1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded; Moscow Murderer/Suicide Reportedly Fought in Donbass

January 14, 2017
A car labelled "Cargo 200," the military term for the body of a soldier killed in battle, bearing a Ukrainian soldier killed in the battle of Svetlodarsk in December 2016. Photo by ATO

Ukraine Day 1062: LIVE UPDATES BELOW. Russia-backed fighters shelled Ukrainian positions 34 times all along the front line, with one Ukrainian soldier killed and two wounded

Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.


An Invasion By Any Other Name: The Kremlin’s Dirty War in Ukraine


1 Ukrainian Soldier Killed, 2 Wounded; Moscow Murderer Reportedly Fought in Donbass

Photo: Selfie by Sergei Ostapenko posted to his VKontakte page. 

Russia-backed fighters shelled Ukrainian positions 34 times all along the front line, with one Ukrainian soldier killed and two wounded, Liga.net reported, citing Leonid Matyukhin, spokesman for the ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] headquarters.

In its report at 19:00 on Facebook, the ATO said on the Mariupol line, militants fired on Shirokino and Vodyanoye with mortars and with grenade-launchers and small arms on Gnutovo, Talakovka, Shirokino, Pavlopol and Straognatovka. Novomikhailovka was fired on from a BMP.
On the Dolnetsk line, militants launched mortars on Kamenka, Mironovskoye, Zaytsevo and Avdeyevka, and used grenade-launchers and small arms on Mayorsk, Zaytsevo, Avdeyevka and Novgorodskaya; a BMP fired on Troitskoye.

On the Lugansk line, there was mortar fire on Novozvanovka and anti-tank missile systems were used on Krymskoye and Novoaleksandrovka.

The bodies of three Ukrainian soldiers killed in the battle of Svetlodarsk in December were returned to the Ukrainian military under a Ukrainian army humanitarian project called “Evacuation 200”, the ATO reported. The bodies were brought to the city of Dnepr and transferred to the National Police, where they will undergo an autopsy as part of the opening of a criminal case. Police expect to identify the bodies and cause of death soon. 

Savchenko Says POW Lists She Publicized ‘Not Accurate’ 

Nadiya Savchenko, the former Ukrainian pilot and POW who is now an MP said the list of POWs she has been working with is “not accurate,” Unian.net reported.

Savchenko has been heavily criticized by activists and MPs for publicizing on her Facebook page a list of 524 names that those involved with negotiations with the Russia-backed separatists had preferred to keep private.

Savchenko commented (translation by The Interpreter

“The lists must be added to, they are at the present time not accurate, since the information was collected over 9 months, and it is basically already outdated. It has to be checked and it will be much easier once all are collected. I submitted questions to the relevant power structures [army and intelligence], is there a list of losses kept in each division, in each separate power structure. And what they are considered — missing or dead, and how many of them are wounded. Next I will put in inquiries and will cooperate and had cooperated before that with the Red Cross. They have their charter, according to their charter, they don’t publicize information, the OSCE is the same.”

Savchenko believes the lists should be given to all world politicians and in the first order to the “Normandy Four,” the leaders of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine involving in ongoing negotiations about the war in Donbass, so-named for the location of their first meeting, at the anniversary of the landing on the beach of Normandy.

She also said that the POWs, which are to be traded “all for all” under the Minsk agreement, should be addressed in three stages: first, the list should be verified so that the basis for the negotiations is clear and the POWs are located; second, any in the list found missing should be looked for in hidden prisons and cellars; and third, those who cannot be found should be declared dead or missing, and mass graves investigated.
She believes that while the Ukrainian government reacted negatively to the publication of the lists, it forced them to work harder on releasing the Ukrainian POWs. Officials have complained that even when they have handed over those requested by the Russia-backed separatists, they have not received Ukrainian POWs in return.
Moscow derided Savchenko’s list, saying there were Russian citizens in the list who had long ago been released, seeming to confirm that Russians did fight in Ukraine. But Maria Zakharova, spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry said (translation by The Interpreter):
“In the lists we saw, there are quite a few Russians who were long ago released. There were also the last names of people whose cases have a strictly criminal background and are not in any way connected with the situation in the Donbass.”

A number of Russians who fought in Ukraine had criminal backgrounds or were fleeing prosecution.

Today the Russia-backed separatists were said to muddy the waters further on the POW issue by insisting that under the Minsk agreement, Berkut riot police who had shot demonstrators on the Maidan, and also defendants in the May 2 fire case in Odessa should be released, DT and Unian reported. Some have already been let go.
The demand was said to be made unofficially. The Berkut officers were also in Savchenko’s list, Hromadske reported. Their lawyers expressed surprise at this development, and said that “procedurally” they did not think their clients could be part of the exchange as they are not Russian citizens, and not part of the forces of the “Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republic” covered by the Minsk agreement.
A Kiev court rejected the request to place former Berkut police under arrest for dispersing Maidan demonstrations, and postponed the trial of two Berkut officers (Sergei Zinchenko and Pavbel Abroskin) charged with the murder of 39 Maidan activists, after they failed to appear in court, citing illness, until January 17.
Russian Volunteers Identify 850 Russian Citizens Killed in Donbass; 80 in 2016 
Information Resistance, the Ukrainian war reporting group headed by military consultant Dmitry Tymchuk, reports that Russian volunteers have tabulated 850 war deaths of Russian fighters in the Donbass since 2014, with 80 for 2016. IR has published the list of 80, but has not indicated the names of the Russian volunteers said to have gathered this information. 
Some of the cases of from the 1st and 2nd Army Corps of the Center for Territorial Troops of Russia’s Southern Military District, which have been booked as suicides, victims of turf wars, or dedovshchina (hazing) whereas there is reason to believe they were killed in battle.
The group makes the claim that Oleg Vladimirovich Golovin, commander of the 1st company of the 1st Motorized Battalion of the 7th Separate Motorized Brigade, born September 23, 1973, whose call sign was “Dyak,” was shot dead by his subordinates when he ordered his platoon to go under fire of Ukrainian defenders of the Svetlodarsk Bulge. Fifteen Russian soldiers were said to die in the battles at Svetlodarsk in mid-December. 

There has been no independent confirmation of the details of the death of Golovin or any others in the list.

Moscow Gunman Who Murdered Neighbor and Wounded 2 Guardsman Said to Have Fought in Donbass

Information Resistance also reported on a murder and suicide in Moscow January 8, claiming that Sergei Ostapenko, who shot dead his neighbor in an attempted robbery, had fought in the Donbass.

IR published a screen shot purporting to be Ostapenko’s ID from DOSAAF, which is the Russian paramilitary sports organization, where he earned the title “Excellent Marksman”

LifeNews, the pro-Kremlin news site close to Russian intelligence and law-enforcement, also reported that Ostapenko had killed a man and wounded two RosGvardia [National Guard] officers on Vasiltsovsky Stan street in Moscow, then reportedly committed suicide.

He was described as having attempted to rob his victim before shooting him.

Moskovsky Komsomolets, a Moscow tabloid, said Ostapenko had been on a drinking binge since New Year’s day, despondent because his wife had left him, when the shooting occurred.

Ostapenko, 26, was described by LifeNews as working as an instructor at a gun club in Mytishchi, a suburb of Moscow who had won prizes at a dueling championship.

His work mates said he “loved weapons” but was “forgetful” and was fired three months ago due to arriving late and a number of incidents of negligence at work such as failing to turn off the lights. 

LifeNews dug into Ostapenko’s background and found he was registered at a psychiatric clinic and that his forgetfulness and mood changes could be related to mental illness. That prompted questions about how he could be granted a gun license or work at a target range. His boss said he was not aware of his psychiatric history. Ostapenko was also said to have obtained a certificate of study of therapeutic massage and also had some education in psychology.

Lenta, a pro-government news site, investigated the case and found Ostapenko was known by the nickname “Dargo,” which means “blade” in Chechen, a name he carved into his favorite 12/76 Germanica rifle, which he carried around in a guitar case. This was the type of weapon he used to shoot his neighbor. Lenta discovered that other gun enthusiasts said in fact he wasn’t very professional or skilled and his prizes were low-level. 

Lenta discovered in fact Ostapenko’s permit to carry a gun had expired in 2013, and that year he was involved in an incident where he shot off a gun off on a playground. His mother, Tatyana Ostapenko (Gavrilova) used all her connections to prevent her son from being prosecuted, and it was then his psychiatric ailments were “suddenly” found. The Germanica he had at that time was sold, and the one used in the murder turned out to be registered under the name of a man who told police it had gone missing during a move.

Neither LifeNews or Moskovsky Komsomolets mentioned that Ostapenko had fought in the Donbass; Lenta said some media had reported it. They interviewed a friend of Ostepenko’s who himself fought in the Donbass and said Ostapenko had consulted him about what to take with him to war, but couldn’t be certain he had travelled to Ukraine. He said “his mind may have been affected in the hot spot, and hence the madness with the shooting in Moscow.”

 — Catherine A. Fitzpatrick