Continuing my story on the assassination of Russian soldier and Donbass Volunteer Arsen Pavlov, aka Motorola. For source material, I have this piece from Komsomolka, as well as several others which cover different angles of the story.
Those Who Mourn, and Those Who Rejoice
Yesterday we touched on Pavlov’s sparse biography. This piece gives a few additional but still sparse facts: Pavlov was born on 2 February 1983, in the city of Ukhta, Soviet Union, later Russian Federation. Service: 77th Guard Brigade of Moscow-Chernigov, Order of Lenin and the Red Star, Order of Suvorov Marines, as a signals specialist. Participated in counter-terrorism operations in the Second Chechnya War. Rank: Deputy Platoon Commander. Joined Igor Strelkov’s Volunteers in Slavyansk, Donbass in May 2014. After Strelkov’s retreat to Donetsk, Motorola became Commander of the “Sparta” Brigade of Rebel fighters. Awards: Motorola was awarded with the highest medal of the Donetsk Peoples Republic: the St. George Cross and the “Order of Valor” First Class.
As a Resistance fighter, Motorola acquired the reputation as a “crazy jackass”. But in a good way. His gonzo fighting antics were legendary. During the defense of Semenovka, Motorola would begin his fighting day by transmitting over loudspeaker the Muslim call to prayer. The Ukrainian besiegers, clustered not far away, could hear this from the trenches. They were terrified, as they had previously convinced themselves that they were up against ferocious Chechen mercenaries, led by Ramzan Kadyrov in person. Such tactics of inseminating fear were almost like something out of Beau Geste. Similarly, while raining machine-gun fire on the Ukrainian soldiers, Motorola and his Rebels liked to yell out: “Allahu Akhbar!” This was all a joke, by the way; there were no Chechens involved.
For such an outgoing and extroverted man, somebody who was savvy with the media and not at all camera-shy, we have seen that Pavlov was guarded and very private about his past. Personally I doubt if he was hiding some big secret. Just the guardedness you typically see in people who come from troubled families or less than ideal families. Orphaned and raised by his grandmother, Pavlov was a typical Russian working stiff. His enemies in the pro-Ukrainian press and forums make fun of his poverty, his working-class past and the variety of jobs he took to support himself: gravestone engraver, car washer, miner, security guard in a grocery store, rescue/recovery, a variety of handyman type jobs. They make fun of this, like it’s a bad thing to be a working man. Maybe they would respect Motorola more if he had earned his bread through criminality, or enlisting as one of Kolomoisky’s paid goons?
Ironically, this short in stature, un-military-appearing man found his life’s true calling as a soldier. Defining himself as a Russian patriot. Serving in the Russian marines; and then as a volunteer fighter in Donbass. Which is where we get to the definition of “Volunteer” vs “Mercenary”. The Ukrainian nationalists call Motorola a “mercenary”. And yet they were happy to send their UNA-UNSO (Banderite) “volunteers” to fight against the Russian side in Chechnya. In fact, it was almost exactly the same configuration of forces: In Chechnya it was Team Russia on the one hand (which included Chechens loyal to Russia) vs. Emirate jihadists, NATO Balts, and Ukrainian Banderites on the other side. In the Donbass, it is Ukrainian nationalists, jihadist Tatars, and NATO again, on the same team; vs ethnic Russians and pro-Russians on the other side. You know the old saying: “One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.” Same thing goes for “volunteers”: One man’s mercenary is another man’s volunteer. It all depends whose ox is being gored.
While fighting against Ukrainian nationalists at every major battle of this war: Slavyansk, Ilovaisk, Debaltsevo, the Donetsk Airport — Motorola not only found his true calling; but also something he had missed in his troubled past: Love and family happiness. The photo to the left (which I “borrowed” from Komsomolka) was taken just a few months ago, in May 2016. It shows a happy Motorola (left); his little daughter Miroslava (in the toy car); and his wife Elena Kolenkina, already pregnant with their second child, a boy, who was born just within days of his papa’s assassination and took the name Makar, The man in the background marked with a red circle, is Goga, their bodyguard. Goga was blown up in the elevator shaft, along with Motorola. Elena and the two children were not harmed. They were still upstairs, waiting for the next elevator down, because they needed more room, with the baby carriages. This is what probably saved them.
Not that Elena was initially a complete innocent. And Motorola’s romance with her was a public media event from the beginning. Elena was a typical Russian girl, born and raised in Slavyansk. After Maidan, she joined the Resistance and picked up a gun. Like many “self-called” Russian patriots, after the violent coup, she saw the new Ukrainian Nazi government as an “Occupier”, just as in the Great Patriotic War. Elena is the girl partisan who appeared in the famous youtube video warning about the possibility of a passenger jet being shot down inadvertently, given that Ukrainian jets, while bombing civilian targets, were sneakily hiding behind passenger planes.
Elena’s warning so eerily presaged the subsequent MH-17 disaster and its catastrophic consequences, including Westie economic sanctions against Russia, that, according to one of the extant conspiracy theories, the true perpetrators of the MH-17 crime were in fact inspired by watching Elena’s video. In other words, they got the idea from her and staged the crime exactly as she predicted. But this is just a theory, obviously.
As is clear from her video and photos, Elena the Rebel fighter was tall, beautiful; way out of the league of an ugly little gnome like Arsen Pavlov. But they say opposites attract: Elena fell in love with the Motorola. Their romance, their wedding, even their honeymoon in Crimea, was covered in the media and on youtube, like some kind of reality show. After which, they withdrew into privacy and started a family.
“Keep on Working, Brothers!”
Kots writes that Motorola was not ambitious and had no plans to enter politics. This is why theories that “Zakharchenko dunnit” or “Plotnitsky dunnit” are nonsense. The Ukrainian nationalist side has painted Motorola as a monster who tortured POW’s. That is also not true. According to Kots, Motorola was neither condescending nor cruel. His main characteristic was loyalty. His loyalty to other people; and their loyalty back to him.
In addition to his family, Motorola had a very close friend and army buddy named Mikhail Tolstykh, aka “Givi”. They made an odd couple: the red-haired gnome and the half-blood Gruzian who chatters in a rapid accented patois barely recognizable as Russian. Givi became a media star in his own right when journalists caught on tape his absolute fearlessness in the midst of an enemy shelling.
The jokey rapport between Givi and Motorla, which also became a kind of reality show on social media, gave rise to gossip (especially among their enemies) about their relationship. Banderites on internet forums call them “fuck buddies” and worse. Well, only soldiers know what goes on in a soldier’s life. But, bottom line, Givi is extremely angry and upset about his friend’s murder. Yesterday he gave a series of almost incoherent interviews in which he made some unfortunate threats to “level Ukrainian cities” as retaliation for Motorola’s murder. This is what Givi had to say:
“They will pay dearly for Motorola’s murder. I can say with confidence: Whoever did this, will pay very dearly. Every city after Donetsk Peoples Republic, which we shall seize, all the way to Kiev, I will personally level to the ground. To avenge the death of my friend.”
Couging and almost weeping with emotion, Givi goes on to say: “He had no fear. I have no fear either, but in my case it’s easier, because I have no family. Whatever the khokhols [pejorative slang for Ukrainians] say, you can take with a grain of salt. I don’t even know what else to say. All of the Banderite parties are claiming credit for this, and you just don’t know who to believe, unfortunately. But I believe that this was a blow struck against the Donetsk Peoples Republic, and that Ukraine will answer for this completely.”
Closing on a more positive note, I give you this piece from PolitNavigator, along with the accompanying photo. I don’t know if this is photoshopped or not, but Motorola is shown holding up a sign that reads, in Russian, “Keep on Working, Brothers!”
Readers may recall the context behind this slogan, I covered this story about the heroic Dagestan cop Magomed Nurbagandov, who has become a hero in the pro-Russian world. Recall that Magomed was captured by a band of Dagestani robbers/possibly jihadists [in Dagestan they are often one and the same, hence the confusion]. Attempting to coerce him to make a video asking other cops to quit their jobs and leave off chasing after the robbers, Magomed instead, just before the robbers shot him dead, looked into the camera and pronounced: “Keep on working, brothers!”
And I reckon that is a suitable epitaph for Motorola as well.