It spotlighted how the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU)’s Fifth Directorate and Special Operations Forces (SSO) are running an assassination program across regions of Ukraine occupied or reintegrated into Russia and in Russia itself, and that some SBU agents are starting to believe that these programs have gotten out of control.
An unnamed SBU counter-intelligence officer is quoted as saying that it made him uncomfortable that “marginal figures” were being targeted in operations that were designed “to impress the president rather than bring victory any closer… clowns, prostitutes and jokers are a constant around the Russian government. Kill one of them, and another will appear in their place.”
The same officer noted that Ukraine’s assassination campaign was being “driven by impulse rather than logic,” and “risked exposing sources and the extent of Ukrainian infiltration into Russia,” adding that “our security services shouldn’t do things just because they can.”1
These comments provide an incredible admission of an out-of-control assassination program, subsidized in effect by U.S. taxpayers, that is engaging in wanton violence and killing.
A historical parallel can be found with the CIA’s Vietnam Phoenix Program, an assassination operation designed to liquidate civilian officials supportive of the National Liberation Front (NLF), which also got out of control and was used to resolve private disputes.
The Economist, predictably, did not mention the CIA, though we know from Vasily Prozorov, a former SBU officer who defected to Russia, that the SBU was advised by the CIA since 2014, and that CIA employees have come to the SBU’s central office to plot secret operations.
A Ukrainian hit list on the Myrotvorets website is also now advertising itself as a CIA project based in Langley, Virginia, the location of the CIA’s headquarters.
The Myrotvorets site was launched just after the February 2014 Maidan coup backed by the U.S.
Former SBU Director Valentyn Nalyvaichenko said that Ukraine’s leaders decided that their policy at that time of imprisoning supposed Russian collaborators was “not achieving enough. Prisons were overflowing, but few were deterred. We reluctantly came to the conclusion that we needed to eliminate terrorists.”2
Many of these “terrorists” were actually patriots who supported the legitimately elected government of Viktor Yanukovych (2010-2014), who was deposed in an illegal coup backed by far-right nationalists that worshiped pro-Nazi figures like Stepan Bandera.
They also favored close political-economic and cultural relations with Russia, which had been firmly established over generations. Many were involved in peaceful protests against the post-coup order that were violently suppressed or supported legal political parties that were banned.3
In eastern Ukraine, the “terrorists” supported the renegade Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, which were established after the people living in those republics voted for their autonomy in referenda. They voted that way because they did not accept the Maidan coup and were outraged by the passage of draconian language laws that were an affront to their culture.4
The rights of the people of Donetsk and Luhansk were recognized under the Minsk peace accords, which representatives of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics signed and which Russia supported, though which Ukraine viewed largely as a ruse to buy time to build up Ukraine’s military capacity to wage war, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel admitted.
On August 31, 2018, the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Aleksandr Zakharchenko, was murdered, in a café where he was eating, after a bomb was set off by the death squads profiled in The Economist. (Zakharchenko’s bodyguard also died and 12 people were severely injured in the blast.)
[Source: Screenshot courtesy of Jeremy Kuzmarov]
A former mine electrician who staunchly supported the Minsk accords, Zakharchenko had been a compromise figure between the left-leaning and anti-establishment forces that led the Donbas uprising and the more conservative, pro-capitalist forces backed by the government of the Russian Federation.
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