Thursday, November 13, 2014

Ukraine Has Become Another Iraq, Looting and Murder Out of the Govt.s Control

Kiev's Far-Right Fighters Spread Chaos at Home

Kiev's far-right volunteer battalions aren't handing in their weapons when they return home from the ATO. Instead, they're spreading chaos and lawlessness

Taras Kozub

"Donbass-1" interfered with the counting of votes in electoral district No. 59 
in Bolshaja Novoselovka, Donetsk region, even pulled anti-aircraft guns and 
mortars up to the building, where the Election Commission was meeting
This article originally appeared at Fort Rus

The relationship between the authorities and volunteer battalions is gradually deteriorating. Not too long ago the Governor of Donetsk region Kikhtenko talked about "out of control battalions", and recently Kiev Prosecutor Sergey Yuldashev made some harsh statements. He warned of a threat of armed revolution from armed to the teeth volunteers returning from the zone of the ATO to the capital and major cities.

"Let's face it: there are heroes and patriots, and then there are home front marauders in camouflage," - posted Yuldashev on the website of the Prosecutor's office. "No one was given carte blanche for chaos. Any person coming back from the zone of the ATO with weapons - is a criminal. We need to stop makhnovshina on the streets of Kiev and create a unified center for the protection of law and order".  

Next, the prosecutor cited the statistics: the number of criminal cases for illegal arms trafficking increased 2.5 times, and only in Kiev since the beginning of the year there were 30 "aggravated and extremely aggravated" murders with participation of ex-combatants.

The list of complaints about the battalions is long. It is interference in the electoral process ("Donbass-1" interfered with the counting of votes in electoral district No. 59 in Bolshaja Novoselovka, Donetsk region, even pulled anti-aircraft guns and mortars up to the building, where the Election Commission was meeting), and questionable activity - on Sunday five Aidar fighters arrived at Zaporizhia Aluminum Factory, ostensibly to prevent a theft of property, and started an altercation with regular police.

Accusations of extortion are most frequent. From the latest: yesterday the office of 'Mariupolteploseti' was visited by soldiers of Azov, ostensibly to escort a new head, who was driven out of the enterprise by the employees. A couple days ago, armed men, who introduced themselves as fighters from Aidar, broke into a building with a helipad on Park street in Kiev. The visit was motivated by a desire to return the property to the state.

The commander of Donbass, Semen Semenchenko had to answer to the complaints of Facebook followers, outraged by parking habits of the "new majors" on jeeps with licence plates 'Donbass', 'Azov' and 'Aidar' in front of National Guard building in Kiev. "Plates, used in the ATO, have to be removed. All fighters must be on a military base or rehabilitation. Those who are done with service should take their badges off. We will catch and remove plates and badges," - replied the commander of Donbass on Facebook.

The status of the battalions is a constant irritant for President's administration. Poroshenko's position is to merge territorial battalions with units of the Defense Ministry. Interior Minister Arsen Avakov doesn't agree with it. He wants to repurpose them to work locally. Advisor to the Interior Minister Anton Geraschenko believes that complaining about battalions is ungrateful: if not for them, according to Gerashchenko, the front line would run through Dnieper river.

"On many cases to which you refer, there is no confirmed data. I don't think it's a problem: it is not known for sure, who did the extortion - "unidentified persons" or members of the battalions. There are a lot of nuances, mutual accusations, false or misleading information in social networks".

SBU doesn't see a problem. "There are no visible threats from volunteer battalions, they are controlled by decent people," - said the advisor to Valentin Nalyvaychenko, diplomat Markiyan Lubkivsky. - "A key issue is cooperation: no need to rush to blame. Throwing accusations today is helping the enemy."

Meanwhile, according to newspaper "Zerkalo Nedeli", because of different attitudes about the role of volunteers, the President and Foreign Minister even started to argue in public at the last meeting of the Council of National Security and Defence. However, according to our source in the Administration of the President, that did not happen: "The President and the Minister did not argue. His position is known. We are of a poor opinion about the battalions. They are constantly trying to 'earn' extra money - Aidar 'worked' for money at all the districts in Donbass during the elections. 

"We can explain each case: in the case of the helipad we helped return to the state a family property of Yanukovych," - says Sergey Melnichuk, commander of Aidar. - "Visit to Zaporizhzhya Aluminium Factory was also to prevent a theft. We are just highlighting, protecting properties which are up for grabs. We don't stay there. Unlike some other battalions which ask $120,000 for security functions".

At the same time, unofficially, people close to Aidar recognize that the problem exists. "The battalion was divided into several groups", - said the source. "At the head of the first was the battalion commander Sergey Melnichuk (the future Deputy from the Radical Party of Lyashko), the second - 'Daddy' (chief of staff of the battalion -Valentine Likholit). There is another group. Some of the fighters went to Kiev to expropriate some businesses. Some are "fighting" for the harvest in Cherkassy region. What is most amazing is how they manage to take the weapons out from the area of ATO surrounded by checkpoints. To cross it over unnoticed is impossible. We are fighting with this, but there is not enough resources for all. In Kiev we can control it, but what is happening in the country, no one knows".

Igor Mosiychuk, the former deputy commander of Azov, says that there is a tendency for guys just to leave the front. "About twenty percent had moved on," - said Mosiychuk to Vesti.

The issue of weapons is interpreted differently in various battalions. They believe that their rights are granted by Police Law. "The Statute says we should have weapons (small arms. - Ed.), we are the policemen. Fighters are classified as special purpose police, spetsnaz. And the status is even higher than Berkut, because of the function of anti-terrorism", - said battalion commander of Kharkov's "Slobozhanshchyna" Andrey Yangolenko - "If, say, the guys go on patrol, in the car - the driver and a senior get pistols, the third soldier holds a machine gun".

However, lawyers are urged not to treat the battalions as part of the Ministry of Interior or Ministry of Defense: they only fight in the area of the ATO. "Soldiers of the volunteer battalions can't leave their posts or take weapons without an order from the commanders. Moreover, they are forbidden to go with this weapon into any city that does not belong to the area of the ATO" - told Vesti a lawyer and human rights activist Eduard Bagirov - "Exception - guarding of detainees at the written request of the Prosecutor or representatives of SBU/MIA".

If they do this on the home front, then imagine what they do in Donbass?

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