In February 2014, in the first days of the invasion of Russia to Ukraine, Ilya Ponomarev was a Deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation. Says, I did not realize that we are talking about the annexation, and at first believed that the so-called referendum on status of Crimea really “reflects the interests of the inhabitants of the Peninsula.” But in March, when gathered information and understand the situation – was the only Deputy of the state Duma, which refused to legitimize the annexation of Crimea to Russia.
In the summer, in the midst of the war in the Donbas and in the two years before the termination of parliamentary powers, Ponomarev left Russia. First moved to the United States, then in Ukraine. Today, the Obolon district court of Kiev which considers the case of treason Yanukovych, Ilya Ponomarev has told that knows about the annexation of Crimea and war with Russia.
Who exactly was responsible for the annexation of Crimea, what is the role of local misfits – Aksenov and Konstantinov, and what is most feared in the Kremlin – LIGA.net gathered and presented in the most chronological order, all that Ilya Ponomarev said in the interrogation in court.
“The events unfolded before my eyes”, – said during the interrogation, Ponomarev, but then added: what happens to “something extraordinary” and began a military operation in Crimea, only realized in March 2014. Although that Russia began to interfere in the Affairs of Ukraine, was suspected in the autumn of 2013, as the Russian spin doctors (this definition was played in court repeatedly) and representatives of Putin’s administration often in Ukraine.
In 2013, in the midst of the process of training of four post-Soviet countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Armenia), the Association with the EU, ambassadors of several European countries at the meetings with Russian deputies said around Ukraine something is going on. But by and large they were all the attention had a major scandal with the case of Pussy Riot.
“In September of 2013 my Russian contacts began to speak, to get instructions from the Kremlin to participate in the Ukrainian processes. I have had conversations with representatives of the presidential administration and the government that started wiggling in the Russian government. Most interested in evroassotsiatsiya not Moldova and Armenia, and the largest country – Ukraine. Since 2004, Russia remained a sense that Ukraine always something can happen, and it will respond in the Russian corridors of power,” he said.
To return Ukraine to the orbit of influence of Russia was entrusted to the then assistant to the President Vladislav Surkov. Parallel environment Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has set the task to find an economic way to “hold Yanukovych and his people” to the Association with the EU was signed, and “Ukraine remains in the sphere of influence of Russia”.
Ponomarev said that the scheme had been found by September 2013 and looked pretty precarious. If earlier Russia was tied to Ukraine or debt arrangements or the price of gas, the schema Shuvalov was built on insider trading of Ukrainian government bonds.
Russia has pledged to buy a certain number of shares, the first tranche was planned in the amount of EUR 3 billion, and the final volume is 15 billion, Yanukovych’s Entourage has offered to buy these bonds on the secondary market. Then they had to soar in price and to provide personal profit to the family of the fugitive President.
The main negotiator from the Ukrainian side was Alexander Yanukovych, but in the scheme was also attended by the representatives of the then AP: “I would argue that it was direct bribery. I was told by acquaintances of the government of the Russian Federation, specifically working on Igor Shuvalov, it was the task of the financial interest of the representatives of Yanukovych’s family”.
The lawyers of Yanukovych claimed that Ponomarev about bonds is false, and “are preparing a lawsuit on protection of honor and dignity.”
In the end Yanukovych at the last moment changed its position on the EU, in Kiev, the Maidan began. Russia and then actively interfered with the course of events. Ponomarev mentions a characteristic episode: on 4 December 2013 was held the Russian-German forum “Petersburg dialogue”. On a Kyiv came a key strategist Surkov, Alexei Chesnakov. There he talked about the events in Kiev and that the situation was almost resolved, but a new wave of protests, and now need to win.
“He said that the methodological assistance of the presidential administration of Ukraine, which gives advice on how to handle the situation. But it sounded a lot of criticism that the leadership of Ukraine acts inconsistently, or we would all have finished, can not take tough measures, and so the protests last for a long time”, – says Ponomarev.
The former Deputy does not know exactly the pressure on Yanukovych. But claims that “cooperation with Ukraine” was responsible Surkov, Chernov, and Naryshkin: their task was to adjust the situation so that Ukraine remains in the sphere of influence of Russia.
Events began to develop rapidly in the second half of February 2014, after the formation of the international group of mediators between the authorities and politicians of the Maidan. The representative of Putin in the negotiations appointed representative of the Russian Federation for human rights, Vladimir Lukin. Ponomarev “directly told” that the Russian strategy was to buy time and the price of early elections (scheduled for a future victory of Yanukovych) agree that Maidan was dispersed. The plan didn’t work. On February 21 representatives of the scene of the Maidan and Yanukovych signed the agreement, which was recorded early elections, but “it could not resist”, and began a sharp escalation.
Previous prosecution witnesses in the Obolon court asserted that the active phase of the annexation of Crimea began on February 20. Ex-Deputy of the state Duma put forward a different version.
Was a hard landing, and Putin took it as an assassination attempt on him with foreign intelligence agencies. This is the flight of Yanukovych. That is why he was in such a mood, what about the plot
The representative of the Federal security service that guards the leadership of Russia, in one of the conversations with Ponomariov announced that on February 22, Putin almost got into a plane crash in Sochi by helicopter. “It’s a rough landing, and he took it as an assassination attempt on him with foreign intelligence agencies. This is the flight of Yanukovych. That is why he was in such a mood, what about the plot”, – he said.
In the night from 22 to 23 February, Putin and four others from the top management of Russia (their names Ponomarev refused to name because of security reasons, but information received from direct participants) gathered narrow meeting. It discussed what to do about “adverse from the point of view of the Kremlin, the developments in Ukraine.”
So Putin has called the shootings on Institutska and Yanukovych’s flight from the country.
“It was at this meeting Putin raised the question of the annexation of Crimea. As I told my companion, the majority was against it and reminded him of South Ossetia”, – told the court Ponomarev. Direct annexation, said the participants of the meeting Putin, contrary to the Constitution, Russia does not have the right to take part in its part of the territories of other States, only the state is entirely consensual. This was confirmed by the decision of the constitutional court in 2004, when the adoption of the Russian Federation requested the Georgian territory of South Ossetia. The court decided to reject.
All this was announced. “But Putin said that these issues need to be resolved, and it is your job. Insisted on the decision to Annex the Peninsula. February 23 the procedure for annexation has been started. And at the end of February in the Crimea there were representatives of the Russian army, besides the contingent of the black sea fleet of the Russian Federation”, – said the witness.
At this meeting Putin raised the question of the annexation of Crimea. As I told my companion, the majority was against it and reminded him of South Ossetia
Direct orders for the annexation was given to two people. The first defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, it provided military part of the operation with the active participation of a close friend Oleg Belavencev. Second – Vladislav Surkov, who was then the adviser on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. He and his team of strategists responsible for the political part.
“Although the Russian point of view that Crimea is Russian territory, has always existed, in the President’s administration not in advance prepared scheme of action. There were different initiatives”, – says Ponomarev. For example, the head of the Institute of CIS countries Konstantin Zatulin “repeatedly proposed a set of actions for the dismemberment of Ukraine go to the individual return of the Crimea”. Second, the so-called group of opposition Newspapers Tomorrow, which included Glazyev, Dugin, Girkin and a number of entrepreneurs Malofeev and others, “actively and repeatedly offered some way to return the Crimea”.
And to Zatulin, and especially for Glazyev, who in recent years fell into deep disgrace in Putin’s entourage, to drive a wedge in the war in Ukraine was a chance to return to politics. Eyes as the the native of Zaporozhye decided to use war in order to keep in contact with Putin. As the Russian President has always believed that he had a limited number of sources (Ponomarev lists them – intelligence, Medvedchuk and the group Surkov), Glazyev has offered its assistance. Putin took it. The eye has teamed up with an old friend Zatulin, which has “more power and information because of a more developed intelligence network”. They set the goal – “to spread to other regions of Ukraine.”
“We began to harp on the subject of new Russia, they were delivered to Odessa, Donbass and Kharkov as priorities for their actions. That’s what they were doing. But this activity was not very successful,” – said Ponomarev. In the Donbas, they failed to consolidate their influence there their “commitment to Russia” in the form of funding of military operations performed by the family of Yanukovych. In Odessa and Kharkov attempts failed, because it was followed by the effective actions of the Ukrainian leadership.
“If it was resisted in the Crimea, I think that neither the annexation nor then the war in the Donbass would not have happened. But that’s my personal assessment,” says Ponomarev.
On the question of the lawyers of Yanukovych, why Ukraine did not resist in February and March 2014, he replied: “I think that certain companions in your manual didn’t understand what was happening, and some just worked in the interests of Russia”.
In Crimea, Russia until recently did not want to rely on local marginalized in the face of Aksenova and Konstantinova, says ex-Deputy of the state Duma. Although Konstantinov in 2014, before the annexation had been regularly coming to Russia and meeting him was always that “this is Russian land and a temporary misunderstanding.” The sides Ponomarev told that in recent visits Konstantinov directly offered Russia to intervene in Crimea.
If it was resisted in the Crimea, I think that neither the annexation nor then the war in the Donbass would not have happened. But this is my personal rating
The Kremlin did not take Aksenov and Konstantinov seriously. As a basic shape called the former head of the Communist party of Ukraine in Crimea Leonid Grach. With him were the conversation, “Russian political technologists”, but rook refused to accept responsibility for the annexation of one thing – a friendly independent Crimea, another – his capture by the Russian army.
By the end of February main line of the Kremlin has changed: it was decided to rely on Aksenov. He was associated with local criminal groups, and thus, possessed and power resource. The main opposing force was considered by the Crimean Tatars.
February 28, senators of the Federation Council “began to call” and to call for an emergency meeting. The time was appointed nonstandard: half past six in the evening on 1 March. “I talked to three senators, they did not know why they are collected,” – said Ponomarev, adding that everyone was talking about the urgency of the event. So much so that in the beginning of the meeting there was no quorum, and instead arrived Lavrov and his Deputy Grigory Karasin “the one who was in the city.”
The Chairman of the Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko introduced the subject: we received a request to Yanukovych to use Russian troops, and only the Council can give consent. The request concerned the use army on the territory of Ukraine without specifying where.
Senator Andrei Klishas read the alleged letter of Yanukovych, adding that it arrived in the hour before the meeting, and the “legitimate President” supports the appeal to Putin. This letter was a watershed: in one case the invasion of the Crimea would be a direct act of aggression, and there already seems to be a “simple response to a request of the fraternal people”.
In order to justify the annexation, were found to be formal legal mechanism. March 6, sounded main task: to hold a referendum on joining the Russian Federation. On March 16 in Crimea took place the so-called referendum. He had “a big mess,” remembers Ponomarev – Crimean deputies were afraid to make a decision. The Kremlin also insure. Originally Surkov insisted not just on the referendum on the status of Crimea, but also on restoring the Constitution of Crimea of 1992 (which provides, in particular, and the post of President of Crimea). To be able to give back.
“Vladislav Yuryevich – the person who knows that at any time the position may change, and you want to be able to maneuver to back out and say that this is an internal Ukrainian history – if, for example, will be resisted. The Kremlin was really afraid” – several times the court reiterated former member of the Russian Federation.
All further actions of Russia down to a vote in the state Duma for the accession of the Crimea to Russia, was intended to cover up the crime. Ponomarev was the only state Duma who opposed: “It was the organized seizure of the territory of another country”.
“Direct crime committed by the leadership of my country. It was not the black sea fleet, and the transfer of parts from the outside. Otherwise as aggression I can’t name it,” said the witness. After the annexation, he met with Novosibirsk, the Russian GRU, which was transferred to the territory of Crimea on 27 February, even before the Federation Council gave its consent to the use of Russian troops in Ukraine.
Commenting on the court the consequences of the aggression of Russia, Ponomarev said, “I believed and believe that an act of aggression against Ukraine was extremely harmful, in violation of the laws of my country. I thought, it was true that this will lead to international isolation of Russia, a deep economic crisis, break ties with Ukraine, ultimately, to an open armed conflict, which later happened in the Donbass”.
See also: “Remove these Bandera”. As the collapse of the armed forces and occupied the Crimea