The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) claimed pro-Russians held 60 hostages in their building in Luhansk and the building was rigged with explosives. However, the protesters said there were no hostages and Tetyana Pogukai, regional police spokeswoman, said it was false. Was this all a hoax?
According to Halya Coynish at The Kyiv Post, the Luhansk regional branch of the Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU) said “it cannot exclude the possibility that the Luhansk SBU could be acting as a unit of Russia’s FSB [Federal Security Service]”
Pagukai said the protesters grabbed 200-300 Kalashnikov rifles, but there were no bombs attached to the building. Ukrainian presidential candidate Serhiy Tihipko was in the building and he said there were no hostages.
“All information that there are some Russians there is false,” Tigipko told a briefing in the Ukrainian parliament on Wednesday.
Tigipko said the people he talked to showed him Ukrainian passports and he saw that there are no Russian citizens in the building. “There are no hostages there, either,” he said.
Coynish reported the CVU found SBU actions that caused the situation to spiral out of control in Luhansk.
At 4 in the morning on April 5 the SBU detained 3 activists from a pro-Russian movement with serious irregularities. One of the three – Dmitry Soldatov – had his metal front door smashed in. Another is only 16 and the third was arrested in the presence of his heavily pregnant wife. The arrests took place on a day when pro-Russian protests were planned. With such a start obligingly provided by the local SBU, the protesters blocked the Alchevsk SBU after which all three were released. Just in time for them to take part in the seizure of the SBU in Luhansk.
Alexei Rilke was transferred on April 6 from the SIZO or remand prison to the regional department of the SBU in Luhansk. He is now one of the commanders of the self-styled army of the South-East. Most worryingly, he claimed in a television interview that he had been given weapons from a supposedly mined ammunition room by the head of the regional SBU.
There were about 60 men who took over the SBU building. Coynish points out there were 200 SBU officers in the building and “had special training and had weapons and could have prevented seizure of a building holding both weapons and state secrets.”
This evidence made the CVU conclude the SBU is working with the FSB and in Russia’s interests.
Pro-Russian activists were to seize the SBU building and be given weapons. The false information about hostages etc. CVU believes, was aimed at convincing Kyiv that enforcement bodies needed to be sent and the activists neutralized. The scenario would inevitably involve considerable bloodshed. The Luhansk regional CVU is therefore calling on interim president Oleksandr Turchynov and the head of the SBU, Valentin Nalyvaichenko to check whether the Luhansk regional SBU is not acting in the interests of Russia’s FSB.
Other pro-Russians are building barricades in Luhansk similar to those built at Independence Square during the three month protests against now ousted Russia-backed president Viktor Yanukovych. Kyiv warned the protesters authorities will use force if the protesters choose not to peacefully disband.
Pro-Russians in Donetsk took over government buildings and declared the region the Donetsk People’s Republic. The protesters announced they will hold a referendum on May 11 similar to Crimea’s March 16 referendum.