Motorola’s true legacy
The rise in popularity of Arsen Pavlov, also known as “Motorola” is mainly due to the videos of the fights in Donbas which he filmed with a camera attached to his helmet. (Those videos have been used by Russian TV in their stories about the war in Ukraine and are still accessible on Youtube). Pavlov also clearly sought attention and liked to be followed around by the cameras and his fans. His wedding with Donbas local Olena Kolenkina was intensely covered by Russian media. Such a figure was too convenient not to be used by the Russian propaganda machine.
However, discussing “Motorola’s myth” and failing to mention his real life deeds would be simply playing the same propaganda game. The deeds of Arsen Pavlov is what matters most when talking about his legacy after his death.
The simple truth is that Arsen Pavlov was a Russian citizen who had no business in Ukraine; yet he still came to the country to start a war and committed war crimes in the process. Pavlov was among the very first Russians who in the spring of 2014 participated in the clashes and attempts to seize public buildings in Kharkiv. Soon after he was already operating in Slovyansk controlled by Igor “Girkin” Strelkov and his people. In Slovyansk, Strelkov and company tortured and murdered protestant pastors just for not being Orthodox. They also tortured members of Ukrainian law enforcement groups and held OSCE mission members hostage.
Later when Strelkov and his people retreated to Donetsk, Pavlov followed along. He went on to participate in the bloody Battle of Ilovaisk – when Ukrainian troops were massacred by Russian artillery after being promised a “green corridor”.
After that Pavlov participated in attacks on the Donetsk airport and when Ukrainian forces lost their positions, he personally tortured and murdered the Ukrainian prisoners of war. Amnesty International has claimed that they are aware of at least five witnesses of the crimes committed by Pavlov. In an interview with the Kyiv Post Pavlov himself admitted to killing 15 prisoners.
These events were noticeably absent in Wojciech Koźmic’s reflections on Pavlov’s death. Being popular in the media and having one’s “myth” developed by state propaganda should not cover up one’s crimes and who one really is.
For the sake of the truth and in respect for all the victims of the war in Donbas let us not forget what the real origins of these “myths” are.
Kateryna Pryshchepa is a PhD student at the Graduate School for Social Research (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences). She previously graduated in European Interdisciplinary Studies from the College of Europe and philosophy from the University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy. As a journalist in Ukraine she covered Ukraine-EU relations, among other issues.