Brother of Ukrainian Held By FSB In Occupied Crimea Believes He Was Abducted

August 11, 2016
Yevhen Panov with FSB personnel. Photo:

Ukraine Day 906: LIVE UPDATES BELOW.

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


Russian Foreign Ministry Reveals 2nd Detainee in Crimean Border Clashes; 1st Charged with ‘Sabotage’

The Russian Foreign Ministry has issued a statement identifying a second detainee out of seven reportedly arrested after Crimean border clashes which reportedly took place this weekend.

The site is currently showing an “under repair” sign about “technical work” under way.

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Meanwhile, the notice, which was visible earlier today, is being discussed on social media.

An avid war blogger Necro Mancer (@666_mancer) who reports daily in detail on fighting in and around Donetsk, has identified some of the suspect’s social media accounts.

Translation: And here, it seems another “super-agent” caught by the FSB from the Ukrainian diversionary and reconnaissance group. #Crimea .

The individual identified is Andrei Romanovich Zakhtey, born November 3, 1975, who lists his home town as Borislav but is also shown as being from Yevpatoriya, Russia. He advertises on his VKontakte page: “Help for applying for Russian citizenship for residents of the near abroad and countries of the former USSR. It’s all official!!! Write.”

He has also been found on a Russian jobs site offering his services for apartment repairs. There he says he lives in Odintsovo and can do jobs in the Moscow area as well as Crimea.

Yet another site, where his profile has the exact same name and birthdate, shows him as living in Saki.

One Twitter user commented to Necro Mancer that he couldn’t understand the principle under which such a person was chosen, either for the mission or to be abducted to claim he was on the mission, given that he didn’t even show any sympathies for Ukraine.

Translation: This poor fellow will clearly admit to anything, even in burning down the Reichstag. He has children.

Meanwhile, Slon reports, citing RIA Novosti, that Yevhen Panov, the former Ukrainian ATO [Anti-Terrorist Operation] volunteer fighter who left the war last year and who friends and family say was abducted in Zaporozhia, has been charged with “sabotage.”

At the FSB’s request, the Kiev District Court in Russian-occupied Simferopol in the Crimea held a closed session and made the charges.

According to Kryminform, Panov entered Crimea legally and was supposed to help extract the “saboteurs” back to the Ukrainian mainland. As we reported, his brother Igor Kotelyanets said he believes Panov was abducted, because he had gone to a cottage dressed only in a t-shirt, athletic pants and sneakers, and his knapsack with a uniform and equipment was left at home.

Slon points out the discrepancy in the number of detainees reported by various state media. RIA Novosti said on August 10 that there were seven; TASS said today there were “about 10”.  TASS said four may have returned to Ukraine.

The FSB said that all the detainees had confessed.

Slon said that officials provided no other details about the second detainee. His last name, combined with the patronymic, would not be so common. It is likely his profile on various social media, one of which says he lives in the Ukrainian town of Borislav.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

Aksyonov Claims US Behind ‘Terror Plot,’ Calls For ‘Saboteurs’ To Be Killed And Strung Up

Sergei Aksyonov, the Kremlin-backed prime minister of the Russian-occupied Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea, has claimed that the United States played a role in the alleged terror plot that the FSB claims to have foiled over the weekend.

Russia’s state-owned TASS news agency reports that Aksyonov told Rossiya 24 that he is sure that the US State Department was behind the affair as he believes Ukrainian officers would not have the “spirit” needed to embark on a course of “terror” against their own people.

Meanwhile RFE/RL’s Crimean service reports that Aksyonov, who used to be known as ‘Goblin’ in his days as an overseer with a criminal gang, went on to say that Ukrainian “saboteurs” should receive medieval punishment:

“We need to do to saboteurs what farmers do to crows who steal their crops: kill them and hang them up opposite the border so that others aren’t tempted.”

— Pierre Vaux

US Ambassador to Ukraine Issues Strong Statement on Crimea, Calling Russian Claims ‘False Accusations’
Amb. Geoffrey Pyatt, US envoy to Ukraine, has issued a series of strongly-worded tweets about the Russian claims yesterday of a “foiled terrorist attack” on the border of Russian-occupied Crimea and Ukraine at the Armyansk crossing.
Amb. Pyatt posted five tweets in English, Ukrainian and Russian:
The Kremlin’s version of events have shifted both before the official FSB announcement of the alleged border clash and after, saying first 4, then 5, and now 7 Ukrainians and Russians have been arrested. So far, only one detainee has been shown, Yevgeny Panov, a former ATO soldier and nuclear power plant worker whose family and friends say he was abducted.

President Vladimir Putin said yesterday that he would “not pass by” the killing of an FSB officer and Russian soldier in the incident. The nature of any retaliation is not yet known.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Four Wounded After Night Of Heavy Shelling

Colonel Oleksandr Motuzyanyk, military spokesman for the Presidential Administration, announced today that one Ukrainian soldier was killed and four wounded yesterday in the Donbass.

The soldier killed was 21-year-old Vlad Karazin from Krasnoarmeysk in the Donetsk region, a veteran of the battle for Donetsk Airport who was well-known among followers of front line events because of his regular tweets from the front line.

Ukraine’s Channel 24 reports, citing volunteer Tetiana Chudnovets, that Karazin died while en-route to a hospital after being wounded when Russian-backed forces shelled his position near Debaltsevo with 120 mm mortars.

Kazarin’s last tweets give some sense of the fighting in the area between the city, which was captured by Russian forces in February last year, and Ukrainian-controlled Svetlodarsk:

Translation: We’ve got automatic grenade launchers and heavy machine guns merrily at work on the Svetlodarsk line, and on the sly, SPGs. Happy ceasefire everybody.

Translation: Svetlodarsk line – they’re firing on our positions with RPGs and BMP-2s.

The Ukrainian military claims that Russian-backed forces conducted 67 attacks yesterday.

According to this morning’s ATO Press Center report, Russian-backed forces used heavy artillery, mortars and armored vehicles across much of the front line.

Near Svetlodarsk, the military reports mortar attacks on Luganskoye and Zaytsevo.

Arkady Radkivsky, press officer for the Donetsk sector of operations, told the 112 television channel this morning that Russian-backed forces had shelled positions near Opytnoye, north of Donetsk, with 122 mm artillery, while hitting those near Avdeyevka and Nevelskoye with mortars.

Colonel Motuzyanyk also reported a resumption of fighting near Donetsk Airport: 

Reports on social media last night describe heavy fighting near the airport and Avdeyevka, with outbound shelling from separatist-held Makeyevka, an eastern suburb of Donetsk.
Translation: Explosions in the area of the airport.

Translation: Sounds now like it’s from MLRS, only very far-off. I can’t understand what is going on.

MLRS, meaning multiple-launch rocket systems like the Grad. 

Translation: And 82-mm shells have been falling on the airport.

Translation: Alright, now it’s landing near the town… maybe in the town itself. Seems like 122 mm. #Avdeyevka

Translation: From the Lesnoye cemetery, can see flashes.
Translation: From Lesnoy started salvoes. Most likely from the old cemetery. Last night 3-4 pieces went there.
Translation: #Makeyevka Vostochniy – outbound from the Lesnoye cemetery at 22:20, almost back-to-back – I counted 9, heavy, loud. Now at 22:28 it’s quiet as it was before.

Translation: #Makeyevka , Vostochniy, 22:19 10/08/16

In Maryinka, west of Donetsk, regional police chief Vyacheslav Abroskin reports that two boys, born in 2003 and 2008, were wounded when an RPG struck their home.

To the south of the city, near the highway to Mariupol, military press officer Ivan Chmil reports that positions near Taramchuk were shelled four times with 82 mm mortars.

The ATO Press Center reports that Russian-backed forces near neighbouring Novotroitskoye used anti-aircraft artillery against Ukrainian positions, while armored vehicles conducted attacks near Starognatovka and Talakovka, where Chmil also reported mortar shelling.

In the Lugansk region, the military reports that Russian-backed force used mortars and grenade launchers to attack positions near Stanitsa Luganskaya, northeast of the separatist-held regional capital.

Attacks, with grenade launchers or machine guns, were also reported near Novoaleksandrovka, Novozvanovka, Zolotoye and Popasnaya.

Meanwhile Ukrainian journalist Roman Bochkala wrote on Facebook last night that he had received a report of a large column of Russian military hardware, “nothing other than a whole brigade,” moving towards Debaltsevo, from an old contact in the separatist-held Lugansk town of Perevalsk.

Ukrainian military intelligence today reported a similar story, claiming that they had recorded the movement of a smaller column through the Lugansk border town of Dyakovo, headed towards Debaltsevo.

According to the report, the column included six units of heavy, self-propelled artillery and five trucks carrying ammunition. 

— Pierre Vaux

Poroshenko Places All Forces On Frontier With Occupied Crimea And In Donbass On Combat Alert

President Petro Poroshenko has ordered that all Ukrainian military forces along the frontier with Russian-occupied Crimea be brought up to full combat readiness.

Poroshenko made the announcement after a meeting with officials including the Secretary of the National Defense and Security Council, Oleksandr Turchynov; the defense minister, Stepan Poltorak; the head of the Ukrainian Security Service, Vasyl Hrytsak; the chief of the General Staff, Viktor Muzhenko; and the foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin.

Translation: I have given orders for the raising of the combat readiness of all units near the administrative border with the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and across the whole contact line in the Donbass.

— Pierre Vaux

Brother of Ukrainian Held By FSB In Occupied Crimea Believes He Was Abducted

As we reported, the brother of the Ukrainian man who has been accused by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) of plotting a terrorist attack inside Russian-occupied Crimea, Yevhen Panov, believes he was abducted and framed.

Ihor Kotelyanets told Ukraine’s Censor.NET last night that his brother, an electrical technician at the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, had been in the Zaporizhia region on Saturday morning and had last been in touch by phone that evening. 

According to the FSB, Panov was arrested later that night in the north of Crimea, following a shoot-out with several other, as yet unidentified individuals, that left one FSB agent dead. 

Ihor said:

“My brother Yevhen, a resident of the town of Enerhodar in the Zaporizhia region, went off on the morning of Saturday, August 6, to meet with friends and disappeared. He hadn’t planned this trip in advance, he had intended to go to the Zaporizhia military hospital for scheduled rehabilitation after participating in the ATO [anti-terrorism operation – the Ukrainian official term for the military operation in the Donbass].

At the last moment, his hospital trip had to be cancelled. Yevhen went off in his car to visit his friends at a dacha. He rang his wife on Saturday evening and said that everything was OK and promised that he’d be home either on Sunday or, at the very latest, Monday morning.

Because he has an old phone and it often runs flat, his wife waited calmly at home and it was only the fact that he did not call on Sunday that caused her alarm.

When Yevhen didn’t return on Monday, his wife called relatives. We rushed off to search for him. We only found out where he was on Wednesday from the mass media.”

Ihor even claimed that his brother, who had worked as a truck driver for the Ukrainian war effort before leaving the conflict zone in September, 2015, had resigned himself to the loss of control of Crimea to the Russians after the invasion and annexation.

“Yevhen thought that Crimea was gone and gone, while his task was to focus on volunteering and social work, which helps keep the peace in his native Enerhodar. He was worried about the situation at the front, we would discuss it, but he was indifferent to Crimea.”

He believes that his brother was abducted by Russian intelligence officers to provide a dummy conspirator to justify an aggressive response.

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He noted that there were inconsistencies in the Russian official reports, asking why the FSB claims seven were arrested but have only revealed Yevhen’s identity. Furthermore, he says, there was no evidence that his brother had packed for a sabotage mission, leaving his camouflage gear and army boots at home in Enerhodar. Instead, Yevhen was shown, visibly brusied and cut, in photos released by the FSB, wearing a t-shirt.

— Pierre Vaux