March 17, 2018 – Fort Russ –
By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –
In my recent article on the “Ruban affair”, which an ongoing Ukrainian investigation claims was a failed attempt at a coup d’etat, I assessed the allegations against Ruban as absurd, even granted the fact that strong opposition – or even revolutionary sentiments – are surging in Ukrainian military circles. The events of March 15th-16th, however, have led me to seriously correct my opinion.
As it turns out, a military plot really was in swing in Ukraine. The allegedly planned assassination of the illegitimate president and criminal politician Petro Poroshenko seems to be just the tip of the iceberg. Ukraine’s investigation, which is based on interrogations of the accused – a point which we will discuss – claims that over the course of the coup, Verkhovna Rada deputies were to be executed and the government quarter in Kiev was to be shelled. In other words, the plotters – if they really exist – planned to behead the Ukrainian political leadership, i.e., the whole illegitimate establishment including the parliament, president, and government.
But most interesting of all is who was supposed to carry out this type of coup. If we leave aside Vladimir Ruban, the first to be arrested in what has become the “coup case”, it turns out that among the conspirators are the country’s own military elites and the national heroine Nadezhda Savchenko. This admission by Ukrainian investigators is so sensational that it needs clarification.
Nadezhda Savchenko, a.k.a. “Pulya” (“bullet”) was one of the Euromaidan’s female militants who went to fight in the war in Donbass in the very first days as part of the Aidar battalion. I am in no position to judge just how “bravely” Savchenko is purported to have fought against “separatists”, but I will share that a friend of my colleague in the Lugansk People’s Republic was captured and, like many others, tortured by Savchenko herself. He says that he will remember her face for the rest of his life.
Nadezhda Savchenko was subsequently accused by a Russian investigation of murdering Russian journalists. It was on these grounds that she was detained on Russian territory (how she got there is an altogether different story). During the investigation conducted in the Rostov region and widely covered by Ukrainian media, Savchenko became a genuine idol for Ukrainian Russophobes. As a result, she was automatically granted a deputy seat in the Verkhovna Rada and even the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Ukrainian journalists covering her trial in Russia made a point to refuse to express condolences over the death of their Russian colleagues whom Savchenko was accused of murdering. This another example of how the “Ukrainian revolution” is a profoundly ideological revolution which has, among other things, erased the line between good and evil in men’s souls.
As is well known, Savchenko was pardoned by President Putin in exchange for the release of two Russian soldiers found on Ukrainian territory. Her return to Ukraine was triumphant. From President Poroshenko she received the Hero of Ukraine award, and this woman, previously known for her sadistic tendencies and propensity for alcoholism, was rebranded by Ukrainian patriots into a kind of Ukrainian Joan of Arc. Savchenko cannot be said to be very intelligent, although she does possess a certain charisma which would have remained unknown and of little interest to any one under other circumstances, but post-Maidan Ukraine opened the door for her to enter big politics. This is another index of the “Ukrainian revolution.”
In my numerous analyses of Savchenko’s character and trajectory, I have come to the conclusion that Savchenko is, despite her unsympathetic and even repulsive personality traits and biography, the flesh and blood of the Ukrainian people. Her lack of education, cruelty, courage, and adventurism are typical features of the Ukrainian revolutionary whether a hundred years ago in the likes of revolutionary adventurists in the Civil War in South Russia, or in the present day. As far as I can judge, Savchenko is not particularly greedy or careerist like 99% of her colleagues in the Verkhovna Rada, but genuinely believes in her mission and probably sincerely wants goodness and justice for her people – now matter how sick and, like herself, lacking passionarity.
For these reasons, Savchenko is psychologically ready to participate in the preparation of a coup against the criminal #1 in power – so-called President Poroshenko, the infamous Jewish oligarch whose personal wealth has increased manyfold since he became head of state. Savchenko is the complete antithesis of Poroshenko. Nearly two years ago, right after she was released from Russian prison, I expressed the opinion in an interview with Russian media that Savchenko is quite capable of becoming the next President of Ukraine provided that there are people who could seriously invest in such a project, finance her, and guarantee political-technical support.
Since then, no such interested people have appeared around Savchenko. But perhaps she herself chose to go the more direct and dangerous path of preparing a coup. I do not want to confirm the official version of the Ukrainian investigation; I merely want to reiterate that Savchenko would, psychologically speaking, be the candidate for such an endeavor.
Besides the “bullet” herself, Kiev’s investigation has also charged a group of officers from the 8th special tasks regiment – one of the most militant units of the Ukrainian Army. According to the investigation, Vladimir Ruban passed on weapons hidden in caches on the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic to these officers, in particular Major Pavel Balov (call sign “Kedr”) who just so happens to be the one accused of arranging the murder of the DPR heroes Motorola and Givi.
Ruban and Balov were allegedly introduced to one another by Savchenko. The officers of the 8th regiment were supposed to be sent to their deployment zone in Khmelnitsky and then to Kiev.
This scheme, as we will see, is very confusing and complex. In fact, I did not believe this whole story until unexpected confirmation came from…the leadership of the Donetsk People’s Republic.
On March 15th, the DPR Minister of Taxes and Duties, Alexander Timofeev (call sign “Tashkent”), sensationally stated that someone in the DPR is selling weapons to Ukraine. According to Timofeev, Ukraine’s security service has been using weapons ordered from the DPR to carry out provocations on their own country’s territory. Just how the DPR can control the usage of weapons sold to the enemy, Tashkent did not specify. “We don’t feel sorry for the weapons used for such purposes. Let them shoot each other themselves on their side,” Timofeev remarked.
In so doing, Timofeev essentially confirmed the Ukrainian investigation’s allegations that Ruban had ties to the DPR. It cannot be ruled out that this statement, regardless of whether it is true or not, will be used by Kiev to discredit the Donbass republics and accuse them of disrupting the Minsk Agreements. Of course, it is Kiev that is not fulfilling the Minsk Agreements, but the West will be happy to seize such allegations for the sake of political ends.
To add a personal qualification, I’ve regularly visited the Donetsk People’s Republic since June 2014, and starting around spring 2015 I started to hear numerous complaints about the work of Alexander Zakharchenko’s “right-hand man” on financial-economic issues. Unlike Zakharchenko himself, Tashkent did not gain fame in battle, but gained notoriety for his self-enrichment at the expense of the people of the DPR. He somewhat resembles the ex-head of the LPR, Plotnitsky, who was recently ousted in a coup. Timofeev is hated by literally everyone in the DPR and his reputation has strongly depreciated the repute of Alexander Zakharchenko himself. One of the Russian Spring veterans, Vladimir Dolgov, has even accused Tashkent of being an SBU agent. Whether this is true or not is not up to me to judge, but I will present a testimony on this matter “from the other side.” Ukraine’s Deputy Minister for Temporarily Occupied Territories, Georgy Tuka, recently boasted that a large network of agents subordinate to Ukrainian intelligence is working in both the LPR and DPR. Tuka said: “It is no secret to anyone that we have a powerful agentry on the other side of the demarcation line. Unfortunately, our enemy does too on our territory.” I know no one who would dispute this, and I have repeatedly claimed the same thing in my interview for Russian media. If Dolgov’s accusations are confirmed, then we are presented with a very interesting situation: on both sides of the front SBU agents have prepared a large-scale provocation involving a representative of the top DPR leadership.
No less interesting is this special operation’s continuation on the Ukrainian side. If the 8th regiment’s officers and Savchenko are arrested, then this means that a conspiracy really must have existed. If not, then this “conspiracy” is obviously a game by the Ukrainian Gestapo. Given these new threads that have come to light, I am now inclined to believe that a conspiracy really did exist, but has exposed in the very beginning due to the political inexperience of its organizers.
No matter what, it is evident that hatred for Poroshenko is transitioning from word to deed in Ukraine’s military circles. One possible development of events could be an assassination attempt on Poroshenko during a visit to the army, as it would be more than easy to pin such an assassination attempt on the DPR and LPR. World history is full of such examples, such as when the Swedish King Charles XII was killed by a bullet that did not come from the enemy’s side.
For now Savchenko has more reasons for concern. In Kiev people predict that she will be the next figure in the coup case. She has even been accused of fleeing to Russia out of fear of an SBU interrogation. But on March 16th she denied these rumors after attending a PACE session, returning to Kiev, and issuing a loud statement at the headquarters of the SBU in Kiev in which she not only paradoxically “accused” the West of supporting the Maidan, but directly accused a number of high-ranking Ukrainian officials – Verkhovna Rada speaker Parubiy and ex-presidential administration head Sergey Pashinsky – of delivering the weapons to the Georgian snipers who shot at Berkut and Maidan militants in February 2014.
In saying such ,Savchenko did not reveal any big secret. Thanks to the work of Italian and Israeli TV journalists, the truth about the Georgian snipers and the Maidan has long since been publicly available. But the fact that this allegation was uttered by a deputy of Ukraine’s parliament and a figure decorated with the highest award in the country, the Hero of Ukraine star, who saw these events with her own eyes, speaks volumes.
The Ukrainian establishment is at a stalemate. On the one hand, the Kiev regime is now compelled to accuse a number of characters from Ruban and Balov to Savchenko of criminal plots and working for the enemy (the DPR and maybe Russia too). But this conspiracy theory also has a dark side for Kiev. Such allegations would concern widely glorified heroes of Ukraine decorated with the highest awards from the president himself. Now voices can be heard calling for Savchenko’s star to be confiscated – and these voices are the same who made her into an idol when she was “behind Putin’s bars.” Secondly, such repressions affect the military complex. Given the abysmal approval rating of the oligarch-president among this milieu, it is difficult not to imagine Ukrainian officers reacting to the arrest of their popular representatives. We will see how the Ukrainian judiciary and establishment will try to worm themselves out of this evermore complex conspiracy.
Eduard Popov is a Rostov State University graduate with a PhD in history and philosophy. In 2008, he founded the Center for Ukrainian Studies of the Southern Federal University of Russia, and from 2009-2013, he was the founding head of the Black Sea-Caspian Center of the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, an analytical institute of the Presidential Administration of Russia. In June 2014, Popov headed the establishment of the Representative Office of the Donetsk People’s Republic in Rostov-on-Don and actively participated in humanitarian aid efforts in Donbass. In addition to being Fort Russ’ guest analyst since June, 2016, Popov is currently the leading research fellow of the Institute of the Russian Abroad and the founding director of the Europe Center for Public and Information Cooperation.