The Bloody Peacemakers
The tale of two men's rise from bankers to gangsters to death squad commanders
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”-Matthew 5:9
After the Maidan coup, the Maidan regime has embarked on a bloody war against dissent in Ukraine. Even moderate critics of the regime and its policies have found themselves harassed in court, beaten, and even killed. More radical opponents are tortured or assassinated, often in broad daylight and with extreme brutality.
This struggle is carried out by a patchwork of NGOs, government agencies, police, gangsters and mercenaries, all mixed together as an effective instrument of state sponsored terror.
There are two men who may be the central figures in this story. Thanks to Anton Gerashenko, Arsen Avakov and their bloody “peacemakers”, the Ukranian government has a deadly weapon to silence dissent by any means necessary.
From Managers to Mafia
“My dear, Anton Gerashchenko does not come to me as often as you think. It's so big that sometimes like a beautiful balloon flies so far away – you can't catch it. But I try, just as he tries to hear my arguments. On most issues, our points of view coincide, but his emotional reactions for me, for example, remain incomprehensible.”-Arsen Avakov, on Anton Gerashenko
As the Soviet Union collapsed, a particular type of person found prosperity in the chaos. The highly educated and well-connected managerial class who had been groomed to run the Soviet state apparatus found themselves with no state left to run.
With the question of who owned what still up in the air, these were the people perfectly positioned to steal everything that wasn’t bolted down. As the state crumbled, there were few police left to either protect or stop them. Left to their own devices, the ex-Nomenklatura raised armies of thugs to both protect and expand their holdings as the Soviet Union descended into virtual anarchy.
There were many of these people all throughout the old union. Among them are Anton Gerashenko and Arsen Avakov, two inseparable figures in Ukranian politics, who have risen from the Kharkov underworld to become some of the government’s most effective enforcers.
For Arsen Avakov, it all happened quite quickly. At first a scientist and engineer, as the union collapsed, he founded the investment bank “JSC Investor” in 1990. In 1992, he followed up with a commercial bank, “Basis” and set about his first act of robbery.
The scheme was quite simple. As was seen in most of the eastern bloc, Ukranian citizens had been given free privatization vouchers from the government. These vouchers allowed them to buy shares in newly privatized state enterprises at a very low set price, thereby distributing the value of the former Soviet economy to it’s people.
There was a problem, of course, which is that the Soviet people had no money to invest. As unprofitable factories were shut down and their equipment sent west, unemployment skyrocketed. Those who kept their jobs often had difficulty actually getting paid. The lucky ones were paid “in kind”, given products from the factory to sell on the black market. Many, however, were simply not paid at all.
The employees of the Akhtuba factory in Volgograd have not been paid for 12 months. For a year, since the plant has had no cash, they have been paid "in kind" from the company's stocks. Formerly specialized in precision instruments for the Soviet navy, the Akhtuba factory is no longer the jewel of the defense industry: since the end of the Cold War it has converted to the sex industry and for a year its employees have had to satisfy themselves for all remuneration with a panoply of very, very specialized gadgets. This absurd situation is not making anyone laugh in Volgograd. "The workers feel insulted," states a union delegate, Tamara Lozhintseva, to a correspondent of the daily Moscow Times who, having come to interview her, depicts the Akhtuba workers' feeling of revolt, the same revolt that is smouldering everywhere in the country. In the neighboring Armina factory, the women workers have been paid for three years in brassieres and shoes that they resell in the streets. The workers of Moskvich, the auto plant near Moscow, are paid in spare parts, those of the Ivanova textile plants in bedsheets, and those of the Gus-Khrustlaniy porcelain factory, near Vladimir, in crystal and ceramic vases...
-International confederation of Free Trade Unions, 1997
300% inflation meant that savings accounts evaporated overnight and made payments of benefits and pensions essentially worthless. Life expectancy plummeted to 57 in men, as mass hospital shutdowns and medicine shortages combined with colossal increases in suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction. By 1995, the World Bank estimated that about half of the Russian people were in severe poverty, and the situation was worse in the Union Republics.
Giving them the chance to buy something they could not afford was therefore very little help to the immiserated Soviet people. Waiting in the wings were men like Arsen Avakov.
Avakov, and so many others like him, offered cash for these vouchers. Buying at only a fraction of their value, many desperate Soviet people accepted a pittance for the otherwise worthless paper. Avakov would then use the vouchers to buy the stock himself. The scale of this operation was such that Avakov ended up with a controlling share in many large, lucrative ventures. It was in this manner that he was able to build an empire, getting his hands on millions in Soviet industry for pennies on the dollar as the people starved.
Shortly thereafter in 1993, Avakov’s business partner was killed in broad daylight, shot twice in the head at close range with a pistol. Despite having a wife and children, his share of the business was mysteriously left to Avakov in the will. Avakov was a prime suspect, but no charges were ever filed and the killer remains at large. Avakov became one of the wealthiest men in Ukraine in the aftermath.
Avakov would continue on in the same manner, growing more corrupt and brazen as time went on. He mostly escaped criminal charges until 2012, when he was placed on Interpol’s red list for severe corruption and suspected murder.
Avakov fled to Italy, who refused to extradite, until his election to the Radathe same year granted him immunity from prosecution. Soon after, he returned to Ukraine. Charges were dropped after the Maidan coup, but Avakov never forgot this insult from the Yanukovych government.
Anton Gerashenko was an economist by training. He entered politics at a young age, contesting his first election at age 19, and worked at several banks while he continued his political career. He was eventually elected in 2000 to the Kharkov city council. His training and experience gave him a natural talent for money laundering, greatly assisting Avakov’s struggles to stay out of jail. Gerashenko and Avakov eventually became inseparable, both personally and politically.
The two men met in 2004, when their careers as gangsters and politicians intersected in Kharkov. At first working as Orange Revolution activists, the two proved some of the most capable organizers in Viktor Yuschenko’s campaign, and as a reward Avakov was named administrator of the majority-Russian region after Yuschenko’s victory. Avakov brought his new friend Gerashenko with him as an economic advisor.
The two had a dire need for muscle to enforce their rule and so turned to “Patriot of Ukraine.” This was a local group of soccer hooligans turned neo-Nazi gangsters run by Andrei Biletsky, the future founder of Azov. Avakov was very familiar with them, having used this gang as his enforcers to take control of the Kharkov underworld.
Biletsky is not your average gangster. Much like Avakov and Gerashenko, he is highly educated and was a university professor prior to his emergence as a terrorist. It was likely his intelligence combined with natural cunning which allowed Biletsky to mold a group of common thugs into the disciplined and effective band of terrorists we know today. Now that it was under the wing of the state, “Patriot of Ukraine” grew quickly in both size and sophistication.
With their Nazi muscle, Gerashenko and Avakov ruled like warlords, lining their pockets as they enforced a bloody order in the region.
As bodies and cash piled up in Kharkov, Avakov rose quickly inside the party, becoming influential in his own right and eventually aligning himself with Prime Minister and gangster Yulia Tymoshenko in her struggles for power against Yuschenko.
Eventually, Avakov’s corruption became so severe that he was impeached by a vote of 108 out of the 116 Kharkov regional deputies. Avakov ignored this and continued to rule, confident that his Nazi soldiers could protect his position.
Sadly, he was correct. He remained in power until the 2010 election of Yanukovych led to his resignation, and the threat of charges forced him to flee the country for a time.
Among the growing nationalist forces in Ukraine, Avakov’s efficient work and complete lack of scruples drew notice, and after the Maidan, he was named interior minister of the new government. Gerashenko, of course, came with him as an advisor.
This time, however, they faced a far more daunting task. They faced it the same way they always had, combining brains and brawn to pacify the region.
What Arsen Borisovich Avakov did does not fit in my head. God is his judge. How could you frame a huge number of your employees and not solve their problems?! Still, his cunning and greed for money, alas, exceeds the level of nobility and sense of responsibility.
The same is Kotvitsky Igor Alexandrovich. "I solved my questions, and the rest of the people are biomass."- the suicide note of Alexander Motylevskiy, an employee of Avakov
After the Maidan coup overthrew the democratically elected Yanukovych government in 2014, the new regime found itself in a precarious situation.
Widespread dissent from the east was threatening the stability of the new regime, as militias emerged to protect the citizens of Donbas from the hammers, garottes and Molotov cocktails of the Maidan killers. Maidan forces who had previously cut a bloody swathe through Ukraine were finally stopped by the militia forces, who grew increasingly sophisticated by the day.
This proved a serious problem for the new Kiev regime, and no small effort was made to crush the militias.
Avakov first began by transferring former police bases, equipment and weapons to neo-Nazi and CIA affiliated Right Sector militants. While this bolstered their capabilities, it was nowhere near enough to crush dissent in the east.
The next step was to mobilize the army, but the rank-and-file soldiers revolted. Rather than kill their friends, relatives and neighbors, around 70%of the Ukranian army deserted or defected and either abandoned their equipment or gave it to the newly formed militias.
Now facing the very real possibility of counter-revolution and defeat, Avakov showed why he was chosen for the position, going back to his bag of tricks from Kharkov to deputize the Nazi thugs who were on the vanguard of the Maidan coup. These so called “Special Tasks Patrol” police were founded on the 15th of April, 2014.
His old friend Belitsky was among them, but the Azov founder could not provide nearly enough manpower. Therefore, Avakov cast a wider net, opening the door to other groups in the now vast Ukranian Nazi underground.
One of the groups involved was the Congress of Ukranian Nationalists (KUN) who are the direct descendants of Holocaust perpetrator Yaroslav Stetsko’s branch of the OUN. After the war, the CIA rescued Stetsko and he remained their agent until his death in 1986. He led a sort of terrorist international, training and funding some of the most vile figures of the second half of the 20th century. His wife, Slava, took over after his death, and founded KUN in 1992.
Another would be the UNA-UNSO which was founded by Yuri Shukhevych son of infamous mass murderer Roman Shukhevych, who, along with his men, once killed 8000 Polish civilians in a single day, burning many of them alive in their churches.
In all, over 30 units were formed. Initially named after the cities from where they were raised, as time went on many of the units developed their own character and traditions.
They did not forget the old traditions, however. Just like their OUN forefathers, extreme brutality is a trademark of these units. They set about a systematic campaign of pacification of Russian speaking regions. In so doing, they have been credibly accused and, in some cases, even convicted of torture, murder, rape (including raping children and the disabled), illegal detention, political repression, armed robbery, arson and more.
Among the luminaries who comprise these new units are men like Belarussian neo-Nazi Sergey “Botsun
Botsun had dozens of murders to his name before even arriving in Ukraine in 2014, and once there used his talents to amass a fortune of over 1 million Euros by pillaging the Donbas. He was so effective, in fact, that Petro Poroshenko changed Ukraine’s laws so Botsun could be awarded citizenship. It was more than just business for Botsun, as he became quite close with Arsen Avakov. The two remain friends, and Arsen’s son trains at Botsun’s MMA gym.
He was also a founding member of Azov and is still serving as a special forces commander today. Despite his past, his “Kraken” unit remains heavily featured in pro-Ukranian propaganda.
Later, he would be joined by Daniel al-Takbir (formerly Daniel Lyashuk), a Neo-nazi terrorist with a story so bizarre it reads like a bad movie script.
At first, Daniel fought alongside Azov in the ATO. He cultivated a reputation both for his flair and his extreme brutality. These made him a darling of the outfit’s propaganda arm. He posed for shirtless Instagram photoshoots by day while torturing by night.
Without tortures, life would not be a life. Nothing raises your vitality as when you’re holding someone’s life- Daniel al-Takbir
Eventually, he converted to Islam. He changed his last name to al-Takbir, travelled to Syria and joined ISIS. He fit right in with Daesh and when he came back, he was eager to show what he had learned. Under the new callsign Mujahid, he raped and pillaged the Donbas and it’s people with such brutality that it shocked even the STPs.
In 2016, he was arrested, tried and convicted of crimes as horrendous as raping children to death while fighting in Donbas. He was released this year by the Zelensky regime as part of a general amnesty for war criminals after the Russian invasion.
al-Takbir’s unit, “Tornado”, was founded under the aegis of a larger battalion, ironically called Myrotvorets, or “Peacemaker.” After his arrest, the Tornado unit was “disbanded” by simply merging Tornado’s soldiers into it’s parent unit.
Apparently, it is in men like Botsun and Mujahid that we see Arsen Avakov’s idea of a Peacemaker.
Now it is important to call a spade a spade: a right-wing dictatorial regime has been established in Ukraine, which physically deals with its opponents and people of opposition views, killing them or throwing them in prison, attempts to deny this are cowardice, meanness, or both in the same bottle. As well as attempts to remain silent.-Andriy Manchuk, editor-in-chief of Liva.ua
While Avakov’s “peacemakers” cut their way through the Donbas, Gerashenko, now a deputy in the Rada, had peacemakers of his own. In 2015 he founded NGO Myrotvorets, a private intelligence organization and an online repository of information on dissidents targeted for elimination, including names, addresses, photos and private documents.
Gerashenko’s peacemakers do most of their hacking with keyboards instead of axes and knives, but they are no less deadly. The site proudly posts “LIQUIDATED” in red letters over the photos of those killed.
While Gerashenko has danced around the topic of Myrotvorets ownership, both he and the SBU openly collaborate with the site and routinely praise it, rendering the subject mostly meaningless. The collaboration goes so deep that Ukranian police use Myrotvorets lists at checkpoints, which means that anyone listed on the site will find themselves the target of serious harassment at best.
Anyone inside the Ukrainian who tries to stop Peacemaker will face the wrath of Gerashenko, with the implied threat of “liquidation” at the hands of his Nazi death squads. Even the president seems powerless to stop them, with Zelensky claiming he was unable to shut down the site, citing “free speech” concerns even as the Nazis target his wife. Those same free speech concerns did not stop him from shutting down pro-opposition media outlets.
This work is extremely important for the national security of Ukraine, and anyone who does not understand this or tries to interfere with this work is either a puppet in someone else's hands, or is working against the interests of national security. I think we are seeing the first option with regard to the Ombudsman Valeria Lutkovskaya for the time being. In whose interests it acts — everyone can draw their own conclusions," -Anton Gerashenko, in response to a proposed bill to shut down Peacemaker
Many of the targets listed are Russian soldiers or L/DPR militias, but civilians often find themselves in the crosshairs of the Peacemakers for even the slightest lapses.
One such example would be the journalist, Oles Buzina. Mere days after being listed on the site, he was shot and killed in Kiev. Oles was a popular figure in Ukraine, a prolific print journalist who made frequent appearances on Ukranian TV, until the extreme censorship imposed by the Maidan regime drove him into unemployment.
He was a critic of both the Maidan regime and the Yanukovych government, repeatedly arguing for peace and dialogue between the government and separatists. Buzina publicly campaigned against both the rise of neo-Nazism and the rehabilitation of the Nazi collaborators and Holocaust perpetrators in the OUN in Ukraine. He was also a key witness in a trial against Maidan activists accused of murder.
This was enough for the “Peacemakers” to mark him for death.
As Buzhina stood at the entrance of a fellow journalist’s home, masked men opened fire from a blue Ford Focus. Buzhina was hit, and by the time police and ambulances arrived, he was already dead.
Two men were arrested for the murder, Andrey Medvedko and Denis Polischuk, both members of the Special Tasks Patrol Police.
Medvedko was a long-time nationalist, serving as a commandant in the Maidan coup before joining the Azov battalion to fight in the ATO. After a failed run for Kiev city council, he rejoined the STP, this time joining Kyiv-2 and later the infamous C14 unit, resigning only 10 days before his arrest.
C14 is a brazenly neo-Nazi unit, even by the low standards of the STPs. They are particularly known their extremely violent attacks on Romani communities with sledgehammers. C14 has been condemned by the British Parliament, the US Holocaust Museum, US intelligence cutouts such as Bellingcat and Radio Free Europe, and many others for its racism and brutality. The unit is still operational today.
His comrade Polischuk was a member of the UNA-UNSO, the descendants of Nazi collaborators, who I described above.
The killing sparked outrage, with the US, UK, EU, United Nations, the Committee to Protect Journalists and many more all condemning the killing and Peacemaker, demanding an investigation and the immediate closure of Myrotvorets.
The site remains open and active to this day.
Investigating them can be tricky, as their “Purgatory” section listing the names of targets only contains a small selection at once. When the list is updated, which often happens multiple times a week, only the newest targets are shown as clickable links.
The URL’s remain, however, and you can still search for targets by name and region. If you already know who to search for, the information is quick at hand. If you are simply guessing, it is frustratingly difficult to find anything. This, of course, is absolutely by design. It is much easier to “liquidate” a person who does not know they are being hunted.
This process can move very quickly. While researching this article, I bookmarked some profiles of people Peacemaker has targeted recently, all of whom have now vanished from the main index.
Yuliya Baranovskaya and Islam Saideev appear to be guilty of little more than reporting from the Donbas region. Inna Zinkovskaya is an employee of the DPR’s department of Agriculture, and Larisa Sinelnikova is a secretary in the DPR courts. Irina Dementeva made some Facebook posts, the same “crime” which landed Vlodomyr Zelensky’s wife, Elena, on the list. Western journalists are not safe, either, as Eva K Bartlett, a Canadian journalist known for her work in both Donbas and Gaza, can testify.
This is all it takes to mark you for assassination by the Peacemakers. Gerashenko’s reign of terror does not stop with journalists, either. Dissident politicians are prime targets for Peacemaker’s killers.
Vlodomyr Struk, mayor of Kreminna, was kidnapped by masked men and shot in the heart, with grisly images of his mutilated body leaked soon after. Anton Gerashenko applauded this crime on his Telegramaccount.
There is one less traitor in Ukraine. The mayor of Kreminna in Luhansk region, former deputy of Luhansk parliament was found killed.
Oleg Kalashnikov preceded him in death. A former deputy for Yanukovych’s Party of Regions, Kalashnikov was murdered by unknown assailants at his home. The killer knocked on his front door and shot Kalashnikov dead as soon as he opened the door . Once again, his details, including his address, were posted on Myrotvorets days before his murder.
No charges have ever been filed in Kalashnikov’s death.
These are but a few of the people who have suffered at the hands of the two bloody peacemakers from Kharkov, who turned their criminal empire into a ruthlessly effective machine to violently crush any dissenting voices in the post-Maidan state.
How many more must suffer before these state sponsored terrorists are brought to justice?
In his 1975 book “Inside the Company”, former agent Phillip Agee revealed the IFCW to be a CIA front. Its purpose was to undermine radical trade unionism and prevent Communist influence within unions around the world. As such, if they are saying that Russia’s transition to capitalism was poorly practiced, you might want to believe them. Agee also founded Covert Action Magazine, the publication who gave me my first break, and for whom I will always be thankful. Please check them out at their site and support their work via donation if you can. Donations allow them to pay their writers.
The Verkhovna Rada, usually shortened to just Rada, is the Ukranian legislature.
This document “The Russian Octopus” was made by a think tank which is owned and operated by NATO. While I vehemently disagree with their conclusions, I also suggest that anyone who has time read this document. It is incredibly illuminating regarding NATO’s strategy in Ukraine. It shows, in particular, some rather insidious traits of Ukranian nationalism which have soaked through to their NATO masters. For example, they frame the Ukranian army’s mass desertion as evidence of a shadowy Kremlin conspiracy, hatched by agents of influence. The reality is that Russia and Ukraine are deeply connected. Russians and Ukrainians have lived together, in some form or fashion, for centuries throughout both countries. It is understandable that Ukranian Army soldiers did not want to shoot their friends, countrymen and families. However, NATO simply accepts the nationalist narratives and assumes every Ukranian is a violent Russophobe like their pet Nazis. This is not the case, and never has been.
OUN is the Organization of Ukranian Nationalists, a group of Nazi collaborator Ukranian nationalists who were active participants in the Holocaust.
This is in reference to the Naval rank of Boatswain, given due to Sergey’s service in the Belarussian Marines. Much as in English, this title can be translated a variety of ways. Therefore, you will see him called Botsun, Boatsman, Botsman, Boatswain and many others. None are wrong, per se, simply different forms of the same word. Frankly, I do not care which he prefers, as the man deserves no respect, I first learned of him as “Botsun” and have continued using this name ever since.
Anti-terrorist operation zone, the euphemism for Ukraine’s campaign in Donbas
Usually I would link to this, however their front page is full of graphic images of dead Russian soldiers in various states of decay. I would not want someone to see that unexpectedly, so I will link their site here instead.