[News] "One less traitor": Zelensky oversees campaign of assassination, kidnapping and torture of political opposition

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Apr 19 11:43:49 EDT 2022

"One less traitor": Zelensky oversees campaign of assassination, kidnapping
and torture of political opposition
Max Blumenthal and Esha Krishnaswamy·April 17, 2022

While claiming to defend democracy, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky has
outlawed his opposition, ordered his rivals’ arrest, and presided over the
disappearance and assassination of dissidents across the country.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has framed his country’s war against
Russia as a battle for democracy itself. In a carefully choreographed
address to US Congress on March 16, Zelensky stated
“Right now, the destiny of our country is being decided. The destiny of our
people, whether Ukrainians will be free, whether they will be able to
preserve their democracy.”

US corporate media has responded by showering Zelensky with fawning press,
driving a campaign for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and
inspiring a flamboyant musical tribute
to himself and the Ukrainian military during the 2022 Grammy awards
ceremony on April 3.

Western media has looked the other way, however, as Zelensky and top
officials in his administration have sanctioned a campaign of kidnapping,
torture, and assassination of local Ukrainian lawmakers accused of
collaborating with Russia. Several mayors and other Ukrainian officials
have been killed since the outbreak of war, many reportedly by Ukrainian
state agents after engaging in de-escalation talks with Russia.

“There is one less traitor in Ukraine,” Internal Affairs Ministry advisor
Anton Geraschenko stated in endorsement of the murder of a Ukrainian mayor
accused of collaborating with Russia.

Zelensky has further exploited the atmosphere of war to outlaw an array of
opposition parties and order the arrest of his leading rivals. His
authoritarian decrees have triggered the disappearance, torture and even
murder of an array of human rights activists, communist and leftist
organizers, journalists and government officials accused of “pro-Russian”

The Ukrainian SBU security services has served as the enforcement arm of
the officially authorized campaign of repression. With training from the
CIA and close coordination with Ukraine’s state-backed neo-Nazi
paramilitaries, the SBU has spent the past weeks filling its vast
archipelago of torture dungeons with political dissidents.

On the battlefield, meanwhile, the Ukrainian military has engaged in a
series of atrocities against captured Russian troops and proudly exhibited
its sadistic acts on social media. Here too, the perpetrators of human
rights abuses appear to have received approval from the upper echelons of
Ukrainian leadership.

While Zelensky spouts bromides about the defense of democracy before
worshipful Western audiences, he is using the war as a theater for enacting
a blood-drenched purge of political rivals, dissidents and critics.

“The war is being used to kidnap, imprison and even kill opposition members
who express themselves critical of the government,” a left-wing activist
beaten and persecuted by Ukraine’s security services commented
this April. “We must all fear for our freedom and our lives.”
Torture and enforced disappearances “common practices” of Ukraine’s SBU

When a US-backed government seized power in Kiev following the Euromaidan
regime change operation of 2013-14, Ukraine’s government embarked on a
nationwide purge of political elements deemed pro-Russian or insufficiently
nationalistic. The passage of “decommunization”
<https://khpg.org/en/1430783454> laws by the Ukrainian parliament further
eased the persecution of leftist elements and the prosecution of activists
for political speech.

The post-Maidan regime has focused its wrath on Ukrainians who have
advocated a peace settlement with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s
east, those who have documented human rights abuses by the Ukrainian
military, and members of communist organizations. Dissident elements have
faced the constant threat of ultra-nationalist violence, imprisonment, and
even murder.

The Ukrainian security service known as the SBU has served as the main
enforcer of the post-Maidan government’s campaign of domestic political
repression. Pro-Western monitors including the United Nations Office of the
High Commission (UN OHCR) and Human Rights Watch
have accused the SBU of systematically torturing political opponents and
Ukrainian dissidents with near-total impunity.

The UN OHCR found
in 2016 that “arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, torture and
ill-treatment of such conflict-related detainees were common practice of
SBU… A former Kharkiv SBU officer explained, ‘For the SBU, the law
virtually does not exist as everything that is illegal can be either
classified or explained by referring to state necessity.”

Yevhen Karas, the founder of the infamous neo-Nazi C14 unit
<https://thegrayzone.com/2022/03/04/nazis-ukrainian-war-russia/>, has
detailed the close relationship his gang and other extreme right factions
have enjoyed with the SBU. The SBU “informs not only us, but also Azov, the
Right Sector, and so on,” Karas boasted
in a 2017 interview.
Kiev officially endorses assassinating Ukrainian mayors for negotiating
with Russia

Since Russia launched its military operation inside Ukraine, the SBU has
hunted down local officials that decided to accept humanitarian supplies
from Russia or negotiated with Russian forces to arrange corridors for
civilian evacuations.

On March 1, for example, Volodymyr Strok, the mayor of the eastern city of
Kreminna in the Ukrainian-controlled side of Lugansk, was kidnapped by men
in military uniform, according to his wife, and shot in the heart

On March 3, pictures of Strok’s visibly tortured body appeared. A day
before his murder, Struk had reportedly
urged his Ukrainian colleagues to negotiate with pro-Russian officials.

Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of Internal
Affairs, celebrated the mayor’s murder, declaring on his Telegram page
<https://archive.ph/wip/HDyUm> (see below): “There is one less traitor in
Ukraine. The mayor of Kreminna in Luhansk region, former deputy of Luhansk
parliament was found killed.”

According to Geraschenko, Strok had been judged by the “court of the
people’s tribunal.”
Telegram post by Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to the Ukrainian Ministry of
Internal Affairs, celebrating the assassination of “traitor” and Kreminna
Mayor Volodymyr Struk

The Ukrainian official therefore delivered a chilling message to anyone
choosing to seek cooperation with Russia: do so and lose your life.

On March 7, the mayor of Gostomel, Yuri Prylipko, was found murdered.
Prylipko had reportedly entered into negotiations
with the Russian military to organize a humanitarian corridor for the
evacuation of his city’s residents – a red line for Ukrainian
ultra-nationalists who had long been in conflict with the mayor’s office.

Next, on March 24, Gennady Matsegora, the mayor of Kupyansk in northeastern
Ukraine, released a video (below) appealing to President Volodymyr Zelensky
and his administration for the release of his daughter, who had been held
hostage by agents of the Ukrainian SBU intelligence agency.

Then there was the murder of Denis Kireev, a top member of the Ukrainian
negotiating team, who was killed in broad daylight in Kiev after the first
round of talks with Russia. Kireev was subsequently accused
in local Ukrainian media of “treason.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky’s statement that “there would be consequences
for collaborators” indicates that these atrocities have been sanctioned by
the highest levels of government.

As of today, eleven mayors from various towns in Ukraine are missing.
Western media outlets have been following the Kiev line without exception,
that all mayors been arrested by the Russian military. The Russian Ministry
of Defense has denied the charge, however, and little evidence exists to
corroborate Kiev’s line about the missing mayors.
Zelensky outlaws political opposition, authorizes arrest of rivals and war
propaganda blitz

When war erupted with Russia this February, Ukrainian President Volodymyr
Zelensky issued a series of decrees formalizing Kiev’s campaign against
political opposition and dissident speech.

In a March 19 executive order, Zelensky invoked martial law to ban 11
opposition parties <https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1532022-41765>.
The outlawed parties consisted of the entire left-wing, socialist or
anti-NATO spectrum in Ukraine. They included the For Life Party, the Left
Opposition, the Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, the Socialist Party
of Ukraine, Union of Left Forces, Socialists, the Party of Shariy, Ours,
State, Opposition Bloc and the Volodymyr Saldo Bloc.

Openly fascist and pro-Nazi parties like the Azov National Corps were left
untouched by the presidential decree, however.

“The activities of those politicians aimed at division or collusion will
not succeed, but will receive a harsh response,” President Zelensky stated.

As he wiped out his opposition, Zelensky ordered
<https://www.president.gov.ua/documents/1522022-41761> an unprecedented
domestic propaganda initiative to nationalize all television news
broadcasting and combine
all channels into a single 24 hour channel called “United News” to “tell
the truth about war.”

Next, on April 12, Zelensky announced the arrest of his principal political
rival, Viktor Medvedchuk, by Ukraine’s SBU security services.

Medvedchuk’s face is clearly bruised, apparently a result of beatings from
Zelensky’s SBU goons. Don’t expect any questions about this image to appear
in the pages of the NYT or in CNN’s 24 hour media circus. Can’t allow
anything to undermine the pro-war narrative. pic.twitter.com/A0qhhmeaj8

— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) April 12, 2022

The founder of the second largest party in Ukraine, the now-illegal
Patriots for Life, Medvedchuk is the de facto representative of the
country’s ethnic Russian population. Though Patriots for Life is regarded
as “pro-Russia,” in part because of his close relations with Vladimir
Putin, the new chairman of the party has condemned
Russia’s “aggression” against Ukraine.

Members of the state-sponsored neo-Nazi Azov Battalion’s National
Corps attacked
Medvedchuk’s home <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U7RflyZdULY> in March
2019, accusing him of treason and demanding his arrest.

In August 2020, Azov’s National Corps opened fire
on a bus carrying representatives of Medvedchuk’s party, wounding several
with rubber-coated steel bullets.

Zelensky’s administration escalated the assault on his top opponent in
February 2021 when he shuttered
several media outlets controlled by Medvedchuk. The US State Department
openly endorsed the president’s move, declaring
that the United States “supports Ukrainian efforts to counter Russia’s
malign influence…”

Three months later, Kiev jailed Medvedchuk and charged him with treason
Zelensky justified locking away his leading rival on the grounds that he
needed to “fight against the danger of Russian aggression in the
information arena.”

Medvedchuk escaped house arrest at the onset of the war between Russia and
Ukraine, but is a captive once again, and may be used as collateral for a
post-war prisoner swap with Russia.
Under Zelensky’s watch, “the war is being used to kidnap, imprison and even
kill opposition members”

Since Russian troops entered Ukraine on February 24, Ukraine’s SBU security
service had been on a rampage against any and all iterations of internal
political opposition. Leftist Ukrainian activists have faced particularly
harsh treatment, including kidnapping and torture.

This March 3 in the city of Dnipro, SBU officers accompanied by Azov
ultra-nationalists raided the home of activists with the Livizja (Left)
organization, which has organized against social spending cuts and
right-wing media propaganda. While one activist said the Azov member “cut
my hair off with a knife,” the state security agents proceeded to torture
her husband, Alexander Matjuschenko, pressing a gun barrel to his head and
forcing him to repeatedly belt out the nationalist salute, “Slava Ukraini!”

“Then they put bags over our heads, tied our hands with tape and took us to
the SBU building in a car. There they continued to interrogate us and
threatened to cut off our ears,” Matjuschenko’s wife told the leftist
German publication Junge Welt

The Azov members and SBU agents recorded the torture session and published
images of Matjuschenko’s bloodied face online.
The torture of left-wing activist Alexander Matjuschenko on March 3 in
Dnipro, recorded by Azov members and posted on Telegram by the city of

Matjuschenko was jailed on the grounds that he was “conducting an
aggressive war or military operation,” and now faces 10 to 15 years in
prison. Despite enduring several broken ribs from the beating by
state-backed ultra-nationalists, he has been denied bail. Meanwhile, dozens
of other leftists have been jailed
on similar charges in Dnipro.

Among those targeted by the SBU were Mikhail and Aleksander Kononovich,
members of the outlawed Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine. Both
were arrested and jailed
on March 6 and accused of “spreading pro-Russian and pro-Belarusian views.”

In the following days, the SBU arrested broadcast journalist Yan Taksyur
and charged him with treason; human rights activist Elena Berezhnaya; Elena
Viacheslavova, a human rights advocate whose father, Mikhail, was burned to
death during the May 2, 2014 ultra-nationalist mob attack
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vy-YrTdt7RE> on anti-Maidan protesters
outside the Odessa House of Trade Unions; independent journalist Yuri
Tkachev, who was charged with treason, and an untold number of others;
disabled rights activist Oleg Novikov, who was jailed for three years
this April on the grounds that he supported “separatism.”

The list <https://thesaker.is/a-disturbing-trend-in-the-ukraine/> of those
imprisoned by Ukraine’s security services since the outbreak of war grows
by the day, and is too extensive to reproduce here.

Oleg Novikov—opposition activist from my city, Kharkov, persecuted in the
past by the Zelensky regime—was kidnapped 5/04/22 at 6am by the Security
Service of Ukraine (SBU) and taken to an unknown place. Oleg is disabled
and has 3 young children. (Pic is from a previous arrest)
pic.twitter.com/KSeHYC7DWJ <https://t.co/KSeHYC7DWJ>

— Gonzalo Lira (@realGonzaloLira) April 9, 2022

Perhaps the most ghastly incident of repression took place when neo-Nazis
backed by the Ukrainian government kidnapped Maxim Ryndovskiy, a
professional MMA fighter, and brutally tortured him
<https://twitter.com/politblogme/status/1500195518697328646> for the crime
of training with Russian fighters at a gym in Chechnya. Ryndovskiy also
happened to be Jewish, with a Star of David tattooed on his leg, and had
spoken out on social media against the war in eastern Ukraine.

In Kyiv, local [I don’t know to fucking call them] extremists caught and
brutally torture a famous Ukrainian athlete, MMA fighter, Maxim Ryndovsky.
All his fault is that he trained with the Chechen club "Akhmat".
pic.twitter.com/og1Psly7SE <https://t.co/og1Psly7SE>

— Maria Dubovikova (@politblogme) March 5, 2022

Ukraine’s SBU has even hunted opposition figures outside the country’s
borders. As journalist Dan Cohen reported
Anatoly Shariy of the recently banned Party of Shariy said he was the
target of a recent SBU assassination attempt. Shariy has been an outspoken
opponent of the US-backed Maidan regime, and has been forced to flee into
exile after enduring years of harassment from nationalists.

This March, the libertarian politician and online pundit received an email
from a friend, “Igor,” seeking to arrange a meeting. He subsequently
learned that Igor was held by the SBU at the time and being used to bait
Shariy into disclosing his location.

For his part, Shariy has been placed on the notorious Myrotvorets public
blacklist of “enemies of the state” founded by Anton Geraschenko – the
Ministry of Internal Affairs advisor who endorsed the assassination of
Ukrainian lawmakers accused of Russian sympathies. Several journalists and
Ukrainian dissidents, including the prominent columnist Oles Buzina
were murdered by state-backed death squads
after their names appeared on the list.

Common Ukrainian citizens have also been subjected to torture since the
start of the war this February. Seemingly countless videos have appeared on
social media showing civilians tied to lamp posts, often with their
genitals exposed or their faces painted green. Carried out by Territorial
Defense volunteers tasked with enforcing law and order during wartime,
these acts of humiliation and torture have targeted everyone from accused
Russian sympathizers to Roma people to alleged thieves

Roma people (“gypsies”) left Kiev as refugees and went to border town,
Lviv, where they are facing discrimination by Ukrainians. Like here, tied
to poles. A popular Ukrainian Telegram channel celebrates this action and
mocks the victims.#Kyiv
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/Kyiv?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> #Ukraine
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ukraine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> #Russia
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/Russia?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> #Nazi
pic.twitter.com/3cWZ9a78uA <https://t.co/3cWZ9a78uA>

— Global Politics (@Geopol2030) March 21, 2022

This is the human rights that Zelensky brought to Ukrainian civilians
pic.twitter.com/EWFC048M2q <https://t.co/EWFC048M2q>

— UN voice of Justice (@TheUN_voice) April 3, 2022

Ukraine’s SBU studies torture and assassination from the CIA

Vassily Prozorov, a former SBU officer who defected to Russia following the
Euromaidan coup, detailed the post-Maidan security services’ systemic
reliance on torture to crush political opposition and intimidate citizens
accused of Russian sympathies.

According to Prozorov, the ex-SBU officer, the Ukrainian security services
have been directly advised by the CIA since 2014. “CIA employees have been
present in Kiev since 2014. They are residing in clandestine apartments and
suburban houses,” he said. “However, they frequently come to the SBU’s
central office for holding, for example, specific meetings or plotting
secret operations.”

Below, Russia’s RIA Novosti profiled Prozorov and covered his disclosures
in a 2019 special.

Journalist Dan Cohen interviewed
a Ukrainian businessman named Igor who was arrested by the SBU for his
financial ties with Russian companies and detained this March in the
security service’s notorious headquarters in downtown Kiev. Igor said he
overheard Russian POWs being beaten with pipes by Territorial Defense
volunteers being coached by SBU officers. Pummeled to the sound of the
Ukrainian national anthem, the Russian prisoners were brutalized until they
confessed their hatred for Putin.

Then came Igor’s turn. “They used a lighter to heat up a needle, then put
it under my fingernails,” he told Cohen. “The worst was when they put a
plastic bag over my head and suffocated me and when they held the muzzle of
a Kalashnikov rifle to my head and forced me to answer their questions.”

Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, the first head of the SBU after the Euromaidan
regime change operation of 2013-14, nurtured close ties to Washington when
he served as general consul to the Ukrainian embassy to the US during the
George W. Bush administration. During that time, Nalyvaichenko was recruited
by the CIA
according to his predecessor at the SBU, Alexander Yakimenko, who served
under the Russian-oriented government of deposed President Viktor

In 2021, Zelensky appointed one of Ukraine’s most notorious intelligence
figures, Oleksander Poklad, to lead SBU’s counterintelligence division.
Poklad is nicknamed “The Strangler,” a reference to his reputation
for using torture and assorted dirty tricks to set-up his bosses’ political
rivals on treason charges.

This April, a vivid illustration of the SBU’s brutality emerged in the form
of video (below) showing its agents pummeling a group of men accused of
Russian sympathies in the city of Dnipro.

Ukrainian SBU is arresting civilians in Dnipropetrovsk.

pic.twitter.com/bbHFeADnqg <https://t.co/bbHFeADnqg>

— Vera Van Horne (@VeraVanHorne) April 5, 2022

*“We will never take Russian soldiers prisoner”: Ukraine’s military flaunts
its war crimes*

While the Western media has focused squarely on alleged Russian human
rights abuses since the outbreak of war, Ukrainian soldiers and
pro-Ukrainian social media accounts have proudly exhibited sadistic war
crimes, from field executions to the torture of captive soldiers.

This March, a pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel called White Lives Matter
released a video of a Ukrainian soldier calling the fiancee of a Russian
prisoner of war, seen below, and taunting her with promises to castrate the

Ukrainian soldiers’ use of the cellphones of dead Russian soldiers to mock
and hector their relatives appears to be a common practice. In fact, the
Ukrainian government has begun using notoriously invasive facial
recognition technology
from Clearview AI,
a US tech company, to identify Russian casualties and taunt their relatives
on social media.

#ukraine <https://twitter.com/hashtag/ukraine?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw>
soldiers calling family of deceased to mock and swear at them. Knowing
modern phones – the soldier in question must’ve been alive before they
unlocked his device. That’s another POW #warCrime
<https://twitter.com/hashtag/warCrime?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> to
their repertoire. pic.twitter.com/D55T6Hu0se <https://t.co/D55T6Hu0se>

— Lukasz Raczylo  🅨 (@raczylo) March 27, 2022

This April, a pro-Ukrainian Telegram channel called fckrussia2022 posted a
video depicting a Russian soldier with one of his eyes bandaged, suggesting
it had been gouged during torture, and mocked him as a “one-eyed” pig.

Perhaps the most gruesome image to have appeared on social media in recent
weeks is the photo of a tortured Russian soldier who had one of his eyes
gouged before he was killed. The accompanying post was captioned, “looking
for Nazis.”
Photos distributed by pro-Ukraine Telegram channels showing captured,
tortured and executed Russian soldiers

Video has also emerged this April showing Ukrainian soldiers shooting
defenseless Russian POWs in the legs
<https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/1508216311515684866> outside the
city of Kharkov. A separate video published by Ukrainian and US-backed
Georgian Legion soldiers showed the fighters carrying out field executions
of wounded Russian captives near a village outside Kiev.
Ukrainian and Georgian Legion fighters celebrate after executing captive
Russian soldiers on video

It is likely that these soldiers had been emboldened by their superiors’
blessings. Mamula Mamulashvili, the commander of the Georgian Legion, which
participated in the field executions of wounded Russian POW’s, boasted this
that his unit freely engages in war crimes: “Yes, we tie their hands and
feet sometimes. I speak for the Georgian Legion, we will never take Russian
soldiers prisoner. Not a single one of them will be taken prisoner.”

Similarly, Gennadiy Druzenko, the head of the Ukrainian military medical
service, stated in an interview with Ukraine 24
<https://twitter.com/dancohen3000/status/1505670818327674882> that he
“issued an order to castrate all Russian men because they were subhuman and
worse than cockroaches.”
Ukrainian officials present woman tortured and killed by Azov as victim of

While Western media homes in on Russian human rights violations at home and
inside Ukraine, the Ukrainian government has authorized a propaganda
campaign known as “Total War”
that includes the planting of bogus images and false stories to further
implicate Russia.

In one especially cynical example of the strategy, Ukraine 24 –  a TV
channel where guests have called for the genocidal extermination
<https://twitter.com/dancohen3000/status/1503829062556520448> of Russian
children – published a photo this April depicting a female corpse branded
with a bloody swastika on her stomach. Ukraine 24 claimed that it found
this woman in Gostumel, one of the regions in the Kiev Oblast that the
Russians vacated on March 29.

Lesia Vasylenko, a Ukrainian member of parliament, and Oleksiy Arestovych,
the top advisor to President Zelensky, published the photo of the defiled
female corpse on social media. While Vasylenko left the photo online,
Arestovych deleted it eight hours after posting when confronted with the
fact that he had published a fake.

In fact, the image was pulled from footage originally recorded by Patrick
Lancaster, a Donetsk-based US journalist who had filmed the corpse of a
woman tortured and murdered by members of the Ukrainian Azov Battalion in a
Mariupol school basement they had converted into a base.

At 2:31 in Lancaster’s video, the woman’s corpse can be seen clearly.

Ukrainian political operative @lesiavasylenko
<https://twitter.com/lesiavasylenko?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> is spreading an
especially cynical fake:

The original image was captured by @PLnewstoday
<https://twitter.com/PLnewstoday?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> and showed the corpse
of a woman tortured and murdered in a Mariupol school basement by Ukrainian
Nazis – the allies of Vasylenko. pic.twitter.com/gRnURAAaQ9

— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) April 4, 2022

As weapons pour into Ukraine from NATO states and the war intensifies, the
atrocities are almost certain to pile up – and with the blessing of
leadership in Kiev. As Zelensky proclaimed during a visit to the city of
this April, “if we do not find a civilized way out, you know our people –
they will find an uncivilized way out.”
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