Original article lenta.ru
Translation by Alexander Fedotov
The former leader of the banned in Russia extremist nationalist movement Praviy Sektor (PS) and a deputy of Verkhovna Rada Dmitry Yarosh surprised many by admitting that in April 2014 members of PS, on the direct orders of the leaders of Ukraine, took part in fighting at Slavyansk. It explains how his card was found at the scene. Those events actually triggered the military operations in the Donbass and also the information war of Ukraine against Russia.
Lenta.ru investigated what else Yarosh told and why he decided to do it right now.
Meme at the price of killing
Riots in Slavyansk began on 12 April 2014 when the militia took control of the buildings of the police department, city hall and security services. This news shocked Kiev, but the next day the gunmen of Pravy Sektor, about 150 people, arrived in Slavyansk to participate in the military operation. However, the militias quickly escorted them out of the town. Yarosh then declared full mobilisation of all PS structures for suppressing the discontented in Donbass. As he put it: “because of the inaction of the authorities who because of their pacifism allow repetition of the Crimean scenario in other regions of the country”. It should be noted that the leader of the PS also had his political interest. By that time he had already announced his intention to participate in the presidential elections in Ukraine, scheduled for May 2014, and intensively conducted his campaign.
On 16 April the head of the PS Information Service, Borislav Bereza, said the organisation sent in Donbass two of its divisions. Bereza declined to disclose the exact information about the number of militants, citing the fact that it was a military secret. He assured, though, that the representatives of the PS were acting in accordance with the orders of the official security forces.
On the night of 20 April a checkpoint of militia at the entrance to Slavyansk was attacked. It was the first serious clash with victims on both sides. Representatives of the militia accused Praviy Sektor of attacking. The site of the battle was full of evidence, including two burned cars of attackers, weapons (including a night vision device and a German machine gun from the times of WWII), personal items, maps, money and Dmitry Yarosh’s card. In response, the Ukrainian Security Service announced that “there was a provocation committed by Russian special services”. The PS also categorically denied any involvement in the events: immediately, without any delay, and for a long time later.
“We do not take part in any separate combat operations either in the East or South of Ukraine. Anti-terrorist operations are conducted by the Anti-Terrorist Centre, which includes various state law enforcement agencies. Praviy Sektor is assisting the state security agencies, providing logistical support and intelligence. Members of Praviy Sektor do not possess any unregistered weapons anymore”, – Yarosh then justified.
Kiev media immediately declared the card of the leader of Ukrainian nationalists as “a ridiculous and primitive fake of Russian propaganda”. There even appeared on the Internet the relevant meme. The tag #ВизиткаЯроша [the card of Yarosh – trans.], which was attached to the jokes and witticisms on the theme, for a few days was the leading trend of Russian-speaking Twitter segment. Thus, the real tragedy of the killed people, the political implications of which are unclear even today, was turned into a farce.
“My machine gun was jammed”
Now, two years later, Yarosh himself admitted that he personally organised the provocation at Slavyansk and that one of the killed nationalists really had Yarosh’s card.
The PS leader also said that the order he received personally from Alexander Turchynov, the acting President of Ukraine. The unit of nationalists had to disable the transformer of the radio tower under Karachun mountain in order to stop the broadcast of “Russian propaganda”. Nationalists also had their goals. They, in particular, feared pro-Russian actions in the Dnepropetrovsk region and believed that in this way they would be able to stop the advance of the Donbass militia.
According to Yarosh’s testimony, they were given two jeeps and two pick-ups to perform the operation. However, there was a big problem regarding the weapons. Most of the saboteurs were armed with hunting carbines “Saiga”. There were also two sniper rifles. There were several AKS (Kalashnikov selective fire assault rifle with side-folding stock – trans.), one of which the head of the PS had himself. There was an old Yugoslavian M53 machine gun. A dozen of grenades were given by “patriots” from Dnepropetrovsk criminal circles.
Near Slavyansk extremists, a group of 20 people, came upon a militia checkpoint which on their map was marked two kilometres farther. A fight started immediately. Although Yarosh formally commanded the detachment, in fact, PS group was headed by a fighter, who fought in Afghanistan in the past (he was not named). The present Rada deputy largely was solving his own problems: “My machine gun is jammed! What an ill-luck! What shall I do?”.
According to Yarosh, they were able to “clean up” the checkpoint, killing six enemy fighters and safely moved away from the scene after arrival of militias’ reinforcement. Losses of PS were one KIA: the driver Mikhail Stanislavenko from Kiev. He was not a member of the organisation. He simply agreed to accompany the group. The Yarosh’s card was later found at Stanislavenko. Another militant was seriously wounded in the head. After the battle there were no chances of continuing operation. The squad barely managed to get to the Kharkov region and then to Dnepropetrovsk. Interestingly, in Pavlograd area the group came into conflict with the soldiers of the Ukraine internal division, who tried to disarm the militants: “strange people with arms and without documents”. As Yarosh admitted, his certificate of Ukrainian presidential candidate helped them to get out of the situation.
“I did not receive any formal written orders. The country’s leadership said the truth then that Ukrainian security forces were not responsible for that fighting. In Dnepropetrovsk we were thanked for the fight. But other leaders did not like it then. One of the generals, I will not say now who, met us in Izyum and began to shout: “You disrupted the peace process! You started a war against Russia”, – Jarosch said.
Fight for Kolomoisky
There has been no reaction from the official Kiev about Yarosh’s revelation, though his sensational statement was supposed to agitate many high army officials and Alexander Turchynov, who now holds the post of a Secretary of the Ukrainian National Security Council. The matter is that the events of 20 April 2014 became not only the beginning of large-scale battles in Donbass, but also launched unprecedented information war. Until now Ukrainian journalists call “Yarosh’s card” the main fake of Russian propaganda.
The large-scale bloodshed began on this day, too. Earlier, supporters of federalisation in the region occupied government buildings but were willing to have a dialogue with Kiev. Ukrainian army categorically did not want to fight against their fellow citizens for the power established in Kiev as a result of the coup. So on 14 April 2014 the villagers of Rodynskoe near Slavyansk with their bare hands stopped and deployed in the opposite direction a few Ukrainian tanks. For unleashing the war politicians of Maidan had to mobilise radical nationalists including from the Pravy Sektor Verkhovna Rada deputy and Ukrainian military advocate Dmitry Tymchuk said outright that Kiev for the deterioration of the situation went on the formation of “volunteer battalions”, distributed them weapons and sent to the front a large number of criminals. Now, according to UN statistics, nine thousand people became the victims of the conflict in the Donbass. But the first blood was spilled exactly in Slavyansk.
The reasons which led to a frank interview with Yarosh are still in question. The formal reason for the publication was the second anniversary of the events in Slavyansk. However, no doubt that there is some political calculation behind this. In particular Yarosh, who was pretty much forgotten because of the long-running political crisis in Ukraine, loudly reminded about himself. He left the Pravy Sektor with the scandal at the end of last year. In February he presented his new movement “Yarosh National Initiative” stating that it must perform a “unifying function” for some patriotic organisations. An ambitious objective “to restore order in the rear that is in the “big” Ukraine including the capital without which returning the occupied territories of Donbass and Crimea is impossible” was declared. However, things are not going as successfully as they would like. The movement did not manage to reach the level of the Pravy Sektor. The reason probably lies in the tacit Kiev countering which simply does not now need additional problems of such kind. By telling the “truth” about the ” Yarosh’s card” the retired head of the militants reminded about his abilities and the amount of available compromising materials that he is able to make public at any time.
We cannot exclude the interests of Yarosh’s friend Igor Kolomoisky, who is not too quickly but steadily being squeezed out of the oligarchic and political schemes of Ukraine. After the revelations of Yarosh someone in Kiev perhaps will become more compliant. If not, the public without a doubt will be offered another dose of the “truth”.