By Alexander Mnatsakanyan, Russian human rights activist
04.14.2014 2:29 Facebook status
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine
Ukrainians, my dear friends!
At one point I was pleased by the friendliness and non-militant attitude of your army. Not only a month ago in Crimea, but also earlier. For example, when in the vicinity of Sevastopol at Cape Fiolent a soldier put a 5 minute cease-fire request to his lieutenant to allow civilians a safe passage along the seacoast.
However, this friendliness does not please me any more. During all the 23 years of independence your soldiers did not participate in a single war. Well, maybe UkrBat (Ukrainian Batallion) saw some action in the Balkans. Veterans of the Afghan War have for the most part either resigned or taken up higher positions and will not, therefore, become involved in any direct military actions. It is quite obvious that Ukrainian soldiers are neither used to killing nor are particularly willing to kill. At the same time Russia has constantly led wars. In only the last few years – Chechnya, Dagestan, Georgia (Ossetia and Abkhazia). Russian soldiers are used to killing. They have become accustomed to the idea that the enemy must be eliminated; they are accustomed to the sight of guts spilled out and limbs blown off – those of others and of one’s own. They are used to the fact that survivors often get medals, stars and occasionally even some money. In addition, they have no complexes with respect to handling the civilian population. They are accustomed to the fact that one can shoot at civilians, organize raids and purges, without incurring any liability for these crimes.
From my conversations with Ukrainian colleagues I realized that you simply do not know our reality and war tactics.
I will catalogue only some of the common tactics:
Shooting tactical missiles “Tochka U” [tochka = a dot, point] through towns and villages with lots of civilians (Komsomolsk, Grozny in Chechnya, Poti in Georgia). Targeting living quarters with MRL (multiple rocket launcher) systems, bombardments from helicopters and planes. Punitive operations in Novye Aldi (60 civilians in one day including the elderly, women and even babies, plus lootings and arsons that followed) and Samashki (more than 100 civilians in 2 days) – these are just two of the best known and more prominent examples. Then there were the brutalizations and humiliations of captive soldiers (Russian propaganda claims they are criminals, the same is now said about your comrades-in-arms) – look at the online footage taken in the village of Komsomolsk in Chechnya; the recordings are available on the net. The [Yuri] Budanov case (rape and strangulation of Chechen girl Elza Kungaeva by a Russian Colonel), the [Eduard] Ulman case (gunning down a car with teachers by mistake and the subsequent cold-blooded murder of the wounded), the [Sergey] Lapin case (torture and abuse of detainees followed by murder, because Zelimhan Murdalov “didn’t look right”), [Eugene] Khudyakov and [Sergei] Arakcheev’s case (unmotivated murder at the block post of the Kamaz drivers) – these are only the cases that reached the court room, but there are many more such “personilized” cases, dozens if not hundreds of them. Russian troops when changing their deployment locations leave behind ditches with dozens of unidentified corpses. In filtration camps [mass internment centres in Chechnya] captured soldiers and people just caught accidentally were tortured with electrical shock, dogs were set at them, cold water was poured on them in freezing temperatures, they were kept in pits filled with bleach, their ears were cut off, some were mutilated on torture racks. It is an endless series of lootings and arsons; rapes, beatings, and burning alive. Several thousands of people missing after illegal detention at home during the “sweeps” (my solitary month long search in 2003 resulted in 700 such cases).
This does not mean that all of these methods will be used in Ukraine. The history there is different, the teams would be different and different inter-cultural relationships will play their role. And this is not to say that all Russian soldiers will follow suit. However, this is how the system works in the Russian military and in the punitive special forces of OMON units (comparable to your Berkut unit). And this is the experience of Russian units in Chechnya (mainly) but also in Georgia.
I understand that it’s scary and that a possible first reaction is to surrender to avoid this madness. I did not want to scare you, dear Ukrainians. But I want you to have no illusions about the person with whom (and most importantly with what) you are dealing. I want to warn you in advance, so that you are not surprised and will not ask “how could they” or any other humanitarian nonsense. It is important for your own good that you understand that the phrases “well celebrated” and the joyful and subsequent “haha” from the recent interception of negotiations on a cell phone are quite certainly not a fake. The Feds really talk like that, think like that and breathe like that.
There is a fair chance that Ukraine will have to face Russian military invasion. If someone chooses surrender – that’s his business, it can also be understood. But those who choose the path of resistance to the invaders, regardless if it is as a partisan or regular soldier, will have to fight for real. Without sentimentality and without holding back.
You, my dears, will have to learn what it is like to kill the enemy. You will have to learn swiftly and get only the best grades. There is no time for you to experiment or resit the exams.