Bucha massacre, or How the Russian empire pits the ethnic minorities against Ukrainians

It recently came to light that Bucha, the ruined suburb of Kyiv, is where the Russian military unit 51460 was deployed, more precisely, the 64th Motorized Brigade from the town of Knyaze-Volkonskoe in the Khabarovsk Krai. The information about this settlement and its cadre brings up some quite unpleasant thoughts.

Judging by the photos of the soldiers, more than half of the marauders are not Slavic. According to the data from the SOTI database and some other resources, “Khabarovsk Krai is predominantly ethnically Russian, while also being inhabited by Ukrainians, Belarusians, Tatars, Jews, Koreans, Chinese and other ethnicities.” Less than a percent of the ethnic population is composed of Khakas.

Why are the military units of Khabarovsk Krai, the region where Russians statistically account for the 91% of the population, comprised of so many members of ethnic minorities? Perhaps because on average, they are poorer than Russians, and the conscripts’ parents have less money to bribe them out of conscription? Now, let’s remember what ethnicities lived in the Far East before the Russian expansion. Hint: There were no Russians at all prior to this. So the Russian Empire has conquered the Far East, enacted measures to gradually curb its indigenous populations, often by bringing about alcoholism, and now it sends the inhabitants of de facto colonies on a “special operation” against the inhabitants of a former colony.

Characteristically, the commander of the military unit 51460 is also not an ethnic Russian, indicative by his very typical Central Asian name. Azatbek Asanbekovich Omurbekov, born in 1981. Here you can find his home address and phone number. Let’s remember them: the tribunal cries for this man. Many of his subordinates are Buryats who were sent to serve on the Far East.

Unlike the indigenous people of the Khabarovsk Krai, the Buryats are an ethnic majority on their motherland, but Buryatia is a very depressive region. Life there is tough outside Ulan-Ude, city populated by less than half a million people. Buryatia has almost never been free, throughout history being under the rule of Xianbei, Rouran Khaganate, Mongol Empire, and then the complete and utter Russia. Hence the seemingly present fatalism and conformism of its many citizens. Impoverished Buryats are actively filling the ranks of the Russian military in attempt to use it as the social lift, but with not much success. Spiritual leader of the republic, Khambo Lama Damba Ayusheev, is grovelling at Putin’s feet and supporting the invasion into Ukraine out of fear of repressions. (Much of the information on the presence of Buryat soldiers in Ukraine as of 2015 was covered in the report “Hiding in Plain Sight” by the Atlantic Council as well as in the related Bellingcat investigation.)

One could say so many things about the pro-Russian Chechens that it would warrant a whole separate article.

Nobody’s trying to absolve these people of the absolute hell they caused in Bucha and nearby villages. This was their choice, for some typically adaptive, for the others completely willing. But a fact is a fact: the Russian empire for centuries has been pitting the people it has conquered or sought to conquer against each other.

Impoverished Russian colonists come to Ukraine to steal, while Dmitry Peskov and his minions, a bunch of Europeans, mumble about the “provocations of the Ukrainian nationalists.” Perhaps the civilians were also robbed by the “Banderites”? No, it’s been long confirmed that the Russian soldiers have been sending goods looted in Ukraine through CDEK in Belarus.

“People in our [social media] write that [Russian soldiers] pawn gold, cross necklaces, even golden dental crowns”, Belarusian eyewitnesses state. “Taxi drivers are asked to transport the goods to Russia for 200 bucks. They pass them through the drivers of the international buses. People say that [Russian soldiers] are walking around drunk, daily we have many videos of traffic accidents with [Russian transport], some even with lethal outcomes (you know, an APC crashing into the car, how much would be left of that), but our [police] is silent about these. Letting people off the cuff robs them of their humanity.”

Let’s see what the town of Knyaze-Volkonskoe is like, from whence came the aforementioned liberators of Ukrainians from their property. Population of around nine thousand people. Nowhere to work aside from gravel mining and woodwork. Also, animal husbandry. Surely is, according to the heroic feats of the Khabarovsk berserkers.

I am a hitchhiker who’s seen Russia from Kaliningrad to Khakassia. I couldn’t see the Khabarovsk Krai myself due to the pandemic, and thus cannot share my impressions, but the vast majority says that everything is terrible in Knyaze-Volkonskoe: “Lack of hot water and heating, flooded basements, leaky roofs, mold and fungus – a very typical image for the locals.” Some Russian patriots who’ve been there once or twice claim otherwise, that everything is alright, and, more importantly, the place is full of incredible people. In 2007, after moving to Kaliningradskaya oblast, I got to live in Baltiysk, a town by the sea bolstered by military units. The tourists also said that it’s an incredible town with the incredible people. And it also had the same situation: leaky roofs, mold and fungus, issues with streetlights, unemployment, periodic power outages. Also, as it turned out, there was no running water from 1am to 6am. And none of the well-wishers has warned me about this, after all, if everything is incredible here, why should one do any research? By the way, gasification of Baltiysk is still incomplete.

So, judging by the reviews and photos, Knyaze-Volkonskoe is 2007 Baltiysk times two. Twice as abhorrent. For some reason, nearly every militarized town and village of Russia has issues with infrastructure. I’m not a big fan of kitchen conspiracy theorism, but I can’t help but think: are the soldiers in these places intentionally being driven mad? Those who saw the ranks of Baltic Fleet from within won’t ever forget them, to put it lightly.

In February 2022 it came to light that the praporshchik and a sergeant from Knyaze-Volkonskoe brutally beat up the conscripts. One of them sustained kidney injuries.

And then they come, inhabitants of military towns with flooded basements, outcasts hated by ethnic Russians for their “incorrect” eye shape and their “incorrect” religion. And their roofs start leaking. They become so desperate that they steal even the bed linens. And so they start hating people who live better than them, instead of hating the cruel and unjust rule of their state.

And the state will screw them over anyway.

In a parallel, truly incredible world there would be free Ichkeria, free Buryatia, free towns of the Far East. But here, it’s just Bucha, Irpin, Mariupol. Along with the empire liberating people from freedom.

Original: Резня в Буче, или Как империя натравливает нацменьшинства на украинцев

Translation: Marko Karpo


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