Monday, March 31, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: New Reports of Pro-Russia Provocateurs Undercut Moscow Pledge

Fact check: Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said after his meeting Sunday with U.S. secretary of state John Kerry that the two men had agreed to work with Ukraine on "the dismantling of irregular forces and provocateurs."

But just a day later, two new reports have emerged of pro-Russia provocateurs planning attacks in Ukraine.

The reports add to earlier accounts of Russia dispatching agitators and working with organized crime in Ukraine to destabilize the country.

Attacks Reportedly Planned

Ukraine's security service said today it had detained Russian extremist Oleg Bakhtiyarov, leader of the far-right Eurasian Youth Union of Russia, for allegedly planning an armed attack on Ukraine's parliament and government offices.

Bakhtiyarov reportedly recruited 200 people for the attack, promising them $500 apiece. He was apparently working with Russian TV channels to arrange for coverage of the raid, the Kyiv Post said.

In a separate report, Ukrainian security said it detained an intelligence officer from neighbouring Transnistria, a small region that Russian forces helped break away from Moldova in 1992.

The officer, identified as S. Kuzhmuk, was reportedly planning to smuggle arms into Ukraine to use to destabilize the country and disrupt upcoming Ukrainian elections in May.

New Images Undermine Russian Sniper Claims

In a related story, The Daily Beast reported Sunday that Russian intelligence worked closely with Ukrainian security forces involved in shootings of protesters in February before then-president Viktor Yanukovych fled to Russia.

The Daily Beast piece includes exclusive photos of heavily armed elite Ukrainian soldiers on one of the bloodiest days.

The photos and earlier video footage of government snipers and other soldiers going into action undermine Russian claims that Ukrainian protesters were themselves behind the shootings of protesters.

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