Ukraine’s Friend & Foe Of The Week
Editor’s Note: This feature separates Ukraine’s friends from its enemies. The Order of Yaroslav the Wise has been given since 1995 for distinguished service to the nation. It is named after the Kyivan Rus leader from 1019-1054, when the medieval empire reached its zenith. The Order of Lenin was the highest decoration bestowed by the Soviet Union, whose demise Russian President Vladimir Putin mourns. It is named after Vladimir Lenin, whose corpse still rots on the Kremlin’s Red Square, 100 years after the October Revolution he led.
In the days and weeks after the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over the Donbas war zone on July 17, 2014, evidence quickly emerged as to who was responsible for the killing of all 298 people on board.
The weapon that destroyed the airliner was a powerful BUK missile. The launcher was spotted by eyewitnesses, photographed and videoed before the incident, and on the day after the tragedy it was filmed in Luhansk, on a low-loader, minus one missile, moving towards the Russian border.
A picture of the smoke trail from the missile launch posted online three hours after MH17 was shot down allowed the blogger [email protected] on July 21, 2014 to locate the launch site of the missile. Former Kyiv Post journalist Christopher Miller of Mashable and Telegraph reporter Roland Oliphant visited the site next day and found evidence of a missile launch there. The site, deep in Russian-occupied territory, was close to where the BUK had been spotted just hours before the shoot-down.
This, and a vast array of other interlocking and cross-supporting evidence, soon meant there was little doubt who was responsible for this act of mass murder in the sky — the Kremlin. Further digging by online investigators unearthed social media posts that even allowed the identitfication of the particular BUK missile launcher used — BUK TELAR332, which originated from Russia’s 53rd Anti-Aircraft Missile Brigade of Kursk. The identities of certain Russian servicemen who probably operated the weapon are also known.
However, while all of this is known, none of it has been proved in a court of law. That will be the job of Fred Westerbeke, who heads the Dutch-led investigation into the MH17 murders. In an interview published on Oct. 16 by Novaya Gazeta, one of the few Russian media not under the direct control of the Kremlin, Westerbeke describes the meticulous way he and his team have gathered evidence to prove their case. And their case will have to be flawless, as the Kremlin has sought at every turn to throw the investigation off track, providing false data and wild, unsubstantiated theories that Westerbeke charitably describes as “fairytales.”
They are not fairytales — they are cynical, malicious lies designed by the Kremlin to muddy and confuse and undermine the investigation into the MH17 atrocity, to mask Russia’s guilt.
Westerbeke is Ukraine’s Friend of the Week, and winner of the Order of Yaroslav the Wise, for his diligent, dogged determination to tear away this Kremlin blanket of lies. Thanks to him, hopefully, it will not just be known who was responsible for MH17 — it will have been proved.
– Euan MacDonald
On a cold autumn day in Rostov-on-Don in Russia, Presidential Advisor Vladislav Surkov, clutching a bunch of red roses, stood before a newly unveiled monument to “The Heroes of the Donbas.”
It was Oct. 16, a year to the day since one of those “heroes” had died a very un-heroic death — blasted to bits by a bomb in the elevator of his apartment block in Donetsk.
The man, Arseniy Pavlov, better known by his nomde-guerre Motorola, was a Russia mercenary and self-confessed war criminal, who admitted in a recorded interview with the Kyiv Post on April 3, 2015 to murdering 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war. Some hero.
Another “hero” to whom the monument is dedicated is the dead mercenary Givi, real name Mikhail Tolstykh — a suspected war criminal assassinated on Feb. 8 who was filmed abusing Ukrainian prisoners of war.
The deaths of both men, and many others like them, could well be the result of the activities of Surkov, Ukraine’s Foe of the Week and winner of the Order of Lenin.
According to a trove of e-mails hacked in October 2016 from Surkov’s alleged office email account, prm_[email protected], Surkov was not only involved in drawing up plans to destabilize and delegitimize the Ukrainian government, he is also closely involved in the management of the Russian-occupied territories in the Donbas. He is known to be Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s point man on Ukraine. He has already represented the Kremlin in two high-level meetings with Kurt Volker, the U. S. Special Representative on Ukraine, who was appointed on July 7.
Surkov is also partially responsible for what Russia has become under Putin. He coined the term “sovereign democracy” to describe in part what has since morphed into Putin’s “managed democracy” — a sham system that serves as a veneer for authoritarianism. Russia’s Potemkin democracy is a direct product of Surkov’s political philosophy, his critics have said.
So it is not hard to believe that Surkov is one of those behind the fake protests, fake republics, fake separatists, fake referendums, and fake “volunteers” that have plagued the Donbas, and Ukraine’s Russianoccupied territory of Crimea, since 2014. Fakery is Surkov’s hallmark.
It was fitting then to see him standing there, awkwardly, in front of the monument to “The Heroes of the Donbas” — a seven-meter-tall granite obelisk commemorating fake heroes of a fake civil war.
While the Russian occupying authorities in the Donbas blame Kyiv for assassinating both Motorola and Givi, it is much more probable that, having outlived their usefulness, they were killed on the orders of the Kremlin.
And Surkov’s show of grief for them was, more than likely, feigned.
– Euan MacDonald
Order of Lenin
Order of Yaroslav The Wise