Poroshenko Caught In a Lie: The Interesting Case of Cyborg #1

This piece from VZGLIAD is technically about a POW exchange between the Ukraine and the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).  The piece is actually all about exposing President Poroshenko’s love for lying and self-PR.  Via a cunning trap set for him, by men who know him all too well.

The pitiful remains of Donetsk Airport

= Ukraine’s Alamo.

The subject of the story is Ukrainian Major Andrei Grechanov.  Grechanov was one of the Ukrainian officers fighting to keep the Donetsk Airport in Ukrainian hands.  This ragtag group eventually lost, and the ruined airport passed to rebel hands.  However, the Ukrainian government and pro-Maidan side turned the airport into a symbol of glory (not unlike Texans with the “Alamo”).  The ragtag defenders were called “cyborgs” because supposedly they could take any amount of punishment from the Rebs, and just keep coming and coming.  And Major Grechanov, who was taken prisoner there, was glorified as “Cyborg #1”, and became the symbol of “Free Ukraine” herself.  A ferocious propaganda and PR battle was waged in the Ukrainian media to keep his cause alive, and to free him from Rebel captivity.

Unbroken Cyborgs

Major Grechanov, the leader of the 81st airborne Brigade (call sign “Rakhman”) became famous in the Ukraine, this past April, when TV featured him in a 2-hour special called “Cyborgs:  The Unbroken”.

“The Airport is Ours!!!” ………… NOT.

By the time of Grechanov’s capture, the battle of the airport was a clearly lost cause, it was being waged still, with scant concern for human life, and purely for vanity purposes.  The vanity of Ukraine’s political leadership, to be specific.

Unlike the couple of dozen men serving under him, most of whom got buried alive under the rubble of the airport terminals, Grechanov “miraculously” remained alive and ended up as a POW in the hands of the Rebels.  The TV special turned him into a celebrity and hero, his face was emblazoned everywhere under the call-sign “Cyborg #1”.

Grechanov was taken prisoner on 31 July near the town of Gorlovka.

On 30 November, just a few days ago, Grechanov was freed, in exchange for a DPR prisoner, Major Vladimir Starkov.  The prisoner exchange took place immediately after President Poroshenko signed the pardoning of Major Starkov, who otherwise would have spent 14 years in prison after being captured by Ukrainian forces, and convicted of “waging an aggressive war against the Ukraine on behalf of Russia”.

Write me something just like that, but with a young female heroine!

Poroshenko made maximum PR use of this occasion.  Hastening back to the Ukraine after attending the “Climate Conference” in Paris, Poroshenko went straight to welcome Grechanov.  In front of the TV cameras, a clearly still-inebriated Poroshenko narrated to Grechanov the touching and thrilling story about all the “special operations” that were launched to free him from captivity.  As VZGLIAD notes, even Spielberg would have been impressed with Poroshenko’s story-telling capabilities, and maybe hired him to write his next movie.

“This was our 18th attempt to free you!” Poroshenko assured Grechanov, under the hot lights of the television cameras.  And the Head of State shared a secret with Grechanov and all the viewers:  It all came about because of his (=Poroshenko’s) secret meeting in Paris with Merkel and Hollande, where he (=Poroshenko) applied pressure to them (=Merkel/Hollande), to apply pressure to Putin.  To free the Ukrainian hero.  In the end, Putin buckled under their pressure, and Cyborg #1 was liberated from his chains.

Finishing up his tour-de-force on live TV, Poroshenko then picked up the phone to dial Grechanov’s mother.  To give her the good news and thank her for giving birth to such a heroic son.

Nitpickers Pick At Story

It didn’t take long for the nitpickers to get to work.  You know who nitpickers are.  They just can’t take a “feel-good” story at face value!  It’s their job to dash people’s illusions.  Just like Gregers in Ibsen’s Wild Duck.  First round of nitpickers wondered why Poroshenko made the poor mother wait to see or hear from her son, until it was more convenient for Poroshenko’s big TV moment.  Second round of nits:  Poroshenko’s clearly drunken demeanor:  and people were quick to note his bloated-looking face and a certain blueish color of his complexion, a clear sign that he had tied on one too many at that Paris banquet.  Not to mention his halting speech and sudden bursts of inappropriate merriment.

But all of this is trivial, as VZGLIAD says.  It’s just nitpicking.  The true bomb exploded a couple of days later, when this video ripped a new one in the Internet:

It’s The Bomb!

The video was uploaded on 2 December in Donetsk.  The vid was made a couple of days earlier, when Grechanov was still a POW.  The video stars a very unhappy looking Grechanov himself, along with Alexander Zakharchenko (Head of the DPR) and Vladimir Kononov (Minister of Defense of DPR).  Grechanov is told how his liberation is entirely due to Ukrainian TV personality/blogger, and former ATO volunteer Oleksiy Mochanov, and has nothing to do with the Ukrainian President or anybody else.  Only Mochanov can take the credit.

Breakdown of video:

Intro and images of a liberated Major Grechanov greeting President Poroshenko.

0:23 seconds in – Zakharchenko:  “(….) The prisoner exchange, which will take place in the next few hours, 24 hours max, was organized and arranged, thanks to the efforts of Alexei Mochanov.  Neither the President of the Ukraine, neither any other negotiators took part in these negotiations.  I can tell you quite frankly:  If it weren’t for Mochanov’s request, then ‘Rakhman’ would still be sitting in captivity with us. (….)   Guys [addressing Ukrainian officers], believe me when I say to you, when you are sitting in captivity here, neither Poroshenko, nor any other negotiators show any interest in your lives.  Stop believing their lying propaganda.  This video will be released only after the prisoner exchange takes place.  And I am pretty sure that it will be a shock for everyone.  I am just waiting with baited breath to see what kinds of bold declarations are made about this exchange!”

2:00 minutes in – Poroshenko’s performance on TV, as he greets Major Grechanov.  Is Poro hammered?  (Inquiring minds want to know.)

2:47 – Zakharchenko turns the mike over to Kononov.  Kononov narrates how Mochanov called him (=Kononov) on the phone three weeks after Grechanov’s capture.  “Nobody else from the other side, no high-ranking persons, ever contacted me about this,” Kononov adds.  “From what I understand, it was only because the SBU had tapped my phone line, that they overheard Mochanov calling me, and after that, some negotiators contacted me.”

4:41 – A semi-pickled Poroshenko again, with a still-unhappy and embarrassed-looking Grechanov, as the President places a mumbling phone call to the former POW’s mom.

5:14 – A different meeting, this time a slur-speeched Poro is bragging about his contacts with Israeli leader Netanyahu.  Somehow this has something to do with Grechanov’s term of captivity.

6:00 – Kononov again, really rubbing it in.

6:44 – Zakharchenko again, for the final plunge of the knife.  And promises Ukrainian officers that prisoners can be exchanged on a “one-for-one” basis.

8:00 – Major Grechanov himself.  Confirms that he was treated okay, fed, given medical attention.  Zakharchenko notes philosophically:  “Captivity is captivity.”

Soothsayer Baba Vanga: “I predict that Porky will try to take the credit!”

In conclusion, after watching the vid:

It’s downright spooky!  It’s almost like Zakharchenko could see into the future, and KNOW exactly how an inebriated Poroshenko would brag about the exchange, taking credit for somebody else’s efforts!

As Mochanov himself, the man whose efforts had freed Major Grechanov, wrote on his Facebook page:  Zakharchenko and Kononov were prepared to free Andrei already back in August, under the format “one soldier per one soldier”.  And it was not even necessary to seek advice or humble oneself before Putin, Merkel, or Hollande.  “Rakhman” was not sitting in Russia, like Savchenko.  He wasn’t sitting in Germany or France.  All of this was under our own control.  But it was important for certain people to see what they could gain from this:  PR.  Scoring points.  The electorate.

As the poet Robert Burns himself might have written:

Ye see yon birkie, ca’d a lord,
Wha struts, an’ stares, an’ a’ that;
Tho’ hundreds worship at his word,
He’s but a coof for a’ that:
For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
His ribband, star, an’ a’ that:
The man o’ independent mind
He looks an’ laughs at a’ that.

In the end, Poroshenko’s attempts to score points on Grechanov’s liberation were foiled by Zakharchenko’s cunning trap.  Just like Zakharchenko predicted, the youtube video went off like a bomb.  And now it is understandable why Grechanov blushed during his meeting with President Poroshenko, as the latter assured him of his efforts, on the very highest levels of international diplomacy; and how Hollande/Merkel and even Netanyahu had put the squeeze on Putin, and a’ that.


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15 Responses to Poroshenko Caught In a Lie: The Interesting Case of Cyborg #1

  1. Cortes says:


    Thanks again.


  2. marknesop says:

    Your writing is really maturing, Yalensis, and this piece is genuinely entertaining with all the clever little inside jokes and mockery, while at the same time giving the readers an unbiased look at an important story. We both know Poroshenko is a turd, and we are joined by quite a few Ukrainians as well who are vastly disappointed in the Great Man who was supposed to turn it all around. If and when Russia forces it into default in a few days and takes it to court for $3 Billion, I don’t think it will recover, and the political situation as is is hard to visualize lasting beyond Spring.

    But back to the writing – I’m really glad you started this blog, because it is an extremely enjoyable resource, and that’s because you are a good writer. I just have one tiny quibble – two, actually, but you have yet to make the Second Most Irritating mistake. The first is “baited breath”. Besides sounding really rancid and disgusting, it’s grammatically incorrect, and it is a very, very common mistake – it’s actually “bated”, as in a shortened form of “abated”, or held. “Bated breath”, as in I am holding my breath in anticipation.

    The second that nearly everyone gets wrong and it drives me crazy, is “tow the line”. It’s actually “toe the line”, as in step up to the line and literally put your toes on it, which implies a large group being controlled by the authority of one person. But I’ve never seen you make that one.

    Sorry for rattling on, and this is really turning into a great blog; fantastic job.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks, Mark.
      If my writing is getting better, a lot of it is thanks to you, and reading your blog.
      (Flattery flattery! – but I mean it.)

      I AM proud of this particular piece, because I think I managed to tell a really great story fairly accurately and without distorting the original source; but also adding some side content and jokes to make the story more fun for readers (and for myself) than just a dry word-for-word translation.

      I’ve done that too in the past – word for word translations, and unless one is Constance Garnett or Vladimor Nabokov, it never really sounds that good coming out the other end of the pipe.
      As for your nitpicking comments – I’ll make sure in the future to write “bated breath” and “toe the line”.

      Well, at least I didn’t write something like: “At that point Grechanov snuck away from the ruins of the Airport….” – I know that would drive you insane with rage – hee hee!


      • Jen says:

        It’s a great story, I like it!

        You can say “snuck” as many times as you like. It’s your blog to do with as you want.

        Poroshenko must be really cracking up if he needs that much cognac and brandy to get through the day. This doesn’t say much for the way he is running Ukraine into the ground and the huge disconnect involving the lies he tells, the false narrative he maintains, the rewards he tries to squeeze out for himself and other cronies, and the squalid reality that the country he is milking is crumbling away.


  3. marknesop says:

    Having watched the video, Grechanov just looks embarrassed the whole time, like he wishes he were almost anywhere else. I am struck again by what a huge head Porky has – Jeez, it’s like a tourist brochure for Easter Island.


    • yalensis says:

      I know. I got the same impression: Grechanov is thinking he’d rather be back in that DPR dungeon right now, or sink into a hole in the ground, rather than stand here making nicey-face with Uncle Drunko.
      If I were him, I think I would have tried to warn Poroshenko ahead of time: “Dude, we really shouldn’t do this… I’ll explain later.” But maybe they didn’t give him a chance to get a word in edgewise. Just whipped him out in front of the cameras.


  4. Lyttenburgh says:

    Everyone – but especially Ukraine’s new set of, ah, “handlers” – must get the translation of the lyrics, and then learn by heart the traditional Ukrainian song “Ти ж мэне пiдманула”. This song brings enlightment and understanding of the Ukrainian political elites and their methods of conducting any policy.

    Poroshenko just acts in accordance with the newest Ukrainian military doctrine:

    1) Сало Уронили – Смерть Творогам! [get into confrontation no matter what the odds]
    2) Герої не вмирають! [there are no losses!]
    3) Козацькому роду нема переводу! [even if there are losses – we still have more of them where they’d come from]
    4) [???]
    5) PEREMOGA!

    Lies, shameless lies peddled in the atmosphere of the government’s complete control over media are crucial for the current regime’s survival. Othervise people might start asking such tough questions, like – “Where are improvements, for which we were jumping on Maydan!?”. And this is zrada, which inevitably leads to gan’bah!


    • yalensis says:

      Ha ha! – what a great song! It makes a perfect musical accompaniment to the Grechanov piece.

      I looked up the lyrics and English translation on wiki.
      We just need to add a new verse to the song, something like:

      You have told me [on whatever day]
      That Merkel and Hollande would free my son.
      I came, and found that Mochanov let him go,
      While Porky is drunk as a skunk.
      You tricked me and let me down… (etc.)


      • yalensis says:

        P.S. – Lyttenburgh, did you notice at 1:42 minutes in, the banner on the bottom shows that this “Ukrainian” song is being performed by “Academic Ensemble of Choir and Dance of the Internal Forces of Russia”, under direction of Major-General Viktor Eliseev.

        And the most recent youtube commenter complains about the “Moskal accents” of the singers who are pretending to be Ukrainian.
        And gee, I thought those “khokhol” wigs were the real deal!


        • Lyttenburgh says:

          “And the most recent youtube commenter complains about the “Moskal accents” of the singers who are pretending to be Ukrainian.
          And gee, I thought those “khokhol” wigs were the real deal!”

          Well, d’uh! This clip is a “golden oldie” from 2007 year’s season of “Что? Где? Когда?” intellectual show. Oh, this were the times!


          • yalensis says:

            I never watched that show before, but it looks like a lot of fun!


            • Lyttenburgh says:

              Whaaaaaat?! Oh, yalensis, this is the №1 show for all intelligent (in any meaning of this word) people! Even Mikhail Borshevskiy, who will later join Prokhorov’s “A Just Cause” party played here!

              I won’t give you links to some of this show’s replays – I will link a parody on it instead!


            • yalensis says:

              Ha ha! Oh but my dear Lyttenburgh, I rely on YOU for my education in popular culture!
              The only popular shows I know are American ones about horrific serial killers.

              Meanwhile I can’t get that pesky tune out of my mind:

              Ти ж мене пiдманула,
              Ти ж мене пiдвела,
              Ти ж мене молодого
              З ума-розуму звела!

              (la la la la la la!)


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