Claim: Ukrainian Gov't has armed criminals

Hi everyone! There have been allegations that the Ukrainian Government has armed criminals who are now looting, raping and causing violence in the cities according to the various links provided by this article. The first set of allegations comes from this Twitter thread by a Clint Ehrlich, who is a former visiting researcher at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations per his Twitter profile (no bias there for sure). His main pieces of evidence alleging such claims first comes from a video documenting civilians being armed, while claiming that they're being given it without any documents required from the civilians:

His second piece of evidence comes from another video where gunshots can be heard in a place claimed to be part of Kyiv:

The rest are mostly unconfirmed allegations at this point.

Some other sources are this video showing citizens looting a store (who are claimed to be armed) in what is claimed to be in Ukraine:

Though the writing in the video is Russian (which could be explained by it occurring in a Russian speaking city in Ukraine).

There are more sources in the linked article, but this is as far as it goes for now.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
First off, your claims all date back to the beginning of March. If it's happdned that far back, and your best evidence is still only some unverified twitter messages, I'd be extremely skeptical.
There have been allegations that the Ukrainian Government has armed criminals who are now looting, raping and causing violence in the cities according to the various links provided by this article.
The first part of these allegations is true and was widely reported in late February.
Article:
[Zelensky] said: “Ukrainians with real combat experience will be released from custody and will be able to compensate for their guilt in the hottest spots.

“All sanctions against some individuals who participated in the Anti-Terrorist Operation will be lifted. The key thing now is defence.”

The decision was difficult to make from a moral standpoint but was crucial “in terms of our protection,” he added.
("Anti-Terrorist Operation" is the Ukrainian designation for the war in Donbass 2014-2018.) Obviously these criminals would be assigned to military units, not like those in your twitter claims.

Also remember that prison inmates are not necessarily violent offenders.

Compare:
Article:
Prisoners and guards from the local prison in the village of Gromadsk, in the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, have been called out to extinguish forest fires. Their help was necessary because fire brigade was overwhelmed, the TV station NTW reported.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
There have been allegations that the Ukrainian Government has armed criminals who are now looting, raping and causing violence in the cities according to the various links provided by this article.
can you quote exactly the claim in that article, as per Posting Guidelines AND the Link Policy? I appreciate you trying to hide source names in hyperlinks, but i know how to check it and i'm not clicking on something called "opindia".
 
But that aside, I will take a crack at fact-checking Ehrlich's claims.

Ehrlich first claims that reports of gunfire in Kyiv as of his Mar 1 post occurred before Russians had advanced into the capital. Thus it must have necessarily came from criminal gangs:

However, if we look at the reports from the Institute for the Study of War to when the video of the gunshots he cited date to (February 27th), explicitly stated that despite mostly conducting in an operational pause, the Russians were still engaging in urban warfare in Northwestern Kyiv, which contradicts Ehrlich's claims. EDIT: quote added:
Russian airborne and special forces troops are engaged in urban warfare in northwestern Kyiv, but Russian mechanized forces are not yet in the capital.
In addition, there have been reports of Russian saboteurs infiltrating Kyiv not only according to deputy head of the Committee for National Security of the Ukrainian Parliament Mariana Bezuhla:

but also according to Zelensky himself on the first day of the invasion:
We also have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv. That's why I am asking Kyivites very much: be careful, follow the rules of curfew.
The Economist has also published an article dealing with one Ukrainian soldier tasked with hunting saboteurs in Kyiv.

This is why a curfew has been implemented in Kyiv on Feb. 26th according to Reuters.

This also isn't touching on the fact that there have been reports of assassination attempts against Zelensky according to The Independent which are based on Ukrainian reports.

So what this means is that even though it may not be the best idea to take the Ukrainian gov't (or the Russian gov't for that matter) statements at face value, it does bring up the possibility that the gunshots was also caused by fighting between Ukrainian forces and saboteurs and assassins sent against Zelensky.

And as @Mendel mentioned, the freed prisoners won't be shipped willy nilly into the cities for patrol, but rather would be sent directly to the combat hotspots, or the areas where the combat is the most intense, under strict military supervision to be used as cannon fodder. This is also ignoring that criminal =/= violent criminal.

In addition, Ehrlich's video showing civilians being armed in Kyiv does not lend any more evidence towards his claims, as civilians =/= criminals, and his specific allegations of friendly fire are unsubstantiated:
 
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can you quote exactly the claim in that article, as per Posting Guidelines AND the Link Policy? I appreciate you trying to hide source names in hyperlinks, but i know how to check it and i'm not clicking on something called "opindia".
Sure. This is the Tweet linked from the article making the allegations:

And here is the archived version that contains the original source from the suspended account.
 
Now the issue is that the suspended tweet is just a video of a man making unverified claims about criminal gangs roaming Kyiv without any evidence from corroborating sources.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Now the issue is that the suspended tweet is just a video of a man making unverified claims about criminal gangs roaming Kyiv without any evidence from corroborating sources.
Yes, that's my point. If this really happened, then either the police made some arrests (and some journalists would have reported on it with the spin "police keeping us safe"), or they would have kept on "roaming Kiev", which would've been newsworthy as well. So there should be some news echo on this some days later, if that were the case.

Or these guys were simply Russian saboteurs to begin with.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
you are the king of breaking the Link Policy
deirdre, all of the tweets with the "evidence" are right there in post #1. NZT could just delete those links and nothing would change.
What the links do is telling us how he found them, but the claims are right there in the OP and do not require clicking. You're distracting from that, not contributing.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member

deirdre

Senior Member.
deirdre, all of the tweets with the "evidence" are right there in post #1. NZT could just delete those links and nothing would change.
What the links do is telling us how he found them, but the claims are right there in the OP and do not require clicking. You're distracting from that, not contributing.
and you mansplaining to me about the Link Policy is contributing? ok.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Fixed it.
The Economist has also published an article dealing with one Ukrainian soldier tasked with hunting saboteurs in Kyiv.
It’s tense work. “Saboteurs are dressed in ordinary clothes”, said Sasha “and it’s hard to tell who is a civilian and who is a saboteur…We speak Russian and they speak Russian. It would be easier if the Taliban had invaded.” Russian soldiers have also been known to wear Ukrainian army and police uniforms.

One night Sasha’s unit received information about a group of saboteurs in a car. They knew the licence plate, the make and colour, but didn’t know how many people were in it. They stopped a vehicle on a deserted road between two villages. Inside were three men in their late 20s or early 30s. One member of the unit approached and saw a gun. “He shouted ‘Contact!’ We opened fire and killed them.”
Content from External Source
This is why a curfew has been implemented in Kyiv on Feb. 26th according to Reuters.
KYIV, Feb 26 (Reuters) - Kyiv city mayor has imposed a curfew that would last from Saturday evening until Monday morning without breaks, the mayor's office said, clarifying an earlier announcement.
Kyiv said earlier that the curfew would last from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. every day. [..]
It said that strict rules were needed to clean the city, which is being under shelling and gunfire, from "the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance groups".
Content from External Source
This also isn't touching on the fact that there have been reports of assassination attempts against Zelensky according to The Independent which are based on Ukrainian reports.
Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky has survived more than a dozen assassination attempts since the beginning of Russia’s invasion, claims his key adviser. [...]

“We have a very powerful network of intelligence and counterintelligence, they track it all,” he said, adding that, as a result, would-be assassins are “liquidated on the way”.
Content from External Source
This rule is annoying, but it is to prevent conspiracy theorists throwing a bunch of links up and claim they support their point when they really don't; by requiring the quotes, discussing/debunking these claims becomes easier.

So when I'm writing a post, I always ask myself, "do I really need this link?", and "what do I need to quote from this to make my point?"
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
Ehrlich first claims that reports of gunfire in Kyiv as of his Mar 1 post occurred before Russians had advanced into the capital. Thus it must have necessarily came from criminal gangs:
How so Criminal Gangs?, this was around the time when the Russians were close by Kyiv, We have no idea, The Ukrainians were extremely paranoid about saboteurs, perhaps its a gun fight between 2 ppl (saboteur & ukrainians) or just a guy whos had too much vodka and is shooting into the air.
I severely doubt theres gangs of criminal gangs roaming the streets. I was there a few weeks later, Even before curfew happens, the City becomes deserted, no lights in any apartments, nothing. Nothing apart from groups of soldiers on street corners (no traffic), anyone moving around would be spotted. I arrived by train just after curfew thus decided to break it, wearing a bright yellow jacket, since hostel wasnt too far and didnt fancy sleeping on the railway floor. If I was an armed gang or person, dressed in camo/dark clothing I would of been shot on sight, sure criminals often aren't the brightest people but typically have some sense of self preservation.

Anyways this Clint Ehrlich guy doesnt have a reputation
I'll put my reputation on the line: There is now zero chance that Russia suddenly invades Ukraine. It doesn't mean the crisis is over – far from it – but the "sudden invasion" scenario is off the table. Here's why. Feb 26 2022
 
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