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Published in Stream:
Day 907: August 12, 2016
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Ukrainian Former Soldier Detained Over Alleged Crimean Border Clash Forced to Confess on TV
6 years
One Ukrainian Soldier Killed, Four Wounded, While Separatists Report Civilian Death
Ren-TV, a pro-Kremlin channel, has aired a video of the interrogation of Ukrainian detainee Yevhen Panov, a Ukrainian former volunteer fighter who was arrested by Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) this week during alleged clashes August 7 and 8 on the border between the Ukrainian mainland and Russian-occupied Crimea.

In the video, Panov, in the same American t-shirt he was arrested in, appears to speak calmly but his face is cut and bruised as well as his arms, raising the issue of whether he was tortured. At the end, his voice breaks as he describes his awareness of the risks involved.

The tape frequently jerks throughout, denoting stops or edits, such as at 00:19 or 3:23, and some of the statements seem rehearsed, such as when Panov says "Republic of Crimea" which is not how Ukrainian patriots would normally refer to Russian-occupied Crimea, or when he refers to the people involved by their last name first, and stumbles over the full name of the GUR, the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ukrainian Defense Ministry. It may be that he is reading placards off-camera.

The broadcast confession is reminiscent of such appearances in the Soviet era, when dissident figures such as Fr. Dmitro Dudko were put on state television to recant their critical views of the state.

Ukrainian authorities have also made videotapes of POWs that have been uploaded to YouTube but they have not put them on state television.

Readers should keep in mind that this is a statement made under coercion. The following is a translation by The Interpreter of the audio from the video:

I served in the ATO zone from August 2014 to August 2015, in the 37th Separate Infantry Battalion which is part of the 56th Brigade. I was invited to Kiev, they explained that a group was being created to conduct sabotage actions on the territory of the Republic of Crimea.

The group included staff officers of the military intelligence of Ukraine, Kirillov Aleksandrov, whose call sign was "Kirill," a staff officer by the name of Dmitry, this is the information I more or less know. Also in the group was Petrenko, Oleg, whose call sign was "Lis" ["Fox"], Sandul, Aleksei whose call sign was "Say" ["Stiletto"] and a man with the call sign "Deshek" whose first and last name I didn't know, and me, with the call sign "Yudzhin" ["Eugene"].

The staff officers here as far as I know are Sandul, Aleksei, with the rank of lieutenant, Serdyuk, Vladimir Aleksandrovich, with the rank of captain...well...Kirillov, Alexandr and Dmitry I think were also officers but I don't know their ranks. I went in one car with Sandul, Aleksei and in the second car, whose route was not known to me [unintelligible]. Sandul, Aleksei and I went through the city of Armyansk, Risove, then Perekop, Dzhankoy, Feodosia and Kerch in order to look for sites for sabotage. The following were determined to be sites for sabotage: [unintelligible], Feodosia, sites in Dzhankoy, the helicopter field, and the Titan Chemical Plant. After fulfilling the mission, we returned to the territory of Ukraine. 

On assignment from Kirillov, a cache was made in the area of the city of Armyansk and also five sets of military uniforms were brought in, modeled after Russian army uniforms.

Weapons and explosives were also put in the caches. I did not take part in loading the caches as that was not my assignment. 

After the return from Crimea, there was a meeting with Kirillov, Aleksandr, during which Sandul, Aleksei reported on the results of the trip, and about the sites chosen for sabotage on the territory of the Republic of Crimea, for which Kirillov thanked Sandul, and I was personally paid 3,200 hryvnia (US $128).

I know that a group of two parts, on August 7 and 8, with 2 or 3 people in each, with the help of boats, were dropped on the territory of the Republic of Crimea in the area of Risove. I was given the assignment to drive to Armyansk for the evacuation of some of the group after the assignment was fulfilled. And I was detained by Russian officers.

As far as I know, this operation was planned by the Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine, of the Ministry of Defense, with the help of staff officers and military officers whom I previously named.

I was aware of the risk of this activity, but according to my information, a breakthrough had to be made in the military armor of the Russian Federation, of course the risk was great that people would be killed

Ukraine has opened up a case of abduction for Panov, even as Russia is accusing him of being part of a plan to "sabotage" of critical infrastructure.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick