12 May 2014 — Dispatches from the Empire
Below, reproduced in full, is an extraordinary article that appeared in the Sunday Times on 11th May, the day of the Donetsk referendum.
The Sunday Times is part of the Murdoch media empire and normally pursues a rigidly Neo-Con foreign policy agenda, all of which makes the article all the more important.
The article confirms the following:
1. The Ukrainian junta is arming, training and deploying a paramilitary force with the specific goal of using it to crush opposition to the regime.
2. The junta has been forced to do this because it does not trust its regular army. The article states that the Kiev regime views its army as ‘heavily infiltrated by Russian sympathisers’. This is sophistry – clearly, ‘Russian sympathisers’ have not ‘infiltrated’ the army since the Kiev putsch. The simple fact is that large numbers of regular soldiers do not recognise the regime and are not prepared to do its dirty work – on which, more below.
3. The paramilitary force has a name and specific battalions. It has a black uniform.
4. It consists of former armed services personnel, policemen, and ‘veterans of the Maidan uprising’.
5. Personnel are overwhelmingly from west and central Ukraine.
6. Personnel with non-military backgrounds receive as little as 2 weeks training, and include far-right sympathisers (the ‘wolfs hook’ is a well known modern Nazi symbol and was the official logo of the Nazi Social National Party, co-founded by Andriy Parubiy, who is currently the head of National Security – and now you know why)
7. The force is partly funded by big business interests loyal to the junta.
8. The ‘Men in Black’ are fully aware that the people of the Donbas – civilians, military and police – are opposed to the regime.
9. The group have been involved in killing civilians in Mariupol
10. The group see their mission as to either expel or kill the Donbas rebels
But don’t take my word for it – read on…..
Kiev lets loose Men in Black
Bojan Pancevski, Mariupol, Sunday Times -11/05/2014
Shadowy bands of paramilitaries are taking over in eastern Ukraine as the regular army falters. Bojan Pancevski meets the leaders in Mariupol
When the men in black uniforms cocked their guns and pointed them at us, I realised it was a bad idea to make a cold call on Ukrainian paramilitary forces at their secret hide-out in the woods.
“How did you find us? Are you Russian spies?” yelled one, his face twisted with tension as he aimed his 9mm-calibre pistol at my stomach.
Our terrifying encounter came after a drive down a meandering dirt road deep into a forest near the port city of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. The men’s improvised headquarters lies on a small island surrounded by a pond. It is a hunting lodge that belongs to a local oligarch sympathetic to their cause.
This is the Azov battalion – known as the ‘Men in Black’ – a secretive special unit of 70 volunteers, one of a number of paramilitary groups set up by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry as part of increasingly desperate attempts by the government in Kiev to fight the Russian backed armed rebellion in the east of the country.
The paramilitaries’ activities risk fuelling an escalation in tit-for-tat violence that has claimed nearly 100 lives in just under a month, propelling Ukraine towards civil war. A number of such groups are trained and armed by the government, partly with backing from financial oligarchs loyal to Kiev. They include the Donbas and the Dnieper battalions, active in the Donetsk area, and the Kievl and Sturm units, which have been deployed in and around the Odessa region.
The men who surrounded us were armed with automatic weapons and pistols. A motley crew of volunteers mainly from west and central Ukraine, the majority were former soldiers, policemen and veterans of the Maidan uprising that brought down the pro-Russian government of Victor Yanukovych in February.
One of them, a sturdy but soft-spoken fighter with a shaved head, had a tattoo on his hand of the Nazi wolf-hook symbol. “We are behind enemy lines here; everyone is against us: the police, the army, the people.” he said, explaining their jumpiness. “We trust no one”.
His group is part of the forces referred to as the ‘internal army’; many of its fighters have a military or police background, but others are being deployed after only two weeks of training.
They are being deployed by Kiev because of fears that its regular forces, heavily infiltrated by Russian sympathisers, are losing the battle with the separatists.
It did not take long to see what the Azov battalion was capable of. On Friday, they were deployed to help defend a police station in Mariupol that had come under attack from armed separatist militia. It ended in a bloodbath that claimed at least 21 lives.
The images of death and destruction from Mariupol played into the hands of pro-Russian propaganda. The Kremlin claims the ‘Men in Black’ are infiltrated by far-right extremists from groups such as the Right Sector.
At a hotel in Donetsk, a former senior air force officer, by day a security adviser to the local government, revealed he donned a black uniform to become one of the leaders of a government-sponsored paramilitary group.
“The separatists see Russia as their homeland” he said. “They have now shown their true face, and for us Ukrainians the only question is how to remove them from our territory without allowing them to take chunks of it with them. We cannot live together with them after this war; they will either be killed or pushed out”