Who Needs the Killers of Pavel Sheremet

The Ukrainian public was rightly aroused on the occasion of the revelation of the criminal group that killed journalist Pavel Sheremet, and quite rightly sensed some intent in it.

Indeed, who could have thought to start catching the “patriots of Ukraine” on charges of killing a long-forgotten, not very famous, and even less popular journalist (a short-term star of Berezovsky’s media; a man who became briefly known for his confrontation with Lukashenko)?

Unlike Oles Buzina, whose mother neither President Zelensky or Prosecutor-General Ryaboshapka want to receive, it is unlikely that today Ukraine will have at least half a dozen narrow specialists who remember at least the topics of Sheremet’s “work”. So when in Ukraine people say that accusing “ATO heroes” of murdering Sheremet is an exact sign of the forthcoming clean-up of radical nationalists, it was no more than an attempt to pass off wishful thinking.

There is a case of Buzina, there is a case of Okueva, there is a case about the murder of a child of a deputy, there are dozens more, if not hundreds of cases of murders involving “heroes of the ATO”. I think I will make no mistake if I assume that their hands are now committing 9 out of 10 registered murders and at least half of other crimes in Ukraine. With that wealth, why dig up Sheremet’s case? At least declare all “heroes of the ATO” known criminals and start jailing them simply for having the certificate of a participant of hostilities [in Donbass – ed].

Let’s ask ourselves a simple question: are all the “heroes of the ATO” nationalist radicals? According to official Ukrainian data, as early as the end of 2018, up to 400,000 citizens of Ukraine passed through the ATO zone (now OUF). These are not counting the “battalions” of Yarosh and other orphan nationalist formations, as well as numerous “volunteers”. At the same time, we are rightly pointed out that there are 10,000, maybe 20,000, radical nationalist militants in Ukraine, well, 30,000 at most, i.e., 15-20 times less than the “heroes of the ATO”. Most of the former radicals are integrated into Avakov‘s National Guard, which was the main beneficiary of the opening of the “Sheremet case”.

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It is difficult to suspect Avakov of deciding to cut off the branch on which he sits. He’s not sawing it. The “heroes of the ATO” are the army, not nationalists. Command in the ATO (OUF) zone has long been assigned to the Armed Forces, and before that it was in the hands of the SBU. Avakov’s men there played a secondary role, mainly performing the function of rear defence (some episodes of participation of units of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the fighting were observed only during the spring-summer confusion of 2014). Thus, the “heroes of the ATO,” left and right killing whoever they could, compromise not the nationalist radicals of Avakov, but the Armed Forces and the SBU.

By a “strange coincidence”, it is the UAF and the SBU that are the power structures beyond Avakov’s control and capable to some extent of opposing his dictatorial ambitions.

We go further. Has anyone heard that Sheremet’s killers are associated with Biletsky or at least with Tyagnibok (or any other minimally visible Fuhrer of nationalists/radicals)? No, it has been broadcasted that, if not all suspects, then the vast majority were non-staff members of the SBU. I.e., the trail leads to the Security Service. It can be “lost”, but it can start to develop and the same traces in other high-profile ordered murders can be found.

Unlike Avakov, the SBU protects “wild” Nazis – small marginal formations, such as Karas‘ “С14” group and even tiny amateur groups in accordance with interests. It is precisely these “half-Nazis” who commit most of the registered murders and other crimes related to violence. They are indeed radicals, in the sense that their only argument is violence (usually armed). But in terms of ideology, they are eclectic and closer to bandits who cover their craft with any ideology than they are to real ideological Nazis.

Perhaps Avakov is really ready to clean up these marginal radical groups so that they do not clog up the market of muscle. But rather, he just wants to put them in his own pocket, having finally established control over the armed Hetmans, born of the post-maid mess of 2014. Moreover, this is simply a bonus – the main task is to compromise the army and the SBU and finally remove them from the Ukrainian internal political arena, as carriers of an alternative to Avakov’s muscle resource. But the radical marginals from those who are more clever will go under the wing of Avakov, and he will really clean up the remaining ones, to the delight of naive anti-fascists who do not see in their great-heartedness that they welcome not the weakening of the radicals, but the forced movement toward the ultimate forming of the terrorist Nazi dictatorship led by Avakov.

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Judging by the fact that all the mouthpieces of Kolomoisky, who were vainly cursing the IMF, the Americans, Soros, “Servant of the People“, the government, and the oligarchs (except Kolomoisky) practically “do not notice” Avakov, Kolomoisky is completely involved. It’s like that at least at this stage, then it’s clear that their roads will diverge, but only later. Judging by the fact that Zelensky, returning from Paris, ran to justify himself to the “eagles of Avakov” and sang with the voice of Avakov, interpreting the content and results of his negotiations in a completely different way from the interpretation of the president of Ukraine, sitting at the same table with the Normandy troika, the President of Ukraine intends to continue to comply with his obligations to Kolomoisky, providing the Minister and oligarch with a governing resources. With Zelensky’s support, any violence against political opponents becomes legitimate (defending the constitutional order); without such support there will be a rebellion (an attempted armed coup). Consequently, Avakov and Kolomoisky are “defenders,” and any General who tries to raise an army against them is a mutineer.

Of course, Avakov and Kolomoisky do not need to take the armoured vehicles of the National Guard to the streets and occupy government buildings. This is the extreme and far from the best option. It is possible to reformat the parliamentary majority and change the government in a completely peaceful way. The main thing is that during the parliamentary debate the deputies know that if they do not make the right decisions, Avakov will not even disperse them. It’s just that at one point they will “accidentally” be left unprotected. Simply one day “by coincidence” they will be left without protection. And it is the “wild” ones who will come to suppress them, who then, when the matter is dealt with, will be restrained by the “guards of Avakov”.

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So everyone will vote as they should and for what they need, maintaining the continuity and legitimacy of power. It remains only to choose the right time to change the Cabinet of Ministers. As far as I understand, Kolomoisky and Avakov want to crank up the operation quickly (maybe even before the New Year), to take into their own hands both the solution of the land issue and gas negotiations (everything that promises serious profits in time to the promised “worthy” people). But, on the other hand, it would be politically competent to shoot down the government in spring, when it will be marked by all the negativity of the winter, another increase in utility and other payments, and other minor joys.

However, by the spring the approval rating of Zelensky will have already sunk. In addition, opponents can organise and find a counterplay. After all, an alliance between two bandits is an extremely unstable affair, and can break up at any moment. In general, the logic of political processes requires waiting and not rushing, and the logic of seizing power in the gang (which the Ukrainian elite has long been) requires immediate active action. What path will be chosen? For today, the last step, taking the situation beyond the point of return, has not yet been taken. But the movement in this direction has already started. While there is a choice of options, it must be done before the New Year: either start now and finish no later than the end of January, or wait for the spring and risk losing.


Rostislav Ishchenko

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