Translated by Ollie Richardson for Fort Russ
27th January, 2016
The “face” of the blockade of Crimea, the businessman and former Deputy Prime Minister of the Crimean government, Lenur Islyamov, claims to be the first Ukrainian Vice-Governor to have his own army. A source in the Kherson regional state administration reported on January 26th to Ukrainian media that officials in Kiev had given candidate Islyamov a new job. We are actually talking about illegal armed groups, despite the Poroshenko administration pledging to disarm such groups, according to the Minsk 2.0 agreements.
The best defense is attack
On 20th January, the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, adopted the resolution “On the number of posts of Deputy chairmen of local state administrations”, which includes one post among a number of regional state administrations of Ukraine — Deputy head of oblast state administration on issues of defense. The Cabinet of Ministers in its decision introduced this position in the regional administrations, whose territory bordered the combat zone — Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhya, Lugansk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions. But if you look at a map of Ukraine, Kherson region is the only one not having access to Donetsk or Lugansk. But Kherson region directly borders Crimea, and all land border crossings are located on its territory. But there was no threat to Crimea! On the contrary, starting on 21st September 2015, leaders of public organizations, Majlis Crimean Tatars together with Right sector and other armed people, started hostilities, declaring a land blockade of the Peninsula. This was almost like Orwell, where “war is peace”.
In the light of the new Ukrainian realities, the defence of the Kherson region is now an attack. Oh, by the way, schizophrenia is a mutually exclusive behavior, when words directly contradict actual actions. Since the first days of the Maidan, when “peaceful protesters” started bloody provocations against the police, internal troops and “Berkut”, such behavior is the norm for the whole of Ukraine. Since then, Ukraine is living with a rule, when the slogans contradict or even refute the real events, of those who do it under cover of these slogans. Unless the so-called “blockade of the Crimea” is not from the same series? Formally the Chairman of the Mejlis and MP of Ukraine, Refat Çubar, the former Chairman and another Deputy, Mustafa Dzhemilev, (both members of the faction of “Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc”) and then Deputy Prime Minister in the first Russian government of Crimea, Lenur Islyamov, joined them, beginning on 20th September 2015, declaring the good purpose of returning Crimea to Ukraine.
In fact, the slogans of the blockade solved the problem by creating their own public education in the south of the Kherson region. And the intermediate step of “a long journey” is the transformation of the south of the Kherson region into a “hot spot”.
And if the position of the Deputy Governor’s defence will go to Islamov, Crimean Tatar policies will receive formal status and powers to aid the realization of their tasks.
Step one — Dismantling state power and the abolition of the laws of Ukraine
At the start, the organizers of the blockade of Crimea staked their territory near the border of Kalanchak, Chaplynka and Chongar, blocking the road, organizing checkpoints and a camp. Ever since that day the Ukrainian laws in that area — the southern part of Kalanchak, Chaplynka districts and Henichesk, Kherson region – did not apply. The story of how the blockaders did not allow repair crews to access the damaged power line of Nova Kakhovka — Dzhankoy became paradigmatic. Then, the blockers showed that the Ukrainian government is no longer a decree for them anymore, by behaving like animals, attacking Ukrainian police and officials. The national guard arrived to help the repairmen. And after that, a foreign citizen, Khatia Dekanoidze, on the 4th November 2015, working as head of the National police of Ukraine, promised to personally deal with the incident when the police assaulted the participants of the blockade, even the dumbest understood which way the wind blows. Therefore, the Kherson police (and behind it, the Kiev authorities) dramatically calmed down and no more attempts were made to restore order.
A less well known case is when a participant of the siege, Vitaly Tikunov, died at the checkpoint in Chongar. Ukrainian media immediately stated that Tikunov died of a heart attack. But sources in the Kherson region argued that actually the Crimean Tatars and “Pravy sektor” were drunk, and then began petty exchanges of gunfire, when Tikunov was simply shot in the ensuing firefight. But the most revealing thing is that neither the local nor the Central government tried to even investigate the tragedy.
Step Two – Introduce the rule of “who is stronger is right”
From the first days of the siege, Islyamov & Co began to accustom locals to the rule of “the stronger is right”, whilst being armed. Starting in October 2015, news about fights and attacks poured out of the Kherson region one after another. Today, there are routine cases as the Crimean Tatars puncturing car wheels of local residents who want to bring friends to Crimea.
Or the case when, on the night of December 18th, 2015, armed men, from the “Aidar” battalion, tried to kidnap a farmer from the village of Red Shepherd (Kalanchak district, Kherson region). In the process, the militants broke the farmer’s jaw and beat his son. And then in Kherson, local media spoke about a group of brave guys who staged a raid on the police Department in the village, where the militants put the local police face-first into ground and destroyed the documented evidence of the attack. Or, for example, “aidar” staged a brawl in a local café, where they fought with visitors and fired a shotgun.
The rebels calmed down only when a battalion from the interior Ministry of “Kherson” in the Kalanchak region arrived. And then “Right sector”, “Azov” and “Aidar” disowned the armed militants operating in the Kherson region, describing them as not real “heroes”. So, under the guise of paramilitary known brands, are people reporting to either Islamov or themselves? However, afterwards Ukrainian media published the news that “Right sector” ceased to participate in the blockade. Indeed, the people of “Right sector” had left Kherson oblast, and armed troops remained.
Step Three – Inciting ethnic conflict
Following the success of blockade, the leaders of concession started to speak about political demands. In July 2015, in Henichesk (Kherson regional center of region), a meeting took place between the Majlis Crimean Tatar people, during which Mustafa Dzhemilev stressed that the Crimean Tatars were seeking autonomy in Ukraine: “It is necessary to specify, as in previous years, like we have said all along, that we are working to restore the national-territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian state.” And the Chairman of the Mejlis, Refat Chubarov, in October 2015, addressed the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada and the head of the Constitutional Commission of Ukraine Volodymyr Groysman with a request to study the issue of autonomy for the Crimean Tatars in the new Constitution of Ukraine.
But if armed Tatars today create chaos on the borders and far beyond them, what will happen in the future if they become a local authority on the territory of Kherson region? What methods will they use to cleanse their new “Lebensraum”? Because the territory of “autonomy” for hundreds of years has held tens of thousands of Russians and Ukrainians. Needless to say that the first and the closest example that comes to mind is the destruction of Serbs in Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia. And future plans, according to Islamov – the Crimean Tatars call it the “Muslim battalion” – are at the expense of the Turkish regime of Recep Tayyip Erdogan, as he himself blabbed to the press.
Naturally, the response to “live with new rules” (“live with new rules” is the slogan of the presidential campaign of Petro Poroshenko), is a reply from the residents of Kherson region. But trouble, like the attack on the farmer, was a good life lesson for the locals — the situation showed how to fight against this problem. The farmer turned out to be the head of local Union of veterans of Afghanistan, that’s why he could had the help from his friends, veterans, to defend himself against those who attacked him..
The veteran of Afghanistan had made his findings, and therefore, he issued a call for the formation of a self-defense unit, which actively reached out to local residents. Information also came from Genichesk that local youth are starting to create something like local defence units, to meet the armed visitors if needed. And the local people view the conflict (as it is, and even Ukrainian media sometimes highlight the most notable moments, but under the guise of “blockade”) on an ethnic plane – “Crimean Tatars against Ukrainians and Russians”. And the Tatars, led by Chubarov-Dzhemilev-Islamov, in their rhetoric, state an emphasis on ethnicity and their interests as Crimean Tatars.
The State Department gives the OK
The reader may wonder why the Ukrainian authorities allow such developments and do not seek to suppress ethnic clashes? But the answer is on the surface. Even if we were to look for open sources, there is too much mutual love between the USA and political parties like Majlis Crimean Tatar people. Offhand, if you scroll the news feed:
- June 13th, 2014 – American Foundation for the victims of communism awarded Dzhemilev the “Medal of freedom”, named Truman-Reagan. And in early June, Dzhemilev received in Warsaw a Polish award “Solidarity” — for his role in the defence of democracy and human rights. The award was presented to him by the then President of Poland Bronislaw Komorowski together with ex-President By Lech Wałęsa.
- July 2015 – a blogger under the nickname “Colonel Cassad” posted on the Internet a letter which U.S. Senator Christopher Murphy received from Dzhemilev, where the former head of the Mejlis, and today’s people’s Deputy of Ukraine, modestly asked for “a little money”.
If you ask for more examples of news on the Internet, there are reports of trips to the U.S. to participate in conferences and meetings with American politicians etc.
So in fairness, we cannot say that the Ukrainian authorities have absolutely tried to do nothing. For example, the head of the Department of Internal Affairs on counteraction of narco-crime, Ilya Kiva, a favorite of the Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, and the President Poroshenko tried to bring order back to the area in the first few days after the explosion of the power lines. They tried, not realizing that he actually fell in with the group of Crimean Tatars, and with a much more powerful player, where the blockade is only one of the points of the plan, where Islyamov & Co are agents. But then, apparently, they realized, because suddenly they disappeared from Kherson region and from the information space. Since then, they have not been heard or seen. Especially not visible and not audible at the boundary of the “cold war” with Crimea are Chubarov, Dzhemilev, Islyamov “and partners”.
But it turns out that the key to the situation is the following. A scenario development in the South of Kherson region depends on the answer to one question. Namely: Does the leader of the “Majlis” have his own plan, or is he making sure that he controls the process? Or are Chubarov and others just pawns, bargaining pieces for a player of a higher order that will implement their own plan under the guise of “protecting the interests of the Crimean Tatars” and “the siege of Crimea.”
And maybe those European authors, warning that Ukraine is becoming a “gateway to Jihad”, because via the sea, “grey wolves” from Turkey can be embedded on the banks of the Kherson area, and militants of the Islamic State from Syria and Iraq.
If you ask for and analyze all the movements, the blockade, acts of terrorism, and “Crimean Tatar autonomy”, the closest analogy is Kosovo. And, from the point of view of U.S. interests, an independent Kosovo has been a very successful project. Successful global players are successful because they aspire to deliver successful projects time and time again.