Babchenko’s “Killer” Confesses: “I was a Ukrainian spy!” – Part III

Dear Readers:

Today finishing off this neo-Cold War spy story from the VZGLIAD online newspaper. Yesterday we read the interview with fugitive faux-assassin Vyacheslav Pivovarnik, all that remains is the reporter’s (Andrei Veselov) closing comments, which includes factual corroboration of the tale that was told.

But first one teensy note about my translation of the interview:  When Pivovarnik claimed that he and his ex-friend Boris German were стрелочники, I translated this Russian word as “patsies”.  “Patsy” is an American slang word meaning, roughly, “fall guy”.  Friends who are soccer fans (of which I am not), inform me that Russian “strelochnik” is more like a “wing man”, or a “punter”.  Either way, I think the semantic content of Pivovarnik’s final complaint fits in with the concept of a patsy.  “Our own agency abandoned us,” he complained.  I could have also translated as “threw us under the bus”.

Cagney: “I ain’t no patsy!”

Loyal Avalanche readers know that I LOVE words and word-play, I just looked up the word patsy, apparently it dates from around 1903 in popular American slang.  I learned the word from watching old American gangster movies, there was a phase in my life when I was obsessed with Jimmy Cagney!  Although some etymologists believe the word came from a 1890’s vaudeville skit in which a girl named Patsy is blamed for everything; the more intelligent theory is that it comes from southern Italian dialect “paccio” meaning “fool”.  (And taking into account the gangster underworld forming in the U.S. at the time, from natives of South Italy and Sicily.)

But enough about gangsters, and back to spies:

The reporter assures his readers that Pivovarnik provided documentary proof of his assertions.  Pivovarnik handed over to the newspaper copies of his personal messenger (IM) correspondence, as well as screenshots.  These artifacts prove that he did, indeed, work in the field of contraband and various other dubious business projects; and that these projects all served the interests of the SBU (successor agency to the Soviet KGB) and Ukrainian army.  Being a Ukrainian agent all his working life, Pivovarnik was genuinely “shocked” when he learned that, all along, he was Moscow’s man!  When his name first surfaced, in this context, in the Babchenko affair, Pivovarnik felt so desperate, that he almost decided to take his own life.  Suicide seemed like the only way out of this horrible mess.

“George, it’s time for you to come in from the cold. Martha is waiting for you inside the torture room!”

His handler, “Cabbage-Man” Kapustin, talked him down and tried to reassure him, that everything would be okay.  Recall that Kapustin had been Pivo’s loyal curator from the very start of his spy career, long before the Maidan Revolution.  Kapustin assured Pivovarnik that “Vasya” (most likely Vasily Gritsak, SBU Chief) would not abandon him.  And then tried to talk him into coming in out of the cold, giving himself up, “confessing” and so on, in return for “sweet conditions” of incarceration and a light sentence.

Pivovarnik, unlike German, did not fall for these blandishments and took the only other sensible course:  He fled to Europe.  Smart man.  He couldn’t go back to the Ukraine, which betrayed him; and if he had defected to Russia, then he would have been subject to arrest for his past activities.  Hence, he took the only other rational way out.  But, sadly, had to leave his family behind in the Ukraine.

If you look at the screenshot in the VZGLIAD piece, which I copied just below (violating all Russian copyright laws), you see the text messages between Pivovarnik and his handler from, I gather, Pivovarnik’s Smartphone.  Certain words are redacted out, not for national security reasons but because clearly obscene, and Russian newspapers are not allowed to print obscenities.

Kapustin:  We all had a chat yesterday.  Vasya [Gritsak] along with the cone [с конусом – yalensis:  I honestly don’t know what that means, unless the Ukrainian spy agency are using a “Cone of Silence” like in the Get Smart show] made this decision.

Pivovarnik texts back:  What the hell!  Time is going on, and I am sitting here with no way out.  And this (fucking) Babchenko is (…) that I am Evil itself.

Kapustin:  Here is the plan.  Find some form of transport where you don’t need to buy a ticket.  [yalensis:  Recall that Pivo is in Russia at the time].  Hitch-hike,  blah blah, car, figure it out, in a word, and (…) then on to Bryansk, and closer to the [Ukrainian] border.  Once you’re there, I’ll give you some time and a place to hang out.  You’ll meet up with our guys and they’ll bring you in.  We will stage your capture.  We’ll (….)


The Ukrainian spy agency uses a Cone of Silence to encrypt their secret conversations.

The reporter Veselov also met with Pivovarnik’s attorney, man by the name of Valentin Rybin.  Rybin assured the reporter that all the charges against Pivovarnik are based solely on the testimony of Boris German.  “The judges don’t want to have anything to do with this fake.”  German himself is expected to be released soon.

More evidence corroborating Pivovarnik’s story:  Recall that, in his interview with the Russian press, Pivovarnik outed his handler as Andrei Valerievich Kapustin, an officer in the Ukrainian SBU (successor agency to the Soviet KGB).  The Russians somehow got hold of the 2016 tax filing of Kapustin’s wife, Natasha Nikolaevna, who declared to the tax agency that hubby’s earnings come from his work in the “Security Agency”.  From this it follows that Kapustin has been outed once and for all, and maybe it is time for him to come in from the Cold!  What kind of bastard spy betrays his own agents like that?  Boo!

Veselov ends his piece, by informing us, that he tried to obtain an interview with the actual “assassin”, Tsymbaliuk.  The latter was willing, but demanded a fee of $5,000.  Which, he said patriotically, must be sent to the “Volunteer Battalions”.  The reporter refused.  He also tried to obtain an interview with Babchenko himself; but the latter refused.  Dead men might wear plaid, but sometimes Live Men tell no tales!


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