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Volunteer Battalions - A Sample of Profiles

Arsen Avakov, Minister of Internal Affairs, reported 11 August 2014 "There are 30—special battalions of the MOI, volunteers, consolidated units. And the National Guard. And I am responsible for them. And they—for me.... Some have the experience of serving in combat behind them, past service in the Special forces and special ops units, gray hair at the temples … and most of the people who come to the battalions are young guys, who do not know much in the military sense, but who have the most important quality of a warrior—spirit! Fire in the eyes and a strong desire to defend their country. Both guys and girls, very young and those who are older than me… ]… all who lived together through those Maidan days, wherever and whenever they found themselves—will always treat each other in a special way. An amazing kinship of souls and effort, which allowed us to win then! That brotherhood is with us forever, while we live."

Russian propaganda called the National Guard “fascists” and “invaders” who are coming to forbid the Russian language. Due to propaganda, people in Donetsk and Luhansk treated the separatists well and often blocked Ukrainian army units, that were sent along with National Guards to restore order. This approach changed only after terrorists took full control over the cities, and turned violent to the ordinary citizens.

The First Battalion of the National Guard departed for the east in mid-April 2014. It began to protect block posts around Slovyansk and Karachun Hill. The battalion’s motivation and will to defend the country raised morale among the various army detachments and police forces with which the volunteers defended the block posts.

Battalion "Aidar"

The paramilitary Aidar Battalion was made up mostly of Donbas residents who volunteered to fight against the Kremlin-backed gunmen. Aidar Battalion had some 400 fighters with dozens of volunteers coming almost every day. After two weeks of training every newcomer receives gun and a task he has to fulfill. Most of their weapon Aidar’s fighters received from the army, and then also seized some guns from separatists.

They hoped to use their knowledge of the Donbas, including Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, to secure a homefield advantage victory for Ukrainian forces. The remaining 40 percent of this unit came from all over Ukraine, "united by love of country and hatred of Russian President Vladimir Putin." Only 10 percent of them had any military experience before joining the battalion. But the volunteers say they compensate their lack of military skill with a strong fighting spirit, developed over the months at the EuroMaidan Revolution in Kyiv that overthrew Viktor Yanukovych as president on 22 February 2014.

The ultra-nationalist orientation of Aidar people often makes the residents of Donbas in eastern Ukraine very suspicious of them. The separatists are reportedly more willing to arrest the army soldiers, when they often decide to finish the fighting volunteers. Aidar guys also behave sometimes more harshly than the army. Various incidents exposed the Aidar’s lack of discipline and willingness to disobey army commands. Many of Aidar’s fighters criticized the army for being too hesitant.

Helicopter navigator Nadiya Savchenko, imprisoned in Russia, became a symbol of resolve for her country. Nadiya Savchenko served as the only female soldier among Ukraine's peacekeeping troops in Iraq. Upon returning, she successfully petitioned the Defense Ministry for the right to attend the prestigious Air Force University in Kharkiv, which until then had been open only to men. The 33-year-old Kyiv native fought to become one of Ukraine's first women to train as an air-force pilot. And as a member of the volunteer Aidar Battalion in eastern Ukraine, she fought to defend her country -- even remaining defiant after being abducted by pro-Russian separatists. Savchenko faced charges of complicity in the June 17 killing of two Russian journalists, Igor Kornelyuk and Anton Voloshin, who died during a mortar attack on a separatist checkpoint outside Luhansk. Savchenko denied targeting the journalists in what was otherwise a normal military action.

At a meeting arranged by the chief of police in Starobilsk (97 km north of Luhansk city) on 20 August, a man claimed that he had been severely beaten the previous day in Polovynkyne (88 km north of Luhansk) by members of a Ukrainian volunteer battalion. He said members of the 24th Aidar Battalion – already at the centre of accusations of human rights abuses in the northern Luhansk region – after detaining him at a checkpoint, had accused him of separatism and had threatened to kill him, unless his wife paid over USD 10,000. She did so, whereupon he was released the same day, he said.

The Ukrainian nationalist Aidar battalion was officially disbanded and reorganized as the 24th Separate Assault Battalion of the Ukrainian Ground Forces on 02 March 2015. The notorious battalion was formed in May 2014 following the Maidan revolution in Kiev and since then had been repeatedly accused of blatant human rights violations in eastern Ukraine. Particularly, in September 2014, Amnesty International and other human rights organizations publicly slammed Aidar for "widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, theft, extortion, possible executions."

Battalion "Azov"

Azov, which had an estimated personnel of 500 people, is one of about 50 volunteer battalions formed by Maidan activists and ultranationalists of the Right Sector group. These newly formed units have been brought to eastern Ukraine to form the backbone of the forces fighting against the local self-defense militia advocating independence from Ukraine. The battalion is sponsored by Ukraine’s third-richest oligarch, Igor Kolomoysky. He is governor of Dnepropetrovsk region and sponsors a number of other paramilitary units. The Azov Battalion actively participated in Kiev’s so-called “anti-terrorist operation” and, like most of the volunteer and National Guards units, has been accused of committing war crimes against civilians.

Ukraine Ministry of Internal Affairs Special Forces was formed to combat illegal armed bandit formations in the Donetsk region. Battalion based in Berdyansk, Zaporizhzhya region. Feature packed "Ukrainian patriots who already have experience of military service." As the deputy battalion commander Jaroslav Potter, "the backbone of the battalion are those same people who came to the Maidan November 21. These are people with different hundreds of Avtomaydanu." The arms of the battalion were small arms, including automatic AKS-74, SVD sniper rifles and machine guns RMB.

As of 12 May 2014 the battalion consisted of at least 70 fighters. May 18 at Donbass second group of volunteers went to number 45 people. It was composed of men aged 20 to 46 years, among them Ukrainian native of Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and many of Kiev, are representatives of Western Ukraine. Some recruits were members of the party "Brotherhood" and of "Patriot of Ukraine", but many do not belong to any social movements. June 3rd oath brought more than 40 volunteers aged 20 to 30 years, by which time the battalion consisted of 250 people already. Fighter unit - came from different regions of Ukraine, as well as a citizen of Italy. In stock battalion group Ultras Kiev football club "Dynamo".

The battalion was actively involved in the confrontation in Mariupol. May 6 near the village Mangush during a clash with terrorists DNR was wounded a soldier battalion "Azov" captured "Defense Minister" NPT Games Kakidzyanov and shot one of the attackers. On the night of 7 to May 8th Battalion "Azov" was introduced in Mariupol, personnel of the battalion participated in the arrest of separatists, and then took the city administration building and began to dismantle barricades in the city center.

The morning of May 9th Battalion took part in battles in the city center, stormed the courtyard and first floor city police department, but then a few soldiers of the battalion were detained and disarmed soldiers arrived of Internal Troops of Ukraine. During the battle the battalion was shot fighter "Azov" Rodion Dobrodomov another - Alexander Kondrashev - was injured. Later, the deputy battalion commander "Azov" Yaroslav Potter announced staff Mariupol police traitors. On May 26th Battalion soldiers broke the base of terrorists on the territory of cottages son Yanukovych in Urzuf village, where they found a weapons cache.

Battalion "Azov" lived on sponsorship money, but was accountable to the Interior Ministry. "Must be paid police officers (4600 USD), but until these payments were not. We live to help businessmen, MPs and ordinary people. So far, only enough for current needs and help, for example, pregnant wife. From the state received only weapon," - said Igor Mosiychuk in June 2014, who cooperated with the "Azov" battalion.

The ideology praised by fighters of the Azov Battalion is one estranged from mainstream European and American liberalism. The unit adopted as its logo a mirrored Wolfsangel (wolf trap) symbol that was widely used in the Third Reich and has been associated with neo-Nazi groups worldwide – Ukraine included. It is most widely known as an emblem of the SS Division Das Reich. Azov’s emblem also included the “Black Sun” occult symbol beloved by the Nazi SS.

Battalion "Dnepr"

Creating direct participation of the governor of Dnipropetrovsk oligarch Igor and Kolomoiskiy. Record volunteers began April 14, 2014 and was originally held in the administration building in Dnipropetrovsk region. Formation Unit held on the basis of previously established "Regiment domestic remedies" of Dnipropetrovsk region of male volunteers aged 18 to 45 years. The main criteria for selection special battalion [spetsbatalyon] "Dnepr" were age, physical training and "pro-Ukrainian ideology." On April 15 staffing level was set at 500. April 28 CCA Interior Ministry in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast asked to appeal to residents of Dnipropetrovsk region to join the battalion "Dnepr-1." Age limit for candidates was revised in battalion invited men aged 19 to 50 years. The total number of all volunteer groups in the Dnipropetrovsk region was about 3,000 fighters as of June 2014.

Battalion commanded by the chief of staff of national defense in the Dnipropetrovsk region Yuri Birch. "We built on the principle of the Swiss regular army. With such a "brother" in the east - with the army we can not go on living "- says Birch. "Now we need to have common sense, the power and capabilities to defend their land. I think this is one of those aspects that still stops somewhere Putin from direct aggression. Let this gentleman knows when he will go to the Dnipropetrovsk region - every window, every building will barricade ", - said Birch.

"They hung with weapons as astronauts" - with envy says fighters "Dnipro" commander "Donbass". Members of the battalion obmundyrovanyy in black uniforms and armed with small arms, including machine guns AKS-74U and the AK-74. By June 2014 50 M-16 rifles were acquired from abroad.

Battalion controlled all checkpoints in the Dnipropetrovsk region and occasionally made forays into the Donetsk region. Soldiers Battalion ensure peace during the presidential elections in Krasnoarmiysk took custody of the district election commission building.

Actions "Dnipro" thus led to correspondence pick two governors. While the Ukrainian media admire how Kolomoiskyi managed to keep order in the assigned region, Sergei Taruta joked: "It is easy to advise how to cure flu if you have the temperature of 36.6". Surrounded Donetsk governor believes that the main factor of stability for Dnipropetrovsk was no border with Russia.

Methods in Dnipropetrovsk battalions were tough. For example, during clashes in Mariupol on holidays in May from Dnepropetrovsk received command: burn all the administrative building where hiding opponents. "When our guys started to die, we have given the command to act more radically about the places where entrenched separatists - recognized the" right hand "Kolomoiskiy Gennady Korban. - The buildings were burned to nothing to protect, and there was nowhere to sit. These buildings are worthless. People's lives are worth more. "

According to Gennady Korban, the salary of an ordinary soldier of the elite unit was not less than $ 1000, and the commander's staff - from $ 3000 to $ 5000. To fund these legal formation, opened a number of charities, says Korban. "The founders of these funds - public organizations. We just donate their money in these funds. Funds in a pedantic approach to each item purchased, "- says Korban. Some funds have to pass directly to the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Interior, such as money for weapons. Some to data owner group "Privat" Igor Kolomoysky monthly spending about $ 10 million to pay 3,000 soldiers volunteer corps.

Battalion "Donbass"

On account of the battalion "Donbass" and raising money for his Facebook page in mid-April, said Lt. Navy reserve Ukraine Semen Semenchenko. However, the leadership of Donetsk region did not support the initiative to establish volunteer battalion territorial protection. "We are faced with serious opposition in our area. Governor accepting words did nothing. Only in the neighboring region, we were able to form due Kolomoiskyi and his deputies, Filatov and Korban. "Eventually" Donbass "was formed with the status of the structural unit of the regiment territorial protection Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk region-1, and colleagues gave food and barracks.

As of May 21, 2014, the actual number of participants Battalion "Donbass" did not exceed 120 people. But by June 6 unit zapysalosya more than 800 volunteers, which is two times higher than the required amount. More than 75% of the personnel of the battalion were residents of Donbass. Battalion was commanded by Simon Semenchenko of whom is known only that his name is actually Constantine and that he once served in the Naval Forces of Ukraine. Semen quite young husband and father of 4 children. He was born and raised in the Donbass. "I come from Donetsk. I am Russian. Before the war was a small businessman. Engaged in security systems, video surveillance and other "- he said to himself.

Semenchenko argued that the first weapons of war he and his colleagues managed to get attacked on May 1 "travmatiki" at the checkpoint that guarded activists DNR. Currently fighters armed with light small arms, CHS and sniper rifles. Negotiations continued with security forces on obtaining heavy weapons. May 15th Battalion took part in a raid on the United Novoselka district center during which there was frustrated flag NPT, raised the flag of Ukraine and conducted outreach with local police. The evening of May 22 Semenchenko in your Facebook said that the volunteers took custody of the administrative building Volodarskogo Donetsk region, thus setting the Ukrainian military control over the entire western part of the Donetsk region and plan to move towards Donetsk.

However, in the morning May 23 battalion was attacked with armored personnel carriers and heavy machine guns. According to witnesses, the fight lasted over an hour. Soldiers "Donbass" could not get to the Ukrainian army unit and had to fight back. Break out of the encirclement volunteers had parts lacked ammunition, and disappeared connection. The battalion commander sure that the route of movement "Donbass" was previously known separatists. According Semenchenko loss Battalion "Donbass" were 4 killed, 1 soldier died of wounds, 20 people were injured, several were captured. A few days later the battalion commanders announced 11 people.

Battalion "Donbass" promise to pay natshvardiytsiv (in Natshvardiyi officially reported that their soldiers contractors get 3 thousand. UAH. Soldiers themselves admit that the hands get much less - 1300 USD.) "As long as there are funds in which a little less than 100 thousand. Very little. To wear, shoes and equip a battalion, you need 4.5 million ", - said the commander Semenchenko. He denies reports that he Battalion finances Igor Kolomoysky. According Semenchenko organization is supported by the donations of people.

Battalion Donbass-2

To fight the terrorists in eastern Ukraine received battalion Donbass-2. Volunteers entered waanting to fill up the bench battalion recorded at Independence Square in the Sunday assembly 09 June 2014. The battalion ook men aged 20 to 50 years - those who had training and volunteers without special skills. Semen Semenchenko, battalion commander "Donbass", said "Who wants to defend the country - please contact us. Approach people with existing units. The only person that approached him a few friends, they serve in the Presidential Regiment. They want to transfer to us. It is therefore ask Peter to let them go with us."

Battalion "Kyiv"

Kyiv territorial defense battalion was created in order to protect strategic facilities capital. May 6 representative self Maidan, battalion commander of the National Guard Taras bearded reported to declare a set of volunteers in the National Guard battalions and territorial defense. And on June 10 the now former head of Kyiv City State Administration Volodymyr Bondarenko said: "Today, our battalion serving the East - there is a rotation, and the guys who have been trained, now departing for war." Pre battalion trained at the "Desna".

The Battalion structure consisted in June 2014 of 430 soldiers and 32 officers. "This staffing battalion. They are fully equipped, trained and trained, combat-ready, "- said Bondarenko. At 462 military battalion - only 100 armor. "Of which only 60 were bought by money capital, and 40 - is to help concerned residents, who, unfortunately, learned about the existing problem only last week", - told reporters before sending a battalion to the war fighter unit, who wished to remain anonymous. According to him, in the medicine cabinet soldiers 'elite' battalion Kiev there is no basic drugs needed in the area of ??an open military conflict. Battalion was fully prepared by charity and sponsorship funds as of June 2014. Salary of fighters were not disclosed.

"Sicheslav"

The Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region started a call for volunteers into the battalions of patrol special police. Especially for this was created three new battalions: "Dnepr-1", "Donetsk" and "Sicheslav." "In order to ensure proper rights and freedoms of citizens, the protection of society from criminal attacks, protection of public order, the structure of the General Directorate Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine in Dnipropetrovsk region created battalions of patrol special police" Dnepr-1 "," Donetsk "," Sicheslav "where the positions of the ordinary, junior and middle officers of civilians are invited from volunteers, "- said in a statement. In this case, the department also noted that approximately wage of employees will be about four thousand hryvnia.

In Dnipropetrovsk region at the Cossack regiment "Novokodatska hundred troops Zaporizhzhya" created a special unit "Sicheslav" (the glory for Sich’ fortress of Cossacks) on 13 June 2014. "This is a unique department, as it honored all the Cossacks and the Christian tradition. Nowadays it has about 100 people who are trained to defend their homeland against the separatists. Prior to Special Forces can join all interested patriots who will be tested," - told the battalion commander "Sicheslav" Vladislav Portyanko at a press conference.

Battalion "Temur"

Special Forces, whose purpose was to fight separatist-minded forces in Lugansk, was called by the name of Commander: Temur Yuldashev. He was a professional soldier. Until 1990 he served in the South Group of Forces in Hungary; after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact bloc, Soviet troops were withdrawn from Central Europe and Temur settled in Lugansk. In 2008 he retired. After the capture of terrorists of the SBU in Lugansk with associates began to build in unit self-defense in order to be able to respond to separatist militants, and after the announcement of the creation of special units at MOI received an offer to lead a squad in Luhansk.

Tornado Battalion

On 18 June 2015, Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov announced that he had signed an order to dissolve the Tornado battalion, charging some of its fighters with criminal activity. The move came after Lugansk governor Hennadiy Moskal called on Kiev to disarm the unit accusing it of illegal train cargo seizure. Tornado members responded to the order by mining the territory around their base in the city of Severodonetsk in the Lugansk region. Around 170 fighters blocked off the path to the base and threatened to open fire on government troops, while Tsukur said the fighters were waiting for job offers from the Interior Ministry.

"The 'Tornado' battalion is notorious especially for its outrageous behavior and a string of felonies; it has actually run out of control of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry and the ministry's department in the Luhansk region. They [the battalions] have learned that the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, the ministry's department in the Luhansk region and the Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office are documenting their criminal activities and they will be held liable sooner or later, so, they are trying to distract attention by staging 'coal shows' aired by central television channels of Ukraine amongst others," the regional administration press service said.

Tornado Commander Ruslan Onishchenko was arrested on 17 June 2015 along with seven of his men. Onishchenko, who has several convictions for crimes including robbery, kidnapping and extortion, is now suspected of creating a gang that committed numerous crimes between January and March 2015, according to Ukrainian Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios. The crimes allegedly include at least one gang rape of a man carried out by Torando battalion members and captured on video.

"Instead of focusing on the deterrence of the enemy, certain units of the Ukrainian Interior Ministry have taken the criminal path and are covering their indecent behavior up by presenting themselves as fighters against the 'alleged' contraband. First and foremost, this is true of the 'Tornado' and 'Chernihiv' battalions," the regional administration continued.

"Tornado' does not want to fight and it has never taken part in the hostilities, Luhansk region military-civilian administration head Hennadiy Moskal said, adding that the battalion "had developed into an organized criminal group or, actually, a gang involved in abductions, murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, thefts and other crimes."




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