First part: Three days in July 2014 in Donetsk. Part 1
Editor’s note: Yesterday was July 5, 2016. Exactly two years ago on that day DPR field commander Igor Strelkov surrendered Slavyansk, and another half of the territory of Donetsk People’s Republic, to Nazis and fled to Donetsk. He was supported by various groups and persons, from oligarchs like Konstantin Malofeev to occult fascists like Aleksandr Dugin. For some Strelkov’s betrayal meant large financial gains, other wanted Strelkov to surrender Donetsk, enter Rostov, start a mutiny and march on Moscow to capture the power in Russia. Some believed that Strelkov’s actions could provoke Russia to move its army into Donbass and, consequently, provoke NATO to clash with Russia there and start a large scale military conflict or even war. The fact is that two years ago half of population of Donetsk People’s Republic, who opposed the Nazi coup in Kiev, were betrayed by Strelkov and handed over to the Kiev’s Nazis. Another fact is that Strelkov, as he had himself later confessed, intended to surrender not just Slavyansk and other cities, but even Donetsk. However this disaster was prevented. The first-hand story of “Essence of Time” member Alan Mamiev aka “Koba” describes all details of this process.
On the following day happened that same famous press-conference of Sergei Kurginyan, the leader of “Essence of Time” movement, the press-conference that exploded the media not only in Donetsk, but in Russia as well. Guys from Donetsk “Essence of Time” cell were in touch with local journalists, they asked to comment on the situation, which drastically changed in the past 24 hours. We understood that there will be some sort of a provocation there, but Sergei Kurginyan decided to go to the press-conference no matter what. To be honest, we thought that Strelkov will come there himself. But he sent Pasha Gubarev and some other mister from his HQ.
The situation in Donetsk escalated and I asked Scyth to appoint the Ossetians to guard Kurginyan — not to insult anybody, of course, but it was not clear to anybody at that time who is on our side and who is against us. This is a civil war, two brothers can fight on the different sides — or father and son (I saw things like this too, just like in Mikhail Sholokhov’s “And Quiet Flows the Don”). Volga and “Nikolaich” directly guarded Kurginyan, while the group of Ossetians was assigned to them. The press-conference was appointed to happen in the same place where the first one took place, in the hospital building, in which our own hospital was supposed to be created.
We arrived there in advance, our comrades from “Essence of Time-Donetsk” arrived there too. The journalists that came there were pretty much the same ones as the day before. Some time later Gubarev and his friends came, together with them arrived “Life News” reporters. The latter worked with the “Strelkov project” back then, provided him with informational support.
You can see the full press-conference itself on YouTube, if, of course, you haven’t seen it already (unfortunately, only available in Russian – Editor).
Pasha back then showed his “true worth”, he made an impression of being in a slightly odd psychological and physical condition.
I don’t know what it was caused by — perhaps stresses, perhaps the coffee was too strong, but he acted strange and somehow gauche. He somehow considered himself to be the person in charge at the moment. All of this performance clearly had a certain goal. Only later we found out that he was sent there by Strelkov, so that Pasha would rudely bring Sergei Kurginyan to him. Pasha’s behavior showed that a provocation is about to happen. A certain gentleman was constantly walking back and forth, as Gazetchik explained, he was a Dugin’s follower (Aleksandr Dugin is a Russian occult fascist, former member of the so-called Russian “SS Black Order”. Currently he tries to make an impression of a patriot and an Orthodox Christian. Dugin in his videos says that our world is only an illusion and that the only way to reach the reality is to destroy this world, which is why a nuclear war becomes quite desirable to him. As La Republica newspaper reported, he also participated in the meeting of the fascist “Black International” in Austria in May 2014 – Editor). Dugin’s followers also were a part of the “Strelkov project” back then, at the very least they presented themselves this way. When he passed by me for the third time, I went outside after him. When I asked him not to act so rudely during this event, he replied: “Soon you all will be f…” and smiled in a strange way.
Yegor, Volga, was outside when he realized something is coming. Zaur was told to get ready to meet “guests”, just in case.
Snipers went to the roof, machine gunners assumed positions on the third floor. So yeah, the evening stopped being boring. “Volk” assumed his position directly between Sergei Kurginyan and Strelkov’s representatives and had they made a move, he would have receive an order to shoot to kill.
The climax of this event was what Gubarev and his friends expected — their support arrived, two minibuses full of armed people, ordered to bring Sergei Kurginyan to Strelkov by force. Mister Dugin’s follower whispered this to Pasha’s ear. I was near Pasha, behind the camera, and observed all of this.
Finally, he gave the sign that everyone has arrived. Suddenly Pasha had a “relapse” of strangeness, according to their script, in front of the cameras. They had to somehow humiliate Sergei Kurginyan and take him to Strelkov with the support group of the newly arrived fighters, whether for subsequent public humiliation, or for something else. But fighters turned out to be not that much fighters, and, having realized that they won’t succeed without suffering losses, retreated.
Overexcited, Pasha constantly glanced at the doors, waiting for support, but it wasn’t coming. At some point they realized that something went wrong. For full experience, Zaur shouted loudly, so that everyone in the hall could hear it: “Prepare for combat!” Everyone unanimously pulled the charging handles of their rifles and swept the safety off. Journalists, who came to become the audience of the show of public humiliation of Kurginyan, suddenly, unexpectedly, became participants of an unsafe event. They didn’t really understand what they can expect from these armed unshaven guys. The calmest was Nikalaevich, he peacefully observed everybody. His calmness, as I learned with time, is the calmness of a predator, ready to jump at any moment.
Gubarev and guys realized that they are not getting any help and started to decisively retreat. The famous “Strelkov maneuver” — leave with a dignified face expression.
After the press-conference we went to the base right away. Scyth, the current head of DPR Aleksandr Zakharchenko and “Diky”, the current Minister of the Interior of DPR came there as well. They gathered to discuss their mutual action in the light of such an unexpected turn of events as Strelkov’s retreat and his attempt to kidnap Kurginyan. The air in the building was electrified. Nobody knew what’s next. It’s not that someone was scared of Strelkov and his army. Back then, joining forces, especially with Bezler (Gorlovka militia commander at the time. He had one of the largest militia forces at the time – Editor), could help handle Strelkov. But only Ukrainian Nazis would have benefited from such a turn of events. Strelkov already threatened local militia commanders with executions, which, obviously, caused only return aggression. All commanders decided to join forces against him in case of a military turn of events.
Sergei Kurginyan during this council tried to calm everyone down and appeal to cold mind. The main thing that caused alarm was not even Strelkov and his army, but the fact that someone ordered him to leave Slavyansk. At that moment everyone already understood that Donetsk is only a stopover, and that he intends to retreat further away, first to Snezhnoye, then to Russia. The rest of the commanders were locals, and they didn’t intend to leave their homes this easy. But they were baffled, thinking that Strelkov received an order from Russia. Accordingly, that would mean that Russia betrayed Donbass, otherwise what explanation there was for this illogical retreat. There was an impression that the “Russian Spring” project is over.
Strelkov was the symbol of this project. That’s how he represented himself. It was being said that a little more effort — and the Crimea scenario and operation “Polite People-2” will happen (“polite people” was the name given in the social networks to Crimea-based Russian troops who maintained security and prevented Crimea from being taken over by force by Ukrainian Nazis while the people of the peninsula were deciding their fate after the coup in Kiev through a referendum: whether to stay in Ukraine or to return to Russia. They were called “Polite people” because no matter what they did, they were extremely polite – Editor).
The commanders of the militia at the time were not that knowledgeable about Russian politics. They trusted Strelkov, believed his promises that there will be military aid from Moscow. They still had this certain naivety which was abused by Strelkov. To be more precise, not so much him, but the authors of the “Strelkov project”. Sergei Kurginyan had to work with this political naivety, one had to talk to commanders extremely delicately, since they didn’t consider themselves to be naive in politics.
My impression was that we had, unknowingly, intervened into someone’s large-scale game, intervened actively, and all participants of the game, secret and open, were confused with this. They would have never believed that Sergei Kurginyan arrived there at that moment by accident. They were convinced that he was sent by one of the groups in Kremlin. Accordingly, they considered his arrival to be a message from certain pro-government circles of Russia. They expected to hear certain words from him, phone calls, help in making the right decision. And he talked, calmed them down, explained.
And during all of this mad day we regularly recorded and published online video addresses. The Internet was buzzing. I don’t even want to write the things I heard back then from friends and comrades. But this is the case when the saying is true: “Do what you must and come what may.”
It was a very long day, full of emotions, passion and many other things. When we were saying goodbye, Sergei Kurginyan said:
“You know, I have been to different conflict zones. The most serious situation was back in Tajikistan. But everything turned out to be much worse here! The field commanders back there were predictable, while Strelkov here is completely not in his right mind, in addition, it is not cl
ear yet who pulls his strings. Everything around here is currently soaked with madness. Can’t you see?”
ear yet who pulls his strings. Everything around here is currently soaked with madness. Can’t you see?”
“Do you think you can get killed?”
“If he won’t kill me this night, then that’s it, we can say that we won.”
I didn’t see that Sergei Kurginyan was preparing to die that night. Something intangible made me certain about this. We all will die one day, but not here and not now!
Other stories of “Essence of Time” unit soldiers: “Essence of Time” unit in Donbass
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