Yevhenii modestly calls himself "a person cooperating with NABU on a voluntary basis." We call him more simply and logically, a NABU agent, thanks to which a number of resonant arrests were made. An entrepreneur who enters the circle of top wealthy, and therefore has an ideal cover. Shevchenko helped bring out the "king of Odessa contraband" Vadym Alperin. But in the course of this case he was exposed, and so the businessman Evhenii Shevchenko became known to the world as "agent Evhenii". Now he continues to help NABU, but in a different capacity, while doing business and not giving up the public activity.
What prompted a successful businessman to gove away the corruptionists from his environment? How to start the cooperation with NABU? And why did Shevchenko block the Triokhsviatytelska Street with his Mercedes on the day of trying to arrest Saakashvili?
WAY TO BECOME AN AGENT: FIRST BIG CASE – CASE OF DUBNEVYCH
- Zhenia, tell us, how you started to cooperate with NABU?
- Everything happened on my personal initiative. In December 2015, my close friend asked me to help his acquaintance - the prosecutor of the GPU (General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine – translator’s note), Oleksandr Matiushko, to pass the selection in the contest of detectives. He knew that I was personally acquainted with Liosha Gritsenko, who was a member of the NABU competition committee. I met with Matiushko, and if this man said that he wants to help Ukraine to overcome the corruption purely from ideological patriotic considerations, then perhaps I would give my recommendation. But he told me as one goes that he was ready to pay the money to take a leading position in anti-corruption bodies.
- Then the competition in NABU was only being held. So, you are a participant of a historic moment – this was the first operation in NABU and the first detained of NABU. In how many cases did you take part in?
- My participation in this or that role is about 20 cases of cooperation. It is a pity that not all the episodes have reached the court. But even for those cases that are sent to the court, there are no decisions until tomorrow. A judicial system, which is not reformed and controlled by Bankova is the quagmire in which all the affairs of NABU are stuck. In the case of prosecutor Matiushko, the court can not make a decision for two years! Although this is the simplest case: there were several meetings, he voiced who wants to give a bribe, how much and specifically for what.
- That is, you in effect had to go against one another. How did you himself make this decision?
- The decision was very difficult. I had two such close friends in my life. But one of them died on the 1 of February 2015 at Debaltsevo - this is Andrii Reuta (nickname - Medok). We met with him already in the war, from the first days we were in the same platoon. And the second friend - in Kyiv, with whom we have been friends for many years, but here he came to me with such a request. Even if I just did not say anything and told no one, and Matiushko went to the post fairly, through competition, I understood that his moral qualities are very low and I will never forgive myself for that! So I went to the NABU and told the guys about the situation.
- Did you stay friends?
- I later explained to him his mistake - it was a very difficult conversation on the high tones. But he understood me, and we remained friends.
- How in NABU did they react to your message?
- They were surprised. The situation was ambiguous - they suspected that my statement could be a fraud in order to discredit the newly created body. I was not directly under suspection, but there was an option that I was being used in the dark. After the successful detention, all doubts were dispelled.
- And when did they bring you into play in large?
- The head of the agency work of NABU told me right away that I cannot be attracted, since I occasionally appear on television, 30,000 subscribers at Facebook, an account at Instagram ... I was at first upset, but then I began to independently find opportunities for self-realization in this direction. I wanted to be involved in the war against the corruption.
My first case in the hunt for a "big beast" is the case of Yaroslav Dubnevych. He tried to give a bribe in the amount of 10 million UAH to ensure that the NABU has closed the case against his company. But for some reason we were not able to gather a sufficient evidential basis for the court. Then Dubnevych was lucky, and now he remained free. At the same time he heads the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Committee on Transport affairs, being a typical example of the political "elite" of modern Ukraine, when the one who adopts the laws is actually a salted corruptionist.
CASE OF ALPERIN AND EXPOSURE
- You’re the very same agent Yevhenii, who surrendered the criminal authority Vadym Alperin to the NABU. But it was your last case, because you were disclosed in it.
- In that case everything went well. Alperin offered a million dollars for lifting the arrest from his accounts. And another friend of mine, who knew that I was a member of NABU, introduced us. Moreover, this my friend even knew that the operation of the prosecutor Matiushko was my job.
- Everyone knew. You were writing openly. And still they applied to you?
- Yes, can you imagine? We need to understand the psychology of these people. They were buing everyone the whole life: judges, prosecutors, even deputies. And at the same time, all these corrupt officials never met a man who would refuse a million dollars. So Alperin and many others really thought that we were detained by Matiushko only because he offered little money. We were laughing at this together: we were saying, that he's a dolt, he offered only 10 thousand dollars and he was tied up as a punishment for such disrespect.
- Did you play on it?
- Not only on this. To participate in operations in documenting the top-corruption crimes you need to be a good psychologist, actor and negotiator. A person should be able to use the techniques of NLP, and to read the book "Sign Language" by Allan Pease at night instead of the Bible. You need to be able to arrange the interlocutor to yourself. And of course to be able to support the conversation about the rest in Monte Carlo, driving at a speed of 300km/ h on Bentley, yachts, helicopters and other attributes of the life of millionaires, who are the top corruptionists. In general, for one of the meetings at the hotel Fairmont came Alperin himself, we made an acquaintance and the process went.
- One o the biggest magnates came to the meeting himself?!
- He trusted very much our mutual friend, who introduced us, and this friend trusted me in turn. When the prosecutor saw the name, he immediately asked: "This is Alperin, about whom I think?" I say: "Yes, yes, it is him." He: "I'm going for this business, but I need security." The investigator who was assigned to this case sat next to him and asked: "Who is Alperin?", To which his colleague answered him: "This is the man who can kill any passerby in Odessa and he will not have anything for it."
- This is about 450 millions on the accounts, arrested by NABU in October?
- Yes. Alperin imported goods in huge quantities, from China in the main. The scheme is very simple. For example, shoes are imported - the pair in reality costs $ 10, but he forges the documents and declares at the customs the cost of only 10 cents - that is a hundred times less. Customs still estimates the pair of these shoes at $ 10 and Alperin pays taxes in full, but then goes with his fictitious documents to the venal court and regains all previously paid taxes. And for the removal of the arrest of these funds Alperin has offered initially a million dollars.
- How the operation was developing?
- In general, it lasted about 2 months. In the end, Alperin offered 800 thousand dollars for the option that NABU transferred this case to the Odessa region, and there he would quickly decided everything, because he opens the door of the Main Police Department of the Odessa region with the foot.
- How did it happen that you were discovered during this operation?
- So far, I cannot disclose all the details of this very problematic situation. But in principle, we already understood that it would be extremely difficult for me to continue working in the same role, and in this case it will not be possible to hide my cooperation with NABU. In the Matiushko case, I was originally making a legend. But in the case of Alperin, I went in all procedural documents under my real name, and I will give testimony in court openly.
- Why in the case of Alperin the procedural control over the commission of the crime was carried out by the prosecutors of the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, and not by the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine?
- There were good reasons for that. Later, I will definitely answer this question. – How do you estimate the court perspective on this case?
- I estimate it on "excellent". The crime is 100% complete, everything is fixed, everything is sounded. Evidence base of reinforced concrete: video, audio - everything is there. In any adequate court, Alperin will receive a minimum of 8 years with the confiscation of all property.
- That is, the intention of transferring a bribe is fixed, specifying the scheme to whom, how much and for what? Lawyers claim that you instigated Alperin for yourself.
- Yes, we have everything fixed. And the judge, having sent the suspect to the SIZO (investigative isolator – translator’s comment), took an absolutely weighed and reasoned decision. The lawyers of Alperin, who accuse me of instigating, are simply practicing their fabulous fees. Well, on the other hand, judge for yourself - what else do they have to do? They will stretch the case as long as possible, even if there is no perspective, because the client pays for their work hourly.
IN THE CASE OF PIMAKHOVA POROSHENKO’S ENVIRONMENT IS GOT OFF THE HOOK
- You communicated with agent Serhii Boiarskyi, involved in the case of the first deputy head of the State Migration Dina Pimakhova? What do you think about this matter and the actions of the SBU? There is a statement from NABU and SAP (Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office – translator’s note) about the illegal interference of the Security Service, which disrupted the case.
- I have never seen Serhii. I was outside the state, and we rarely know about the existence of each other - these are the standard principles of conspiracy. As for the case itself, would they have gone on a direct and very loud conflict only in order to get off the hook Pimakhova, known to nobody? In fact, they get off the hook Poroshenko and his inner circle. Because this group of NABU agents under the lee worked in six different directions, and not only with the State Migration Service. And when Grytsak and Lutsenko found out that the agents were close to the closest associates of the President who under the threat of prison could actually surrender Poroshenko himself, they decided to disclose all the intelligence data, to go on a direct conflict with both the NABU and the FBI as well. Otherwise, the pre-trial investigation would have been completed, and the second presidential term for Poroshenko would have definitely became an unrealizable dream. I also cooperate with the FBI on a number of issues and recently visited the US Embassy - for them, Lutsenko is already a full zero. But it's unofficial. Just like the newly created State Investigting Bureau - they are not going to cooperate with it. Because the discredited people are elected to the leadership there, whom corrupt politicians chose according to their political quotas.
- They can really not cooperate with the official Ukrainian structures?
- For example, Lutsenko asked the FBI to make an examination of the so-called Saakashvili-Kurchenko films, but they basically refused to do it, because a week earlier the Prosecutor General had stated that the FBI was working illegally in Ukraine, although this is absolute nonsense - there is an official memorandum of cooperation.
- Nevertheless, Lutsenko was invited to Washington, he did not go. It was assumed that both he and Yenin were to head the all-Ukrainian delegation.
- Yes, he understood what questions he would be asked there - why should he go? After Lutsenko said that the FBI was working illegally, his deputy Yenin met with the FBI representative - they talked for a long time, wrote down all the issues that need to be agreed upon in order to settle all this, but to this day there is silence. This is exactly Yenin had to do - he personally promised, but, apparently, he is in the fulfillment of promises not far from his boss left.
- Even after your disclosure, the suspects are arrested not without your participation. In particular, the director of the Institute of NAANU (National Academy of Agrarian Sciences of Ukraine - translator’s comment) Orest Furdychko. What is your role?
- The case of Furdychko is a unique operation, it’s a record in terms of time period. Production on him in the Single Register of Pre-trial Investigations was registered on the 28 of December, they received very fast the sanction of the court on the confidential investigation searching actions and after 48 hours the suspect was arrested with all the necessary for the court evidence base. But this is more the merit of the very Furdychko - it was he who set the condition that he should be given a bribe before the New Year. All he wanted was half a million dollars in cash. On the 30 of December, when he transferred the first tranche in the amount of 300 thousand dollars, he was arrested along with the intermediary. He is a typical corruptionist who has worked all his life for the state. At the same time he has about ten apartments, five or six houses, land, foreign cars ... all acquired by "excessive work" for one salary. And, most importantly, he is also a big "patriot".
- And what do you say about the deputy of Odessa Oblast Council Oleh Babenko? This is also your work, isn’t it? He was accused of trying to give a bribe to the NABU detective at the rate of half a million dollars, but he said it was a "soap bubble".
- The scheme for the plant "Kraian" is simple: first Dubovyi put Babenko as plant director, drove the state enterprise into fictitious debts and successfully bought out for 10 million UAH. Another 10 million UAH was spent on cosmetic repairs. After that, they agreed with Trukhanov and Galanternik and sold back to the city for 185 million UAH. But NABU arrested these funds on time, after which Babenko began to search for a way out to detectives. As a result, he offered 0.5 million for the case against this fraud to be closed. All this is fixed: at the trial, journalists and the public will be able to see the true face of these "businessmen" and also hear the names of high-ranking politicians known to the whole country who actively tried to influence the course of the investigation.
PREPARATION IN NABU. CAMERA IN THE SIZE OF TIP OF BALL PEN
- Tell us, how the NABU operation is happening. We know this process from the Hollywood films: how the agent is putted camera and microphone under the clothes…
- From the outside you will never see either a camera or a microphone. The cameras, which we use in the work, are not larger in size than the tip of a ball pen. I understand that people are interested in knowing the details of the agency activity, but I can not disclose the forms and methods of operational work. I'll write a book about it one day.
- How do you in the NABU prepare for an operation? Communicate, calculate some moves? Or they simply say: go, work?
- Each individual operation has its own various tasks, and all possible variants of the development of events are calculated in advance. I learned a lot from NABU. Many detectives, although young, but each already is a very experienced specialist in their profile. After the detectives voice their opinion, I voice my proposals. Sometimes I knew the situation better from the inside, and the detectives - from the outside. We supplemented each other.
- Do people get the experience in NABU?
- People have gained both character and experience, understanding of many inherent in TOP corruption of things has come. We are only two years old, and we have already shown such results of work that for 25 years of independence of Ukraine nobody dreamed. But I am sure that our main achievements are still ahead and for them, of course, we need an independent Anti-Corruption Court, which will send criminals to prison for years and will confiscate all the stolen property in favor of the state.
- In what form do you now participate in NABU?
- In a different form. I will not be attracted to operational work. But to such people as me, there will always be an application. And if there is not, then I'll find it.
- Did they give you your weapon in NABU?
- They would give me it long ago, but NABU does not have such powers. They cannot give the service weapon to a freelance worker. If I am on the state, then this is a civil service - I will have to give up my business. Even the award weapons can not be issued. That is, NABU, even for obviously outstanding results, cannot award someone with weapons - it is unfair in my opinion.
- You came to the NABU virtually as a ready agent - in terms of covering. Was it quickly used?
- When the detectives and leaders of the NABU saw how easily and openly these people tell me everything, they did not believe their eyes. There was not one such case when the corruptionist refused to meet me, suspecting that I was working for the NABU. One person of a very high flight once said that his security service had checked all my inside story, and reported to him that I was "their own" person. Now to this person has already been brought an accusation.
So, on the whole, I can say that I came to the NABU as a really well-trained agent - the budget of Ukraine saved a lot of money on me. If I came, for example, on the Mercedes, in Prada sneakers and always with the latest model of "iPhone", then this is all the details that, all in all, aroused confidence. Although I myself have never been a multimillionaire, but money earned and revolved in this world. So in this whole get-together I feel absolutely calm and it's no surprise that I'm agood fellow for them.
But sometimes it was not easy to perform the role of a cynical unscrupulous bastard - it means being the way they want to see you. For example, after talking with the person involved, it was necessary to discuss "beggars who walk outside the window with some rallies and posters," and who demand something. To match the legend, I had to talk about those people for whose sake I went to war: "Again they are doing some heck" - and afterwards we laughed together about it. And I explained my participation in the protest actions solely by the desire for power - and this was more than understandable to them.
I WAS LEARNING MYSELF HOW TO DO BUSINESS
- Tell us, why are you feeling so calm in this get-together? You have an ideal covering – a house in a prestigious district, elite cars.
- The house is very modest, in fact, and a place is wonderful - right on the banks of the Dnipro. Now I'm building a new one - my wife and I are planning to replenish the family. But this house will also be small - except that it will be more modern and more cozy.
- Who are your neighbours?
- There are no famous surnames, there are on the whole people from business. There are no poltics.
- How did you become who you are now?
- Now I'm 34 years old. I was born in Kyiv, in a low-income family with many children. Mother and father divorced, sometimes difficult times were for us, as for children. I remember one case ... I was 10-11 years old. I came home from school, and the shelves were all empty - there was even no bread. On the last shelf I found a bag of flour - well, I'll be cooking something now, I thought. I take this flour, but it was all spoiled. I had to take buckets of rags in my hands and go washing cars. My brother and I were washing cars in the area of the metro station. "Darnytsia". Then I did everthing I could! The painter, I painted the garages in cooperatives, I worked at the construction site, on the repair of apartments. Up to 18 years old I had little new clothes - usually worn after my older brother, or bought on a second-hand.
After school I entered the European University of Finance, but there was a "tragic" story of the first love - I was thrown by a girl, I quit school and joined the army. I served in the internal troops. I have a good ear for music and I was determined in the signal company. The first six months in the training in Zolochiv, then on distribution I served another year in Petrovtsi near Kyiv. In the army, there were then all the alcoholics and thieves, there were also adequate officers or ensigns, but they were a rarity. In general, I lost 1.5 years of life.
- What happened, when you came back from the army?
- I returned from the army with the formed goal of doing business. I did not want necessarily to become a rich billionaire. I just did not want to live in frank poverty. I also read a lot. And, perhaps, the book that most impressed me in my youth was the Dreiser trilogy "The Financier-The Titan-The Stoic" - the spirit of free enterprise found a response in my soul.
I was 19 at the time. This is now generally understood: there is youtube, you go there - there's a million free video training. And then I have nowhere to go and had no one to learn from, and there was no computer. I went to the courses of sales representatives in the agency "Business Master" - they knocked some sense into my head there. They showed the obvious difference between my flawed thinking and the thinking of successful businessmen. It was 2002 or 2003. After six months I worked in the company "Orbit-Wrigley", I quickly determined for myself that working as a hired employee, I would not become a millionaire, no matter how well I will work.
The next 6-7 years I spent in the hotel business, in the field of conference services. I started as a manager in an agency for the complex organization of conferences and trainings, then I grow to the director - we were in the top five on the market. Everyone of us was earning for living enough, because before the 2008 crisis, almost no one considered money - sometimes the budget for one corporate event could be 400-500 thousands of dolars. Glorious were the times in fact, and the team was very cool - all the guys were good.
Shevchenko in 2007.
Later I opened my own company. In 2008, I persuaded investor Mark Ginsburg to launch a large hotel complex on the Kiev Sea - at the age of 26 I already earned more than I could spend. They invited me to the Moscow office of Microsoft, to head the department for the organization of BTL projects. But I never liked Moscow. Moreover, at that time I began to import cars from the States and Europe, then different goods (household appliances, food).
MAIDAN: I SAW HOW TITUSHKY, SHOOTING DOWN PEOPLE, WERE SORTING OUT OF MIA
- That is, you were feeling well under the old regime…
- I did not complain. But after the elections to the Verkhovna Rada of 2012 I realized that Ukraine is not a country for normal life. I did not feel particularly patriotic feelings at that time. I decided to move to permanent residence somewhere. I chose Milan - in Italy I have a lot of friends and I could more or less speak Italian. I was in Odessa when Yanukovych announced that we are going with Russia to the Customs Union. In the morning I go out for breakfast, and on all TV channels they show a beating of students. I understood: I need to go to Kyiv urgently.
- So simple? You had no patriotism and then it came?
- Not that I had no at all, but somehow he was dozing in me. Although I was born under the Soviet Union, I always identified myself as a Ukrainian. And abroad, I was always tormented by anguish. I was starting to miss my native land, the air, the Ukrainian cuisine. Plus, abroad, you will always be a stranger. Therefore, I subconsciously delayed with departure. When on December 2 a million came out, I realized that this is our real chance to change the country, and we need to hold our teeth for it.
- What did you do in Maidan?
- At first I was simply walking, singing the songs and shouting the slogans. My father, by the way, at the beginning of the Revolution of Dignity worked as a driver in the Embassy of Ukraine in Canada. But when all these events began, he resigned and flew to Ukraine - he was in a Maidan’s sotnia.
When I saw that the leaders of the Maidan were Yatseniuk, Tiahnybok and Klychko, I was very upset. Literally, the third or fourth veche clearly showed that they want to negotiate and they do not need any revolution. I spat on the whole thing, and we left with my brother for a month to travel around Africa. There in Tanzania we rose to 6000 meters - conquered the summit of Kilimanjaro with the Ukrainian flag. At the same time I was watching the sluggish situation in Kiev.
2 January 2014, Tanzania — at the summit of Kilimanjaro.
We returned on the 18 of January. And on the 19 on Hrushevskoho everything got carried away ... At such times you are not able to fully understand the events and their consequences - you just put on a ski suit, helmet, take a bat and go where you should be. On Hrushevskoho on the first day I was poisoned by gas, although then came just to see. Then of course I was carrying gasoline in cans, bottles, but I did not throw them at anyone myself... I was carrying wood, tyres, I was buying medicines, helped as best I could.
"That was the boot of my car during the Revolution of Dignity".
- You was acting youself or as a member of some sotnia?
- In January I joined to "Automaidan". Then the first "titusky" from Kharkov just came and began to smash the cars in Podil, then on Arsenalna and in the center. It was the 20 or 21 January. The first physical contact with the "titusky" happened when we defeated them at the Obukhov checkpoint. We were about 50 to 50. But we all were standing for the idea, and they were standing for money. They had bits and sticks, we had near the same. I had a folding spanner. When we jerked into battle with wild screams, half of them were just frightened and hurriedly retreated. The rest half of the most aggressive we knocked down. I knocked one off his feet, I hit my wrist with a spanner in his hand, in which he kept a bat ... We destroyed them harshly, and I was the kindest of all. But there was still no furious anger. In general, I did not believe that we would quickly defeat Yanukovych and was orienting myself by a long and stubborn resistance to the regime.
January 2014. According to Shevchenko, these are the same captured"titushky"from Kryvyi Rih.
We really began to fear when people were beggining to disappear, and when the Berkut squeezed "Automaidan" on the Kriposnyi lane. They began to arrest everyone at full speed, to falsify cases, to take away their driving lisences. Then "Automaidan" broke itself into pieces a bit. We understood that we were being listened to and a lot of people had already been put into jail. There were different stories. Now I remember one – there was a symbolic video when the cops took their guns on the boulevard Lesi Ukrainky. I filmed it.
- There was Khadjynov.
- Yes, he later moved himself up with the guys from Maidan Self Defense. And I was the first one who came to help and took off all this chaos. When you decide to go to the end, the fear disappears. And then he said this "traffic cop": "Come on, shoot." There was an inner certainty that he would not shoot, although, of course, I could have made wrong. And further was the 18 of February...
I was in the middle when they started an attack on the Institutska - it happened about half an hour before the "titushky" began a bloody mash in the Mariinsky Park. First, "Berkut" showered us from the roof with light-emitting grenades. And they were using that day an unusual gas – my nose was runnin for two weeks. And then I hurt my hand hardly when I threw the paving stone. I grinned and turned around - I saw that nobody of ours is around, but the "Berkut" are already running and are firing from pump guns. I really thought already that it was the end. Between us were about 10 meters - how he managed not to get into me? The panic began on the street - everyone ran. And I was running with my spanner. I got hooked on the fencing of trees, fell, I released the key from my hands and ran on with the thought: "Damn, they'll pick up the key and find me with my imprints ...". I barely got to the car, the eyes were popping out, I could not breathe, sniffles mixed with chemicals were running from the nose... somehow I got home - in this state, and with holes in clothes, I was even afraid to go in a pharmacy. Then I were thinking more and more about buying the weapon.
- And how did you get, that you really need it?
- My then-future spouse lived on Bohomoltsia Street, the windows of her apartment were just on the central entrance to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In the evening, I almost revovered and went to her and saw how a group of titusky, which then were shoting everyone at Volodymyrska, and murdered the journalist Veremii, came out from the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the evening of the 18 of February. They descended the Shovkovychna, then went through Bessarabka and Volodymyrska. I knew the call signs of many posts of traffic police. I had friends at the traffic police, and I often were driving quickly. And when they were stopping me, I was saying: "I'm in a hurry on the 116th". This is the number of their post on Podil. And they, taking me for his own, were letting me go without a penalty. And so I rode up to those "tityshky" near Mykhailovsky cahtedral that evening, pretending a fool. I say: guys, I'm from the 116th I'm going to the 54th, how are you? I asked this to understand who it is - cops or not. And they answered: "Brother, what are you talking? Better go from here." I realized that these are not cops. I twisted for a while, but no one fired, and I went home.
Then I saw in the news that they did shoot. It became clear that it would not end like that, and we needed to arm ourselves. The next day we started looking for weapons. In principle, it took me two hours to find it. We bought Kalashnikov for 2,5 thousand dollars ...
"Submachine guns, which I bought and was loading in the apartment on Bohomoltsa street, right opposite the central entrance in the Ministry of Internal Affairs ".
- From people ... It was AKM. Fresh, in grease. Never shoot at all. The arms dealer said that even that ones that costed a thousand dollars were rarely taken before the Maidan - there was no demand, and here we took the last two. We took also the Czech "Scorpions", but with there was lack of ammunition with them - there was a cartridge of a specific caliber. Well, we also bought the guns: TT, PM. Somebody also had a legitimate weapon - "Saiga", pump guns, sniper rifles. But on the 20 of February none of us shot at the "Berkut".
CRIMEA AND WAR: "WE WANTED TO BRING YANUKOVYCH FROM CRIMEA AND TO HANG ON MAIDAN"
- What happened with that weapon?
- When Yanukovych fled to the Crimea, our gang on three jeeps, armed, drove to the Crimea. I wanted to take revenge, bring Yanukovych and hang on the Maidan. We were guided by the Crimean Tatars. We went to a few places where he could be, according to the locals, but neither him nor his guards were there.
It was the 26 of February, 2014 - the day of the last pro-Ukrainian rally in Simferopol. A man from Mustafa Dzhemilev approached us and asked: "Guys, can you capture, if necessary, Konstantinov?" He was just going to submit to the Council of Crimea the question of autonomy from Ukraine. But Yanukovych was one thing, he was at that time on official search, and Konstantinov was another thing, we did not know anything at all about him (Vladimir Konstantinov - head of the State Council of the Crimea, - Ed.). We looked at his armed guards - they did not have submachine guns, only pistols. But we needed guarantees that we would not be imprisoned later. In general, we spent four hours in a cafe next to the Rada of Crimea. I went out a couple of times to the crowd, chanted along with them "Crimea is Ukraine!"
26 of February 2014, Simferopol, the last pro-Ukrainian rally in Crimea.
As a result, our contact person came in and said: "Mustafa agreed with Konstantinov - he will not submit the issue of autonomy on the voting." Nobody could have predicted what would happen later. Somewhere at noon we left for Kyiv. We crossed Chongar, and an hour later, he was taken by a special from the "green men". Imagine yourself for a second, if we stayed a little longer and was stopped by the FSB with all our goods ...
- How did you come to the front?
- I went to the military registration and enlistment office in April, but there was a kindergarten in a literal and figurative sense - the military enlistment of the Desnianskyi district was in the building of the former kindergarten. In general, only in June I achieved being recorded. I was told that, according to my military specialty as a signalman I was assigned to the Kyiv garrison, and they would call me only if there was an offensive from Chernihiv.
Then it was on the 14 of June, when they shot down Il with the paratroopers ... That day, I made a clear decision for myself that in any case I was going to war. I told only my fiancee the truth. My relatives thought I was a volunteer. First I tried to "Azov" or "Dnepr", but there it was necessary to take the course of the young fighter, and I did not want to waste time. I signed up for "Donbass", the reserve of the second battalion, which was called the Crimea. I started writing to Semion on Facebook. Every day the same message was repeating 3-4 times: "My name is so, I have so many years, physical preparation is excellent, I can shoot, tell me where to go." A week later he finally saw a message and wrote briefly: "Come to Artemivsk."
- How did you get there?
- It was the 10 of July, 2014 - Sloviansk was just liberated and a bus service was opened. I was lucky: I bought the last bus ticket to Sloviansk on this day. First, they only checked the documents at the checkpoints, but only local people were allowed to enter Sloviansk. I was sitting in front. The military man went in with the submachine gun and said to everyone who does not have a local residence permit to answer - I did not say anything. Then he said to give him passports of all men. And I was sitting in front, and I was getting the passports from all over the bus. I collected all this pack of passports into one and gave it to the military man, but I did not even get mine. The guy just checked the registration, but he did not count the number of passports and of course he did not look at the photos. So, I have passed through.
- You were met in Slovianks?
- No, and it was not clear where to find them. And I did not know whether Artemivsk was ours or not. There were only two taxi drivers at the bus station. One agreed to drive me to Artemivsk. I was dressed in a civilian and told him that I was a journalist-writer. When we have already gone, the driver in the conversation suddenly threw the phrase: "Well, when our people left the city .." - it became clear who was "his people" why he was not afraid to go there.
Approximately at a halfway to Artemivsk there was the checkpoint of the National Guard and there the guys said that there was a front line along this roadblock and there was no sense to go further. I offered to pay a taxi driver, he riped me off some unbelievable money. I was going and thinking: what if really there are nobody of our own? I began to quickly get out of all facebooks, instagrams. Well, I also thought, if suddenly they were really not ours, I would say that I came to fight for Putin and for the Russian peace... What else could I do?
We approached this checkpoint, I saw concrete slabs from afar, but there were no flags. The heart flied out of the chest. A man came out, I looked at his chevron, that I can orient myself at least for a split second, what to say. And he only had a strange skull on his chevron. I told him: "Can you tell me where the hotel is?" And he responded in Ukrainian: "The devil only knows, where there is a hotel here". Then I certainly exhaled with joyful delight ... and the driver looked sideways at me. It turned out that this was "Donbass". There, I met also Mustafa Naiiem - that day he was just in our disposition.
- Did you have a weapon with you?
- My friends told me that it's not wise to take weapons with me, because there are a lot of roadblocks. Besides, I thought that there was a trophy weapon. But it turned out that there was nothing there, and I did not take part in the assault on Popasna and Lysychansk, simply because there was no submachine gun. Only after the liberation of Lysychansk I was finally given a gun. One guy left home, and they gave me his submachine gun.
- In what battles did you participate specifically?
- If we talk about the rifle battles - it's Shyrokino. And also in Popasna and Lysychansk, I carried out work and orders with everybody – I was carrying the ammunition, guarding the howitzer battery, helding raids, searching houses, checking cars at checkpoints. I was then assigned to the second platoon of the second company, where there were excellent reliable guys. The 28-29 of July, we were preparing to storm Pervomaisk, but it was canceled in the morning and then the battalion was thrown into Ilovaisk's slaughterhouse.
In the winter of 2015 I was in the Debaltsevskyi district. But before the storming of Uhlehorsk, Semion sent me to Kyiv - allegedly for important documents, but in fact there were no papers. This I understood later. By that time I was already not just an ordinary shooter - the battalion commander in many respects trusted me. Plus I became recognizable on Facebook. He probably wanted somehow to save me, although then I was very angry with him for that. When he found out that there would be an assault on Uhlehorsk, he was already in Kyiv, and without telling Semion, he went back to the front. Then on the road I spoke last time with his close friend Medok – I called him, I said I would be soon, I asked how the situation was, he answered that it was very heavy, and that he would call back ... I returned in the evening on the 31 of January: the storm for Uhlehorsk already drowned and our guys died, and the same night Andriukha-Medok was killed ...
Yevhenii Shevchenko and Andrii Reuta, January 2015, few days before Andrii was killed.
In addition to some general tasks in my post, which was called "Operator of the Analysis and Coordination Action Group," I also dealt with the exchange of prisoners, the search for our dead guys - we also exchanged their bodies later.
- Did you negotiate with the leaders of terrorists directly?
- Yes, mostly through the phones of the captured separatists. Sometimes through social networks - so I talked with Olkhon (officer of the Main Intelligence Directorate of RF, in the "DNR" commanded a separate company of the Special Purpose) or with the so-called Cossacks of the General Kozitsyn from the "LNR". Usually we met with them in Maiorsk. And they exchanged there either the bodies of the dead, or prisoners.
The first time of course I was uncomfortable: I realized that I was on someone else's territory and they could kill me at any moment. It's a pity that at that time I didn’t succed to exchange our guys from "Donbass" because they were in Donetsk in the hands of Givi, who did not want to give them away. I really wanted to pull out "Sam" and "Siemiorka" - they were eventually exchanged, but later, without my participation.
- How many time were you there?
- From Shyrokino, the battalion was withdrawn in August 2015, and I decided that it makes no sense to sit on the third line of defense. I returned home, in October, handed over my weapons and began to rebuild the business. Plus I studied by correspondence at a law faculty.
- But you also managed to participate in the elections in the Verkhovna Rada?
- In September 2014, when the battalion was brought to the rotation, Semion gave me a short vacation and I went to the district No. 66 (Malin, Zhytomyr oblast) as a majoritarian. I started the election campaign a month before the elections, but even in the absence of big finances and outdoor advertising, I and my team managed to collect more than 8% of the votes - I just went to towns and villages and met people. As a result, among the 32 candidates, I took the 5th place.
In autumn 2015, in Kyiv, I participated in local elections from the party "Samopomich". This time I took second place in the district (Berezniaki) - about 1% was not enough to become a deputy of the Kyiv city council. But the pre-election campaign also went without any budgets - I just returned to the civilian life, there was not much money.
- And why did you decided to participate in this elections at all?
- Because if not we, then who? I do not say that I am an ideal candidate for deputies or presidents. But look who is in the Rada now: 70% are those who managed our country all these years and the results of their management are more than obvious. Another 30% scored new recognizable faces for the rating, but more than half of them are outspoken crooks and criminals. I believe that all decent people who feel their strength must take power into their own hands. As for the next elections to the Rada, I will most likely try again.
- Did you continue to cooperate with Semenchenko?
- I was and I remain his unspoken assistant. I had to see a lot of bad things at the front. For example, we went on a military mission to the Lohvinovo region – we were loaded into an armored personnel carrier, and at it out of nowhere a gun jammed – we even did not reach the village. And then it turns out that this armored personal carrier is new, but it has a lot of breakdowns. I began to send inquiries on behalf of Semion to a number of instances - I tried to figure out how this is possible. For example, I asked for copies of all the fuel contracts. For me, as for a businessman, it is very easy to understand, if there is corruption in public procurements. I found out that in the summer of 2014, at the height of the Ilovaisk events, the National Guards bought fuel at an excellent price - a little cheaper than in retail at the gas station. I began to deal with these documents further, it turned out that 2 weeks before the staff generals raised the price by 20% with the help of additional agreements to the contract, although there was no fluctuation in the market at all! And so easily they cleaned 700-800 thousand dollars only on one such contract. I published all this, it went to the Prosecutor General's Office and the Security Service of Ukraine, but there it stopped. Here's the detectives of NABU and prosecutors of Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office have arrested the general Pavlovskyi - there is exactly the same scheme, only they have turned it out in the Ministry of Defense - on an even larger scale.
MAXIMUM 10% OF MY BUSINESS ENVIRONMENT UNDERSTANDS ME
- Are you still doing business now?
- Of course. How Confucius said "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life" – I’m trying to follow this principle in all my work and undertakings.
- Did your environment change its attitude to you?
- Some condemn me. They do not understand why I need it all. For example, Serhii Tihipko operates the large-scale business projects - a lot of people work for him, these people have a family, and this is a big level of responsibility. And can he, with the same ease, risk all this, like me? I know also very well his daughter Ania - our horses are standing side by side in the stables. By the way, there were Onyshchenko’s horses standing there too. And in Monaco we were interspersed with him on vacation - perhaps even somewhere in the archives there are general photographs, but the case of him is a different story. And with the Martynenko’s wife Anna we have met when we were sailing with one company on a yacht along the Mediterranean Sea, there were a lot of such different acquaintances, there are decent businessmen among them.
Now some of those who sit on the streams, are demonstratively helping the guys in the war. It's funny to watch it from the outside, if you know how much money he washed of the state budget. When I sent one such corruptionist-patriot to court, our common friend asked: "Why did you do that? He sent a lot of help to the ATO." I answered:"He has robbed 200 million from the state, and has helped for 200 thousand in the ATO" It seems they really do not understand that helping ATO or other charity is not an excuse for their sins, but some successful business people are very happy for me and support my position, but they are still in the minority.
- Maybe, they are the NABU agents too?
- No, they are not agents, it’s successful people, who established themselves, who are in the "Forbes" lists. If we take a percentage correlation, it gives a maximum of 10%.
- Wow! It’s not so little.
- I agree, but I want it to be more. This businessmen supported people on Maidan. Now they remain in war strictly because of their ideological reasons. By the way, they don’t give the bribes, it’s theirs principle position.
- Do your partners do business with you?
- In this regard, I have encountered difficulties. This is not connected with NABU, since only a few people knew about this, but with public political activity and confrontation with the current regime of Poroshenko. Some clients refused my services because of the fear that they would be biased against the fiscal authorities. Many of them, after all, know that I financially support protest actions. For the same reason, I'm not posting some of my business interests, because government agencies on the team from above can very quickly tighten them.
- How did it happen that you, a person who collaborated with NABU, blocked with your Mersedes the AMG bus departure from the SBU detained by Saakashvili, and you had nothing for it?
- Well, first of all, I'm not a NABU staff member - if I speak with dry legal terms, then I'm only "a person involved in conducting investigative actions". And I was there not "an agent on assignment", but a citizen of Ukraine in time free from work. Secondly, I am not a member of the party "Rukh Novykh Syl", but I oppose the political repressions. When Saakashvili was deprived of citizenship, waiting for his departure to another country - it was unthinkable for me. And when I heard that they was trying to throw out Saakashvili as well as how they deported our sworn brothers from Georgia, who was helping us in the war ... It is absolutely humiliating for our state and for our nation to do the same. I just came from the sense of duty, as a Ukrainian, to tell the President: "I am against the political repressions!" My jeep was at the time of repair, so I went on Mercedes.
- Why did you make a decision to blockade and why exactly there, below on the Triokhsviatytelska?
- I learned from the news that the bus stuck to the Triokhsviatytelska, and, having come up, I saw that the street was blocked from the bottom by "Alfa" - there were their gray minibuses and one police car. But they left a narrow passage so that people out of the yard would leave - I slipped there. They did not have time to get used to, as I blocked the street from above, before the bus from Saakashvili.
- There Avtomaydan joined. Somehow did you coordinate with them?
- Serega Khadzhinov blocked the top of Triokhsviatytelska. The border of the National Guard was before my Mercedes and the security forces finally decided to try through the top. And then Khadzhinov set his Volkswagen and there were still 2-3 cars. A crush and gas dispersion have began. Some unbalanced policeman hit a stream of gas straight into my eyes. I could not open my eyes for an hour - it was very painful. When it’s simply sprayed, then it’s ok, you can live, and when it’s a direct stream into the eye - this is awful.
- What is your goal in life? You are a businessman, you are an "agent of NABU", while you are a public political figure. So do you want to grow further in three directions?
- It all combines absolutely. The only thing that sometimes was psychologically hard was to work as an "agent". One careless word or sight can rip the whole operation, I'm not only one who is working on it - in addition to me, the detectives, prosecutors, technicians, and operational staff work in the team ...
The last two months were particularly hard, because there were several complicated things at the same time and in view of the circumstances that were not dependent on us, we could not distinguish them. It happened that in one day several meetings on different episodes with different persons involved - a big load, plus I could not always spare time to family or business, but sometimes you have to sacrifice something.
And in general my dream is to see our country a strong and prosperous state. I studied in detail the experience of the formation of both Singapore, Georgia, Poland, and post-war Germany. The laws of economics work the same everywhere. The issue in state administration and the fight against the corruption - if these issues are solved, then the country quickly moves from the third world to the first. But we do not have a competent government. Plus, the corruption is flourishing in all sectors of the economy. Therefore, I will move in this direction - to my dream and to the dream of the millions of Ukrainians.
Yurii Butusov, Olha Skorokhod, Censor.NET
Photos by Natalia Sharomova, Censor.NET
Some of the images courtesy of Yevhenii Shevchenko