Saturday, April 5, 2014

Ukraine Crisis: Alleged Provocateurs Detained With 300 Machine Guns (UPDATED)

Ukraine's SBU security service said Monday it
had detained Russian military intelligence
operative Roman Bannik (above)
Saturday. Bannik had directed anti-
Ukraine protests in the eastern city of
Luhansk, the SBU said.
Ukrainian authorities said today they had detained 15 people reportedly plotting an armed seizure of power in the eastern region of Luhansk, near the Russian border.

Authorities say they seized 300 machine guns, an anti-tank grenade launcher and Molotov cocktails.

The announcement comes on the heels of two separate reports Monday of pro-Russia provocateurs being detained in other parts of Ukraine, including a Russian far-right leader allegedly planning to storm the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv.

Reports have multiplied of Russian soldiers and busloads of Russian citizens arriving in Ukraine to stage attacks and promote accession of various regions to Russia.

Amping up tensions, Russia's FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, said Thursday it had detained 25 Ukrainians on suspicion of spying on Russian military movements and planning sabotage.

(UPDATE: Russian state media reported April 9 that three of the arrested Ukrainians had been deported to Ukraine and banned from Russia for up to five years because they had planned to spy on the Russian military. The reports didn't mention the earlier sabotage allegations or the other Ukrainians reportedly detained.)

Pro-Russia Protesters Paid $500 Apiece: Report

UPDATE #2: Pro-Russia protesters were paid $500 apiece for participating in the seizure of a government building in Luhansk over the weekend, says Volodymyr Landik, a former Ukrainian parliamentarian from the Party of Regions, the party of ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.

He said the protesters include titushki, hired thugs whom Yanukovych had hired to attack opponents and journalists.

Landik said most people in the city don't support the protesters' demand that the region joins Russia.

A new survey of Ukrainians in mid-March found only 14 percent supported implementation of a federal system of government in Ukraine, one of Russia's demands to resolve the crisis in the region.

The support rose to 45 percent in Ukraine's east, but still fell short of majority territory.

In another survey in February, only 12.5 percent of Ukrainians said they wanted Ukraine to join Russia. In Luhansk, just 24 percent wanted accession to Russia.

UPDATE #3: Ukraine's SBU security service said Monday it had detained a Russian military intelligence operative, Roman Bannik, on Saturday.

Bannik had been directing anti-Ukraine protests in Luhansk, the SBU said.

UPDATE #4: The SBU said April 9 it had detained a Russian citizen, Maria Koleda, for allegedly shooting three people during street clashes in the southern region of Mykolaiv.

She reportedly participated in anti-Ukraine protests and had a pistol when she was detained.

Her social media posts suggest she associated with Russian neo-Nazis and ultanationalists.

UPDATE #5: This Daily Beast story says a U.S. intelligence report warned in late February that Russia would send special forces and intelligence personnel into Ukraine to foment unrest to undermine Ukraine's new government.

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