Ukraine’s Friend & Foe Of The Week

Kyiv Post - - Opinion -

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.

Fred Wester­beke

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

Vladislav Surkov

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

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