Translated by Maria Razdiak
Edited by S. Naylor
Original Article here.
Traveling around Moscow, Alexey Mozgovoy has painted over the Ukrainian flag on the number plates of his car with the flag of the People’s Republic of Lugansk (LPR). The traffic police constantly pulled the strange car over and, with obvious surprise, studied the man clad in full field-camouflage, sensing danger. In the centre of the idle capital, among the glamourous boutiques and expensive restaurants, he seemed alien, like a wild lynx at a competition among the groomed cats. Once recognition set in, the policemen would ask for an autograph and would wish him to make it to Kiev. Talking to Mozgovoy, one understands: he will make it. He is a man who “only now started living”.
Q: Alexey Borisovich, what is the current situation at the front?
A: I would say it is not easy. Difficult, in the sense that we have no front line as such, like during those wars we have seen in history. It is more like guerrilla warfare. Either we are at their rear, or they are at our rear. Surrounding large enemy groups happens in these days. The parts of the Ukrainian Army which were sent to unblock the “south cauldron” got surrounded together with the other military units that had managed to seep north from the caldron.
Q: Did you manage to clear any residential areas in the last few days?
A: All those freed, which were mentioned in reports, are part of the Donetsk region. In Lugansk, we also occupied a few residential areas, but we were unable to hold them. We do not have sufficient people to man the garrisons.
Q: Does the military action continue?
A: The war does not stop, not even for a single day. And the high-level meeting in Minsk did not alter this fact in any way.
Q: How many people are under your command?
A: A thousand. Today I command the “Ghost” Brigade. But, initially, I was creating the Lugansk Militia, from the very first day. This is why I am often named the leader of the People’s Militia, even though I am only a commander of a brigade.
Q: Why is the brigade called that?
A: Because the Ukie “comrades” often claim that they have destroyed us. Even though, during the whole course of military activity, our losses amount to forty dead. Initially, “Ghost” was a platoon, which began to take shape before the seizure of buildings in Lugansk in April. Then the platoon became the basis for a battalion. This was the first time the Ukrainian media announced that they had destroyed us, during an aviation raid on the “Yaseny” base, where our training camp was set up. They wrote about the destruction of a “major Russian terrorist group”. We had only one injured.
Q: In reality, are there any Russians in the brigade? What kind of people serve there?
A: Local Militia. Labourers. We have Russians, and not only Russians. We have Bulgarians, Slovaks, the Germans should be arriving soon…
A: Yes, volunteers; anti-fascists. People are coming from Europe now. A whole military company of European and Russian volunteers.
Q: What is the “Ghost” Brigade?
A: It was the first Militia unit created in Novorossia. From the very beginning, we worked closely with Igor Ivanovich Strelkov; I aided him with personnel. The guys trained in our camp, before heading out to Slavyansk. They are still fighting valiantly. There is a Semenovskaya company, those are our men. Do you remember the Semenovka events? They proved themselves worthy.
Q: The Semenovskaya company is still fighting?
Q: Do you have any information about possible mercenaries fighting for Kiev?
A: Of course. We have seen them in action. We have seen first-hand some black men in Lisichansk. Since when do blacks serve in the Ukrainian Army? Other units have identified mercenaries and their documents.
Q: Did you capture any mercenaries?
A: We do not have an objective to capture prisoners. Our objective is to free the territory of Novorossia from the enemy forces.
Q: So, you do not take prisoners?
A: No. Why?
Q: Well, for exchange…
A: In order to enter into an exchange, we must make contact. But, I cannot find—on the other side—any people with whom contact is possible.
Q: Bezler managed to exchange Olga Kulygina for the prisoners. If he had not, she might have been killed.
A: Any of us might be killed, including right now. Is that not so?
Q: What are the reasons for the resignation of the Head of the Lugansk Republic, Valeriy Bolotov?
A: I am more interested in the reasons for his initial appointment.
Q: How am I to understand that? Weren’t the two of you friends?
A: We were acquainted; no more. I had an initial, negative, reaction to the seizing of the administrative buildings, which took place on the 6th April. Lugansk SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) was seized, if you can remember. That day I was in Antratsit, meeting with the locals; when I returned, the SBU had already been seized. But, taking into account that the building had been left unguarded, it was not a seizure, but a submission. Come, take whatever you want. And for some reason, the empty, unmanned government security building was full of weapons. I view this a planned operation of the Security Service.
Q: To get everyone in one place? To capture them?
A: Why capture? There is a better use. And that is how it worked out. The building filled up with people who were capable of decisive actions. And all of them just sat there, all that time. Many had nervous breakdowns, sitting ducks, waiting for the threatened, looming assault. The people were under constant strain.
Q: I get that. In Donetsk, we spent every April night waiting for an attack. Sudden calls, at four o’clock in the morning: “It’s about to start!” The journalists would run to the regional administration, but everything was completely calm. After a few sleepless nights, we stopped reacting to the “signals”.
A: Plus the civilian population was pulled in from the region, standing like a “human-shield”. Nothing constructive happened during that whole period, no forward progress. After seizing the SBU and apprehending a vast amount of weapons, the whole region could have been taken under control within two weeks, at most. All branches of government, all the administrative buildings should have been occupied by the LPR activists. Because Ukrainian military forces were nowhere near Lugansk at the time. There was a single column of armoured vehicles, near the Olihovaya station; it could have been dismantled with bare hands. When I announced, on the 7th of April, that it is necessary to leave a hundred people on guard at the SBU, and to send three hundred people to seize the Regional Administration and three hundred more to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, I was accused of provocation. They should not have sat in a sealed building waiting for the wind to change. They should have acted. They could have taken control of the whole region. But they did nothing. Those who prepared the building to be “seized”, wanted a different outcome. The outcome that happened.
Q: Where is Bolotov now?
A: I do not have a clue.
Q: When did you last see Strelkov?
A: Three or four weeks ago, before his resignation. And I hope he will soon return to his post, because there is no one else who can replace him.
Q: Who do you take orders from now?
A: The people of Novorossia. I was always against the creation of the two separate “duchies”—The LPR and the DPR.
Q: How should it have been done?
A: Novorossia is made from the two regions and the whole of the south-east. One government, one parliament, one leader. That is how it should be.
Q: Does Russia aid you?
A: Of course. They send us the humanitarian aid, mostly. We do not really need anything more from Russia. Because certain circles are waiting for Russia to get involved in the whole affair. To stain Russia with the blood poured by Kiev. I do not want that. Russia is my second home.
Q: Are you worried that Russia might “surrender” Novorossia? What will happen if Putin reaches an agreement with Poroshenko?
A: Considering that I oppose the intervention of Moscow, I do not really anticipate it. And Russia cannot “surrender” anyone. This is our internal affair, the affair of the citizens of Novorossia. If we do not want anyone to “surrender” us, no one will be able to. None of Poroshenko’s agreements will influence the decision of the Novorossian population to physically destroy him. He will answer to the victims of our land.
Q: Moscow can prevent Russian volunteers from crossing over the border.
A: Can Moscow prevent the volunteers from Europe, from America? Currently, the whole world is against us. Even if the borders are shut, we will not be left without volunteers. If there is a will, there is a way.
Q: We heard a lot about the counter-attack plans. Is this possible?
A: A counter-attack is not possible for three reasons:
1. Not enough man power. In order to carry out a counterattack, reserves are necessary. We have no reserves.
2. The quantity and quality of the weaponry at our disposal is lacking.
3. The fact that there are enemy units in our rear. Currently, the combat field is like a chessboard. Until we can clean up the rear, we cannot go forward. This is what we are doing right now.
Q: And afterwards?
A: We will march straight to Kiev.
A: Where else?
Q: You need more support from other Ukrainian regions. Two is not enough.
A: Who told you that they do not support us? Militias are currently forming in a few other regions. One region has four thousand men. And as soon as we destroy the enemy in our rear, we will march forward, joined by more and more people along the way.
Q: Your target is Kiev?
A: Our target—to free Ukraine from the oligarchs and from the corrupt officials. Maybe it is time to stop slaving for those whose personal budget is a multiple of the state budget? It is time to share.
Q: But that was the desire of the people who stood on Maidan. I do not understand the conflict.
A: Neither do I. Those who fight against us fight for the interests of the oligarchs. I would take pleasure from a conversation with the privates, the officers, the civilians, who stood on Maidan. Our interests and theirs are the same: we want to be free. Why are we fighting? From the days of the Teutonic Knights, the West was warned: you should not touch the Slavs. Whoever comes with a sword, he will die by the sword. That is why they put their Teutonic sword into Slav hands. The Slavs were forced to march against each other. Our objective is to explain to our brothers that we are the same, and our aim is one.
Q: Are you planning to assault Kiev?
A: Why not? For some reason they are allowed to assault Lugansk, Donetsk. Is Kiev any better than those cities?
Q: And after Kiev? Further west?
A: It depends. If the soldiers on the other side finally realise that they are fighting themselves, the war could be over tomorrow.
Q: You stand against the oligarchs. But the local oligarchs—Akhmetov, Efimov—do they have influence on the events within Lugansk and Donetsk?
A: The representatives of the Party of Regions have not always been a particularly good influence. When our struggle first started, many screamed: “Bring back Yanukovych!” Not under any circumstances. Not Yanukovych, not Efimov, not Akhmetov, not a single representative of the Party of Regions, of the Communist Party, of Svoboda, of Batkivshchina—should be allowed anywhere near the governments of Ukraine and Novorossia.
Q: How do you view Oleg Tsarev? It appears Moscow would like to see him in charge of Novorossia.
A: The wishes of Moscow and the wishes of Novorossia—they are slightly different things. The leader of Novorossia should be chosen by the citizens of Novorossia. As a human being I am fine with him. But for the fact that he is a representative of the Party of Regions, I am negative.
Q: Did the Ukrainian army utilise Tochka-U (SS-21 Scarab) against you?
A: Yes. Most recently a city called Rovenki, in the Lugansk region, was fired at with Tochka-U.
Q: Why did this idea come into being—the creation of Novorossia, separate from Ukraine?
A: I, like many people in Novorossia, cannot live with the ideology which the West has forced upon Kiev. I cannot understand same-sex marriages; juvenile justice; when the parents are not allowed to bring up their children. They have already torn us from our roots. And now, they are forbidding from being ourselves.
Q: And where are your roots? What is your nationality?
A: My nationality is Human.
Q: Who are you ancestors? Just out of curiosity…
A: My ancestors are the Don Cossacks. I was born in Ukraine, in a village called Nizhnyaya Duvanka, in the Svatovsk area, Lugansk region.
Q: Do you have a military education or background?
A: Seven years in service in the Ukrainian Army. Two years compulsory, five on contract.
Q: What did you do after the army?
A: You can say that before these events, I did nothing at all. Only now have I started living.