Ukrainian POW On the Criminal Shelling Of Donetsk – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece from PolitNavigator, which I will do as straight translation, after a few introductory remarks.  The interview is with a Ukrainian soldier named Vasily Zhemelinsky.  Zhemelinsky, the goateed young man in the video, was captured by soldiers of the Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR).  In the video he appears to be somewhat tired and demoralized, but not necessarily terrified.  He responds to the interview with a certain professionalism, as if in a proper interrogation.  His remarks are abbreviated by his initials V.Zh.  The byline on the piece belongs to somebody named Anastasia Samoilova, but she is most likely not the same person as the interviewer/interrogator.

The conflict has generated many POW’s.

The interviewer’s voice is disguised and denoted in the transcript by the initials P.N. (for PolitNavigator).  From this, one deduces that the DPR military either (1) allowed the reporter to conduct the interview and/or (2) allowed the reporter to record an official interrogation conducted by a proper military interrogator.  My money would be on the latter, since the interviewer addresses the POW with the familiar Russian pronoun ты (“thou”); a reporter would likely be more polite and address the interviewee as вы even if s/he despised him.  The main purpose of the interview is to prove that the Ukrainian army have a tendency to randomly shell the populated city of Donetsk, sometimes without rhyme or reason.  And that much is already known by anybody who has been following this conflict.  Perhaps there is also some hope that those responsible for such war crimes, those giving such orders to shell civilian targets, will eventually be brought to justice, once this war is over.

I assume that my readers are astute enough to know that the public and videotaped confessions of a captive should be received with a certain skepticism.  What he says to please his captors, what he says that is factual — and the two categories not necessarily mutually exclusive.  With that stipulation, I proceed to the


V.Zh.  I am a soldier with the armed forces of the Ukraine.  I served in the Donbass in the 57th Separate Mechanized Brigade, then was transferred to the 54th Separate Battalion of that same Brigade, into the Second Motorized Infantry Company.  There I worked in Signals/Communications.  On February 16-17 I was taken prisoner by the DPR in the area of Peski.  Our commander had given us the order to go on a reconnaissance, to learn the position of the enemy.  So our group of 8 men went out there and were attacked.  Two men were killed, another two wounded, the others disappeared.  I was taken prisoner, and that’s where I am now.

P.N.  Do you fellows often go out on reconnaissance in that manner?

V.Zh. Well, I’ve been serving in the Donbass since 28 October of last year.  This was the first time in my service that I was asked to go on such a mission, and it ended in failure.

P.N.  Up until then were such missions successful?

V.Zh.  Well, from what I have heard, yes.  There were occasions when everybody returned.

P.N.  In other words, factually you served on the front line, on the vanguard, would that be correct to say?

V.Zh.  Yes.  In Peski, on the front line.

P.N.  And what happened during the so-called ceasefire?

V.Zh.  There was no ceasefire.  The shooting continued without abate, every day.  Rocket launchers went off constantly, rockets and mortars fired into Donetsk all the time, every day.

P.N.  And who gave the orders [to shell Donetsk]?  The commander of the Company?

V.Zh.  The commanders of the HQ and the Company.

P.N.  Explain to me, exactly how these orders sounded.  Was it simply, “Shoot into Donetsk” or did they give you some kind of coordinates?

V.Zh.  Well, let’s say that there was an order to prepare some mines.  The mortar launchers are given the order with corresponding coordinates; or maybe just simply in the direction of Donetsk.  That’s how it happens.

P.N.  What about the large-caliber weapons, the machine guns, do you apply them just whenever you feel like it?

V.Zh.  That depends on the orders of the Company Commander.  That’s when we apply them.

P.N.  Who is this Company Commander?  What is his name?  Tell me who it is, concretely, who gives these orders.

V.Zh.  The Commander of the Second Company — his name is Konstantin Vasilievich Tsymbal.

[to be continued]

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