More of the old ultraviolence – confessions & testimony add up

While many of tales of atrocities have come to surface over the past few months, most have been defined by two attributes: the perpetrator’s Russian origin, and the body of evidence coming from the testimony of victims and witnesses.

Some first hand interviews have offset the latter, shining light on the motivations and actions from both sides of the trigger, these have still mostly come from foreign invaders and not locals. One Sovietized insurgent from Armenia detailed his destructive foray into Ukraine, confirming that 80% of militants occupying Donetsk are foreigner like himself. Another Russian mercenary issued his disinterest in Luhansk’s destruction to the New York Times, ‘not giving a damn about any of this.’

Volodymyr Parasyuk, a revolutionary hero to many in Ukraine, provided first hand details of a captive’s confession, one that offers more than just casual indifference as a reason for violence. As the account goes, the National Guard’s Dnipro Battalion captured a Ukrainian paratrooper who had turned-coat and defected to the militants in the Donetsk Republic terrorist organization – informing them of military positions, weapon intel, checkpoint locations, and made possible Grad rocket attacks on Ukrainian positions.

The prisoner, Dmytro, was of the belief that Putin was going to save them, and that they already had Russian assistance.

He also told Parasyuk how the Donetsk Republic’s men treated the location population: “They get all liquored up in the evening, they go down the streets, and they shoot at innocent civilians. Whoever kills more wins the bet.”

He also admitted that the group had raped young girls, “and anyone who refused got a rifle to the head and was offered a choice: obey or get a bullet to the head.”

Regionnaires (Party of Regions members) and Commies always yell that these aren’t terrorists, that they’re just people with different views, and that Russians are our brothers. But here’s the way it is, they’re no brothers of ours. These are swine who hate everything Ukrainian and dream of destroying the Ukrainian nation, so that there’s not a trace of it left.

While it may be hard to gauge how much of the above is true – either said under duress or as twisted bravado – the scars of war undoubtedly yield likened brutality the world over. What sets Dmytro apart, however, is that he is not a foreign plunderer but a local collaborator; and not one with blasé detachment but frenzied indifference to his own people. If insurgent forces are described as “anti-Kyiv,” then why is equal attention given to local innocents?

It is true that the Russian backed ‘militias’ have been described as disorganized, chronically dysfunctional, and also drunk, just as the above testimony illustrated.

UN monitors have especially noted the steady rise in wanton violence by Russian-backed groups in Ukraine. “A climate of lawlessness prevails in the east with an increase in criminality, killings, abductions and detentions by the armed groups,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic. More than a simply gradient increase, Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch bluntly called these groups are “out of control” and “abusing people at will.”

Another top UN human rights office official described the situation as a “reign of fear, if not a reign of terror,” in the areas controlled by these terrorist groups.

Amnesty International deputy director Denis Krivosheev describes, in clarifying that the bulk of abductions have been carried out by Russian-backed groups, that victims are “often subjected to stomach-turning beatings and torture.”

Russian-backed militias have also been known to employ terrorist tactics (MH17 aside), with Human Rights Watch noting that they use “beatings and kidnappings to send the message that anyone who doesn’t support them had better shut up or leave.”

But perhaps Oliver Carroll described the regional situation and local phenomenon best in Foreign Policy, calling it bluntly “a bit of the old ultraviolence,” a reference to Stanley Kubrick’s classic A Clockwork Orange – because that’s what the situation on the ground, unleashed from the east, is increasingly appearing to be.


Translation assistance courtesy of William Risch

Malaysian airline shot down by 'Buk' missile system, verified in possession of pro-Russian militants

Map of the area
Map of the area
CNN map of Hrabove
CNN map of Hrabove

Following today’s tragic news that a Malaysian airliner carrying 295 passengers had crashed in eastern Ukraine, Interior Ministry advisor Anton Herashchenko stated that the plane was in fact hit by a Buk surface-to-air missile (SAM) launcher. Buk SAM systems can fire missiles up to an altitude of 22,000 meters (72,000 feet).

Reports indicate that the plane has crashed in the town of Hrabove, Donetsk region, which is near the occupied towns of Snizhne and city of Torez. Both locales are roughly 20km from the crash site in Hrabove.

Do Russian insurgents have access to these missile systems?

Security and Defense Council spokesperson Andriy Lysenko informed that near Snizhne a Buk SAM was seen not belonging to the Ukrainian army. The presence of a Buk-type SAM in the town was verified by Associated Press journalists earlier Thursday.

Russian terrorist Igor “Strelkov” Girkin admitted that they had shot down a plane today over the city of Torez, but have claimed it to be a similarly large Antonov An-26 transport aircraft.

[quote style=”boxed”]”In the vicinity of Torez, we just downed a plane, an AN-26. It is lying somewhere in the Progress Mine. We have issued warnings not to fly in our airspace. We have video confirming. The bird fell on a waste heap. Residential areas were not hit. Civilians were not injured,” he was quoted.[/quote]

While Girkin issued a statement saying that they shot down the “transport aircraft,” he later denied having weaponry to take down the Boeing 777 at that altitude.

Despite denials to the contrary, on June 29 press service representatives of Girkin’s “Donetsk People’s Republic” organization told Russia’s ITAR-TASS that they had “taken control” of multiple Buk missile defense systems.

The U.S. Department of State has said this week that more advanced air defense systems are beginning to arrive to deployment sites which have then been transferring equipment from Russia to its proxies in Ukraine. Also, the DoS notes that Russian insurgents have been actively looking to recruit volunteers with experience operating heavy weapons such as air defenses.

Taken together, it appears abundantly clear that insurgents have access to, and use Buk SAMs and have openly admitted to engaging aircraft with them.

[hr]

Interior Ministry: Pro-Russian terrorists murdered, mutilated two Sloviansk priests & their sons

Security officials have exhumed a mass grave in the Donetsk region where they say a pile of mutilated bodies – two priests and the two sons of one of them – were found. The official, Interior Minister advisor Anton Herashchenko, reports the dead were involved in assisting the Anti-Terrorist Operation (ATO).

“We have now exhumed a grave where two priests from Sloviansk were buried. Also, the two sons of one of the preists, who were tortured and killed just because they helped our soldiers,” said Herashchenko.

While Herashchenko refrained from stating which denomination the priests belonged to, but Patriarch Filaret has previously spoken out against “numerous death threats against the Kyiv Patriarchate clergy and believers” by Russian-backed terrorists in the Donetsk region. Virtually all Christian denominations other than the Russian Orthodox Church have been subject to levels of harassment, threats, kidnapping, torture, and violence.

Sloviansk has had a documented history of brutal murders during its occupation by Igor Girkin’s militia, who was recently discovered to have carried out summary executions.

[box size=”large”]Editor’s note: This article originally mentioned “children” were found, but was later changed solely to “sons.” While they were the priest’s children, officials have not explicitly informed that they were minors and we would like to avoid any confusion.[/box]

Russian military near Kharkiv border bear "peacekeeper" markings

An armored column of Russian personnel carriers allegedly recorded near Belgorod were seen with blue ‘peacekeeper’ (MC) markings fixed to their rear. This story was affirmed by Mark MacKinnon, senior international correspondent for The Globe and Mail. Street signs in the video confirm the column to be near Razumnoye.

Throughout the day, multiple witness accounts of the symbol appearing on Russian military units in the region were also uploaded by separate users, strengthening the supporting evidence of the ‘peacekeeping’ convoy operating dangerously near Kharkiv.

There has been no official explanation for the units’ presence, but Russia has ratcheted up rhetoric and claims of Ukrainian forces shelling positions in Russia in recent days. Pretext for the invasion of Georgia in 2008 also included claims of Russian peacekeepers dying in Tskhinvali during the Georgian military response to the ongoing South Ossetian insurgency. A similar assault is precipitating in both Donetsk and Luhansk, where Russian-backed insurgents are concentrated and largely surrounded.

Below is a gallery of other Russian ‘peacekeeping’ units bearing the blue MC mark, principally during the occupation of Georgia / South Ossetia.

 

Shootout on Maidan

Tonight at approximately midnight armed skirmishes took place on Kyiv’s central square, Maidan Nezalezhnosti, between two groups. Conflicting reports describe the incident as being between those camping on Maidan with men claiming to be part of Maidan Self-defense, or alternatively between local self-defense units and a group of armed, masked thugs.

According to police, one man was hospitalized with gunshot wounds but have yet to release an official report on the altercation’s circumstances or arrests.

The Central Council of Maidan Sotnia, a self defense group, described the shooting as “a provocation.”

“Attackers hid their faces with balaclavas. Companies raised by the alarm drove the attackers away, but a new assault by morning is not ruled out,” the group said.

According to the Twitter user @tombreadley, involved in provoking and carrying out the attacks were two groups of 40 masked thugs who arrived from the direction of Shevchenko Lane and Hrinchenko St.

[quote]“They were catching people of non-Slavic appearance. They did not take down the tents, but they did drag people from the tents closest to the Lyadski Gates. They were armed with brass knuckles, chains, bats. About 10 to 15 people from Maidan got injured…How such a [large] crowd slipped out from Malopidvalna St. to Volodymyrska St., by the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine] so quietly, is a mystery. The attackers scattered in little groups, 10 people from Maidan rushed for their defense. They had a Kalashnikov! At first they shot into the air, then at the attackers. Two people seriously wounded are at the ambulance…”[/quote]

As of 01:50 am, everything was quiet on Kyiv’s central square.

http://youtu.be/skUKJXqayyg


Sources: UNIAN, Ukrayinska Pravda

Odesa celebrates Constitution Day

Today in Odesa to celebrate Constitution Day, thousands gathered on the Potemkin Stairs to unveil a massive Ukrainian flag in support of the military in eastern Ukraine. The city celebrated the 18th anniversary of the Constitution of Ukraine, and as part of the festivities a wreath and flower laying ceremony took place at the Taras Shevchenko memorial. The event was intentionally apolitical, and those attending were told only to bring flags of Ukraine without any political slogans. The ceremony was attended by representatives of the city of Odesa and Odesa region, military, veterans, and the public.

Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa Odessa

Winnipeg 'Huylo Cake' incident explained

Russian media was abuzz recently over the story of a group of Ukrainians who presented a cake bearing an obscenity to a Russian children’s center in Winnipeg, Canada on June 20. Russian media outlets Pravda and RT described the group as “hooligans” in articles titled “Ukrainian nationalists in Canada bring children cake with swear word on it.” Video later circulated heavily under the provocative title “Ukrainian Nationalists stormed the Russian Children’s Center.”

“The Ukrainian nationalists stepped on the private territory illegally. Specifically, they entered the school, where children were staying. This suggests that the Ukrainian nationalists do not comply with the laws, nor do they care about the safety of children. A children’s school is not a place for political protests,” Russian activists wrote in an appeal of the incident.

Ukrainian activists displaying an anti-Putin poster during the protest
Ukrainian activists displaying an anti-Putin poster during the protest

The actual story, however, paints a clear picture of what would have otherwise been a bizarre form of protest.

According to the Ukrainian community activists, the group intended to protest Russian military aggression and the death of 49 servicemen in Luhansk by intercepting the representative of the Consulate General of Russia who, according to the Consulate’s website, was to be on location for passport renewals of Russian citizens. The Consulate’s website did not state that the venue, located at a public shopping mall, doubled as a Sunday school.

With the school year being over, no children were actually present at the location: only those adults waiting for passports.

Omitted from reports were also the group’s large “Bloody killer” poster displaying a graphic of Vladimir Putin, as well as photographs displaying Ukrainian victims killed servicemen of the ongoing war with Russia.

The full update and rest of the story can be read here.

Pro-Russian separatist ‘Supreme Soviet’ forms “Union of People’s Republics”

Representatives of self-declared Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics signed a joint document at a session of its Supreme Soviet, declaring the “Constitutional Act of the merger of “the Union of People’s Republics.”

“Today members of the DPR Supreme Council voted for a single constitution of New Russia. It means that the DPR and LPR will share the same constitution,” prime minister of the Donetsk Republic, Alexander Borodai, said. Borodai is a Russian citizen with ties to anti-semitic organizations.

Separatist leaders announced that their ‘republics’ will be rebranded “People’s Union Republics,” acting in a new Soviet-era styled “Union of People’s Republics.”

The DPR and LPR and legally classified as terrorist organizations in Ukraine.

Area controlled by 'New Russia' in relation to the ongoing Anti-Terrorist Operation
Area controlled by ‘New Russia’ in relation to the ongoing Anti-Terrorist Operation

U.S. Intelligence: Russian tanks "sent from Russia to Ukraine"

During the U.S. State Department’s press briefing, deputy spokesperson Marie Harf dismissed earlier reports that insurgent-piloted tanks in the Donetsk region were of Ukrainian military origin. Rather, she elaborated that intelligence has provided convincing evidence that Donetsk militants acquired heavy weapons and military equipment from Russia, including Russian tanks.

“They were somehow pulled out of the Russian warehouses, someone taught them how to use them, and they were sent from Russia to Ukraine,” Harf flatly explained.

Militants had thus far admitted they acquired the units “from a military warehouse” but without elaborating further. Unlike past acquisitions of weaponized vehicles which have been readily shown off to news agencies and crowds alike, these militants instead shied away from any bravado, anxiously warning Reuters journalists against capturing any photography of the acquired tanks.

Continue reading “U.S. Intelligence: Russian tanks "sent from Russia to Ukraine"”

Pro-Russian Gunmen Loot & Torch HC Donbass Arena

On the night of May 26 armed insurgents from the Donetsk Republic stormed, looted, and torched the Druzhba Arena in Donetsk.

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The arena is the only professional capacity arena in the country and home to the HC Donbass hockey team, Ukraine’s top professional & international team. The gunmen stole plasma TVs, equipment, safety deposit boxes, and a company car before destroying surveillance equipment and setting the building ablaze.

The team is owned by Boris Kolesnikov, a close ally of Rinat Akhmetov and top ranking member of the Party of Regions.

The team issued a statement saying it was deeply angered by what happened and emphasized: “We call on those people who still sympathize with the rebels of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, terrorizing East Ukraine – think: Is this a “future” they want for themselves and their children?