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    October 9, 2016

    Who Killed Dremov and Ischenko (Theory by LPR journalist)


    Fort Russ, October 9th, 2016
    Translated by Tatzhit Mihailovich

    Source: Alexander Krot writing for Novorossia News

    (Special thanks to Chervonec-001 blog for collecting the most relevant articles)


    On the tragic day of December 12th, 2015, the legendary Cossack leader Pavel Leonidovich Dremov was assassinated via a bomb was installed in his car. He was driving to his own wedding. He was a complicated man with an amazing destiny - a simple construction worker who made history.

    (My old translation of Dremov)

    His death caused a lot of comment, both from friends and from enemies, not leaving anyone indifferent.

    There are several versions regarding the causes and culprits in his assassination.

    According to one version, Dremov was killed due to arguments over ​​coal smuggling in the region. (Because he knew too much, or was impeding someone’s business)

    Another version blames Plotnitsky, the head of LPR, perhaps even with Moscow's approval.

    The third version blames Kiev, stating that the whole thing was a State Security operation.

    I can not comment on the first version because I do not know enough about coal smuggling. However, this version seems unlikely to me, because (according to mass media) a lot of people were involved in smuggling scandals, and many people tried to stop this activity, and no one got killed on either side.

    In my opinion, the whole topic of coal smuggling seemed to be blown out of proportion - simply used by some political forces to discredit opponents. Coal deliveries from LPR to Ukraine were carried out completely legally, and with Moscow’s blessing. The purpose was: first, to receive electrical power from the Ukrainian side in exchange, and second, to generate revenue for the republic’s budget. So this version (assassination due to "coal money") is highly unlikely, and can be discarded.

    The second version, quite popular online, is that the murder was done by order of Plotnitsky and sanctioned by the Kremlin. This is also unlikely, in my opinion. Why? Well, let me list the reasons.

    even if Pavel Dremov was somewhat hotheaded, he was essentially apolitical and without any serious government ambitions, unlike Bednov(Batman) and Mozgovoy. By the time of his death, he was almost completely detached from politics, and his disagreements with LPR leadership were laid to rest. In his latest interviews, he stated that it was a bad time to start arguments within LPR, and everyone needed to work together in order to win the war. Dremov’s cossack regiment was one of the first to enter the official LPR corps structure, and received its regimental banner from Plotnitsky himself.

    Therefore, at the time of death, Pavel was no longer any sort of a problem for Plotnitsky. Furthermore, Dremov’s death was very bad for LPR leadership at the time, because it once again reignited the public sentiment against Plotnitsky.

    And let’s not forget about the “USB drive” with dirt on Plotnitsky, which Dremov claimed would be published if anything were to happen (during one of the earlier conflicts). Would Plotnitsky want to risk that publication? Probably not. Moreover, the family and friends of Dremov never published that data. I’d assume this is because they knew for certain that Dremov’s assassination had nothing to do with Plotnitsky.

    Who is behind it then? I’ll answer this question below, but for now let us consider the third version - a SBU sabotage operation.

    The “Ukie” version was the least popular opinion in online discussions, and I also share this view. Dremov’s murder didn’t result in any meaningful benefits for Kiev. His death did not affect the defensive capabilities of LPR militia corps - he was simply replaced by his second-in-command. Moreover, Ukrainian analysts and the media believed that Dremov’s death made Stakhanov/Pervomaisk region less likely to disobey Lugansk - which was a bad thing for Kiev. Kiev believed that Dremov was more useful alive than dead, as a possible competitor to the central authorities of the LPR.

    At the same time, as explained above, Dremov was actually less dangerous alive than dead for Plotnitsky, too. Ukrainian analysts were wrong, because they gauged the situation by the buzz in the blogosphere, which did not reflect the real situation in the on the ground. Nonetheless, SBU most likely relied on this faulty analysis, and therefore did not want to kill Dremov.

    So, that takes care of the commonly discussed versions.

    So who killed Dremov and Ishchenko 
    after all
    There is indeed another prime suspect - his involvement in the death of these people was discussed online, but somehow didn’t gain enough traction to form a universally accepted version (probably because most online “experts” are unfamiliar with the situation on the ground - ed.). But I am sure that it was this person who ordered the assassination of Dremov, and used his connections within Kiev government and the SBU to execute the whole operation.

    The name is Sergey Shahov. A well-known politician, businessman and crook. Also a sworn enemy of Pavel Dremov - because it was Dremov who destroyed Shahov’s mini-empire in our region (the uprising in mining areas was largely composed of common laborers rising up against the ruthless oligarchs, and is often described as a “slave revolt” - ed.). Moreover, Shahov has publicly voiced his desire to kill Pavel. 

    So, if he’s the one who paid for the assassination, who did the dirty work for him?

    As for the name of the “hitman”, it has long been known to LPR Security Service, as well as to friends and family of Dremov, and many Stakhanov residents The name is Valery Konovalenko.

    V. Konovalenko was a Stakhanov businessman who actively cooperated with Shahov, when the latter was a member of Stakhanov City Council before the war. In the beginning of the "Russian Spring" in the Donbass, and in Stakhanov specifically, Kovalenko took pro-Kiev position. He threatened the local “Russian Spring” activists, talked - both on the streets and online - about the coming of Ukrainian "liberators" who "will hang the pro-Moscow swine". 

    But then suddenly he dramatically changed course, sent his wife and son to Zhitomir (on the Kiev side - ed.), began collaborating with the militia and even became one of the advisors for Pavel Dremov.

    It later became clear that Konovalenko’s change of heart came due to orders from Kiev’s security services (most likely, Shahov put him in touch with them).

    Konovalenko’s task was building trust with Dremov and Stakhanov militia, by providing financial assistance and other services. At the same time, to a further enhance his cover story, Konovalenko was even placed on the “Mirotvorets” website (open database of pro-Russian activists, maintained by Kiev). But neither being wanted by the SBU, nor being listed on “Mirotvorets” discouraged Konovalenko from visiting his wife in Zhitomir and moving freely throughout regime-controlled territories of Ukraine - which once again confirms that he worked for Kiev’s State Security.

    Oh, and by the way, Kovalenko's wife - whom he regularly visited - was also keeping busy, and while her husband courted Dremov’s "separatists", she was actively helping ATO soldiers, e.g. weaving camo nets for them.

    Organizing the collection of donations for terr-battalions ...

    And actively promoting Ukrainian "democratic values" on her Facebook page:

    In all likelihood, it was Konovalenko - taking advantage of his freedom of movement on both sides of the frontline, and the trust he gained with the militia - who organized the infiltration of the Kiev sabotage group which ambushed Ishchenko, and gave them the time and route of Ischenko’s visit to the front, as a result of which this trusted friend of Dremov died in battle. 
    Such cases... (c)

    But as the time went on, the situation in LPR changed, the central government became stronger. Individual commanders became less independent. After Dremov’s regiment joined the LPR corps, all the so-called "advisers", including Konovalenko, were no longer welcome in the headquarters, and could not provide much useful information for the SBU. The value of Konovalenko, as an informant, edged close to zero and the SBU, apparently, agreed that he should return to the Kiev side. 

    It was at this stage that Shahov likely intervened - this was the perfect opportunity to use Konovalenko to take revenge on Dremov, perhaps even against the wishes and interests of the Kiev’s security services.

    Employing his connections in government and law enforcement agencies, Shahov organized the murder of Dremov, something that he long dreamed of and openly declared as his goal. An occasion soon turned up. For the wedding, Dremov’s friends and associates decided to give him a huge gift - a «Range Rover». Buying a car and moving it to Stakhanov was done by Konovalenko (probably, he arranged it so that he got the job). The car was purchased in Lithuania and moved through Ukrainian territory, where the bomb was planted inside the door (which is why the outside inspection of the car did not reveal an explosive device). The explosion occurred on the Pervomaisk - Stakhanov road, within the cell phone network zone of Ukrainian "Kyivstar" provider (in Stakhanov it does not work). 

    Fifteen minutes later, Dremov’s soldiers and LPR Security Service were already in Konovalenko’s house in Stahanov, but he already fled...

    Another fact that suggests Shahov was the one who ordered Dremov’s murder is that - according to one of the commanders of Dremov’s regiment - a few days before the Pavel’s death, Shahov called him, congratulated, and said, among other things: "Get ready Pavel - there’ll be a surprise for your wedding."

    Later, Konovalenko surfaced in Kiev-controlled territory, first in Kharkov, and then in Severodonetsk. He has been removed from the “Mirotvorets” database, and is no longer wanted by the SBU. He currently legally lives there, and has rebuilt his business (probably got a good deal of money for Dremov’s murder). On his page on "Facebook", he posted a Ukrainian flag and an old picture of himself, looking out of a tank hatch, boasting something about being a "hero”...

    Overall, he morphed into a full-fledged "revolutionary activist" and "UPA fighter". His past as a “militia advisor” is forgotten, and he turned out to be a “Maidan” wolf in sheep’s clothing, as happened with many others before and after...

    So, that’s my story about the betrayal and deaths of Ishchenko and Dremov...

    There are many more of these "Konovalenkos" still inside DPR and LPR - pretending to be "separatists" and "pro-Russians”, while working for Kiev, trying to damage the republics.

    So, it’s up to us to be vigilant and prevent such backstabs in the future.

    That’s just how it is.



    Of course, the article below only represents the views of the Novorossia News journalist, not anyone at Fort Russ. And of course, his theory of the events is still not fully proven. However, it sounds quite plausible to me, which is why I took the time to translate. 

    As for why theories such as the one listed above aren’t universally accepted - people like simple, easy-to-understand explanations for everything. Unfortunately, real life tends to be much more complex.

    I have written something similar back when Mozgovoy was murdered (LINK). I’ll even quote an excerpt:

    5. On assassinations in Novorossiya and why they are complicated
    I have seen government SRG assassinations mentioned once or twice before in people's personal blogs and stories. Bear with me here, you'll see the point soon enough.

    Here is a quote from memoirs of a volunteer that was guarding the DPR Prime Minister Borodai in the summer (by the way, said memoirs have been translated into English and are available on Amazon - LINK):

    Vitaly Afrika: "We come up to the checkpoint before the hospital. ... The "Hussar" isn't at the checkpoint, so we wait. Standing out here like a pimple on bare a**, a perfect target for a grenade launcher. However, let's not kid ourselves – if the Ukies wanted to, they would have whacked all the DPR leaders long ago. From hints dropped by those above me on the food chain, I found out that there is a mutual agreement on not targeting the top leadership. That makes sense, Porko and Kolomoiski want to live too.

    But there is always the "loose cannon" factor. Twice already, the Ukies have passed on information about groups of such "uncontrolled heroes" (our guys eliminated one of those, the other never showed up – looks like the Ukies dealt with it themselves), but there may always be a third group. So relaxing is a bad idea, and standing at the checkpoint, especially since all our communication is done through Ukrainian cell phone networks, is making me quite nervous.

    I saw another similar story some time ago, can't find a link at the moment. Basically, a militia officer was ambushed by an enemy SRG who knew his schedule and had his photo, but survived because he also saw their photos in an announcement about enemy SRGs being sent into the DPR.

    So, as both sides are heavily infiltrated by the other side's agents, and both sides are rumored have informal agreements against assassination (considering how porous the border is, targeted assassination isn't merely a double-edged sword, it's more like grenade fight in a bathroom), the success of an assassination attempt depends on who gets "betrayed more" – the assassins or the target.

    Therefore, determining who is primarily at fault could be extremely complicated:
    – Did someone on the inside give Mozgovoi's schedule to a pro-Kiev hit squad? Or maybe somebody merely failed to warn him? Was that agent working for Kiev, Lugansk, or Moscow? If he was a double or triple agent, how would we even know?

    – If Mozgovoi's murder was an inside job, we run into the same problem. There are, presumably, plenty of double agents within the militia, probably some pro-Kiev saboteurs hiding among the locals, as well as simply criminals – and it's hard to tell who's motivated by what.

    Ultimately, the answer we get will possibly depend more on what the investigator is willing to believe, rather than the specific circumstances – because it will boil down to people's intentions and convert loyalties.

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