July 3, 2015
Posted by Kristina Rus
“Shuster LIVE” is by far the most popular Ukrainian show, hosting top government officials and politicians in every program. It’s generally viewed as the closest thing Ukraine has to an unbiased open discussion (well, still far from it, but at least the host Savik Shuster, is a high-class professional).
As the name implies, It always runs live, which also keeps viewership very high as there is always potential for something dramatic – most recent gaffe I can remember is when a “Russian soldier” they were interviewing turned out to be a phone hooligan who told the studio – live on air – to go f**k themselves for pushing completely unverified BS onto the brains of millions of Ukrainians. But, as I said, at least they actually let this guy speak and didn’t use an actor.
This episode, and couple preceding it, when the “Tornado” conflict developed live on air, was particularly interesting and important. It can, at the very least, be compared to the Abu Ghraib scandal. It was widely discussed in Ukraine and Russia and virtually completely overlooked in Western media (in fact, [url=www.kyivpost.com/multimedia/photo/gbcnbvbnvbn-392002.html]this piece[/url] by Kiev Post is the only English-language report I can even find).
Video and summary:
Video is long, but IMO very much worth watching despite my mediocre voiceover (click the gear symbol on bottom-right of YT menu and set playback speed 1.5x-2x if in a hurry).
<A video piece with just the torture descriptions for those interested in witness testimony and/or sick bastards: HERE>
For those who don’t have the ability to watch the video, or prefer text summaries over primary evidence, here is a text summary (with timestamps, if you want to watch certain speakers):
<<Extra 4 minutes in full version. Introducing the studio guests, introducing another subject of discussion – Head of State Security Nalivaichenko fired*>>
0:40 Host, Savik Shuster, details the story: “Tornado” officer Tsukur accused the head of police for Lugansk region, Naumenko, of being involved in large-scale smuggling, as well as saying the latter should be investigated for prior collaboration with the separatists. Tsukur’s house was burned down by unknown persons a couple days after.
Tsukur together with MP Semenchenko inspected the so-called “smuggling trains” and have found that a trainload of construction lumber was labeled as “waste firewood”.
6:04 Police Minister Avakov video clip, listing the accusations of kidnapping, torture, murder, etc., saying Tornado members have been arrested, and saying he gave the order to disband the unit.
7:15 Savik Shuster: The situation resulted in an armed standoff because “Tornado” men believe they are being punished for stopping a smuggling train loaded with cast iron. According to head of Lugansk administration, this was simply a PR move to paint themselves as anti-corruption activists before impending investigation, and the train was carrying coal, approved and legal. However, “Tornado” fighters posted photos of train cars loaded with cast iron.
10:40 Anatoly Matios, Head Military Prosecutor of Ukraine: We started an investigation of these people couple months ago. We started criminal proceedings on charges of organizing a criminal gang, kidnapping, torture, murder, police misconduct, etc.
In view of the circumstances, I have obtained a permit to share evidence from the pre-trial investigation <reads permit>.
Several quotes from the evidence (questioning of the victims).
All along the same scenario:
“Grabbed into a van by unknown people/Tornado members, without any reason given. Taken to Tornado base, beaten with a pipe, tortured by attaching bare wires to head or genitals and running current through them. Forcing the detainees to imitate oral sex with a plastic tube, and being forced to rape other restrained detainees orally and anally. Eventually, the victims were beaten and thrown out.” <obviously, those who did not survive/ were not released did not testify>.
All this evidence from victims is recorded on audio and video. We decided to arrest those responsible. Yesterday, 8 people were arrested simultaneously in 4 cities, including Tornado commander Onischenko. Then, we went to meet the second-in-command Tsukur, <he requested> we meet in the center square of the city. During our meeting, I had “1+1” TV station film crew with me, who filmed his men pointing rifles in our direction. He refused to comply with our orders to disarm or let our investigators in, armed all the fighters, mined the base perimeter, deployed 6 sniper teams around it, etc. …
There are supposed to be 109 police officers in this company, and there are 70 more unknown people. Moreover, 43 of “Tornado” members have been previously convicted of crimes, 9 of them are repeat offenders. The commander of battalion has been convicted 3 times (actually, 5 times).
<Pictured: Onischenko himself>
Currently, as Tsukur ordered his men to take battle stations and arm their weapons, we are also accusing deputy commander Tsukur of obstruction of justice, police misconduct, etc., punishable by 3 to 8 years in prison.
33:15 Moskal, Head of Lugansk administration: I can also add that a family came to me and said their two sons were taken off a bus by Tornado members. They had a sum of money with them. We came to Tornado, they claimed not to know anything about it, even though there were plenty of witnesses, so the case went to prosecutor’s office. One of the missing sons was found in a shallow grave nearby, the other is also dead, I presume.
Also, before they moved, “Tornado” raided Stanitsa Luganskaya, went into the homes as people hid in basements – shot out the locks and robbed food, electronics, etc. We managed to get 16 residents to come forward and submit police reports, but the local prosecutors were afraid that Tornado will shoot them, so we first went directly to one Prosecutor General, then to the current one when they changed on Feb 10th. Eventually investigation was started.
36:00 <Savik asks questions>
Tsukur <by phone> No, I did not know anything about any tortures before now. However, I have to say all these accusations <of kidnapping and torture> that are being leveled against us – the same thing is being done to our soldiers right now. Previously, I would send them to prosecutor’s office for questioning – everything was fine, I have 20-30 forms, for each soldier I sent. Now, we have 3 soldiers missing, no idea why or how, one returned recently, severely beaten… <gets cut off>
Savik Shuster – Sorry, can’t hear you!
38:10 Ilya Kiva – (?) Deputy Head of Police of Donetsk area**:
Let’s remember that Tornado is formerly “Shakhtersk” battalion. Let’s remember what they did in Mariupol and Volnovakha. Those people will forever hate us because of “Shakhtersk”. So they were reformed, and those guilty were fired from police forces.
But later – this is the reason I came here – in January, one of the members of my department came to me. His friend was taken off a bus by police in Donetsk district and disappeared. We talked to his family, turned out someone was demanding UAH 40,000 ($2000) for his release. We transferred part of the money, tracked the bank accounts and phones of the woman that got them, and the trail led us to the same Tornado base. I believe everything the prosecutor said, because we eventually got that man out and he was in very bad shape. We started a criminal case on January 12th, but as the prosecutor tells me there were no cases before march, it must have gotten “lost”.
But why are we talking only about Tornado? What about many similar cases? What about “Artemovsk” battalion, which was disbanded for very similar things two months ago, and the head of which, Mateichenko, avoided punishment by becoming an MP? <rails against his personal enemy Mateichenko>
<Worth noting that Kiva’s battalion was also disbanded – see footnote**>
We need to change the heads of police! And maybe, in the future, we can form a police that isn’t an oppressive force but actually protects people!
48:20 Alexandra Kuzhin, MP, “Bat’kivshina” party: <Head prosecutor>, you seemed very shocked reading these descriptions of torture. To me, this is surprising, because I read and hear them every day. These are commonplace police tortures. Few days ago, I was in Kharkov… People in jail were begging to be sent from pretrial to prison, to make the torture stop. We exonerated a guy who spent seven years in pretrial – seven years! – without having his day in court. The guy he was accused of murdering – we found him and brought before a judge, he was alive.
Also, we need to do something about the army, the mothers of Ukraine keep begging me. Everybody only drinks, officers too. If there’s nothing else for them to do, why do you conscript them? And also, the soldiers are being beaten! Yesterday, I talked to the Head Military Prosecutor who’s sitting here – big thanks to him by the way – two soldiers were beaten, then taken away and tortured by their officers. You know, these cases keep adding up, one after the other…
52:10 Anton Geraschenko, MP: When Ukraine became independent <=extremists took power in a coup>, nobody was willing to protect it, safe for a few hundred men – SBU SWAT teams and the like <= nobody liked the usurpers>. As law and order in Donetsk and Lugansk collapsed, and thousands of police officers betrayed their country < =sided with the people and the Constitution>, we had to protect the country with anyone we had < =arm nationalist extremists>, so we did it to preserve Ukraine <=preserve our grasp on power>. This led to some unfortunate situations, not just in “Tornado” but in other volunteer battalions too.
54:00 Alexei Mochanov (famous activist): Why was this question only raised after they started talking about smuggling? Tornado didn’t surrender yet because they think that the documents they collected on smuggling would be forged or “disappeared” as soon as they do.
When the war started, it turned out that police/army were unable or unwilling to fight. Both sides allowed ex-convicts and such to fill their ranks. We are the same as them.
We have to purge away not only policeman-criminals, but also those who appointed them and covered for them.
I have the impression that the whole war is maintained by crooks on both sides in order to get rich on smuggling.
59:50 Alexandra Kuzhin: (in reference to MP Semencehko previously advocating a full blockade of Donbass)
What do you mean “blockade” mines and factories? The places that pay taxes to Ukraine and e.g. mine coal that Ukraine needs to survive the winter? The places that employ thousands of workers – who would otherwise <join the separatists>? You want the whole of Donbass to hear on air that we here are planning to starve them?
Semenchenko, MP ***: Each citizen of Ukraine in the occupied territories has a duty to leave to Ukraine.
Alexandra Kuzhin: How? Nobody needs them here! They have nowhere to live <or work>!
Semenchenko: They need to enlist in the Army or National Guard****!
1:02:05 Yuri Butusov, head of “Censor.net” media portal: We need a working legal system. This is why nobody trusts anybody and things need to be resolved live on air. When in criminal cases, it is unclear who evaluates the evidence and makes decisions, this can only be resolved with a jury trial. We need to expand the application of jury trials.
1:04:30 Savik Shuster: On thing I just thought. Imagine – WWII. There are some rumors that jews and gypsies are being burned in camps, but nobody really knows. And then in 1945 it’s exposed and the blame falls on the German nation as a whole. But if it was exposed and discussed before, the blame would only fall on the perpetrators.
From the translator – not much to add to what I already said in the previous article on the subject (that has a video interview of a man who survived the torture).
Basically, what we said all along is true: volunteer battalions are death squads, they’re necessary because a ton of people fight for their rights&Constitution rather than the usurpers in Kiev, Ukrainian government is farther from Europe than some African regimes… Heck Savik even compared the government to Nazis, and Semenchenko advocated starving Donbass (Kiva advocates the same, by the way).
* The first 3 hours of the original program mostly involved discussion of the Head of State Security Nalivaichenko being fired (CIA-backed Nalivaichenko removed due to clashing with US State Dept-backed President Poroshenko on [url=v-n-zb.livejournal.com/8362304.html]gasoline corruption[/url] schemes), which we won’t dwell on – big change in the internal politics, no one outside Ukraine cares much .
** Worth noting that Kiva himself has a bribery conviction and was put in charge of a police battalion / walked everywhere wearing Lt. Col uniform despite never having served in army or law enforcement (his men staged a protest against being commanded by him and the battalion was disbanded). There are also semi-credible claims of him being mentally ill.
*** Semenchenko has also been convicted, but in his youth, and spent less than a year in jail. He’s also a very “interesting” character, overall (4th video here).
**** Especially “cute” advice for elderly and children.
Read more at http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=2a0_1435546658#AEe8luoED6bP1iG1.99