Spiders in the Jar: Ukraine’s Ultra-Right Kill Each Other for Money

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The loud assassination attempts that are carried out against activists from the right-wing camp by representatives of these same right-wing radical forces became one of the trends of 2018…

One can’t say that earlier the ultra-right wing with experience of participation in the ATO (the so-called anti-terrorist operation in Donbass) didn’t feature in criminal reports (we will remember at least the murder of Oles Buzina), but earlier their terror was directed against ideological opponents. But now they easily spill the blood of their co-thinkers.

Vitaly Oleshko (Sarmat)

On July 31st in Berdyansk the well-known local public activist Vitaly Oleshko, who had the call sign “Sarmat” and who fought in the ATO as a part of the “Donbass” voluntary battalion, was killed in the yard of his own house-hotel in broad daylight — he was shot from behind with a hunting rifle. Shortly afterwards the patrol force detained a car with four men inside, one of which was dressed in a t-shirt of the neo-Nazi brand “Svastone”.

On the same day the detainee wearing the Svastone t-shirt was identified by the former deputy commander of the voluntary unit of the Ministry of Internal AffairsTornado Nikolay Tsukur, who wrote on Facebook: “This is Artem Matyushin, a native of the Donetsk region. In the past he served in the ‘Tornado’ unit. In the battalion Artem completed sniper training. He took part in military operations. He is sober-minded, disciplined, and handled a weapon in a skilful way”. According to Tsukur, after the “Tornado” unit was disbandment in 2015, Matyushin switched to the “Azov” regiment. On Matyushin’s page on Facebook journalists found posts devoted to the National Druzhina operating under the auspices of the ultra-right party National Corpus, which is closely connected to “Azov”.

On September 27th Matyushin, who was earlier already identified by witnesses, confessed to Oleshko’s murder. He reported that the local businessman Mikhail Sigida tasked him with “teaching (the activist) a good lesson” in view of the friction that existed between them, and also handed the murder weapon over to the nationalist ATO soldier — a sawn-off hunting rifle. The fact that Oleshko also fought as a volunteer in the ATO, and as an ordinary citizen fought against Russian business (for example, he poured paint over the local office of “Sberbank”), didn’t influence Matyushin’s decision to kill him in any way.

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There is an interesting detail — Tsukur named two more militants from “Tornado”, who, together with Matyushin, switched to “Azov” in 2015. When journalists decided to communicate to them, it became clear that since August 30th both colleagues had also been imprisoned — for the thuggish robbery of a house commited in Dneper. One of these militants had already been conditionally condemned two years earlier for attacking a prostitute — having used the services of the priestess of love, he put a gun to her head and took away her phone and money.

Ekaterina Gandzyuk

On July 31st in Kherson acid was poured on the deputy of the Kherson City Council and adviser to the mayor Ekaterina Gandzyuk (she received burns on about 40% of her body, on November 4th she died in hospital). Five detainees, including the direct performer and the organiser of attack, turned out to be veterans of the 5th separate battalion of the Ukrainian voluntary army (before 2016 it was a part of the voluntary Ukrainian corps of “Right Sector“) and as ordinary civilians were a part of the rear structure of the “Black Fog” battalion, which was involved, among other things, in upholding public order. Sergey Torbin, who was involved as the organiser of the attempt to assassinate Gandzyuk, at the time headed “Black Fog” in the city of Novaya Kakhovka in the Kherson region.

Once again, the ATO soldier wasn’t disturbed by the fact that Gandzyuk actively fought in the Kherson region against “separatists” and attended the actions of nationalists — from marches (for example, she is depicted in many photos of the torchlight procession in honor of the Heroes of Kruty that took place in Kherson on January 29th) to the disruption of the congresses of the Ukrainian Choice movement. “Three out of the five knew Gandzyuk personally, and even knew that she had been awarded for volunteer activity — it was help especially for their ‘Right Sector’ unit (in reality, as can be seen in the published diploma, it had already become the Ukrainian Voluntary Army). But this didn’t disturb them — before the assassination attempt they came to the conclusion that Gandzyuk had ‘changed her spots’ and became an asset of Russia’,” said one of the Kherson police officers to the “Strana” website.

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Sergey Mazur

In the night of October 10th a grenade was thrown into a room of the apartment of the coordinator of the C14 neo-Nazi group Sergey Mazur in the city of Borispol of Kiev region, where at this moment his father was sleeping. Mazur senior, who lost a lot of blood, was hospitalised. The right-wing radical noted that he was supposed to be in that room at that very moment (and obviously the assailants had hopes on this), since he was under house arrest because of the pogrom of the Romani camp at Lysa Gora.

On November 1st the suspects were detained, a very solid arsenal was confiscated from them — a Kalashnikov light machine gun with a large number of 7.62 mm cartridges (in unopened zinc boxes, in ammo belts, and simply in big bags), grenade launchers, more than ten antipersonnel RGD-5 grenades, etc. As the coordinator of “C14” reported, the grenade was thrown directly through the window of the apartment of Mazur by one of the detainees – Oleg Akimov.

The deputy of the Verkhovna Rada Igor Mosiychuk, who in May-July 2014 was the deputy commander on communications of the “Azov” battalion (later it became a regiment), reported on November 3rd on Facebook that Akimov served in “Azov”, but was expelled from there at the beginning of 2015. The people’s deputy also published a photo of Akimov wearing the t-shirt of the right-wing organisation “Patriot of Ukraine” (where Mosiychuk also had a visible role). The photo was obviously taken in 2014 (since on the t-shirt there are images of “black little men”), and near Akimov there is one of the leaders of the neo-Nazi group “Misanthropic Division”, which in April-May 2014 joined the structure of “black little men“, and then “Azov”.

I.e., Akimov isn’t simply an ordinary volunteer who entered “Azov”, but a neo-Nazi.

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Once again, this didn’t prevent him from throwing a grenade through the window of the apartment of one of the leaders of another neo-Nazi group that is well-known in Ukraine.

Moreover, unlike the cases of Gandzyuk (who the attackers didn’t want to kill, but only “intimidate”) and Oleshko (who Sigida ordered to “teach a good lesson” to, having shot him in the ass), as Mazur writes, it was planned to kill him (and it would be strange to plan something else using a combat grenade) – and for his public work at that.

“This isn’t surprising,” noted the leader of the movement ‘Tigers of the Motherland’ (the youth wing of the ‘Motherland’ party) Vladimir Laktyushin, who was earlier in Donbass and attentively followed the situation in the conflict zone. “In general, it is difficult to speak about a certain distinct ideology being possessed by such public figures who the Ukrainian media represented in 2014 to society as staunch heroes. These ‘right-wing anti-system’ persons, tattooed with swastikas and runes and dressed in Svastone, put themselves on the maintenance of the oligarch Kolomoisky & Co and put on police uniforms, having thereby violated all the principles that they publicly declared. Because all of this is nothing more than a fetish in their subcultural crowd designed to give the impression that they are allegedly above the society surrounding them, whereas in reality they are typical subpassionaries (according to Lev Gumilev), people who, as a rule, receive functions at the level of ‘serve-bring’ (if to glance at online job advertisements for such public figures, as ordinary civilians they worked as small clerks, promoters, etc.)”.

In his opinion, “Maidan, and then the ATO incredibly raised the real status of these people, who – thanks to the existence of military weapons and carte blanche to use violence – were able to rape, abduct, torture, and kill ‘separatists’ (which anyone can be labeled as); loot cars and valuable property from local residents; and extort money, which the state and society closes their eyes to. Then they returned from the frontline and brought this violence home, having spread it then to those who adhere to similar views. Everything is logical”.

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