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Death of symbol of Donbass’s resistance will not shake its faith in victory

Arsen Pavlov. Photo: Ramil Safin/EADaily

Assassination of the hero of the Donetsk People’s Republic, Commander of the Sparta Battalion Arsen Pavlov (Motorola) has become one of the worst news for Donbass so far. Motorola enjoyed respect of both the people and the comrades-in-arms. He was not only a fearless and charismatic fighter (there are lots of such fighters in Novorossiya) but also the face of the whole resistance. And now that Donbass is mourning for him, it is mourning for all defenders dying in this endless war every day.

Well-known leader of self-defense forces, Igor Strelkov’s comrade Yevgeny “Prapor” Skripnik has told EADaily about Motorola and has explained why he is one of the symbols of Donbass.

“I knew Motorola before we came here (Donbass – EADaily). He was an ordinary fighter. In Slavyansk, he was just like all the others. But there was something striking about him… He showed his worth when we were fighting a group of the Right Sector (banned in Russia – EADaily) in Semyonovka. There he organized a group and managed to throw the enemy back. He was very brave. One of the reasons he became so popular is that he was very active and was not afraid of mass media. He became most popular after the fights for Ilovaysk and the airport. He was the first who entered the territory of the airport and stayed there. He used any chance to attack the enemy. His advantage in this civil war – a war where the fighters are mostly soft ordinary people – was that he was very pushy and tough and always ready to attack,” Prapor said.

“In Ukraine, they kept reporting his death and kept attempting his life. He was an icon not only for his own men but also for the enemy. The Ukrainians were afraid of him because he was a picture of the invincible and persistent Russian character. This is why they hated him. He was lucky and daring. He had a family and his own battalion,” Prapor said.

He doubts that the authorities of the Donetsk People’s Republic will revenge for Motorola’s death even though the official statements were very tough. The leader of the republic Alexander Zakharchenko said that the murder was a declaration of war and warned Ukraine’s National Security Service and Intelligence that they would answer for it.

“Zakharchenko has made lots of such promises and have broken them. Once you promise something, you must keep it and if you just talk, you better keep silence,” Prapor said.

“People in Donetsk are mourning for Motorola. But this is war, where people are dying every single day. Just a day before yesterday, two our intelligence officers were killed in the south. Tomorrow there will unfortunately be others,” Prapor said.

According to military correspondent from Donetsk Marina Kharkova, Motorola’s death was very painful news for the locals. “Even though he was not from Donbass, he was already a native to the locals and his spirit inspired them,” she said.

“Motorola was one of the brightest symbols of the resistance. He fought in the most dangerous places – near Ilovaysk, near the airport, in Debaltsevo. Wherever there was a critical situation, he and his men were there. He was a natural born fighter. He was very daring but also sensible, very charming and sincere. He was a legend in Donbass. When he decided to settle down and marry in Donbass, he became part of us. His death has become a blow for us. They have killed a man who symbolized our dream of victory. He was a brave commander. And his death was like ‘stubbing us in the back.” The enemies are happy as they really hated him. There are lots of versions who might have killed Motorola but the fact is that he is dead. This is a big loss for our resistance, for his family and for our republic,” Kharkova said.

“The killing of a popular commander at home has generated lots of questions: Why are our commanders being killed, while Ukrainian criminals are safe and happy? What is already known about the killings of other commanders, like Zarya, Mozgovoy and Dryomov? The authorities are not answering these questions and have not publicly punished any raider so far. As a result, people are losing their confidence in them,” Kharkova said.

She is sure that it is the duty of the DPR police and special services to disclose Pavlov’s murder just like all the other big murders recorded so far. She does not expect very tough reaction from the Donetsk authorities now that they are committed to meet their Minsk obligations.

“Our law enforces and special services perfectly know how important it is to find those who killed our commanders. But we should not expect any tough reaction as our authorities persist in their policy to pacify the aggressor. I can’t say how many people will yet fall victim to this policy. But for the time being the reality has nothing to do with either our wishes or our abilities. This is my personal opinion, the opinion of an ordinary Donetsk resident,” Kharkova said.

Former Defense Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, the leader of the All-Russian National Movement Igor Strelkov was Motorola’s commander, when he just started his combat career in Donbass. “Once we decided to defend Donbass, we began recruiting the most efficient, reliable and disciplined men, and Motorola was one of them. When I said that it might be a road to nowhere, that we might be forced to act like guerillas with no home front and supplies, his eyes gleamed with enthusiasm. I asked him about his past. It turned out that he also fought in Chechnya – he was in Dyshne-Vedeno, while I was in Tsa-Vedeno. I saw he was a pro and a big enthusiast. He was in the vanguard in Semyonovka. He was not just brave but also very smart. At that time, in the face of a much bigger Ukrainian army, we spread a myth about a Russian special purpose force fighting against the Ukrainians even though in reality it was a group of poorly armed and unexperienced self-defenders. It was then that Motorola made up a stratagem about ‘300 Chechen commandos’ in Semyonovka. In order to make the Ukrainians believe that myth, he used public-address system to make recorded Muslim prayers heard to them,” Strelkov said.

When asked what the death of Motorola meant for Donbass, he said that Motorola enjoyed general respect but his death would not shake the self-defenders’ faith in victory.

“I can’t say what kind of a blow it was. I didn’t see Motorola since my resignation and I can’t say how much popular he was. He did a lot for our struggle to begin. And his death was bad news to me. I respected him. But for professional soldiers, who are used to fight, the death of a comrade – even a very popular one – is not a demotivator. Motorola’s death will hardly shake our persistence. The main thing here is that for the real fighters, for those who is fighting for an idea rather than money, it is very unpleasant to see certain rascals being alive and enjoying high offices, while honest people are dying – and the worst thing is that some of them are dying not in battlefields but at home,” Strelkov said.

He blames the Ukrainian side for Motorola’s death. “But the organizers and the executors might well have supporters in our republic – some traitors and spies. Ukraine’s special services and Nazis were keen to see him dead as they hated him very much. But the problem here is that we have no true counterintelligence in the Donetsk People’s Republic. Yes, the act was perfectly organized and executed. It was not some personal revenge. Even if there were some accomplices from Donetsk, they served the interests of the Ukrainian side,” Strelkov said.

“This crime has proved once again that you can’t be in dialogue with the Ukrainians and that they understand only the language of force. Hundreds and even thousands of such honest Russian people have already died. Motorola was one of them. Just a few days ago we lost Chelyab and Serb. I knew them. They also were excellent men. Why aren’t we talking about them so much? Yes, Motorola was more popular but he was just one of many. His death has proved once again that there can be no dialogue with Kyiv. I can’t say what conclusions our authorities will draw. It’s like they are soaring somewhere in space,” Strelkov said.

As EADaily reported earlier, Arseniy Pavlov (Motorola) was killed on Oct 16 by a bomb that blew up in the elevator of his apartment house. Motorola had a wife and two little children. Also in the elevator was Motorola’s comrade-in-arms, Yevgeny Gadlia (Goga). According to Kharkova, Goga joined the resistance movement in 2014 and fought in Slavyansk and Ilovaysk together with Motorola. The police say that it was a terrorist act organized by Ukraine’s special services. The Donetsk authorities are of the same opinion.

Kristina Melnikova

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