A couple of years ago, when I was still a fledgling blogger, one of my earliest posts was this story about then-Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, who was alleged to have been fighting against Russia in Chechnya in the 1990’s. That was so early in my blogging career that I still hadn’t figured out how to format photographs properly into the text!
Prosecutor Bastrykin: Would like to get his hands on Yats
Anyhow, Yats had/has a warrant out for his arrest, issued by the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation; and if the Russians ever get their hands on him, he will probably be brought to trial because of this accusation. The charge is that Yats, along with other members of the Ukrainian Nationalist terrorist group UNA-UNSO, illegally entered Chechnya in the 1990’s, fought alongside jihadists; captured, tortured and murdered Russian soldiers. The Russian soldiers were there legally, fighting against a foreign-backed insurgency; the Ukrainian irregulars not so much.
Whatever evidence Prosecutor-General Bastrykin has against Yats (and he claims to have a lot of it), one meaty exhibit is a photograph showing a man who looks just like a young Yats, clustered in a group of UNA-UNSO fighters, against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains.
When these charges were first laid unto Yats, the pro-Russia blogosphere had a field day posting “photozhabas” (“photoshops”) of Yats with air-brushed-on jihadist beard, etc. Although, the beard wasn’t really the point; nor did anyone actually believe that Yats had converted to Wahhabism. The (undisputed) alliance of the Ukrainian Nationalists (who are, in the main, Catholics) with Saudi-backed Chechen Wahhabists is/was simply a military alliance of convenience between two anti-Russian geo-political forces.
The guy in the red circle is alleged to be Yats
A couple of months after that first Yats-related post of mine, I posted this other piece about Yats, about which I am particularly proud. Because, to my knowledge, I was the only blogger who picked up on this inadvertent molecule of “circumstantial evidence” pointing to Yatsenyuk’s guilt in the Chechnya matter. Granted, it was a very tiny point; and no prosecutor would be able to make a compelling case based solely on this slip of the tongue by Avakov. And, as propagandists from the other side of the fence have pointed out, Avakov could have been just jesting around. Still, it was definitely worth mentioning as a curiosity.
Fair and Balanced
Today, in the interests of fairness I am presenting this piece, which I just saw yesterday. It’s from a pro-Ukrainian newspaper fraza.ua, and purports to be Yatsenyuk’s alibi for the Chechnya allegation.
Artemenko: The nerdy guy standing behind Dmitry Korchinsky
His alibi is the classic “It weren’t me in that photo!” According to fraza, that nerdy bespectacled guy in those pics, was NOT Arseny Yatsenyuk. Rather, it was a guy named Vyacheslav Artemenko. Artemenko himself, when asked, averred: “Yup, that’s me in those old photographs!”
So, who is Vyacheslav Artemenko? Not much is known about him. If you google his name, all you get is this same story. Allegedly he is some obscure Ukrainian Nationalist who fought against Russia on two fronts: in Transnistria and in Chechnya.
Reporters from fraza interviewed the secretive Artemenko. He told them that he used to be friends with Dmitry Korchinsky. Who is Dmitry Korchinsky? In the above photograph, he is the moustached guy tossing the improvised bomb.
Korchinsky today: Pro-Nazi terrorist
According to his wiki, Korchinsky used to be the leader of UNA-UNSO, but was expelled in 1997. After which he went on to found his own Ukrainian Nationalist-Religious movement called “Bratstvo” (“Brotherhood”). After Maidan, Korchinsky founded the St. Mary Battalion to fight against Donbass Separatists. Russia has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of terrorism. Korchinsky is also a poet and writer. His literary works are banned in Russia, because, again — terrorist.
Vyacheslav Artemenko told the fraza reporters that he himself (=Artemenko) is mentioned in one of Korchinsky’s writings about the war. A book called “War in the Crowd”. This fact, if true, also adds corroborative evidence that Artemenko actually exists, and is who he says he is. Although he stresses that he is not interested in politics any more, seeks anonymity, and engages in a peaceful life now, just growing watermelons for a living. When asked to corroborate his story with his own photographs from the battlefronts, Artemenko demurred, explaining that he himself never took any photographs, although he appeared in other people’s photographs.
Yats: “My friends tell me I look a lot like Artemenko.”
Artemenko’s story is corroborated by Korchinsky, in an interview with “Ukrainian Pravda” newspaper. Yup, he says, that’s his old pal Artemenko in the Transnistria and Chechnya photos. It ain’t Yatsenyuk.
While this new evidence seems convincing enough, it is doubtful that it will put a dent in the Russian case against Yatsenyuk. In addition to those photos, which are now under question, Bastrykin claims to have tons of other evidence against Yatsenyuk, including statements made by Right Sektor leader (now deceased) Alexander Muzychko.
And also not to forget Avakov’s slip of the tongue when discussing Yatsenyuk’s alleged Balls of Steel!