Why Did Former “Berkut” Fighters Flee to Russia?

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



Four former fighters of the Kharkov “Berkut” special forces last Thursday crossed the border of Ukraine with Russia. Now they are in the Russian Federation. The lawyer of the former Berkut officers Valentin Rybin spoke about it.

He explained the reasons for such an act by his clients. According to Rybin, Aleksandr Kostyuk, Vladislav Mastega, Artem Voylokov, and Vitaly Goncharenko crossed the border using internal passports. Therefore it is impossible to call it an escape. They went to Russia after the termination of the measure of restraint concerning them and after the end of the pre-judicial investigation. It is simply dangerous for them in Ukraine. Prosecutors and officials pressured the former Berkut officers, and threaten to jail them, and also the judges who “released them from prison”.

During the events of the “Russian spring” in 2014 the Ukrainian officers “outed” themselves by actively supporting compatriots on social networks who orientated themselves to Russia. Indignant Ukrainian bloggers wrote about this.

A selection of photos on Facebook was posted by the user of the social network Sergey Potrebko. In one of the photos the Ukrainian officer is shown with the Russian tricolor in his hands. The photo was commented on by the police officer from Odessa Vadim Pototsky: “And when we will be there?”

It should be noted that Ukrainian military personnel now deserts in large numbers. “Pravda.ru” wrote about it. They run from the so-called “anti-terrorist operation zone”. The military personnel doesn’t want to be at war any more. Just on April 7th, in the 54th brigade two soldiers voluntarily left the location of a unit, and seven more who were drunk were detained outside of the unit’s location. In the army there are more instances of looting and fighting.

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