April 22, 2015
Addendum May 23, 2015
We pay tribute to the great hero Commander Mozgovoy who has been assassinated today. This is a very sorrowful time for all who love Novorossiya and who care about the Lugansk People’s Republic. Mozgovoy was involved in many community projects, and was known for helping the children of Donbass. He is with us in spirit, this we know.
Alexey Markov, commander of the Unit 404 of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR) “Ghost Brigade”, and Alexey Mozgovoy, the well-known Ghost Brigade commander who suffered a recent assassination attempt, share similar perceptions of the Ukraine civil war, but adopt opposing attitudes toward the LPR leadership and the prospects for Novorossiya victory. Markov takes a more optimistic stance, offering strong support for a victorious outcome and harsh criticism of the enemy regime, while Mozgovoy is bitter toward the LPR government and pessimistic about meaningful victory. Juxtaposed, their two recent interview transcripts present a study in contrast. We post first the Markov interview, then that of Mozgovoy. Both are reposted from Red Star over Donbass:
Alexey Markov: ‘The war will continue until one
side is defeated’
Interview by Ibai Trebiño for Berria
Translated by Greg Butterfield
Red Star Over Donbass
April 22, 2015
April 11: Military incidents have increased significantly in eastern Ukraine in recent days. According to Commander Alexey Markov, Dobriy, open warfare will resume due to the constant violations of the ceasefire agreed to in Minsk. Markov is the political commissar and commander of Unit 404, which brings together communists from Russia in the Ghost Brigade, one of the most important Novorossiyan military forces. He welcomed Berria in his office at the headquarters of the Ghost Brigade to talk about the Minsk ceasefire, war and politics.
Question: The Minsk accords are at risk of collapsing after the fighting that has occurred in recent weeks. What will happen to the ceasefire that’s now in effect?
Markov: On Monday and Tuesday, the Ukrainian forces began active bombing against our positions. Now we will reply. The two Minsk agreements were invalid all along. The Ukrainian fascists are in the government and it is impossible to reach a stable agreement with them. They don’t want to live with anyone who thinks differently or is of another nationality, so it’s useless to talk with them. In September, when the first ceasefire was signed, they needed to regroup and reorganize. They were afraid of being defeated. I and some other commanders did not understand how we could give them such an opportunity. This time they have prepared their army for war. They have won time to repair tanks and train their troops. Their artillery also works much better. Ukraine now has a much better and more effective army and from here on will take advantage of any ceasefire to gain an advantage over the militias.
I think war will resume in the near future. There will be ceasefires and truces, but the war in Donbass will continue until one side is defeated. I hope we win the war so the Kiev junta will fall. Only then can the Ukrainian people live in peace with themselves and with neighboring countries.
Question: How can you affect the current political situation in Ukraine beyond Donbass?
Markov: I think that people on both sides of the front can end the junta. But in Ukraine there is a very powerful repressive system. By that I mean not only that demonstrations are dispersed by force. More than that, now in Ukraine someone can disappear with impunity, just as in any fascist military dictatorship. And there is, for example, the case of journalist Ruslan Kotsaba. They want to impose a sentence of 15 years in prison against someone who was an activist of the Maidan movement, just for encouraging his countrymen not to go to war. To indict him, the government has presented as evidence statements against the war broadcast on television and interviews given to Russian news channels.
Question: How about the Unit 404 under your command, will it become part of the army of Lugansk?
Markov: We have spent a year waiting to join the army. While I believe it will be positive, at the same time there is still much work that remains. For now there is no more than an idea to unite the two republics, up to now a specific plan has not been established. Many commanders see with great resignation that a year after the Russian Spring, the state of Novorossiya has not been created. For now we only have the regions of Lugansk and Donetsk, and many of those in seats of power were there two years ago. But that does not mean we should give up. In fact, from now on we will have to work harder to achieve our goals.
Question: So you think that the creation of the state of Novorossiya will be a long process?
Markov: We formed the Ghost Brigade with nationalist, monarchist and communist forces. We all agreed to insist on the need for people’s power. We believe that the oligarchy should be removed from political power, contrary to what happens in Ukraine and, unfortunately, also in Russia. As you know, it would be impossible for the militias to resist without Russian help, including military help. But in Russia there is also an elite that agrees with the Ukrainian oligarchy against the people of Donbass.
Question: What will come of the union of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics?
Markov: In the summer we had a government elected by the people, but now former officials and envoys of the Kremlin are in power. I will not go into whether that is right or wrong, it’s just reality. Last summer, if the Communists, or the people around us, had raised the flag of popular power, we would have had a chance to make a real popular revolution. Unfortunately, here in Novorossiya, as everywhere, the communist parties have become parliamentary parties. Now they make compromises quickly and effectively block all options that could lead to social change.
I am a peaceful person, I never would have thought I would have to take up arms. But eventually, if you’re not willing to take up arms to defend your people or to fight, you cannot call yourself a communist.
Question: Some leftist movements agreed with the protests on Maidan Square. What do you think?
Markov: It seems understandable that the left would defend Maidan at first; the first slogans were against the oligarchy. But soon, the nationalists and then the fascists took the lead in the demonstrations. When the protests began last year, the demands were already not against the oligarchy. They wanted a quick change of power, so they could insert fascist and nationalist forces in parliament. In the 1930s in Germany, the Nazis of the National Socialist Party also promised to take power on behalf of the people and not for distribution among the oligarchs. A year after Maidan, the oligarchs remain in the government, the standard of living of Ukraine has worsened, there are constant losses in the army … and they cover all of it in a chauvinist exaltation of Ukraine and anti-Russian sentiment.
Question: The capture of Debaltsevo has become a symbol of the war. The Ghost Brigade led the operation, with the unit you command at its head. How was the battle of Debaltsevo?
Markov: What happened there was not as nice as it was sold in the media. The press here gave an image that does not correspond to what we saw from within. Many see it as a victory, but in the military sense it was not so positive.
Question: Is that due to the number of casualties that occurred?
Markov: Debaltsevo is a very strategic area that is difficult to take. The Red Army also paid much to recover it in the Second World War. We suffered many hardships in February. The Ukrainians had reinforced themselves a lot. They had plenty of staff and equipment. In addition to artillery, tanks and heavy weapons, they had more personnel than us. Knowing that, we went to Debaltsevo prepared to give everything.
If we had more time to prepare the operation, we could have avoided many of the casualties we suffered. The high number of casualties was not only a result of the Ukrainian’s superior weaponry, but because we made mistakes when implementing the Debaltsevo operation. I’m not going to give details, that’s between the commanders, but in fact, we believed that Ukrainians were going to give us a beating. In the end it turned out otherwise.
Alexei Mozgovoi: ‘In this war there will be no victory’
Interview by Orhan Dzhemal
Translated by Greg Butterfield
Red Star Over Donbass
April 17, 2015
April 9, Alchevsk: The famous Donbass militia leader Alexei Mozgovoi is now part of the People’s Militia (army) of the Lugansk People’s Republic (LPR). Despite this official position, today he is one of the main critics of the LPR leadership.
Orhan Dzhemal: I am very interested in the political situation in the LPR, because the war is still going on, but there is a lot of talk about post-war state-building. I understand that the complexity of the process is most clearly manifested in Lugansk.
Alexei Mozgovoi: It’s still too early to talk about post-war construction. Just because there is a truce does not mean that there is peace. Almost all of our attention is still drawn to the front line. But as I understand it, many recent heroes of the LPR, well-known field commanders, have had difficulties with the leadership of the republic. Not difficulties with the leadership, but with the policy pursued by the leadership.
Question: And what is this policy?
Mozgovoi: Well, let’s just say it does not quite correspond to the demands that people put forward at rallies in March and April of last year. Then they all loudly declared that the most important thing was the well-being of the people. And now what do we see? What remains of the people is the letter “P” in the name of the LPR.
In my opinion, if we are to build something new, let alone build, say, a part of Novorossiya, we have to move away from all previous methods of government, previous dealings with the human being, and create something new. Initially, in my opinion, there should be transparency in all things. Transparency and clarity for every resident. If an official takes a step, it should be understandable. If any decision is made, even if it is not brought up for discussion among the people, then at least that decision must be made transparent. To make it clear – do the people need it or just the bureaucrats.
Question: What actually takes place?
Mozgovoi: In fact, we have a return to the old ways. Corruption is through the roof. The use of administrative resources belongs to the head of the republic, just as it belonged to the head of the Lugansk region [when it was part of Ukraine]. The TV and press only work to show how much we love our leader. Just like before.
Question: Does your unit [Prizrak or Ghost Brigade] have problems with the military command?
Mozgovoi: Initially, they tried to break us up. That’s what they told us: “We will take you into the army of the LPR, but only as additions to previously formed units.” That is, their task was to disperse us, make us join other units so that we would cease to exist.
Question: But now you will be included in the developing military structure?
Mozgovoi: We are included. We exist as a brigade. We are under the command of the military chief of the LPR. But I want to say something about the complete blocking of humanitarian aid which our division received. We fed the local population, we have four dining rooms here, and people came to eat: miners, factory workers, residents of small villages, students from kindergartens and schools. We shared it all with the civilian population. It’s also blocked.
Question: What is blocked?
Mozgovoi: It is now impossible to bring in humanitarian aid.
Question: Aid that people from Russia and elsewhere brought to you. Where have the obstacles arisen?
Mozgovoi: Yes, from everywhere, including the Customs Office of the Russian Federation. We’ve seen the last load, probably. In Yekaterinburg, a whole unit of volunteers gathered, and brought with them goods, humanitarian aid, including for the civilian population. They carried their belongings, brought food, medicines and equipment to be taken to hospitals. The cargo was not allowed through customs because it exceeded a certain tonnage. All five tons were held by customs at the border. And who can even set a tonnage limit on humanitarian aid, if it is humanitarian? In general, they are cutting us off from supplies to make us dependent. This is one of the levers of control.
Question: Is there a centralized supply of humanitarian goods? Do you get something from that?
Mozgovoi: Every time in the media we see how these convoys come, there is pomp and extravagance, but I have not seen even once how the aid is distributed. Why aren’t the same cameras filming the distribution of this aid in remote villages?
Question: Does it reach these remote villages?
Mozgovoi: I do not know. I do not interpret. We were just recently in the village of Frunze, talking with a grandfather who worked for 40 years on the railroad, and in nine months he’s gotten nothing.
Question: Do you associate it with bureaucratic confusion or corruption?
Mozgovoi: War is such an interesting thing: some die, others reap huge profits. Humanitarian aid is one of the sources of such income. The more there is, the more will be stolen.
Question: And do you know who diverts the stream and profits from it?
Mozgovoi: I have not investigated, so I can’t say. Without knowing for certain who is to blame, it would just be spreading rumors and gossip. But, even though I cannot give specific names, the government and the administration should bear the responsibility.
Question: And what scheme would you propose for delivery of humanitarian aid?
Mozgovoi: As we have done from the start, by targeting it. A children’s hospital or other facility gives us a list of what they need. We passed on the list to humanitarian organizations, they send help according to this list, and we deliver the goods on camera to those who need it.
Question: Do you want private foundations to work with you directly?
Mozgovoi: Well, I don’t want anything, much less demand it. I just see the difference between government transfers that in fact no one controls, and private providers, who will not allow their cargo to disappear somewhere.
Question: You have a lot of large enterprises in this territory. Are you a supporter of nationalization?
Mozgovoi: Nationalization should not be reckless. Many shares of the Alchevsk metallurgical works now belong to one of the Moscow banks, not only to the people from Dnepropetrovsk, not only Kolomoisky. But you can’t touch the plant now, it relies on Europe. If we act rashly, the plant will remain without consumers for its products. To regain the niche that it now has would be very hard. And it employs 15,000 people. Some people wanted to take it over, but we explained that it is impossible to do so. You can nationalize it, but whom will it employ without an external market? As we move forward we must watch carefully.
Question: The Verkhovna Rada adopted a law on the occupied territories. What’s your attitude to this law?
Mozgovoi: To be honest, I have not delved into it. I can’t take the laws adopted by the current Rada and government in Kiev seriously.
Question: Can you permit a situation where elections are held according to Ukrainian law?
Mozgovoi: We live under the old Ukrainian laws now, nothing has changed, so I would not be surprised. Many older employees, policemen, returned to their positions without any verification. I understand that we need experts, but in Severodonetsk [seat of regional administration – author’s note] they take everybody who served the previous regime, and today they serve us …
Question: Do you allow such people in Alchevsk?
Mozgovoi: Yes, we do not delve into it, we are a military unit. I have always said that civilians must manage people in civilian clothes.
Question: Do they take high positions?
Mozgovoi: Well, when it comes to military positions, there are those who previously wore sergeant’s epaulets who are now colonels.
Question: Will elections be held in Alchevsk?
Mozgovoi: It’s being planned. That is the position taken by our government. Right now everything is at an impasse. It turns out that the date of the election can be declared just beforehand by the head of the republic, even a few hours before the elections. Who has time to prepare?
Question: Do you plan to remain in the military or will you participate in politics?
Mozgovoi: Of course I will.
Question: And how?
Mozgovoi: It’s a secret. Let those who don’t know keep guessing!
Question: To you, what is victory in this civil war?
Mozgovoi: In this war there will be no victory.
Question: When can you stop, at least?
Mozgovoi: Let’s stop when most people understand that they were being used for “earnings.” On the one hand and on the other. Nothing new there. War has always been and will always be a business. The biggest victory is if we create a power that will think about the people. Not winning the war, but victory over ourselves, our consciousness.
Question: And people are already feeling that everything is somehow wrong?
Mozgovoi: That something is wrong, yes. Not as quickly as we would like. But sooner or later the two warring parties will find a common language, and only then talk a little bit differently, and with one other. Only then can we create something really popular. And as long as people are distracted with “suicide,” we will not build here. Those who carried the black bag behind our backs will continue to do so.
For more on the life and work of Alexei Mozgovoi see Tribute to Ghost Brigade Commander Alexei Mozgovoi and International Call to Action (May 25) by Greg Butterfield.
Addendum May 23, 2015
[Commander of Lugansk Ghost Brigade Alexey Mozgovoy and six bodyguards were assassinated near Alcheyevsk, May 23, 2015.]
Biryukov: The Ghost Brigade Will Continue to
Carry Out Its Mission
Colleagues of Ghost Brigade Commander Alexei Mozgovoi, who was killed near Mikhailovka, said that the unit’s soldiers will continue to fulfill their mission. “If the enemy suddenly decides to be happy, then it’s for nothing. Such things do not cause fear, but hatred. This is another great figure in an account that will be paid, sooner or later,” said the first deputy commander of the Ghost Brigade, Pyotr Biryukov.
An investigation team continues to work on the scene of Mozgovoi’s murder. “At 17:50 there was an armed attack on three cars carrying representatives of the Ghost Brigade. Mozgovoi, the Ghost Brigade commander, died at the scene from gunshot wounds, along with his bodyguards, driver and press secretary,” said the head of the investigation department of Lugansk People’s Republic Prosecutor-General Leonid Tkachenko’s office. “There was a firecracker, which distracted the driver’s attention, then firing began,” he added.
Ghost Brigade commander and one of the militia leaders of the LNR Alexei Mozgovoi was killed on Saturday, May 23. Near Mikhailovka, Ukrainian saboteurs were waiting in ambush for his car. Under mortar and machine-gun fire, Mozgovoi and his companions were seriously wounded. Seven people were killed, including the commander of Ghost.
Translated by Greg Butterfield
Red Star Over Donbass
Mozgovoy, May 12, 2015
Mozgovoi: So Begins the True People’s Revival. Lugansk Republic’s Ghost Brigade Commander Alexei Mozgovoi has praised the noble efforts of contributors and visitors at the Victory Day celebration in Alchevsk. “Now, in international forums, and in the Victory Parade in which foreigners rejoice with us in the victory over injustice.” See Red Star Over Donbass article Alexei Mozgovoi on the May holidays & international solidarity (May 12), by Alexei Mozgovoi.
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