400 lives perished. 400 hopes. 400 fates.
They were the best of us - those who went to fight in the gravest conditions of the hardest times. Those who did not hide in the rear after learning of the entrapment. Those who did not surrender to the superior forces of the Russian army. They fulfilled the orders of their commanders until the end.
They were killed because they believed they were sacrificing themselves for their people; they went there knowing they would die because they were fulfilling the orders of their commanders.
Those are the gravest losses of our soldiers in one day, the biggest tragedy of this war.
Today [Aug. 29 - ed.], no flags were flying at half-masts. Not a word was said by President Petro Poroshenko, Commander-in-Chief, about those killed.
The authorities would like to forget Ilovaisk. They would like to clear Chief of the General Staff Muzhenko from criminal liability, who continues posting fake information that discredits the fallen fighters and doesn't say a word about what he did to save those encircled as a commander, and why did he leave the command post during an offensive and left for Kyiv to receive his epaulettes of lieutenant general?
On Aug. 22, a military expert examination of combat activities in early months of the war was finished. This expertise has confirmed the conclusions drawn by a military and tactical expertise on investigation of the Ilovaisk operation. I participated in both of these expert examinations.
Military experts - more than 20 of officers and generals - unanimously lay the responsibility for mass killings of the people on incompetent activities and planning blunders of the ATO [anti-terrorist operation - ed.] command in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and personally Chief of the General Staff and ATO Commander Muzhenko. It was extremely grave that Muzhenko left for a military parade and abandoned the troops without command in the most pivotal moment, giving no reaction to the Russian troops' offensive.
Muzhenko returned to the ATO command post in Kramatorsk at around 10 p.m. Aug. 25, when Russian troops had tightened their assault.
This commander's conscience is responsible for imitation of de-blocking attempts, giving false information to the president, and provision of false appraisal of the situation to the encircled troops.
It is due to Muzhenko's irresponsibility that Russian troops received a chance to shoot up our convoys and that no breakthrough was organized. The blood of our patriots is on his epaulets and his stripes. He will not wash this blood off, however many PR experts he hires with the state funds.
If Muzhenko believes he is not guilty and his acts were right, the trial will help him, so he should be speeding it up. They were his subordinates, several hundreds of them were killed, and their relatives as well as the society need to know the answer to the 'Why?' question.
Ilovaisk trial can be initiated at any moment. Every single detail has been recorded to assess the responsibility of the commanders. In 2015, a military and tactic expert examination was finished which assessed who did what, who was authorized for what, and who is responsible for what.
Moreover, Prosecutor General Yurii Lutsenko is well aware of these circumstances - he was involved in those events, he came to Ilovaisk during the skirmishes, and we spoke with him about dangerous concentration of Russian troops in Snizhne area. Lutsenko is well aware of the activities of the ATO command.
This is why I do not understand today's statement [Aug. 29 - ed.] of the Prosecutor General's Office that the Ilovaisk case will be transferred to court by the end of the year. For some reason, this statement was made by Deputy Prosecutor General Storozhuk instead of Military Prosecutor Matios, who has been leading the investigation. But last year, the military prosecutor said the case would go to court in 2015. Now the date is again postponed, but why? The case has been investigated in full! The military prosecutor's office has done a great job, as well as investigators. But what is the PGO going to do until the end of the year?
We lost 400 people in one day.
We will not allow killing the memory of them.
But when will the trial begin? MPs are not blocking the rostrum, not demanding immediate measures to be taken; the government and the Presidential Administration do not care. It's understandable - Ilovaisk-related protests gather once a year, that does not scare the authorities.
I believe that as long as the state agencies are so reluctant to find out the truth about the death of 400 defenders of our country, this is a sentence and a diagnosis for those who allow more delays in this case. This is disrespect to the memory and the heroic deed; the most worrying thing here is the lack of conclusions that need to be made in time of war in order to prevent more mistakes.
Or maybe we shouldn't insist on immediate trial over those guilty of the Ilovaisk tragedy? Maybe the society no longer cares? But we should. Those guilty of the Ilovaisk tragedy will be tried anyway. As long as acting authorities do not want to convict them, future ones will do that, even after many years. But then the list of convicts and prison terms for them will be much longer. And consequences graver.
Yurii Butusov, Censor.NET