Ukraine Day 838: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.
Yesterday’s live coverage of the Ukraine conflict can be found here.
- READ OUR SPECIAL REPORT:
A number of social media accounts, mainly pro-Russian, have reported that Motorola, the nom de guerre of Arseny Pavlov, the Russian commander of the Russian-backed Spartak Battalion, has been wounded.
Konstantin Dolgov, an activist of the Kharkiv Anti-Maidan group and a representative of the “foreign ministry” of the self-declared “Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR), was first to make the report on Twitter.
Translation: Motorola is wounded, shrapnel damaged his left eye. He was taken to St. Petersburg for an operation. We’re holding our fists for our comrade!
There is a military hospital in St. Petersburg where other Russian and pro-Russian fighters in Ukraine have been brought.
Gordonua.com covered the story but did not have any separate sources. Gordonua noted that Motorola has been declared dead a number of times but then these reports turned out to be false. He has led an anti-tank battalion known as “Spartak” and has been reported to execute some Ukrainian POWs for the fact that they were tank gunners.
Anti-fascist, a pro-Russian site, said discussions on Twitter indicated that Motorola was not wounded in battle, but during training.
Translation: BREAKING! MOTOROLA Wounded. Taken for an operation to St. Petersburg.
As has occurred with other assassinations and shootings of the Russian-backed militant leaders, there is already speculation that his own people shot him, not Ukrainian forces.
Motorola gained fame for his attacks on the Donetsk Airport in tandem with “Givi,” the nom de guerre of Mikhail Tolstykh. The pair were frequently interviewed by Russian state TV and popularized on YouTube as well.
He was rumored to have gone to fight in Syria but these reports were debunked by documentation of his presence in the Donbass at that time.
Motorola has seldom been heard from in recent months, and Russian state TV no longer features him, possibly as a strategy during the Minsk talks.
In unrelated news, Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, owner of Metinvest holding company, who has been seen as placating both the Kiev government and the DNR since war broke out in the Donbass, has been banned from the DNR by a June 1 decree from prime minister Aleksandr Zakharchenko, the blogger Colonel Cassad reported.
The decree also bans 49 other persons, including Serhiy Taruta, an oligarch and founder of the Industrial Union of Donbass, and Yuriy Boyko, former vice prime minister and energy minister of Ukraine and current head of the Opposition Bloc in parliament.
Zakharchenko’s decree is titled “Special Measures in Protection of the Interests of the Donetsk People’s Republic” and is said to protect the security of the DNR and the “rights and liberties of the residents of the DNR.”
Colonel Cassad comments (translation by The Interpreter):
The list is of course harsh even without Akhmetov and Taruta. Here there’s a bunch of former Regionaires, the oligarch [Sergiy] Kurchenko (who tried to take over part of the economy of the people’s republics), the bandit [Yuriy] Ivanyushchenko (who through front men established ties with the leadership of the LNR) and a bunch of defendants in the Lyamin case (involving Ivanyushchenko again). On the whole, everything from soup to nuts. Ideally, such a document should have appeared even a year or a year and a half ago, but better late than never. Now it is interesting to see how that document will reflect on the economic ties with these people on DNR territory, since some of these persons in the list had a direct or indirect influence on the DNR and LNR economy and tried to convert this into political influence.
In particular, Akhmetov’s charitable foundation had provided food and medical items for the people of Donetsk, and his coal mines provide jobs for numerous people.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick