Confessions of an American mercenary about his service among the Ukrainian radicals
Part of the image has been blurred in order not to violate the laws of the Russian Federation
Photo: Sergey Kharchenko / NurPhoto / ZUMA / Globallookpress.com
“Dregs of society” – that is how the American volunteer characterises Ukrainian nationalists fighting in the Donbass. Minsk agreements require the disarmament of all illegal groups. “Praviy Sektor” [“Right sector” in English, abbreviated in Ukrainian as PS – trans.], a banned in Russia extremist organization, is not a part of the power structures of Ukraine but it continues to take part in fighting. The American told Lenta.ru on how he tried to fight as a member of the group, about its losses, alcoholism and suicides among the nationalists on the contact line.
In the name of the idea
I got acquainted with John (name is changed), former US military who adhered to extreme right-wing views, about two years ago on social networks. The Yankee was already fighting against the militias in Ukraine. Firstly, John served in one of the units, which could be called a private army, where he received quite a ridiculous by Western standards salary – 10 thousand hryvnia (about $400) a month, plus 1,000 hryvnia ($40) for each day on the front lines. Later he fought in units of the banned in Russia PS, where he was not paid even a penny. However, as John himself said to me, for him it was about “the idea, rather than money”.
According to the former military, today’s situation in Ukraine is the same as it was during the WWII: “Azov” (a volunteer regiment which is the part of the National Guard of Ukraine) and “Praviy Sektor” are a modern version of the SS (punitive military Nazis forces – a comment of Lenta.ru) while DPR – represents Soviets (Soviet army – a comment of Lenta.ru). Of two sides in this conflict “the soldier of fortune” unconditionally supported the first. I repeatedly suggested to the American to interview him but he refused, explaining he does not trust “corrupted Russian press”. However, a few days ago, John himself contacted me and asked me to publish his story on condition of anonymity.
Not your war
“I came to Kiev on 6 June this year. There I met the guys from “Praviy Sektor”. The first day we only had fun, but after a day we went on a train to Krasnoarmeysk (from 2016 renamed into Pokrovsk in the part of Donetsk region controlled by Kiev), where we settled at the PS’s base. At first, everything was just perfect: the journalists interviewed us; we had been wandering around the town, shopping and drinking. But soon I witnessed some very unpleasant scenes. The men of “Praviy Sektor” were beating civilians just for fun, fucking with underaged and sometimes even raping them. This, so to speak, military did not behave like an army but as the inveterate cutthroats. Besides, these guys boozed too much and I began to really fear for my arse. Sometimes, after drinking they staged indiscriminate firing directly at the base. One of them while drunk dropped a grenade and was smashed to pieces. However, from 13 June, it was not time for booze as separatists (official Kiev and its Western partners called separatists militias of people’s republics of Donbass – a comment of Lenta.ru) went on the offensive. This attack caught us by surprise. 4 of our guys were killed and 11 wounded”,- John recalls.
Militants of “Praviy Sektor” during an anti-government rally in Kiev
Photo: Gleb Garanich / Reuters
Part of the image is blurred, in order not to violate the laws of the Russian Federation
“Soon after this defeat me and other foreigners were raised during the night time by an officer called Igor (I do not know his last name). Igor announced to us that the base was going to be attacked by fighters of the Ukrainian Security Service and we had to leave because it was “not our war”. We went to the station and boarded the train to Kiev. Just at this time in Kiev our comrades, who died in the battles by Krasnoarmeisk, were buried and, of course, we went to say goodbye to them. At the funeral I was approached by one of PS fighters I knew from Kramatorsk who said that we should talk. I went with him to the bar “National Socialist” (there is no places with such a name in Kiev, apparently, some of the bars called like that informally – comment of Lenta.ru). My acquaintance bought me a drink. While drinking, he stated that ” escaping from the base in a difficult time I acted as a traitor and deserter”. On my objections that I only followed Igor’s order pravosek [member of “Praviy Sektor” – trans.] said that I had to obey “not some obscure Igor but a division commander”. However, after that my companion suddenly changed his temper justice with mercy: “Okay, forget about it. Let’s drink!”. The evening was passing peacefully and I had already decided that everything was okay – the conflict is settled. Alas, at night this guy took with him two more pravoseks as reinforcement and burst into my hotel room. They reported that they were on the phone with the commander. He allegedly said that I had to pay a “penalty for treason” in the amount of 2000 hryvnia ($80) or they would kill me. But I just did not have that kind of money then and they took everything, except underwear, from me. Finally they said that, “if I wanted to stay alive, I had to get out of Ukraine immediately”. In the morning I went to the American Embassy where I explained my situation. Diplomats bought me a ticket to the United States “, – my companion continues his story.
“Scum of the world”
According to John, the conflict occurred not only because of his departure from the base. The fact that, in spite of his extreme right-wing views, this American is half Arab, half Turk (though does not understand a word in Arabic or Turkish). According to him, many pravoseks hate “churka” [pejorative term for Asian people in Ukrainian – trans.] (the American who does not speak either Russian or Ukrainian even learned the word). “About six months ago I tried to get to the first assault company of “Praviy Sektor ” but, fortunately, missed the plane. Later, looking at Facebook page of this unit teeming with racist themed, I told them that, even though I was an American, I was not white. They answered me like that: “Rejoice, black arse, that you have not got to us; we would have buried you in the ground!” When I arrived at the PS base in June this year, there were also soldiers of first assault company. It was they who took a “fine” from me: that is robbed me! “,- the American outrages.
Barracks for the members of Ukrainian volunteer units in a mine near Donetsk
Photo by Alexander Klimenko / Reuters
After all what has happened John is not going to return to Ukraine. This war and its participants turned out not to how he expected. He tells that almost all the foreign volunteers in Ukraine fighting on the side of Kiev adhere to extreme right-wing views, but “still there is no classical fascists among us and we do not believe that people should be killed just because of their skin colour or the shape of their eyes.” “Unfortunately, among the men of “Praviy Sektor” there is a lot of overt neo-Nazis, whose views are odious, even for someone like me. But it’s not so bad. There are also too many overt criminals among pravoseks. I am not afraid of sharp words: these people are the scum of our planet “- John completes his emotional confession.
Let’s recall that the Ukrainian Volunteer Corps “Praviy Sektor” was formed in July 2014 at the initiative of nationalist organizations with the same name to participate in collaboration with the Armed Forces of Ukraine in combat operations in the Donbass against the militias of self-proclaimed Donetsk People Republic (DPR). However, it is believed that in April 2015 on the orders of the command of ATO (anti-terrorist operation, as the military action against the Republics of Donbass is called in Kiev) radicals were withdrawn from the front line. On 2 February 2016 the Chief Military Prosecutor of Ukraine Anatoly Matios said the corps “Praviy Sektor” on all legal grounds is the “illegal armed group”. But in reality, as John pointed out, everything is quite different: the corps is still involved in the fighting and suffering losses. The Ukrainian media widely covered the funeral of soldiers of “Praviy Sektor” in Kiev. Moreover, according to the American, PS battalions are among the most combat-ready divisions that involved in the civil war in the South-East of Ukraine.