An interview with Alexey Mozgovoy, Commander of the Lugansk “Ghost” brigade

An interview with Alexey Mozgovoy, Commander of the Lugansk “Ghost” brigade.
Posted by S. Naylor ⋅ September 2, 2014 ⋅

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Translated by Maria Razdiak
Edited by S. Naylor

Original Article
Traveling around Moscow, Alexey Mozgovoy has painted over the Ukrainian flag on the number plates of his car with the flag of the People’s Republic of Lugansk. The traffic police constantly pulled the strange car over and, with obvious surprise, studied the man clad in a
full field camouflage, sensing danger. In the centre of the idle capital, among the glamourous boutiques and expensive restaurants he seemed alien, like a wild lynx at a competition among the groomed cats.
Once recognition set in, the policemen would ask for an autograph and would wish him to make it to Kiev. Talking to Mozgovoy, one understands:he’ll make it. He is a man who “only now started living”.

Q: Alexey Borisovich, what is the current situation at the front?

A: I would say it is not easy. Difficult in the sense that we
have no front line as such, like during those wars we’ve seen in
history. It’s more like guerrilla warfare. Either we are at their rear,
or they are at our rear. Surrounding large enemy groups happens in these
days. The parts of the Ukrainian army, which were sent to unblock the
“south caldron”, got surrounded together with the other military units,
which managed to seep north from the caldron.
Q: Did you manage to clear any residential areas, in the last few days?

A: All those freed, which were mentioned in reports, are part of the
Donetsk region. In Lugansk, we also occupied a few residential areas,
but we were unable to hold them. We don’t have the people, to man the
Q: Does the military action continue?

A: The war does not stop, not even for a single day. And the high level meeting in Minsk did not alter this fact in any way.
Q: How many people are under your command?

A: A thousand. Today I command the “Ghost” brigade. But, initially, I
was creating the Lugansk Militia, from the very first day. This is why,
I’m often named the leader of the People’s Militia, even though I’m only
a commander of a brigade.
Q: Why is the brigade called that?

A: Because the “comrade” Ukies often claim that they have destroyed us.
Even though, during the whole stretch of the military activity, our
losses amount to 40 dead. Initially, “Ghost” was a platoon, which began
to take shape before the seizure of buildings in Lugansk in April. Then
the platoon became the basis for a battalion. This was the first time
the Ukrainian media announced that they’d destroyed us, during an
aviation raid on the “Yaseny” base, where our training camp was set up.
They wrote about the destruction of a “major Russian terrorist group”.
We had only one injured.

Q: In reality, are there any Russian in the brigade? What king of people serve there?

A: Local Militia. Labourers. We have Russians, and not only Russians. We
have Bulgarians, Slovaks, the Germans should be arriving soon…
Q: Germans?

A: Yes, volunteers; anti-fascists. People are coming from Europe now. A
whole military company of European and Russian volunteers.
Q: What is the “Ghost” brigade?

A: It was the first Militia unit created in Novorossia. From the very
beginning, we worked closely with Igor Ivanovich Strelkov, where I aided
him with personnel. The guys trained in our camp, before heading out to
Slavyansk. They are still fighting, valiantly. There is a Semenovskaya
company, those are our men. Do you remember the Semenovka events? They
proved themselves worthy.
Q: The Semenvskaja company is still fighting?

A: Yes.
Q: Do you have any information about the possible mercenaries, fighting for Kiev?

A: Of course. We’ve seen them in action. We’ve seen first-hand some
black men in Lisichansk. Since when do the blacks serve in the Ukrainian
army? Other units have identified mercenaries and their documents.
Q: Did you capture any mercenaries?

A: We do not have an objective to capture prisoners. Our objective is to free the territory of Novorossia from the enemy forces.
Q: So, you don’t take prisoners?

A: No. Why?
Q: Well, for exchange…

A: In order to engage into an exchange, we must make contact. But, I
cannot find – on the other side – any people with whom a contact is
Q: Bezler managed to exchange Olga Kulygina for the prisoners. If he didn’t, she might have been killed.

A: Any of us might be killed, including right now. Is that not so?
Q: What are the reasons of the resignation of the Head of the Lugansk Republic, Valeriy Bolotov?

A: I am more interested in the reasons of his initial appointment.
Q: How am I to understand that? Weren’t the two of you friends?

A: We are acquainted, no more. I had an initial, negative, reaction to
the seizing of the administrative buildings, which took place on the 6th
April. Lugansk SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) was seized, if you can
remember. That day I was in Antratsit, meeting with the locals; when I
returned, the SBU was already seized. But, taking into account that the
building had been left unguarded, it was not a seizing, but a
submission. Come, take whatever you want. And for some reason, the
empty, unmanned, government security building was full of weapons. I
view this a planned operation of the Security Service.
Q: To get everyone in one place? To capture them?

A: Why capture? There is a better use. And that’s how it worked out. The
building filled with people who were capable of decisive actions. And
all of them just sat there, all that time. Many had nervous breakdowns,
sitting ducks, waiting for the threatened, looming assault. The people
were in constant strain.
Q: I get that. In Donetsk, we spent every April night,
waiting for an attack. Sudden calls, at 4 o’clock in the morning: “It
about to start!” The journalists ran to the regional administration, but
everything was completely calm. After a few sleepless nights, we
stopped reacting to the “signals”.

A: Plus the civil population was pulled in from the region, standing
like a “live-shield”. Nothing constructive happened during that whole
period, no movement forward… After seizing the SBU and apprehending a
vast amount of weapons, the whole region could have been taken under
control within two weeks, at most. All branches of government, all the
administrative buildings should have been occupied by the LPR (Lugansk
People’s Republic) activists. Because, the Ukrainian military forces
were nowhere near Lugansk at the time. There was a single column of
armoured vehicles, near the Olihovaya station; it could have been
dismantled with bare hands. When I announced, on the 7th of April, that
it is necessary to leave 100 people on guard at the SSU, and to send 300
people to seize the Regional Administration and 300 more to the
Ministry of Internal Affairs, I was accused of provocation. They should
have not waited in a sealed building, waiting for the wind to change.
They should have acted. They could have taken control of the whole
region. But, they did nothing. Those who prepared the building to be
“seized”, wanted a different outcome. The outcome that happened.
Q: Where is Bolotov now?

A: I don’t have a clue.
Q: When did you last see Strelkov?

A: Three or four weeks ago, before his resignation. And, I hope, he’ll
return soon to his post, because there is no one else who can replace
Q: Who do you take orders from, now?

A: The people of Novorossia. I was always against the creation of the two separate “duchies” – The LPR and the DPR.
Q: Who should have it been done?

A: Novorossia is made from the two regions and the whole of the
south-east. One government, one parliament, one leader. That’s how it
should be.
Q: Does Russia aid you?

A: Of course. They send us the humanitarian aid, mostly. We don’t really
need anything more from Russia. Because, certain circles are waiting
for Russia to get involved into the whole affair. To stain Russia with
the blood, poured by Kiev. I don’t want that. Russia is my second home.
Q: Are you worried that Russia might “surrender” Novorossia? What will happen if Putin reaches an agreement with Poroshenko?

A: Considering that I oppose the intervention of Moscow, I don’t really
anticipate it. And Russia can’t “surrender” anyone. This is our internal
affair, the affair of the citizens of Novorossia. If we don’t want
anyone to “surrender” us, no one will be able to. None of Poroshenko’s
agreements will influence the decision of Novorossian population to
physically destroy him. He will answer to the victims of our land.
Q: Moscow can prevent Russian volunteers from crossing over the border.

A: Can Moscow prevent the volunteers from Europe, from America?
Currently, the whole world is against us. Even if the borders are shut,
we won’t be left without volunteers. If there is a will, there is a way.
Q: We heard a lot about the counterattack plans. Is this possible?

A: A counterattack is not possible for three reasons:

1. Not enough man power. In order to carry out a counterattack, reserves are necessary. We have no reserves.

2.The quantity and quality of the weaponry at our disposal is lacking.

3.The fact that there are enemy units in our rear. Currently, the combat
field is like a chessboard. Until we can clean up the rear, we can’t go
forward. This is what we are doing right now.
Q: And afterwards?

A: We are marching straight to Kiev.
Q: Kiev?

A: Where else?
Q: You need more support, from other Ukrainian regions. Two is not enough.

A: Who said that they aren’t supporting us? Militias are currently
forming in a few other regions. One region has four thousand men. And as
soon as we destroy the enemy at the rear, we’ll march forward, joined
by the more and more people along the way.
Q: Your target is Kiev?

A: Our target – is to free Ukraine from oligopoly and from the sold-out
officials. Maybe it is time to stop slaving for those whose personal
budget is a multiple of the government budget? It’s time to share.
Q: But, that was the desire of the people who stood at Maidan. I don’t understand the conflict.

A: Neither do I. Those who fight against us, fight for the interests of
the oligarchs. I would take pleasure from a conversation with the
privates, the officers, the civilians, who stood at Maidan. Our
interests and theirs are the same: we want to be free. Why are we
fighting? From the days of the Teutonic knights, the West was warned:
you shouldn’t touch the Slavs. If you come with a sword, you’ll die from
a sword. That’s why they passed their Teutonic sword to the Slavs.
Forced the Slavs to march against each other. Our objective is to
explain to our brothers that we are same, and our aim is one.
Q: Are you planning to assault Kiev?

A: Why not? For some reason they are allowed to assault Lugansk, Donetsk. How is Kiev better than those cities?
Q: And after Kiev? Further west?

A: It depends. If the soldiers on the other side will finally realise
that they are fighting themselves, the war could be over tomorrow.
Q: You stand against the oligarchs. But the local oligarchs –
Ahmetov, Efimov – do they have influence on the events within Lugansk
and Donetsk?

A: The representatives of the Regional Party have not always been a
particularly good influence. When our struggle first started, many
screamed: “Bring back Yanukovych!” Not under any circumstances. Not
Yanukovych, not Efimov, not Ahmetov, not a single representative of the
Regional Party, of the Communist Party, of “Svoboda”, of “Batkivshina” –
should be allowed anywhere near the governments of Ukraine and
Q: How do you view Oleg Tsarev? It appears Moscow would like to see him in charge of Novorossia.

A: The wishes of Moscow and the wishes of Novorossia – they are slightly
different things. The leader of Novorossia should be chosen by the
citizens of Novorossia. As a human being I am fine with him. But to the
fact that he is a representative of the party of regions, I am negative.
Q: Did the Ukrainian army utilise “Tochka-U” (SS-21 Scarab) against you?

A: Yes. Most recently a city called Rovenki, in the Lugansk region, was fired at with “Tochka-U”.
Q: Why did this idea come into being – the creation of Novorossia, separate from Ukraine?

A: I, like many people in Novorossia, cannot live with the ideology
which the West has forced upon Kiev. I cannot understand same-sex
marriages; juvenile justice; when the parents are not allowed to bring
up their children. They have already torn us from our roots. And now,
they are forbidding us to be ourselves.
Q: And where are your roots? What is your nationality?

A: My nationality is human.
Q: Who are you ancestors? Just out of curiosity…

A: My ancestors are the Don Kazaks. I was born in Ukraine, in a village
called Nizhhyaya Duvanka, in the Svatovsk area, Lugansk region.
Q: Do you have a military education, background?

A: Seven years in service in the Ukrainian army. Two years compulsory, five on contract.
Q: What did you do after the army?

A: You can say that before these events, I did nothing at all. Only now, I have started living.