Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Ukraine Unspun

Foreign Mercenary Or Pro-Russian Patriot? Depends On The Russian TV Channel

"Andrei Petkov" as he appears in the NTV report
"Andrei Petkov" as he appears in the NTV report
Meet Andrei Petkhov. Actually, make that Petkov.

He emigrated to Germany some 20 years ago but traveled to the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv recently to act as a mercenary organizing against pro-Russian protesters.

Wait, check that. It seems the 40-year-old is a local pro-Russian patriot who "as per the usual" went to Mykolaiv's central square to peacefully protest the "radical" government in Kyiv.

So who is Petk(h)ov? That depends on whether you're watching the Russian state-run NTV or the state-run Rossia 1 channel.

On NTV, he is the foreigner Petkhov, who brought 500,000 euros from Germany to stir up trouble but accidentally got caught up in an attack orchestrated by Ukrainian ultranationalist Right Sector members on peaceful pro-Russian protesters. He has been hospitalized with a broken leg and nose.
NTV: German Mercenary Brings 500,000 Euros To Ukraine For Right Sectori
|| 0:00:00
April 11, 2014

"His ward is being heavily guarded now, but our correspondents were able to record an exclusive interview with him," says NTV. 

In the rambling interview, Petkhov, who claims to be a doctor who holds four passports, says that on April 7 he arrived at an anti-Kyiv protest camp where he immediately saw a woman who had injured her hand. As he began to treat her, he says, drunk radicals began attacking the peaceful protesters with stun grenades, truncheons, and firearms. 

"In five minutes, my life changed," he says. "I was in your city for 24 hours and by the evening I was nearly killed." 

Petkhov, who also says he is suffering from a concussion, says he is a representative of a group whose name he "doesn't want to discuss." He never claims to have been sent to fight against the pro-Russian protesters. Nonetheless, NTV's interpretation of his story is clear.

"German mercenary comes to Ukraine with 500,000 euros for Right Sector," says the video's headline on the NTV website.

But Rossia 1 provides more than just a different camera angle on NTV's exclusive. In its report, the patient, now the local Petkov, is seen lying in what is apparently the same facility. This time the camera pans to an orange and black ribbon of Saint George -- a symbol of the pro-Russian protests -- tied to his bedpost. 

"Forty-year-old Andrei Petkov won't be able to walk for half a year," says the Rossia 1 correspondent. "On April 7 Andrei came as usual to the central square to openly declare his unhappiness with the actions of the new authorities in Kyiv. But at the peaceful protests, radicals suddenly began a campaign of absolute carnage." 
Rossia 1: Victim Describes Attack By Right Sector Nationalistsi
|| 0:00:00
April 11, 2014

Petkov, who speaks only briefly in the report, now claims an armed man nearly took his life. 

"He put a gun to my temple as I was lying on the ground," he says. "He said he was going to kill me. I said, 'Shoot.' And then some girls ran up to us, kicked him, and he left."

The story then leaves Petkov and cuts to a segment explaining how the Ukrainian authorities allegedly bussed in radicals and coordinated with them to destroy the peaceful pro-Russian protest camps. Anti-Kyiv protesters show the Rossia 1 reporter spent cartridges they say are from ammunition used against them. 

So who is Petk(h)ov? It's impossible to say for sure -- First Channel, Russia's third major state TV station, has yet to submit a report.

-- Glenn Kates
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Eugenio from: Vienna
April 11, 2014 14:10
This man is lucky that he has something to live for, something to fight for. The same cannot be said for the poor souls stuck in the nation of Beavus and Butt-head on the road to ruin and serfdom.

by: Wommy Tiseau from: Rokraine
April 11, 2014 23:40
"So who is Petk(h)ov? It's impossible to say for sure -- First Channel, Russia's third major state TV station, has yet to submit a report."

Apart from the information being surprisingly consistent between the two reports, barring the additional letter, the most crucial information seems to be lost on Glenn Kates. Namely, Petkov's seemingly ridiculous claims of owning 15 clinics for healthy, elderly gentlemen in Germany and his close association with Ukrainian presidential candidate Oleg Tsarov. While, at first, these claims make the victim's overall statements seem far-fetched, the presence of Tsarov, who actually did show up outside the hospital to meet with Petkov, lend credibility to at least that part of the story.

Tsarov, presumably already having been identified as an anti-Maidan activist by Ukranian security forces, based on his supposed political activity in December:

"On 9 December 2013 Tsarov requested to the Security Service and Foreign Ministry of Ukraine to deport or/and ban foreign organizers and political consultants of the Euromaidan-protests, document scans of which he posted (and later removed) on his Facebook account. Among those named in the document notably included Andreas Umland, Stanislav Belkovsky, Taras Kuzio, Gleb Pavlovsky, and former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili, among others."

was violently denied admittance to see Mr. Petkov, making Petkov's id a crystal clear case, at least to the extent that he is a proxy of Tsarov's political interests, whether or not these are his own.

These events also seem likely to be the reason for Tsarov's expulsion from the Party of Regions on 7'th of April.

The connection with Pravy Sektor, as presumed by the NTV, most likely stems from a plausible misunderstanding of Petkov's story, as although he clearly states that his interests lie in a politically neutral third-party, with no connection to either the separatists or extremists, he makes it plain that it was in his interest to quite literally outfit the paramilitary group because he was tired of seeing them in sports-wear. The title of the video on NTV is a word-for-word uninterpreted synopsis of his odd story if taken in without any analysis into the situation, but the report itself seems to make no claims of allegiance.

by: American Tolerast
April 12, 2014 00:19
Putin Pasta: toss it against the wall and see what sticks.

About #UkraineUnspun

The information war is in full swing in the tense standoff between Ukraine and Russia. In an attempt to present a clearer picture, #UkraineUnspun will unravel information coming from Russian and Ukrainian media, politicians and activists. Written by Glenn Kates and contributors from RFE/RL.

Follow the hashtag #UkraineUnspun on Twitter and let us know what we should be covering -- or to weigh in on any of our stories. Or write us at

Most Popular