The police are looking for anarchist saboteurs, but the wrong ones have come across. H and the last few years in the vicinity of Kiev were more than a dozen arson attacks, responsibility for which assume a group of radical anarchists. The main object of sabotage is police property, but law enforcement officers have not yet managed to even completely block the media resource of radicals calling for a fight against the arbitrariness of the security forces. “Karati” tell how the police are trying to catch the activists of the rebel anarchism why they are taking the wrong ones, and the fires are not getting smaller.
Cards on the table
In the early July morning, the capital’s police from the Department of Internal Security arrived in a quiet village on the outskirts of Lviv. They were brought here by a case of daring arson: a month earlier, on the night of June 10, 2020, unidentified persons threw a Molotov cocktail into the window of the building of the Main Investigation Department of the National Police on Naberezhnoye Shosse in Kiev.
Responsibility for the “anarchist action of direct action” was claimed by the anonymous group “Brave”. An extremely illegible video, which allegedly filmed the moment of arson, was published on the same day by the Telegram channel “Fighter-Anarchist”.
“By our action we give a slap in the face to the presumptuous policemen. We appeal to society and to every person with an appeal not to remain indifferent, to organize and actively resist, “wrote” The Brave “in their communiqué.
They blamed law enforcement officers for rape in Kagarlyk, the murder of Kirill Tlyavov, increased control during quarantine, searches of passers-by and extortion of bribes in the capital’s Podol. Radical anarchists called the police “an instrument of violence against society”, and the crimes of its employees – “an extreme manifestation of a monopoly on violence.”
The police were preparing for the fact that in the Lviv suburb behind a brick fence, decorated on the corner with a statue of the Virgin Mary, they would be met by dangerous extremists. The two-story mansion had been watched for several days: a 28-year-old patrolman and his younger brother lived inside with their parents.
“My mother woke me up, asks: why is the whole house in the police? I go downstairs, and there is a full living room. They looked menacing: in bulletproof vests, with pistols, ”recalls 21-year-old Mikhail L.
The interlocutor told “Karatam” his full name, but asked not to publish it, referring to the status of a witness in the criminal case six months later.
He understood the reason for the visit only after studying the order of the Pechersk District Court of Kiev on the search. The police came to his house for a SIM card, on the number of which the same Telegram channel “Fighter Anarchist” was registered. Mikhail really had a SIM card – in his room on the second floor. Law enforcers rose with him.
“When I opened the doors, the washers just popped out in front of their eyes. They immediately began to consider everything: what do you have here, and what is here? They called the Lviv cyber police, ”says the young man.
For four years now, he has been working as an operator of the Internet service VirtualSim, which rented mobile numbers to its customers for registration on various Internet platforms. Several thousand SIM cards were kept in the room, some of them were connected to modems – they automatically sent confirmation codes to users. The rest of the operator inserted into the phones at the request of customers and manually sent the received SMS messages – 10-15 per day.
The video instructions describing the operation of the service had to be shown to the police during the search, but they still assumed that so many SIM cards and modems were needed to service fraudulent operations or illegal routing of telephone traffic. In a conversation with “Karats”, the former operator claimed that VirtualSim clients registered on absolutely legal services: on social networks – Facebook and Instagram, the Steam gaming platform, Telegram messenger, EasyPay and Qiwi financial services.
“The value of confidential information is growing. Especially with such an attitude of law enforcement agencies, ”says Mikhail.
The court sanction (a copy is at the disposal of “Arat”) only allowed law enforcement officers to copy information from all computers, phones, hard drives, flash drives and SIM cards found in the house. But, amazed at the scale, they decided to simply seize most of the carriers, despite the protests of Mikhail and his lawyer. The inventory dragged on until the evening, the VirtualSim service suspended its work and notified customers of the interruptions. Mikhail was not officially announced about suspicion of any crime, but several times he was summoned for interrogation as a witness. The seized equipment was later arrested through the courts and has not yet been returned.
The cyberspecialists of the police impressed the operator with their unprofessionalism.
“If they hadn’t turned off the service, they could have sent these anarchists the wrong code, track them down on payments, or simply try to hack their telegrams with the same SIM card. Instead, out of despair, they began to nightmare me with their suspicions, ”he complains.
Mikhail was ready to cooperate with the police. After the search, after reading the site “Fighter Anarchist”, the young technician realized that the authors support ideas that he himself “would not like to see in this world.”
“We consider libertarian values to be universal and recognize the revolutionary struggle for their implementation as one of the most important tasks of mankind,” says the Anarchist Fighter’s policy article, The Foundations of Our Worldview.
Further, the authors briefly outline the main provisions of anarcho-communism, formulated back in the 19th century: replacement of government bodies with self-organized councils of communities, equality, rejection of private ownership of the means of production, free distribution of goods, internationalism and anti-militarism, development of the creative potential of mankind and harmonious union with nature …
“Now our format is a translator of the anarchist appeal both within the anarchist movement and outside it,” one of the editors of “Fighter Anarchist” describes the concept to “kratam”. “In the future, when the revolutionary movement is already really loudly making itself known, we plan to become an important part of its information field.”
Founded in 2018, Fighter Anarchist is a typical left-wing media: news about protests in Russia and Belarus alternates with philosophical and political articles, film selections, instructions for making explosives, tactical medicine and cyber security. The pages of “Fighter” blocked in Russia and Belarus on VKontakte have about a thousand subscribers, the channel’s telegrams have almost two and a half thousand. The editorial staff prefers to remain anonymous.
“Perhaps this is the only reason why we are still at large,” one of the editors, who introduced himself as Phil Kuznetsov, suggested in the correspondence with the “krats”
“Krati” cannot claim that this is the real name of the interlocutor.
The communique of the “Brave” group – the probable arsonists of the building of the State Investigative Directorate of the National Police – was received by the “Fighter Anarchist” team a few hours after the fire by e-mail. According to Kuznetsov, neither earlier nor later did anyone contact the publication from this email address. However, the message was accompanied by a video recording of the arson, so the editors considered it reliable.
“We publish this and similar messages because we are convinced that the facts of resistance to the arbitrariness of state bodies and capitalists should be made public. Including if this resistance is carried out by radical methods, ”writes Kuznetsov.
The editorial office received “similar messages” about direct actions in different cities of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus practically from the first months of its work. The first came from Kiev on September 19, 2018. In its press release “Anarcho-cell named after Ilya Romanov
Russian anarchist, convicted in Russia and Ukraine for preparing terrorist attacks and justifying terrorism, was released from a Mordovian colony last year for health reasons, “reported the arson of a police training center on Borispolskaya Street and attached a video in which masked men poured flammable liquid over it and then set it on fire two rooms similar to a shooting range and a gym.
“We have been looking after this garbage facility for more than four months. During this time, expensive repairs were carried out in the above-mentioned building and electrical equipment was purchased. For the arson, we needed 17 liters of incendiary mixture, 10 car tires and old things found on the street. We have created two hearths in different locations. Also, a message was left on the wall: destroy the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The guard and two dogs did not suspect anything … ”, – described the details of the radicals.
They called their attack symbolic, in a press release they talked about the repressive nature of the police and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and also defined attacks, arson, explosions and armed actions against enemies as an integral part of the revolutionary struggle. The communiqué was also published by other anarchist media, but the fire in Kiev itself went almost unnoticed.
Phil Kuznetsov draws attention to the fact that in the signature “Romanov’s cell” indicated its affiliation with the Anarchist Informal Federation (FAI).
“This name is usually used by people who associate themselves with insurrectionary anarchism,” he explains, and immediately adds that it is a rather vague concept.
For Ukraine, where the tradition of armed anarchist uprisings goes back to the beginning of the last century, insurrectionary anarchism is a relatively new revolutionary tactic. If we discard all internal discussions among small autonomous groups, the principle that unites them can be called propaganda action – arson and sabotage against repressive, according to the anarchists themselves, state bodies and capitalist property should not only bring material damage, but also contribute to the spread of revolutionary ideas, involve the struggle for anarchy of all the new participants. Perhaps that’s why the insurrectionists’ communiqué
Another name for insurrectionary anarchism is so wordy.
The idea of insurrectionary anarchism has gained particular popularity in the last decade in Belarus, where the regime of Alexander Lukashenko has practically left the anarchists no opportunity for peaceful political activity. After a wave of repressions, part of the Belarusian revolutionary anarchists moved to Kiev, and a local branch of the Revolutionary Action organization appeared here. The Revolutionary Action website reported both peaceful demonstrations, pickets, posting of anarchist agitation, and “direct action actions” back in 2016 – also with reference to anonymous emails.
In June-July 2020, Fighter Anarchist published a kind of rating of 10 attacks perpetrated by anarchists in Kiev. The first place in it is occupied by the arson of the Main Investigation Department. Police property was the target of three more attacks: in addition to the arson of a training center in 2018, anonymous anarchists claimed responsibility for the burnt Toyota Prius of patrolmen and a fire in a police parking lot in Vishnevoe in October 2019.
Another attack, carried out six months earlier, even hit the national media – on the night of March 12, unknown persons fired at the building of the Goloseevsky District Court of Kiev with firearms. The police initially qualified the incident as hooliganism
part 4 of article 296 of the Criminal Code, but the court called the incident an interference in justice.
“Two offices in which judges Oksana Miroshnichenko and Aleksandr Boyko worked were damaged – they damaged windows and walls,” Deputy Chief of Staff of the Court Darina Gaydamaka told “Karatam”.
The anonymous anarchists had to explain the reason for the attack on the Goloseevsky court twice. In their first message, they expressed solidarity with the anarchist Azat Miftakhov, who was detained in Moscow.
In January 2021, he was sentenced to six years in prison for involvement in an attack during which a smoke bomb was thrown into the office of United Russia.
“What could be more pleasant for an ideological comrade than realizing that the repressions only radicalized and united the movement, and his captivity was not in vain and, no matter what, his cause will live on until the complete victory of the social revolution,” wrote the authors of the communiqué …
Two weeks later, they sent a letter with clarifications about the target of the attack: “The courts of Ukraine are not much different from the courts of Russia. At all times, state judges have been enemies of freedom fighters. They are against us – we are against them. “
Phil Kuznetsov says: these and other messages about promotions came from different email addresses, with unique signatures, there was no feedback from the authors.
“Therefore, we have no reason to assert whether or not there is any connection between the groups that carried out these actions,” says the editor of Fighter Anarchist.
However, the police believe that one radical organization is behind the arson attacks in Kiev and the surrounding area – most likely the Fighter Anarchist himself.
On the morning of October 11, 2019, two dozen Kiev left-wing activists gathered on Panas Mirny Street for an anti-war rally. On the eve of the armed forces of the Republic of Turkey, together with the pro-Turkish armed formation “Syrian National Army” launched in the north of Syria the operation “Source of Peace” and soon seized several border areas. The operation was directed against the armed forces of Rojava, the self-proclaimed autonomy of Syrian Kurdistan, which the Turkish authorities consider a terrorist organization.
For many modern leftists, Kurdish autonomy, which enshrined the principles of democratic self-government, equality and socialism in the Constitution, is an example of a successful revolutionary project. Therefore, on October morning, activists of various views gathered under the Turkish embassy in Kiev with posters of both “Freedom of Rojave” and “Fuck off Erdogan”. At about 11 am, unknown men who left the embassy building tried to take away from the protesters a banner with the name of the President of Turkey, one of them hit the 30-year-old art manager Anna Tsyba in the face.
In the Turkish embassy, ”Uratam” called the incident a “short quarrel” between the protesters and “Turkish citizens who came to the embassy on their own business.” In the police, criminal proceedings for inflicting minor bodily harm were opened only a few days later under pressure from human rights defenders.
Two months later, anonymous anarchists decided to take revenge for the attack on Anna Tsyba. On December 10, “Fighter Anarchist” published a message from the “Makhnovtsy” group, which took responsibility for setting fire to the tower of the mobile operator Lifecell
Controlled by the Turkish company Turkcell.
“Violence must not go unanswered. Kurdish guerrillas are destroying Turkcell towers – we gladly accept the torch of the struggle from their hands, ”wrote the Makhnovtsy, accompanying their communiqué with a video recording of a fire on Gostomel highway near Kiev.
It soon became clear that the anarchists had missed the mark. The object of their attack was not the Lifecell telecommunications tower, but the equipment of another mobile operator – Vodafone.
“If you trust the media, then we have not achieved the ultimate goal – to harm Turkish business. In any case, the property of one of the corporations was damaged, which we do not regret, ”the next message from“ Makhnovtsev ”said.
In the fall of 2019 – spring of 2020, Fighter Anarchist reported a series of arson attacks on mobile equipment. Some of them were directed against Lifecell as revenge for the military operation in Kurdistan, some – for example, the explosion of the tower of the operator “Phoenix” in Donetsk – were, obviously, a response to the revolutionary call.
“On the night of March 8-9, we send fiery greetings to all women fighters in Rojava, Bakur and Bashur,” said the last message signed by the “Children of Mama-Anarchy” group.
By that time, Anna Tsyba had already given testimony to the police several times and even transmitted information about the identity of the man who attacked her. But law enforcement officers were in no hurry to announce suspicions to anyone. It soon became clear that the police considered the activist herself involved in the crimes.
In February 2020, she discovered that someone had hacked her Telegram correspondence and was apparently trying to access Facebook.
“A week later, the investigator in my case, Vladimir Shvidkiy, invited me to talk and made the reservation that I was“ a victim so far ”. The meeting was strange, ”Anna Tsyba recalled in an interview with human rights defenders from the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union (UHSPL).
In the spring of 2020, an internal police document came into the hands of the protesters under the Turkish embassy from their own sources – a scheme with criminal investigations on arson of telecom equipment. It followed from it that law enforcement officers were conducting several criminal cases of premeditated damage to property, which, in their opinion, was the organization “Fighter Anarchist”.
The police also checked the rally participants for involvement in the arson. The document (a copy is at the disposal of Arat) contained information from the hacked telegram account of Anna Tsyba, and also indicated that law enforcement officers were secretly watching her, her husband, artist David Chichkan (“Arati” collaborated with David Chichkan as an illustrator) and engineer Ilya Vlasyuk, who also picketed the Turkish Embassy.
Ilya Vlasyuk told “krats” that he did not notice that he was being followed until he saw the police scheme. But after that I remembered someone’s unsuccessful attempt to hack his telegram account. The activist began to pay attention to the increased interest in himself from the police during various actions – for example, at a picket against police brutality.
UGSPL lawyer Yevgeny Chekarev called the surveillance of activists deliberate intimidation, and the human rights center ZMINA in its 2020 report cites it as an example of a violation of privacy by the police.
“I don’t think this is a planned persecution. I believe that the police officers are simply so incompetent and unmotivated, they cannot investigate the arson of the towers, but they must do something, imitate the activity, and therefore they are watching us, public activists, because they have our phone numbers and data in order to somehow report in front of the leadership and, probably, the Turkish side, ”said David Chichkan.
The head office of the National Police has not yet (and for several months) answered the questions of “Krat” about the investigation into the arson of police property, mobile communication towers and the Goloseevsky District Court. However, the senior investigator of the Borodyansky police department, Konstantin Prez, said that these “resonant events” are under the special control of the Main Investigation Department.
“Last time we met in autumn, all possible structures were invited. Our department had enough experience, ”the policeman recalled.
He himself is investigating the arson of telecommunications equipment in the villages of Zagaltsy and Peskovka, as well as a police parking lot in Vishnevoe. As part of this case, in February last year, Investigator Prez received authorization to access e-mail data registered on the Ukrainian resource Meta.UA. In a conversation with the “krats” he called “unnecessary” questions about the surveillance of the participants in the anti-war rally and involvement in the crimes of the “Fighter Anarchist” collective.
“There are potential suspects,” he assured.
The Main Investigation Department of the National Police confirmed to “kratam” the very fact of the investigation into the arson of police property and mobile communication towers, but refused to disclose the details.
“A number of instructions have been given to the relevant operational units … to establish the circumstances of the commission of criminal offenses and persons involved in the crimes, including to check the Fighter Anarchist telegram channel. The persons were not informed about the suspicion of committing these crimes, the pre-trial investigation continues, ”says a letter signed by the Deputy Head of the State Investigation Department Vladimir Voronin.
The police left unanswered the questions of “Krat” about the circumstances of the searches of the employees of the Virtualsim company and the surveillance of the participants of the rally near the Turkish embassy.
Law enforcers also reported that they closed the investigation into the attack on Anna Tsyba, and did not establish the elements of a crime in the actions of the attacker. Due to the expiration of the statute of limitations, the criminal case on the shooting at the Goloseevsky court building in March 2019 was also closed.
The Anarchist Fighter believes they suffered for their publications on radical anarchist resistance. Phil Kuznetsov told “Karats”: the police did not try to contact the publication directly, but soon after the arson of the Main Investigation Department, phishing messages began to be received by e-mail. In September, the Anarchist Fighter website was hit by a DDOS attack and has since moved to the darknet.
“If we had received any official request, then, of course, we would not have reported any information to the repressive authorities,” Kuznetsov admits. – With the oppressed against the oppressors always, as they say “
The co-owner of the VirtualSim service, 46-year-old Alexander Shch. (The interlocutor gave his full name to “kratam”, but asked not to indicate it, referring to the unclear status in the criminal case on the arson of the State Investigative Directorate of the National Police) was also not ready to hand over the edition of “Fighter Anarchist” – his clients, whose involvement in the arson – I’m not sure. At least without a court order.
He told “krats” that after the searches in the suburb of Lviv, the police contacted him and offered to lure the anarchists to a meeting or disclose their payment details in exchange for the seized equipment. When the businessman demanded court decisions, he received a voice message – he was threatened with the status of an accomplice in the attempted murder in the arson case of the Main Investigation Department and tried to hack his Facebook account. The police raided another VirtualSim operator in Ternopil, a SIM card supplier and a company that leased modem facilities to the service.
“All this was done already in revenge,” Alexander Shch. Is sure. “They did not succeed in destroying us, but they caused enormous damage.”
He refused to cooperate with the Ukrainian police because, according to him, he did not want “to be the same bandit as the authorities.” The businessman is alien to the ideas of anarcho-communists, he considers himself more of a libertarian, an ideological supporter of anonymity and freedom of speech on the Internet. The entrepreneur told “kratam” that he had already been persecuted in Russia because of the publication of extremist materials and in recent years has been living in Southeast Asia.
“But here the country is a bit authoritarian. If someone writes something bad about the government on Facebook, it’s an emergency, ”he complains.
The last message about the “action of direct action” in Kiev was received by the editorial board of “Fighter Anarchist” at the end of July last year. The “Nova Molod” group informed about the arson of another police parking lot – on the Zheleznodorozhny highway in Kiev.
“With this attack, we want to draw attention to the fact that police terror cannot be defeated without defeating the existing social system,” wrote another radical anarchist.
The expediency of such attacks and the tactics of “propaganda by action” in recent years have been debated both among the subscribers of “Fighter Anarchist” and among the capital’s left-wing activists.
Ilya Vlasyuk is confident that most of the anarchists in Kiev are focused on participating in peaceful protests or developing a self-organized infrastructure.
“And, of course, when people come to peaceful rallies, they don’t expect to be watched as criminals,” he complains.
At the end of January, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Belarus accused 26-year-old human rights activist Marfa Rabkova and three other local anarchists who had previously been arrested for participating in anti-presidential protests of founding the international criminal organization “Revolutionary Action”. Among the crimes imputed to him is arson of the Russian embassy in Minsk.
For this crime in 2011, anarchists Igor Alinevich, Nikolai Dedok, Alexander Frantskevich and Maxim Vetkin were convicted, of the KGB headquarters in Bobruisk, the tax office in Gomel, as well as the building of the Goloseevsky district court of Kiev in 2016. Belarusian law enforcement officers complain that the Ukrainian police did not cooperate with them in investigating the group’s activities.
The Lviv resident Mikhail L., although he was not imbued with the ideas of the armed anarchists, nevertheless remembered some thoughts. The young man claims that after searches and interrogations in the case of arson in the Investigative Department, he was regularly stopped and searched by patrol officers. At the end of last year, Mikhail left the country.
“It seems to me that Ukraine is still moving towards a police state,” he admitted to “Karatam”.