“Strip Moskals Naked!”: Nationalists Demanded Additional Powers in Patrolling the Ukrainian-Russian Border

Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard



The leaders of several extremely right-wing Ukrainian organisations simultaneously appealed to the government in Kiev with a demand to give so-called “Public order druzhinas” the opportunity to exercise alternative passport and customs control both directly on the border of Ukraine with Russia and in border settlements. In the corresponding document submitted to the relevant committee of the Verkhovna Rada it is noted that patriotic-minded public activists will be able to “reveal and neutralise Kremlin spies and traitors in contact with them”. It still isn’t known exactly who will consider this innovation and when they do it, however local authorities have already authorised such checks. The situation was studied by the correspondent of the Federal News Agency (FAN).

The resident of Bryansk [Russia – ed] Vadim Tokarev (his surname was changed) was subjected to an extremely humiliating procedure in the Sumy region. People in camouflage stopped his minibus on the highway, forced the guest to show his documents and personal belongings, carefully examined the vehicle – having dismantled the doors and dashboard, and finally demanded that he … take off his outerwear. “They looked for some ‘bugs’ and microphones, and called me ‘Putin’s agent’ and ‘the enemy of the Ukrainian people’,” said Vadim in a conversation with the correspondent of the FAN. “At the end they said: ‘Tell all your people that soon we in general will strip Moskals naked!'”. The “patrolmen” didn’t specify who exactly Tokarev had to initially pass this “message” on to. The local police office, where the Russian complained about the road incident, only made a helpless gesture – it was as if they said that the inspection was carried out by representatives of a public self-defense organisation who, in accordance with the same public initiative, have the right to selectively examine persons who they think are suspicious.

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“Unfortunately, such a practice became the norm for many Ukrainian regions long ago,” stated the lawyer Andrey Evdokimenko to the Federal News Agency. “‘Self-defense units’ exist in several regions of the country that border Russia. And the activity of ‘patrolmen’ isn’t documented at the legislative level: they are guided only by the sanctions of local administrations. And after the creation of ‘National Druzhina‘ – consisting of radicals from ‘National Corpus‘ and ‘Right Sector‘ – their actions ceased to be spontaneous. Today ‘patrolmen’ closely cooperate with ‘National Druzhina’ and even carry out joint ‘planned raids’.”

It seems that this is true. In this context it is worth remembering the blocking of the railway tracks near the city of Konotop, and also the demonstrative examination of the things of citizens at Zernovo station. Often the mentioned “raids” turn into the open persecution of Russians crossing the border and “unreliable” Ukrainians. In particular, in the area of Bakhmach (Chernigov region) “public patrolmen” opened fire from a hunting weapon at all four wheels of a SUV that was parked. The presence of a Russian registration plate was the reason for the damage caused to the car. The employee of the local administration responded to the informal question of the correspondent of the FAN with literally the following: “We can’t influence the patriotic sentiments of socially active citizens in any way. If someone here wants to ‘strip Russians naked’, then activists will do it”.

The “activists” went even further. If a document on the expansion of the powers of “druzhinas” is adopted either during a meeting of the Verkhovna Rada or at a planned meeting of the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers, then the “public activists” will receive unlimited powers. “Over time nationalist formations will put both Ukrainian border guards and customs officers in their pocket,” noted Evdokimenko. “In the conditions of anti-Russian hysteria our legislators can bless more hunting for ‘suspicious Moskals’. The question is the following: doesn’t such a process in general smell like the blows struck by the nazis on Ukrainian State structures?”

This question is obviously a rhetorical one. As it became known the day before, brainwashed Ukrainians declared the new formation of groups of “Self-defense druzhinas”: “patriots who are skilled with weapons” are called to serve as “patrolmen”. The opinion of the government in Kiev interests nobody here.

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