, “The impor­tant thing is that there have been a num­ber of mur­ders in Ukraine of Russ­ian oppo­si­tion fig­ures and of effec­tive Ukrain­ian fight­ers in Don­bas [east­ern Ukraine].”

    If Babchenko’s sting helped pre­vent more such killings then, messy as that ruse proved to be, it has to be count­ed in the plus col­umn.

    ———-

    “How That Faked Mur­der of a Jour­nal­ist Exposed Russia’s Gang­sters and Spies” by Anna Nemtso­va and Christo­pher Dick­ey; The Dai­ly Beast; 06/05/2018

    “The details sug­gest some very dark oper­a­tions, what Russ­ian spies used to call mokroye delo, wet work, mean­ing con­tract mur­ders or, in more anti­sep­tic Amer­i­can par­lance, tar­get­ed killings. There are also sug­ges­tions the plot­ters may have called on the ser­vices of orga­nized crime, which is not unusu­al in the over­lap­ping under­worlds of intel­li­gence and the mob.

    So it sound­ing like the alle­ga­tions by the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment are mor­ph­ing some­what from ‘the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was behind this assassination/terror plot’ to ‘the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment and mafia behind this assassination/terror plot’ fol­low­ing the obser­va­tion that Boris Herman/German’s father, Lev Her­man, is known in Ukraine for deep roots to Semi­on Mogile­vich. And we have the for­mer US Amas­sador to Ukraine and cur­rent direc­tor of the Atlantic Coun­cil’s Eura­sia Cen­ter, John Herb­st, say­ing that is it his “under­stand­ing” that Boris is also con­nect­ed to Mogile­vich like his father:

    ...
    ——Mob Boss­es——

    Herman’s fam­i­ly back­ground might have made him seem a like­ly choice to orga­nize con­tract killings. His father, Lev Her­man is known in Ukraine for his deep-root­ed con­nec­tions to a famous Ukrain­ian-born Russ­ian crime boss, Semi­on Mogile­vich, who has many alleged links to top Russ­ian offi­cials.

    On Fri­day, in an inter­view with The Dai­ly Beast, for­mer U.S. Ambas­sador to Ukraine John Herb­st, who is now direc­tor of the Atlantic Council’s Eura­sia Cen­ter, con­firmed it is his “under­stand­ing” that Boris Her­man, like his father, “is con­nect­ed to Mogile­vich.”

    And that is very inter­est­ing indeed in the cur­rent con­text.

    Mogile­vich has been a tar­get of FBI inves­ti­ga­tions into mas­sive scams and frauds dat­ing back at least to the 1990s. (In those days, as it hap­pened, one of his top lieu­tenants lived in Trump Tow­er.)

    In 2008 Russ­ian police final­ly detained Mogile­vich, accus­ing him of a $2 mil­lion tax eva­sion case, but the fol­low­ing year the mob boss walked free because he sup­pos­ed­ly was con­sid­ered “not a dan­ger to the pub­lic.”

    That’s not the way the FBI saw it. The feds put him on their 10 Most Want­ed list in 2009, not­ing that the fraud case for which he’d been indict­ed was just one rel­a­tive­ly small ele­ment of a vast “inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal enter­prise.”

    ...

    So we’ll see what sort of addi­tion­al mafia ties end up get­ting revealed by German/Herman as this thing plays out.

    And note how the ini­tial list of 30 tar­get­ed peo­ple is now up to 47. But some Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ists who remain sus­pi­cious of the gov­ern­men­t’s sto­ry so far are con­cerned that this whole “Sto­ry of 47” is being used to put even more pres­sure on jour­nal­ists. By leak­ing the names of the jour­nal­ists and blog­gers on the list the SBU is simul­ta­ne­ous­ly send­ing the mes­sage that the way to stay safe is to work with the secu­ri­ty ser­vices:

    ...
    On Fri­day Pros­e­cu­tor Gen­er­al Lut­senko stat­ed that the num­ber of peo­ple on the list for assas­si­na­tions alleged­ly pre­pared by the Russ­ian secret ser­vice and passed to Her­man was much high­er than the orig­i­nal list of 30 names men­tioned at the SBU’s Babchenko res­ur­rec­tion press con­fer­ence last week. Now the pros­e­cu­tor is talk­ing about 47 names.

    A source who has been briefed by secu­ri­ty ser­vices told The Dai­ly Beast that the alleged assas­sins were going to choose one or two vic­tims from this ros­ter of almost four dozen peo­ple. The idea would be to tar­get some­one whose death would cre­ate as a big a scan­dal as pos­si­ble but who would be clue­less and an easy tar­get. Ukrain­ian inves­ti­ga­tors say they have cor­re­spon­dence among the alleged orga­niz­ers of the hit dis­cussing the price on the head of a Ukrain­ian politi­cian.

    Some jour­nal­ists in Ukraine are very sus­pi­cious of the case pre­sent­ed thus far by the gov­ern­ment. They fear that what’s being called “The Sto­ry of 47” is meant to put more pres­sure on an already embat­tled press corps. By pub­li­ciz­ing a list like this—and then leak­ing the names of the jour­nal­ists and bloggers—the SBU is essen­tial­ly warn­ing them the way to stay safe is to work with the secu­ri­ty ser­vice. That was why Babchenko says he decid­ed to play along. He felt he had no choice.

    If the SBU had a bet­ter rep­u­ta­tion among reporters, coop­er­a­tion might be more accept­able, but Ukrain­ian reporters note they have yet to see a prop­er inves­ti­ga­tion into the real assas­si­na­tion of their friend the Ukrain­skaya Prav­da reporter Pavel Sheremet. He was blown up in his car in July 2016. Both Pavel and his girl­friend Ole­na Pry­tu­la, also a jour­nal­ist from Ukrain­skaya Prav­da, had received mul­ti­ple death threats for crit­i­ciz­ing Ukraine’s own author­i­ties, and had com­plained that some­body was tail­ing them.
    ...

    and that’s anoth­er fea­ture of the Babchenko mur­der hoax: a whole lot of Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ists are going to stay in the SBU’s good side in case their name was on the list.

    So along those lines, its worth not­ing that the list of 47 names was some­how unof­fi­cial­ly leaked yes­ter­day. The SBU won’t con­firm the pub­lished list is real but they are open­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into how it leaked so that’s basi­cal­ly a con­fir­ma­tion. And yet a num­ber of Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ists, includ­ing those on the list, ques­tion its cred­i­bil­i­ty. They note the list is filled with the names of peo­ple crit­i­cal of the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties. Also, some of the jour­nal­ists on the list say they were shown the real list by the SBU and this pub­lished list appears to be dif­fer­ent from what they saw:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    In Ukraine, Promi­nent Jour­nal­ists Tar­get­ed By ‘Russ­ian Hit List’ Ques­tion Its Authen­tic­i­ty

    Last Updat­ed: June 06, 2018 08:36 GMT

    Christo­pher Miller

    KYIV — The leak of an alleged “Russ­ian hit list” has stirred anx­i­eties and raised more ques­tions about the bizarre Ukrain­ian stag­ing of jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko’s death after jour­nal­ists on the list said they doubt­ed its authen­tic­i­ty.

    ...

    Instead of details in the bizarre case becom­ing clear­er, they have grown murki­er by the day, with author­i­ties fin­ger­ing the direc­tor of a Ukrain­ian arms man­u­fac­tur­er that pro­vides sights to snipers of its armed forces as the orga­niz­er who hired a right-wing, anti-Russ­ian, for­mer monk-turned-vol­un­teer sol­dier to be the shoot­er.

    Both have claimed to have been in league with Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices, some­thing Ukrain­ian offi­cials first denied, then part­ly cor­rect­ed, say­ing the would-be shoot­er, Olek­siy Tsim­ba­lyuk, had indeed been work­ing with them. The man­u­fac­tur­er, Borys Her­man, was remand­ed in cus­tody by a Kyiv court on May 31.

    The whole affair took a strange new turn on June 5 when a pur­port­ed “hit list” of 47 peo­ple — main­ly jour­nal­ists and polit­i­cal activists — that the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) claims to have dis­cov­ered dur­ing the Babchenko oper­a­tion was leaked to Strana.ua, an oppo­si­tion news site, and pub­lished online..

    SBU spokes­woman Ole­na Hitlyan­s­ka told Inter­fax-Ukraine on June 5 that she was not famil­iar with the Strana.ua list and could not com­ment on its authen­tic­i­ty.

    “The list is a secret of the inves­ti­ga­tion,” she said.

    But the SBU has con­firmed the exis­tence of a 47-per­son list of peo­ple it claims are poten­tial Russ­ian assas­si­na­tion tar­gets. They first claimed to have dis­cov­ered a list 30 names long. Yuriy Lut­senko, Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al, said last week that all 47 peo­ple had been informed and arrange­ments were being made to ensure their safe­ty.

    Then lat­er, on June 5, the SBU announced it had launched a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the unau­tho­rized leak of “a list of per­sons whose details are con­tained” in mate­ri­als relat­ed to a pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion, seem­ing­ly lend­ing cre­dence to Strana.ua’s report.

    The Krem­lin had not com­ment­ed on the list at the time of pub­li­ca­tion. But it denied any involve­ment after Ukraine accused it of order­ing the assas­si­na­tion of Babchenko before he showed up alive at a press con­fer­ence the fol­low­ing day.

    List ‘Mul­ti­plies Before Our Eyes’

    The “hit list” caused wor­ry and con­fu­sion for many jour­nal­ists as they open­ly doubt­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of a doc­u­ment that had been so var­i­ous­ly described in such a short peri­od of time.

    Dmytro Gnap, a jour­nal­ist for inde­pen­dent Hro­madske TV’s Slidstvo.info inves­tiga­tive unit, who is not among those on the list, seemed to doubt its verac­i­ty in a post on Face­book, ask­ing sar­cas­ti­cal­ly how the num­ber of peo­ple on the list seemed to “mul­ti­ply before my eyes.”

    Oth­ers also doubt­ed its prove­nance, say­ing they found the make­up of it odd, since so many peo­ple on it were crit­ics of the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties. Olek­siy Bra­tushchak, a jour­nal­ist for the inde­pen­dent Ukrayin­skaya Prav­da news site, won­dered whether this sig­naled an attempt by Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices to con­trol “all [the] move­ments, all [the] meet­ings” of its crit­ics ahead of elec­tions.

    Reached by RFE/RL on June 4, three jour­nal­ists on the list who spoke on the con­di­tion that their names be with­held due to the poten­tial threat to their lives (and because the SBU had them sign a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment) said they doubt­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of the list for a num­ber of rea­sons.

    They con­firmed the list pub­lished by Strana.ua was sim­i­lar to the one they had been shown by the SBU but said it had some slight dif­fer­ences, includ­ing vari­a­tions in the order of the names and some spellings. All of them not­ed that Babchenko’s name was not on the list.

    The three said they had been offered state secu­ri­ty but declined it, say­ing they did not trust the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties to pro­tect them or not to spy on them.

    One of the jour­nal­ists brought in said the SBU had also ques­tioned them. Among the ques­tions they were asked: What is your opin­ion of Russ­ian aggres­sion in Ukraine?

    No Crit­i­cism Allowed?

    Jour­nal­ists in Ukraine have long faced harass­ment, intim­i­da­tion, dox­ing, and phys­i­cal attacks — some of which has come from author­i­ties.

    On May 30, Larysa Sarhan, spokes­woman for Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko, pub­lished on her Face­book page a list of jour­nal­ists that includ­ed Myrosla­va Gongadze, head of Voice of Amer­i­ca’s Ukrain­ian ser­vice and the wid­ow of mur­dered Ukrain­ian jour­nal­ist Heo­rhiy Gongadze, and Nation­al Union of Jour­nal­ists of Ukraine Chair­man Ser­hiy Tomilenko.

    Sarhan took them to task for crit­i­ciz­ing the author­i­ties’ han­dling of the Babchenko oper­a­tion, which was also lam­bast­ed by inter­na­tion­al groups.

    Harlem Desir, the Orga­ni­za­tion for Secu­ri­ty and Coop­er­a­tion in Europe’s (OSCE) rep­re­sen­ta­tive on free­dom of the media, con­demned Sarhan’s words.

    “The pub­lish­ing of a list includ­ing names of jour­nal­ists, accus­ing them of being trai­tors, is unac­cept­able and dan­ger­ous. This can have seri­ous reper­cus­sions for the safe­ty of jour­nal­ists,” Desir wrote in a let­ter to the author­i­ties. “I strong­ly encour­age the author­i­ties to inter­vene and sus­pend such prac­tices, espe­cial­ly those under­tak­en by gov­ern­ment offi­cials, giv­en the sen­si­tive and dif­fi­cult envi­ron­ment in Ukraine at the moment.”

    ‘I Got Used To Watch­ing My Back’

    Yevge­ny Kise­ly­ov, a vet­er­an Russ­ian jour­nal­ist and TV news pre­sen­ter at Ukraine’s Pryamiy TV, a net­work that is sup­port­ive of Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko, was among the few who spoke on the record about being on the list. He told RFE/RL he believed the list was real and that he was unsur­prised his name turned up on it but that it did not rat­tle him.

    Kise­ly­ov, who moved to Ukraine in 2008 after he was pushed out of Russia’s media scene, and his Pryamiy col­league Matvey Ganapol­sky, also a Russ­ian who relo­cat­ed here fol­low­ing Moscow’s annex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014 and was giv­en Ukrain­ian cit­i­zen­ship, were the first two jour­nal­ists on the alleged list to come for­ward after author­i­ties upped the count from 30 to 47 on June 1 to say they had been informed and offered state secu­ri­ty.

    “I got used to watch­ing my back,” Kise­ly­ov said. “I always assumed that I can be on some kind of a hit list.”

    ———-

    “In Ukraine, Promi­nent Jour­nal­ists Tar­get­ed By ‘Russ­ian Hit List’ Ques­tion Its Authen­tic­i­ty” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 06/06/2018

    “The whole affair took a strange new turn on June 5 when a pur­port­ed “hit list” of 47 peo­ple — main­ly jour­nal­ists and polit­i­cal activists — that the Secu­ri­ty Ser­vice of Ukraine (SBU) claims to have dis­cov­ered dur­ing the Babchenko oper­a­tion was leaked to Strana.ua, an oppo­si­tion news site, and pub­lished online..”

    The ‘hit list’ shows up on an oppo­si­tion web­site. That’s a rather big ‘oops’ for an inves­ti­ga­tion of this nature. And while the SBU won’t con­firm its authen­tic­i­ty, they basi­cal­ly did that by launch­ing a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the unau­tho­rized leak of “a list of per­sons whose details are con­tained” in mate­ri­als relat­ed to a pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion:

    ...
    SBU spokes­woman Ole­na Hitlyan­s­ka told Inter­fax-Ukraine on June 5 that she was not famil­iar with the Strana.ua list and could not com­ment on its authen­tic­i­ty.

    “The list is a secret of the inves­ti­ga­tion,” she said.

    But the SBU has con­firmed the exis­tence of a 47-per­son list of peo­ple it claims are poten­tial Russ­ian assas­si­na­tion tar­gets. They first claimed to have dis­cov­ered a list 30 names long. Yuriy Lut­senko, Ukraine’s pros­e­cu­tor-gen­er­al, said last week that all 47 peo­ple had been informed and arrange­ments were being made to ensure their safe­ty.

    Then lat­er, on June 5, the SBU announced it had launched a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the unau­tho­rized leak of “a list of per­sons whose details are con­tained” in mate­ri­als relat­ed to a pre­tri­al inves­ti­ga­tion, seem­ing­ly lend­ing cre­dence to Strana.ua’s report.
    ...

    And yet a num­ber of the jour­nal­ists on the list still have their doubts. Some of those doubts are due to the large num­ber of crit­ics of the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties on the list. And three jour­nal­ists who claim to have been shown the real like by the SBU spot­ted slight dif­fer­ences in the pub­lished list:

    ...
    List ‘Mul­ti­plies Before Our Eyes’

    The “hit list” caused wor­ry and con­fu­sion for many jour­nal­ists as they open­ly doubt­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of a doc­u­ment that had been so var­i­ous­ly described in such a short peri­od of time.

    Dmytro Gnap, a jour­nal­ist for inde­pen­dent Hro­madske TV’s Slidstvo.info inves­tiga­tive unit, who is not among those on the list, seemed to doubt its verac­i­ty in a post on Face­book, ask­ing sar­cas­ti­cal­ly how the num­ber of peo­ple on the list seemed to “mul­ti­ply before my eyes.”

    Oth­ers also doubt­ed its prove­nance, say­ing they found the make­up of it odd, since so many peo­ple on it were crit­ics of the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties. Olek­siy Bra­tushchak, a jour­nal­ist for the inde­pen­dent Ukrayin­skaya Prav­da news site, won­dered whether this sig­naled an attempt by Ukraine’s intel­li­gence ser­vices to con­trol “all [the] move­ments, all [the] meet­ings” of its crit­ics ahead of elec­tions.

    Reached by RFE/RL on June 4, three jour­nal­ists on the list who spoke on the con­di­tion that their names be with­held due to the poten­tial threat to their lives (and because the SBU had them sign a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment) said they doubt­ed the authen­tic­i­ty of the list for a num­ber of rea­sons.

    They con­firmed the list pub­lished by Strana.ua was sim­i­lar to the one they had been shown by the SBU but said it had some slight dif­fer­ences, includ­ing vari­a­tions in the order of the names and some spellings. All of them not­ed that Babchenko’s name was not on the list.

    The three said they had been offered state secu­ri­ty but declined it, say­ing they did not trust the Ukrain­ian author­i­ties to pro­tect them or not to spy on them.

    One of the jour­nal­ists brought in said the SBU had also ques­tioned them. Among the ques­tions they were asked: What is your opin­ion of Russ­ian aggres­sion in Ukraine?
    ...

    So, at this point, it sounds like Ukraine’s jour­nal­ism com­mu­ni­ty is prob­a­bly legit­i­mate­ly con­cerned about this ‘hit list’ even if they just aren’t nec­es­sar­i­ly con­cerned that Mogile­vich’s asso­ciates are going to be the ones doing the ‘hit­ting’.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 6, 2018, 4:33 pm
  11. And the embrace of neo-Nazi vig­i­lan­tism con­tin­ues: The fourth attack on a Roma camp in six weeks just took place. Live on Face­book. This time by mem­bers of the new formed Azov Nation­al Druzhy­na mili­tia, an off­shoot of the Azov Bat­tal­ion formed in Jan­u­ary to patrol the streets. And, of course, Ukrain­ian police were just stand­ing around approv­ing­ly watch­ing it hap­pen:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    With Axes And Ham­mers, Far-Right Vig­i­lantes Destroy Anoth­er Romany Camp In Kyiv

    Christo­pher Miller
    June 08, 2018 12:12 GMT

    KYIV — Swing­ing axes and sledge­ham­mers as a cam­era rolled, mem­bers of the far-right Azov Nation­al Druzhy­na mili­tia destroyed a Romany camp in Kyiv’s Holosiyivskiy Park on June 7.

    The attack marks the sec­ond such inci­dent by far-right vig­i­lantes in Kyiv and the fourth in Ukraine in the past six weeks.

    The Nation­al Druzhy­na, a mili­tia formed in Jan­u­ary by vet­er­ans of the far-right Azov Bat­tal­ion, had vis­it­ed the camp ear­li­er in the day and spo­ken threat­en­ing­ly with a woman who lived there, an encounter that was filmed by the group and pub­lished on its Face­book page.

    The mili­tia also issued an ulti­ma­tum in the Face­book post for the Roma to clear out with­in 24 hours or be forced out by a “mob.”

    “When the police don’t act, the Nation­al Druzhy­na takes con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion,” the mili­tia wrote.

    But the mili­tia did­n’t wait. Hours lat­er, what appeared to be around two dozen nation­al­ists returned to destroy the camp and harass the few Romany women still there.

    The attack was broad­cast live on the mili­ti­a’s Face­book page.

    That video, which has since been removed, shows the Nation­al Druzhy­na mem­bers in T‑shirts adorned with the group’s insignia hack­ing at the cam­p’s makeshift homes with axes and ham­mers.

    A more com­plete, 12-minute clip of the nation­al­ists’ raid was even­tu­al­ly uploaded to YouTube by Euro­May­dan, a polit­i­cal group born from the 2013–14 upris­ing of the same name.

    At one point, the mili­tia mem­bers mock a woman and child flee­ing with their belong­ings, ask­ing if they planned to eat a near­by dog. “I heard you eat dogs,” one of the men says. Lat­er, anoth­er belit­tles a woman try­ing to col­lect belong­ings from the debris by sug­gest­ing her actions might be accept­able “in India, but not here.”

    Near the end of the video, uni­formed Ukrain­ian police offi­cers appear and casu­al­ly make con­ver­sa­tion as the nation­al­ists wind up their raid.

    With police look­ing on, more than a dozen of the vig­i­lantes pose togeth­er to a cry of “Glo­ry to the nation! Death to ene­mies!”

    Kyiv police spokes­woman Oksana Blyshchik told Hro­madske TV the Romany group had already fled the camp when mili­tia mem­bers arrived, which the video clear­ly con­tra­dicts. She added that no one had been injured and nobody had been detained.

    Late on June 7, Ukraine’s Nation­al Police said in a state­ment that it had begun crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings in what it labeled a case of “hooli­gan­ism.”

    “All active par­tic­i­pants in this event will be iden­ti­fied and brought to jus­tice,” the Nation­al Police said.

    Right-Wing Immu­ni­ty?

    The Holosiyivskiy camp attack fol­lows three oth­ers with­in the past month and a half.

    In May, right-wing thugs attacked a Romany camp in west­ern Ternopil. That fol­lowed the burn­ing of one in the near­by vil­lage of Rudne in the Lviv region.

    In April, mem­bers of the right-wing extrem­ist group C14 chased a group of Roma from their camp at Lysa Hora nature reserve in Kyiv. Masked attack­ers hurled stones and sprayed gas as they chased ter­ri­fied Romany men, women, and chil­dren from the makeshift set­tle­ment.

    Police did noth­ing until a video of the attack went viral online, forc­ing them to open an inves­ti­ga­tion, the results of which remain unclear.

    ...

    In its May Nations In Tran­sit report, Free­dom House warned of the threat to Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy posed by far-right extrem­ism. “They are a real phys­i­cal threat to left-wing, fem­i­nist, lib­er­al, and LGBT activists, human rights defend­ers, as well as eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties,” the report said.

    Crit­ics accuse Ukraine’s cur­rent lead­er­ship of ignor­ing the rad­i­cal and some­times vio­lent actions of mem­bers of nation­al­ist groups with far-right views because of how it might look crack­ing down on them after many fought to pro­tect the coun­try from Rus­sia-backed forces in the war-torn east­ern regions.

    Per­haps hint­ing at a new tack, the Nation­al Police state­ment about the June 7 attack used marked­ly dif­fer­ent lan­guage from state­ments about pre­vi­ous attacks.

    “The police will rig­or­ous­ly respond to a vio­la­tion of the law regard­less of which orga­ni­za­tions’ mem­bers are vio­la­tors,” it said. “No one has the right to engage in ille­gal activ­i­ties, pseu­do ulti­ma­tums, or for the sake of PR to con­duct demon­stra­tive pogroms against oth­er cit­i­zens. In par­tic­u­lar, with regard to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of eth­nic minori­ties.”

    ———-

    “With Axes And Ham­mers, Far-Right Vig­i­lantes Destroy Anoth­er Romany Camp In Kyiv” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 06/08/2018

    “The attack marks the sec­ond such inci­dent by far-right vig­i­lantes in Kyiv and the fourth in Ukraine in the past six weeks.”

    The fourth vig­i­lante neo-Nazi attack in six weeks. And note how they show up at the camp, give a 24 hour warn­ing, and then show up a cou­ple hours lat­er to destroy it and post it all on Face­book. The attack was lit­er­al­ly broad­cast live on their Face­book page:

    ...
    The Nation­al Druzhy­na, a mili­tia formed in Jan­u­ary by vet­er­ans of the far-right Azov Bat­tal­ion, had vis­it­ed the camp ear­li­er in the day and spo­ken threat­en­ing­ly with a woman who lived there, an encounter that was filmed by the group and pub­lished on its Face­book page.

    The mili­tia also issued an ulti­ma­tum in the Face­book post for the Roma to clear out with­in 24 hours or be forced out by a “mob.”

    “When the police don’t act, the Nation­al Druzhy­na takes con­trol of the sit­u­a­tion,” the mili­tia wrote.

    But the mili­tia did­n’t wait. Hours lat­er, what appeared to be around two dozen nation­al­ists returned to destroy the camp and harass the few Romany women still there.

    The attack was broad­cast live on the mili­ti­a’s Face­book page.

    That video, which has since been removed, shows the Nation­al Druzhy­na mem­bers in T‑shirts adorned with the group’s insignia hack­ing at the cam­p’s makeshift homes with axes and ham­mers.
    ...

    And you can watch a full 12 minute clip of it here, which was uploaded to Youtube by a group called “Euro­May­dan”:

    ...
    A more com­plete, 12-minute clip of the nation­al­ists’ raid was even­tu­al­ly uploaded to YouTube by Euro­May­dan, a polit­i­cal group born from the 2013–14 upris­ing of the same name.
    ...

    Note that on the YouTube post­ing there’s no com­ment by Euro­May­dan con­demn­ing or sup­port­ing the action. It’s post­ed with­out com­ment. And the title of the video trans­lates (via Google trans­late) to “Nation­al squads rout­ed the Roma camp in Goloseevsky Park.” So if this Euro­May­dan group dis­ap­proves of these attacks they aren’t mak­ing that clear.

    But, as with all of these attacks, the most dis­turb­ing part is that this is clear­ly being done with the sup­port of the author­i­ties. They lit­er­al­ly show up in the video (start­ing at ~10:30) casu­al­ly stand­ing around:

    ...
    At one point, the mili­tia mem­bers mock a woman and child flee­ing with their belong­ings, ask­ing if they planned to eat a near­by dog. “I heard you eat dogs,” one of the men says. Lat­er, anoth­er belit­tles a woman try­ing to col­lect belong­ings from the debris by sug­gest­ing her actions might be accept­able “in India, but not here.”

    Near the end of the video, uni­formed Ukrain­ian police offi­cers appear and casu­al­ly make con­ver­sa­tion as the nation­al­ists wind up their raid.

    With police look­ing on, more than a dozen of the vig­i­lantes pose togeth­er to a cry of “Glo­ry to the nation! Death to ene­mies!”

    Kyiv police spokes­woman Oksana Blyshchik told Hro­madske TV the Romany group had already fled the camp when mili­tia mem­bers arrived, which the video clear­ly con­tra­dicts. She added that no one had been injured and nobody had been detained.
    ...

    And this all once again high­lights how Ukraine’s author­i­ties have basi­cal­ly giv­en a green light for neo-Nazi vig­i­lantes. Although when videos of pre­vi­ous attacks went viral there were at least some inves­ti­ga­tions opened. Inves­ti­ga­tions that don’t appear to have gone any­where:

    ...
    Right-Wing Immu­ni­ty?

    The Holosiyivskiy camp attack fol­lows three oth­ers with­in the past month and a half.

    In May, right-wing thugs attacked a Romany camp in west­ern Ternopil. That fol­lowed the burn­ing of one in the near­by vil­lage of Rudne in the Lviv region.

    In April, mem­bers of the right-wing extrem­ist group C14 chased a group of Roma from their camp at Lysa Hora nature reserve in Kyiv. Masked attack­ers hurled stones and sprayed gas as they chased ter­ri­fied Romany men, women, and chil­dren from the makeshift set­tle­ment.

    Police did noth­ing until a video of the attack went viral online, forc­ing them to open an inves­ti­ga­tion, the results of which remain unclear.

    ...

    In its May Nations In Tran­sit report, Free­dom House warned of the threat to Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy posed by far-right extrem­ism. “They are a real phys­i­cal threat to left-wing, fem­i­nist, lib­er­al, and LGBT activists, human rights defend­ers, as well as eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties,” the report said.

    Crit­ics accuse Ukraine’s cur­rent lead­er­ship of ignor­ing the rad­i­cal and some­times vio­lent actions of mem­bers of nation­al­ist groups with far-right views because of how it might look crack­ing down on them after many fought to pro­tect the coun­try from Rus­sia-backed forces in the war-torn east­ern regions.
    ...

    “Police did noth­ing until a video of the attack went viral online, forc­ing them to open an inves­ti­ga­tion, the results of which remain unclear.”

    That was the response by Ukrain­ian author­i­ties back in April after a sim­i­lar attack by C14 — which received approval by the Kiev city gov­ern­ment to estab­lish “munic­i­pal guard” to patrol the streets — and it was only after video of the attack went viral that they announced an inves­ti­ga­tion. So, not sur­pris­ing­ly, we’re hear­ing sim­i­lar procla­ma­tions from the police this time:

    ...
    Late on June 7, Ukraine’s Nation­al Police said in a state­ment that it had begun crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings in what it labeled a case of “hooli­gan­ism.”

    “All active par­tic­i­pants in this event will be iden­ti­fied and brought to jus­tice,” the Nation­al Police said.

    ...

    Per­haps hint­ing at a new tack, the Nation­al Police state­ment about the June 7 attack used marked­ly dif­fer­ent lan­guage from state­ments about pre­vi­ous attacks.

    “The police will rig­or­ous­ly respond to a vio­la­tion of the law regard­less of which orga­ni­za­tions’ mem­bers are vio­la­tors,” it said. “No one has the right to engage in ille­gal activ­i­ties, pseu­do ulti­ma­tums, or for the sake of PR to con­duct demon­stra­tive pogroms against oth­er cit­i­zens. In par­tic­u­lar, with regard to rep­re­sen­ta­tives of eth­nic minori­ties.”

    “No one has the right to engage in ille­gal activ­i­ties, pseu­do ulti­ma­tums, or for the sake of PR to con­duct demon­stra­tive pogroms against oth­er cit­i­zens.”

    That was the state­ment from the police. A state­ment that no one should expect them to back up with action. It’s the sta­tus quo in today’s Ukraine. Talk about how no one has a right to con­duct demon­stra­tive pogroms against oth­er cit­i­zens is just that. Talk.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 8, 2018, 1:10 pm
  12. Here’s a sto­ry with chill­ing par­al­lels to the youth camp the neo-Nazi Azov Bat­tal­ion runs: Ukraine’s Youth and Sports Min­istry pub­lished a video last week show­ing its offi­cials unan­i­mous­ly vot­ing to fund var­i­ous­ly orga­ni­za­tions for “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects”. Guess which groups received some of those funds: Svo­bo­da and C14. More specif­i­cal­ly, the mon­ey went to three far right orga­ni­za­tions found­ed by mem­bers of C14 and Svo­bo­da. The Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly, found­ed by C14 head Yevhen Karas; C14 Sich, found­ed by Volodymyr Karas, who shares the same patronymic, sur­name, and address as the C14 head; and Holosiyiv Hide­out, whose founders include sev­er­al mem­bers of Svo­bo­da.

    The Svo­bo­da group will by about $29,200 for four fes­ti­val. That alone is pro­found­ly dis­turb­ing. But even more dis­turb­ing is what the two C14 groups got their funds for: The C14 ‘Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly’ and C14 Sich’s chil­dren’s sum­mer camp will received about $16,900 for three chil­dren’s events. That’s right, an orga­ni­za­tion that is lit­er­al­ly named after a white suprema­cist slo­gan has a chil­dren’s sum­mer camp and just got state funds for three chilr­den’s events:

    Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty

    Ukrain­ian Mili­tia Behind Bru­tal Romany Attacks Get­ting State Funds

    Christo­pher Miller
    June 14, 2018 16:21 GMT

    KYIV — Amid a recent wave of far-right attacks against minor­i­ty groups, human rights activists have ques­tioned how Ukrain­ian police could stand and watch the vio­lence and destruc­tion unfold.

    But it seems they may now have an expla­na­tion: some of the groups involved receive finan­cial sup­port from the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment.

    C14, a group whose mem­bers have open­ly expressed neo-Nazi views and been involved in the recent vio­lent attacks on Romany camps in Kyiv, and the far-right affil­i­at­ed Svo­bo­da polit­i­cal par­ty, are the recip­i­ents of Youth and Sports Min­istry grants for “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects,” accord­ing to a June 13 report by Hro­madske Radio.

    The report’s infor­ma­tion comes direct­ly from a video that the Youth and Sports Min­istry pub­lished itself on YouTube on June 8 that shows its offi­cials vot­ing unan­i­mous­ly to fund the orga­ni­za­tions.

    That these far-right extrem­ist groups have been award­ed grants from the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is like­ly to be of great con­cern to Kyiv’s West­ern back­ers and lead­ing inter­na­tion­al human rights orga­ni­za­tions, four of which pub­lished an open let­ter to author­i­ties on June 14 decry­ing what they called a sharp spike in polit­i­cal vio­lence from these groups, who they say pose a great dan­ger to Ukrain­ian democ­ra­cy.

    In a state­ment pub­lished on its web­site, the Youth and Sports Min­istry said it does not direct­ly finance any pub­lic groups, includ­ing far-right ones, but does finance the projects of those groups.

    “Through project con­tests, bud­get funds are allo­cat­ed sole­ly to sup­port the imple­men­ta­tion of projects of pub­lic orga­ni­za­tions,” it said.

    The min­istry said that, in its con­sid­er­a­tion of projects, “the com­mis­sion ana­lyzes projects for xeno­pho­bia and dis­crim­i­na­tion, but not the activ­i­ties of a spe­cif­ic orga­ni­za­tion that is sub­mit­ting this project.”

    It added: “By the way, sev­er­al projects that have won are aimed specif­i­cal­ly at over­com­ing xeno­pho­bia.”

    Mon­ey For ‘Patri­ot­ic Edu­ca­tion’

    Three far-right groups won a Youth and Sports Min­istry com­pe­ti­tion for “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects” fund­ed with tax­pay­er mon­ey: the Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly, found­ed by C14 head Yevhen Karas; C14 Sich, found­ed by Volodymyr Karas, who shares the same patronymic, sur­name, and address as the C14 head; and Holosiyiv Hide­out, whose founders include sev­er­al mem­bers of the Svo­bo­da polit­i­cal par­ty.

    C14’s Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly and a C14 Sich chil­dren’s sum­mer camp will receive 440,000 hryv­nia (about $16,900) from the min­istry for three chil­dren’s events. Holosiyiv Hide­out will get 760,000 hryv­nia (about $29,200) for four fes­ti­vals.

    C14 takes its name from a 14-word phrase used by white suprema­cists and it has open­ly offered to pro­vide mem­bers for hire to work as thugs.

    Reached on Face­book Mes­sen­ger, Myko­la Lyakhovych, the head of the Youth and Sports Min­istry’s Depart­ment for Nation­al-Patri­ot­ic Edu­ca­tion who chaired the com­mis­sion that approved the grants, declined to answer ques­tions about them unless they were approved by the min­istry and sub­mit­ted in Ukrain­ian, despite him respond­ing quick­ly in clear Eng­lish to RFE/RL’s ini­tial mes­sage.

    The min­istry did not imme­di­ate­ly pro­vide answers to ques­tions sub­mit­ted in Ukrain­ian to its press ser­vice.

    On Twit­ter, Matthew Schaff, the direc­tor of Free­dom House­’s Ukraine office, crit­i­cized the min­istry’s grant-selec­tion process.

    “[It] should­n’t be too dif­fi­cult to add anoth­er cri­te­ria to grant selec­tion: not impli­cat­ed in or pub­licly approv­ing of vio­lence. This is indeed an issue, also for Kyiv City Coun­cil funds which go to such groups.”

    Wave Of Attacks

    News of the groups receiv­ing state fund­ing comes amid a wave of attacks, includ­ing at least four in the past six weeks.

    On June 7, mem­bers of the far-right Azov Nation­al Druzhy­na mili­tia destroyed a Romany camp in Kyiv’s Holosiyivskiy Park.

    It fol­lowed a sim­i­lar action in April, when masked C14 attack­ers hurled stones and sprayed gas as they chased ter­ri­fied Roma — includ­ing chil­dren — from their makeshift set­tle­ment at Kyiv’s Lysa Hora nature reserve.

    In both cas­es, police offi­cers stood by. Only after a pub­lic out­cry did author­i­ties say they had opened crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings into the attacks. But thus far no arrests or charges have been brought against the attack­ers.

    Right Groups Demand Action

    “Bru­tal attacks on [Romany] peo­ple, LGBT peo­ple, and rights activists have been on the rise in recent months in Ukraine,” Tanya Coop­er, Ukraine researcher at Human Rights Watch, said in a state­ment pub­lished along­side an open let­ter, which the orga­ni­za­tion signed with Free­dom House, Human Rights Watch, and Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al on June 14.

    “The gov­ern­ment has tak­en lit­tle action in response, which can­not but embold­en and encour­age the attack­ers.”

    The orga­ni­za­tions’ joint let­ter, addressed to Ukrain­ian Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Arsen Avakov and Pros­e­cu­tor-Gen­er­al Yuriy Lut­senko, demand­ed that author­i­ties “urgent­ly take steps to strong­ly con­demn and effec­tive­ly address attacks and intim­i­da­tion by rad­i­cal groups that are pro­mot­ing hatred and dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

    The human rights groups said they had col­lec­tive­ly doc­u­ment­ed at least two dozen vio­lent attacks, threats, or instances of intim­i­da­tion in Kyiv, Vin­nyt­sia, Uzh­gorod, Lviv, Cher­nivt­si, Ivano-Frankivsk and oth­er Ukrain­ian cities by mem­bers of rad­i­cal groups such as C14, Right Sec­tor, Tra­di­tions and Order, and Karpats­ka Sich in 2018.

    ...

    ———-

    “Ukrain­ian Mili­tia Behind Bru­tal Romany Attacks Get­ting State Funds” by Christo­pher Miller; Radio Free Europe/Radio Lib­er­ty; 06/14/2018

    C14, a group whose mem­bers have open­ly expressed neo-Nazi views and been involved in the recent vio­lent attacks on Romany camps in Kyiv, and the far-right affil­i­at­ed Svo­bo­da polit­i­cal par­ty, are the recip­i­ents of Youth and Sports Min­istry grants for “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects,” accord­ing to a June 13 report by Hro­madske Radio.”

    Neo-nazis run­ning “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects” with state financ­ing. That’s a thing now in Ukraine.

    And, yes, it was a unan­i­mous vote by the Youth and Sports Min­istry. They appar­ent­ly weren’t afraid to pub­li­cize this because they pub­lished the video of the vote on YouTube:

    ...
    The report’s infor­ma­tion comes direct­ly from a video that the Youth and Sports Min­istry pub­lished itself on YouTube on June 8 that shows its offi­cials vot­ing unan­i­mous­ly to fund the orga­ni­za­tions.
    ...

    And it was a unan­i­mous vote to fund four Svo­bo­da-run fes­ti­vals and three C14 chil­dren’s events:

    ...
    Mon­ey For ‘Patri­ot­ic Edu­ca­tion’

    Three far-right groups won a Youth and Sports Min­istry com­pe­ti­tion for “nation­al-patri­ot­ic edu­ca­tion projects” fund­ed with tax­pay­er mon­ey: the Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly, found­ed by C14 head Yevhen Karas; C14 Sich, found­ed by Volodymyr Karas, who shares the same patronymic, sur­name, and address as the C14 head; and Holosiyiv Hide­out, whose founders include sev­er­al mem­bers of the Svo­bo­da polit­i­cal par­ty.

    C14’s Edu­ca­tion­al Assem­bly and a C14 Sich chil­dren’s sum­mer camp will receive 440,000 hryv­nia (about $16,900) from the min­istry for three chil­dren’s events. Holosiyiv Hide­out will get 760,000 hryv­nia (about $29,200) for four fes­ti­vals.

    C14 takes its name from a 14-word phrase used by white suprema­cists and it has open­ly offered to pro­vide mem­bers for hire to work as thugs.
    ...

    And let’s not for­get that on June 7, just a day before this unan­i­mous vote, we had mem­bers of an Azov Bat­tal­ion ‘civ­il patrol’ mili­tia destroy­ing a Roma camp live on Face­book with Ukrain­ian police stand­ing around. And that attack was just the lat­est instance when a state-backed neo-Nazi mili­tia destroyed a Roma camp with Ukrain­ian police stand­ing by. There was also the April attack on a Roma camp by C14 with police stand­ing around. That’s all part of the back­drop of this unan­i­mous vote:

    ...
    Wave Of Attacks

    News of the groups receiv­ing state fund­ing comes amid a wave of attacks, includ­ing at least four in the past six weeks.

    On June 7, mem­bers of the far-right Azov Nation­al Druzhy­na mili­tia destroyed a Romany camp in Kyiv’s Holosiyivskiy Park.

    It fol­lowed a sim­i­lar action in April, when masked C14 attack­ers hurled stones and sprayed gas as they chased ter­ri­fied Roma — includ­ing chil­dren — from their makeshift set­tle­ment at Kyiv’s Lysa Hora nature reserve.

    In both cas­es, police offi­cers stood by. Only after a pub­lic out­cry did author­i­ties say they had opened crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings into the attacks. But thus far no arrests or charges have been brought against the attack­ers.
    ...

    And note the epic trolling by the Youth and Sports Min­istry when asked about this: they not­ed that sev­er­al project that won state financ­ing were “aimed specif­i­cal­ly at over­com­ing xeno­pho­bia”. That was seri­ous­ly part of their response to ques­tions about financ­ing neo-Nazi chil­dren’s events:

    ...
    In a state­ment pub­lished on its web­site, the Youth and Sports Min­istry said it does not direct­ly finance any pub­lic groups, includ­ing far-right ones, but does finance the projects of those groups.

    “Through project con­tests, bud­get funds are allo­cat­ed sole­ly to sup­port the imple­men­ta­tion of projects of pub­lic orga­ni­za­tions,” it said.

    The min­istry said that, in its con­sid­er­a­tion of projects, “the com­mis­sion ana­lyzes projects for xeno­pho­bia and dis­crim­i­na­tion, but not the activ­i­ties of a spe­cif­ic orga­ni­za­tion that is sub­mit­ting this project.”

    It added: “By the way, sev­er­al projects that have won are aimed specif­i­cal­ly at over­com­ing xeno­pho­bia.”
    ...

    “By the way, sev­er­al projects that have won are aimed specif­i­cal­ly at over­com­ing xeno­pho­bia.”

    Well, at least there’s some projects about over­com­ing xeno­pho­bia. That will pre­sum­ably come in handy after all those kids get­ting rad­i­cal­ized by these state-backed neo-Nazi youth groups grow up.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2018, 1:31 pm
  13. And we have anoth­er attack on a Roma camp in Ukraine. This time on the out­skirts Lviv. A 24 year old was stabbed to death and four oth­ers were injured, includ­ing a 10 year old boy. Sev­en sus­pects ages 16 and 17 have been arrest and a 20 year old is accused of plan­ning the attack. So far there isn’t an indi­ca­tion of whether or not the sus­pects are mem­bers of the ‘usu­al sus­pects’ orga­ni­za­tions like the Azov Bat­tal­ion or C14. Either way, it’s pret­ty clear that it’s still ‘open sea­son’ on Roma in Ukraine:

    BBC News

    Ukraine Roma camp attack leaves one dead

    24 June 2018

    One per­son has been killed in an attack on a Roma camp in west­ern Ukraine late on Sat­ur­day night.

    A masked group armed with batons and oth­er weapons tar­get­ed the camp on the out­skirts of the city of Lviv short­ly before mid­night, accord­ing to police.

    A 24-year-old man died of stab wounds, while four oth­ers — includ­ing a 10-year-old boy — were injured.

    ...

    Sev­en sus­pects aged 16 and 17 have been arrest­ed, as well as a 20-year-old accused of plan­ning the attack.

    Ukraine’s nation­al police force and Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs have launched a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the “delib­er­ate mur­der”, which car­ries a penal­ty of up to 15 years in prison.

    Ukraine’s Human Rights Com­mis­sion­er Lyud­my­la Deniso­va has asked the inte­ri­or min­is­ter to per­son­al­ly over­see the inves­ti­ga­tion and to arrange tem­po­rary accom­mo­da­tion for the vic­tims.

    In April, the far-right group C14 burnt down tents in a Roma camp in the cap­i­tal Kiev and chased women and chil­dren.

    In a joint let­ter ear­li­er this month, four human rights groups includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Human Rights Watch warned against the increase in attacks by far-right groups on minori­ties in Ukraine.

    They said that author­i­ties had “failed” to respond to most inci­dents, lead­ing to “an atmos­phere of near total impuni­ty that can­not but embold­en these groups to com­mit more attacks”.

    The last Ukrain­ian cen­sus in 2001 esti­mat­ed the Roma pop­u­la­tion to be around 40,000, although rights groups say the fig­ure could be as high as 260,000.

    The Roma face dis­crim­i­na­tion in many coun­tries, with the UN describ­ing them as being “among Europe’s most exclud­ed groups”.

    On Tues­day, Italy’s right-wing pop­ulist Inte­ri­or Min­is­ter Mat­teo Salvi­ni caused an out­cry after call­ing for a cen­sus of the Roma com­mu­ni­ty.

    He said that Roma with no right to remain in Italy would be deport­ed, but “unfor­tu­nate­ly” those with Ital­ian cit­i­zen­ship would have to stay.

    His coali­tion ally and leader of the anti-estab­lish­ment Five Star move­ment, Lui­gi di Maio, lat­er reject­ed his com­ments, mak­ing it clear that a cen­sus was uncon­sti­tu­tion­al.

    ———-

    “Ukraine Roma camp attack leaves one dead”; BBC News; 06/24/2018

    “A masked group armed with batons and oth­er weapons tar­get­ed the camp on the out­skirts of the city of Lviv short­ly before mid­night, accord­ing to police.”

    So all we know at about the attack­ers at this point is that they were masked. This, of course, is very dif­fer­ent from the last Roma attack by C14 that was proud­ly shown on Face­book Live with police stand­ing around in the video. It sounds Ukraine’s neo-Nazis are learn­ing to not open­ly adver­tise their pogroms. Which is good tim­ing for them and their spon­sors in the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment since a per­son actu­al­ly died in this attack:

    ...
    A 24-year-old man died of stab wounds, while four oth­ers — includ­ing a 10-year-old boy — were injured.

    ...

    Ukraine’s nation­al police force and Min­istry of Inter­nal Affairs have launched a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion into the “delib­er­ate mur­der”, which car­ries a penal­ty of up to 15 years in prison.

    Ukraine’s Human Rights Com­mis­sion­er Lyud­my­la Deniso­va has asked the inte­ri­or min­is­ter to per­son­al­ly over­see the inves­ti­ga­tion and to arrange tem­po­rary accom­mo­da­tion for the vic­tims.
    ...

    We still might learn if these indi­vid­u­als were indeed involved in one of Ukraine’s state-backed neo-Nazi orga­ni­za­tions since it sounds like sev­en sus­pects are in cus­tody:

    ...
    Sev­en sus­pects aged 16 and 17 have been arrest­ed, as well as a 20-year-old accused of plan­ning the attack.
    ...

    But that does­n’t mean we should get our hopes up that there’s going to be any mean­ing­ful offi­cial attri­bu­tion of this attack to the far right even if it turns out these indi­vid­u­als in cus­tody are actu­al­ly affil­i­at­ed with a neo-Nazi group. Because when the gov­ern­ment is as sup­port­ive of neo-Nazis as the cur­rent gov­ern­ment in Ukraine is, the only peo­ple who should have their hopes up at this point is those sev­en sus­pects in cus­tody:

    ...
    In April, the far-right group C14 burnt down tents in a Roma camp in the cap­i­tal Kiev and chased women and chil­dren.

    In a joint let­ter ear­li­er this month, four human rights groups includ­ing Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Human Rights Watch warned against the increase in attacks by far-right groups on minori­ties in Ukraine.

    They said that author­i­ties had “failed” to respond to most inci­dents, lead­ing to “an atmos­phere of near total impuni­ty that can­not but embold­en these groups to com­mit more attacks”.

    The last Ukrain­ian cen­sus in 2001 esti­mat­ed the Roma pop­u­la­tion to be around 40,000, although rights groups say the fig­ure could be as high as 260,000.
    ...

    So we’ll see what, if any, addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion comes out about these assailants. And giv­en their young and the fact that they are doing what the state-sanc­tioned groups like Azov Bat­tal­ion and C14 have been doing for months, it’s worth recall­ing that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment is now financ­ing ‘youth events’ run by C14 and Svo­bo­da and the Azov Bat­tal­ion run­ning a youth camp.

    So you have to won­der if these assailants were past atten­dees of one of those neo-Nazi youth events or just rad­i­cal­ized young peo­ple who noticed that the gov­ern­ment of Ukraine more or less endors­es these kinds of attacks at this point and decid­ed to do one of their own. You also have to won­der which of those sce­nar­ios is more alarm­ing.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 25, 2018, 3:16 pm
  14. Here’s an arti­cle out of Ukraine that’s both a grim reminder of embrace of the ‘Pro­to­cols of Elders of Zion’-style think­ing by peo­ple in pow­er as well as a warn­ing about the kind of peo­ple run­ning the inves­ti­ga­tion into the 2014 sniper attacks:

    Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, just gave an exten­sive inter­view where he basi­cal­ly said that Jews are behind all wars and want to “drown eht­nic Slavs in blood.” So the guy who would the­o­ret­i­cal­ly be in charge of pros­e­cu­tor abus­es by the Ukrain­ian mil­i­tary units fight­ing in the East — like the neo-Nazi ‘vol­un­teer bat­tal­ions’ — is, him­self, basi­cal­ly a neo-Nazi. Of course.

    Also recall the cryp­tic state­ment Matios made back in 2016 about the iden­ti­ty of the peo­ple involved with the 2014 sniper attacks: “When pub­lic learns who is involved in this, peo­ple will be very sur­prised.” And cir­cum­stan­tial evi­dence sug­gests it was one of the far right mem­bers of the Maid­an protests who was involved with those sniper attacks. So that’s not exact­ly reas­sur­ing to learn that the chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor who is involved in that inves­ti­ga­tion is basi­cal­ly a neo-Nazi:

    Newsweek

    Jews Want to Drown Ukraine in Blood, Ukraine’s Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Says Amid Wave of Racist and Anti-Semit­ic Attacks

    By Cristi­na Maza On 6/27/18 at 10:49 AM

    In an exten­sive inter­view with the Ukrain­ian news out­let Insid­er, Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, espoused anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in which he implied that Jews want to drown eth­nic Slavs in blood.

    Refer­ring to Alexan­der Parvus, a Belaruss­ian-born Marx­ist the­o­reti­cian who was active in Germany’s Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, and who also hap­pened to be Jew­ish, Matios claimed that Jews can be found financ­ing all great con­flicts.

    “In each war, there is always a Parvus, who brought Lenin mon­ey for a rev­o­lu­tion which flood­ed Slavs with blood for decades. Parvus was also Jew­ish. In this case, they want to do the same to Ukraine,” Matios told the Insid­er.

    The inter­view touched on a wide vari­ety of top­ics, includ­ing pol­i­tics in Ukraine and an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the alleged plot to assas­si­nate Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko, who recent­ly staged his own death with the assis­tance of Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty forces. But it was also a sharp reminder of the anti-Semi­tism and racism that per­sist in Ukraine’s pub­lic dis­course.

    Accord­ing a report pub­lished annu­al­ly by Israel’s Min­istry of Dias­po­ra Affairs, the num­ber of anti-Semit­ic inci­dents in Ukraine dou­bled in 2017. The report was crit­i­cized by some mem­bers of Ukraine’s Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty, who claimed that the research meth­ods used to draft the list were not suf­fi­cient­ly rig­or­ous. Some crit­ics also said that the inci­dents were exag­ger­at­ed by peo­ple linked to Rus­sia, in order to pro­mote the Krem­lin-backed nar­ra­tive that the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment in Kien was not only nation­al­ist, but above all racist and fas­cist.

    Nev­er­the­less, a recent report pub­lished by the think tank Free­dom House found that far-right extrem­ists are becom­ing more active in the coun­try. Last month, a Holo­caust memo­r­i­al and a famous rab­bi’s tomb were attacked and sup­port­ers of far-right groups marched across the coun­try spray­paint­ing swastikas and oth­er Nazi sym­bols.

    The com­ments by Matios come at a time when Ukraine is also see­ing a wave of vio­lence against the country’s Roma minor­i­ty. A vicious attack on June 23 left one Roma man dead. The attack was report­ed­ly the sixth attack on a Roma set­tle­ment in Ukraine over the past two months. Police arrest­ed sev­er­al sus­pects who are believed to have links to far-right groups.

    ...

    “In gen­er­al, the Ukrain­ian gov­ern­ment acts to defend minori­ties from phys­i­cal attack. Yet there is also con­sid­er­able igno­rance and racism among some in soci­ety and in the state,” Adri­an Karat­ny­cky, a non­res­i­dent senior fel­low at the Atlantic Coun­cil who focus­es on Ukraine and East­ern Europe, told Newsweek. “The pro­lif­er­a­tion of vig­i­lan­tism which extends well beyond the far right is a prob­lem that needs to be tack­led with resolve. Only Ukraine’s demo­c­ra­t­i­cal­ly account­able state insti­tu­tions can engage in enforc­ing the law. And vio­la­tions must be firm­ly pun­ished.”

    Chief Ukrain­ian Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Matíos said Jews want to drawn Slav­ic peo­ple in blood “In every war, there’s always Parvus who brought Lenin mon­ey for rev­o­lu­tion which flood­ed Slavs with blood for decades. Parvus was also Jew­ish. In our case, they want to do to Ukr same again pic.twitter.com/WzOfkLyNua— Eduard Dolin­sky (@edolinsky) June 26, 2018

    Matios has been Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor since 2014, when Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine began an armed con­flict in the coun­try. Since tak­ing up that role, he has called for all Ukra­ni­ans to be armed for self pro­tec­tion and called atten­tion to the high rate of sui­cide among Ukrain­ian ser­vice mem­bers fight­ing sep­a­ratists in the coun­try’s Don­bas region.

    ———-

    “Jews Want to Drown Ukraine in Blood, Ukraine’s Mil­i­tary Pros­e­cu­tor Says Amid Wave of Racist and Anti-Semit­ic Attacks” by Cristi­na Maza; Newsweek; 06/27/2018

    “In an exten­sive inter­view with the Ukrain­ian news out­let Insid­er, Ana­toliy Matios, Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor, espoused anti-Semit­ic con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries in which he implied that Jews want to drown eth­nic Slavs in blood.

    Jews want to drown eth­nic Slavs in blood. That is accord­ing to Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor. Jews are also respon­si­ble for all wars:

    ...
    Refer­ring to Alexan­der Parvus, a Belaruss­ian-born Marx­ist the­o­reti­cian who was active in Germany’s Social Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty in the late 19th cen­tu­ry, and who also hap­pened to be Jew­ish, Matios claimed that Jews can be found financ­ing all great con­flicts.

    “In each war, there is always a Parvus, who brought Lenin mon­ey for a rev­o­lu­tion which flood­ed Slavs with blood for decades. Parvus was also Jew­ish. In this case, they want to do the same to Ukraine,” Matios told the Insid­er.

    The inter­view touched on a wide vari­ety of top­ics, includ­ing pol­i­tics in Ukraine and an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into the alleged plot to assas­si­nate Russ­ian jour­nal­ist Arkady Babchenko, who recent­ly staged his own death with the assis­tance of Ukraine’s secu­ri­ty forces. But it was also a sharp reminder of the anti-Semi­tism and racism that per­sist in Ukraine’s pub­lic dis­course.
    ...

    And Matrios is also an advo­cate of arm­ing all Ukraini­ans:

    ...
    Matios has been Ukraine’s chief mil­i­tary pros­e­cu­tor since 2014, when Russ­ian-backed sep­a­ratists in east­ern Ukraine began an armed con­flict in the coun­try. Since tak­ing up that role, he has called for all Ukra­ni­ans to be armed for self pro­tec­tion and called atten­tion to the high rate of sui­cide among Ukrain­ian ser­vice mem­bers fight­ing sep­a­ratists in the coun­try’s Don­bas region.

    So the guy osten­si­bly in charge of pros­e­cut­ing crimes by all the neo-Nazi ‘vol­un­teer’ bat­tal­ions’ and one of the inves­ti­ga­tors in the sniper attacks is con­vinced that Jews cause all wars, which pre­sum­ably means he blames Jews with the con­flict in Ukraine. And he feels Ukraini­ans all need to be armed for self defense pur­pos­es. Self defense that pre­sum­ably includes defense against Jews try­ing to ‘drown the Slavs in blood’.

    What could pos­si­bly go wrong.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 28, 2018, 3:13 pm

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