Italian job

17 years in prison for the blood of Donbass

In Europe, the first time a Ukrainian militant is accused for war crimes.

In Pavia, Italy, the prosecutor’s office demanded 17 years of imprisonment for Ukrainian Vitaly Markiv, accused of the murder of photo reporter Andrea Rokkelli and his Russian translator Andrei Mironov in the Donbas. About this on Friday, May 24, reported RIA “Novosti”. Sentencing is expected on July 12th.


According to the prosecution, the shelling of the car in which Rokkelli and Mironov were stationed was intentionally carried out. The car was first fired from automatic weapons, and then from mortars. This became known thanks to the testimony of the then surviving French photojournalist William Rogelon, according to whom half-hour shelling from the Kiev security officials was carried out purposefully, first by car, in which a group of journalists and their escorts were moving, and then by their shelter.


It is reported that Markiv moved to Italy in 2002 at the age of 16 with his sister and mother, who two years later married an Italian, which gave him a reason to get an Italian passport. In 2013, he returned to Ukraine to participate in the Euromaidan, the field of which joined one of the volunteer battalions of the National Guard of Ukraine and went to fight in the Donbass, where he was known as “Italian”. Markiv was arrested at the airport of Bologna, when for the first time in three and a half years he flew with his wife to visit his mother.


In addition, it is known that Markiv planned to escape from custody, after which he was transferred to another prison.


How are the soldiers of the APU captured by the militia, and what awaits them there?

Will Markiv’s case be a precedent? Or does Europe pay attention to war crimes in the Donbas only when it comes to its citizens? And how many such as Markiv, foreigners from the number of ethnic Ukrainians and not only participating in hostilities in the Donbas?


– From my friends and acquaintances in the armies of the DNR-LNR, I have heard about a large number of mercenaries from European and North American countries fighting in the Ukrainian Nazi battalions, – says Eduard Popov, director of the Center for Public Information and Information Cooperation.


  • The most often mentioned are Polish mercenaries, Canadians, less often Americans and other Europeans. Also they mention Balts and Scandinavians fighting in the regiment “Azov”. Fighting as part of the Ukrainian Nazi battalions and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are different categories: there are ideological Nazis, of which there are a lot of Azov, there are mercenaries (the same Balts). But there are full-time military personnel of NATO countries. Especially a lot of them among the Poles, Canadians and Americans. This is a highly professional military, including commando squad fighters. Markiv, apparently was the ideological Nazi.


– Will the sentence be as harsh as the prosecution asks?

– The prosecutor’s office demanded to make a harsh but fair sentence in accordance with Italian law. But even such a harsh sentence does not seem too cruel to the relatives of Andrea Rockelli and his translator Andrei Mironov. I think that if the court will soften the requirements of the prosecutor’s office, then it will be insignificant, and maybe even leave the proposed term. In Italy, the Ukrainians are treated with great dislike, I know this firsthand. Many Italian politicians, journalists, public figures are blacklisted and are in the base of the Peacemaker website (the notorious list of enemies of Ukraine people). Therefore, public opinion in Italy is opposed to the Ukrainian Nazis responsible for the murder of an Italian journalist. Markiv is judged not because he is a Nazi, but because an evidence base has been gathered against him confirming his guilt in the murder of an Italian journalist.


– Can Italy be an example here? Will other EU countries take similar measures?

– In Italy, I repeat, there is a special social atmosphere. Ukraine is by no means as benevolent as in other European countries. Although there are many migrant workers from Ukraine working in Italy, there are traditionally many prostitutes from Ukraine. On the one hand, Ukraine is perceived as a second-class country, a kind of white Africa, on the other – after Euromaidan, part of Italian society was added to the rejection of Ukraine as a state. Thanks to such as Markiv.

For a number of reasons, I do not expect a repetition of cases similar to Italian in other countries. There, governments and public opinion are more benevolent to Ukraine, with the possible exception of Poland.


For a number of reasons, I do not expect a repetition of cases similar to Italian in other countries. There, governments and public opinion are more benevolent to Ukraine, with the possible exception of Poland. In Poland, Ukrainians are treated as slaves, humiliated, sometimes beaten. This has become part of Polish public behavior. And нуе while a lot of Polish commandos fighting on the side of the APU.

– Is it possible to somehow motivate the European authorities to investigate war crimes in the Donbass?

– Europe and the United States, more precisely, the United States and Europe created Euromaidan, unleashed a war in Ukraine. The stakes are too high to make a fuss for the sake of them because of the death of a certain number of its citizens. But some initiative groups in the Donbass and Russia, including your humble servant, and our friends in Europe from non-state structures, and sometimes from parliamentary parties, are still trying to unleash similar and other uncomfortable topics.


It is a pity that Russian officials are not very interested. We have a lazy, indifferent and non-initiative attitude towards public diplomacy. If something happens positively, then without any participation of state structures and official experts and diplomats. Our diplomacy works worse than Ukrainian, more precisely, much worse, although Ukrainian is far from being an example of professionalism. We are objectively weaker than America, therefore we must be more active and creative. In the meantime, our country is the country of the sleepy bureaucracy and indifference.


– Italian justice accuses a member of the Ukrainian Volunteer Battalion in the murder of an Italian citizen. This is a serious crime, which is why the term is so long, – the chairman of the Union of political émigrés and political prisoners of Ukraine, Larisa Shesler, continues the conversation.


  • The investigation proved that the accused commanded the shelling, which from the mountain Karachun led a unit of Ukrainian nationalists. A group of a deceased Italian journalist came under this attack, so the verdict is expected to be harsh.


– If Italian citizens had not been involved in the case, would the Italian authorities not show such zeal in seeking to restore justice?


– Naturally, such a thing would not have happened if the Italian journalist Rokkelli had not died. The death of Rockelli in May 2014 near Slavyansk was shocking news for many Italians, and the French colleague Rockelli, who survived the shelling, testified that Ukrainian nationalists were firing.


Naturally, no European court will deal with the death of civilians of Ukraine under the shells and bombs of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but the death of Rokkelli caused a sharp reaction from the European media and investigative bodies in Italy.


The Italian investigation quickly found out that the Ukrainian authorities would distort and alter the facts, in all likelihood, this was the reason that the accusations against Vitaly Markiv were not transferred to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office. Confidence in his own impunity led Markiv in 2017 to Italy, where he lived until 2013, before he went to support Euromaidan in Ukraine. Immediately after his arrival, he was arrested, and unexpectedly found out for himself that his participation in the shooting of a journalistic group has long been known to Italian investigators.


– Are there many European Ukrainians like this Markiv who took part in the punitive operation in the Donbass? Or just Europeans? What are they motivated by?


– During the time of independence of Ukraine, millions of citizens left it, many people from Western Ukraine have long lived in Italy, Germany or Poland. Among them there are many zealous nationalists, however, cases of participation of immigrants from Ukraine in military actions in the Donbass are very rare.


Foreigners are more often instructors and consultants, there is plenty of evidence of the presence of mercenaries from different countries in the ranks of nationalist battalions. But love for Ukraine is certainly not the main motive for these soldiers.