Donbas war: Warlord's death in Donbas as deconstruction of Russian myth

12:11 Oct. 18, 2016

Warlord's death in Donbas as deconstruction of Russian myth

Arseniy Pavlov 'Motorola', from car cleaner to warlord (Collage by ATN)

Pavlo Kazarin in his column for RFE/RL showed how death of ‘Motorola' ended a myth about Russian volunteers in Donbass

"The murder of Arsen ‘Motorola' Pavlov in Donetsk is not just a logical extension of intraspecific fight among Russia-backed separatists. It is also an end of a myth about 'Russian volunteers' in Donbass.

Description of reality always beats the reality itself. So what's the difference, what he was really like – Arsen Pavlov, car washer from Komi Republic? We don't know that, and we won't – the militant himself gave only sketchy description of his biography, Russian media meanwhile were more interested in his present rather than his past. All that known: he grew up parentless, raised by a grandma, served as a marine, did car washing for living, and after, overfed by TV-propaganda, went "to defend Donbass from nazis".

Perhaps, his biography was a pure fake, just as the whole history of "unrecognized republics" was – it would be all too logical and solid, nothing to pick on, and truly no need to. The very formula of his biography was universal and simple. Born in boonies, grandma, no father; Chechnya and inner enemies; Donbass and enemies from outside. Kalashnikov assault rifle works as the social lift: in Donetsk Arsen Pavlov gets a wife, an apartment, renown and biography. Colonel's insignia appears on his uniform, as well as some medals. Personalized sanctions from EU, forbidding issuing Schengen visa, look like hilarious nonsense.

Read also Russian warlord murder: Putin's blood purge or Ukrainian revenge? (update)

‘Motorola' and ‘Givi' – were two main media characters personifying "commoners".  The rest of the field commanders were of higher ranks and of richer pedigree. While those two were the picture of how John the Simpleton could become King of The Hill. Ticket to Rostov, border crossing, rifle and trench. "Through struggle you will attain your rights". "He who was nothing will become everything".

This tandem was even more peculiar because Michail ‘Givi' Tolstykh initially had to personify "Ukrainian rebels". Native of Ilovaysk, he served in the Ukrainian army, and after the war had broken up, he went "to defend Donbass from junta" – it was the role model designed for the natives of the occupied region. Arsen ‘Motorola' Pavlov in the meanwhile became a living personification of destiny for "Russian volunteers", who came "to help their brothers of Eastern Ukraine". Indestructible friendship of peoples, anti-fascist coalition, international brigades.

It doesn't matter now who killed Arsen Pavlov. Was it Ukrainian special services operation, or Zakharchenko proxies who planted the bomb, or maybe someone in Kremlin decided a dead ‘Motorola' would be more useful than a living 'Motorola' – it just does not matter completely. The murder of ‘Motorola' became a deconstruction of all this myth elaborately created for the last two and a half years. A myth, which told you that anti-fascist prowess can ascent you from a beggar to a prince, generously provided with wives and cash in the process. And - that the righteous behavioral model would be to trust the TV, to get off your couch and to go to Donetsk. Who knows how many more nameless ‘motorolas' went to kill Ukrainians after watching TV-reports about their media-prototype?

Read also So who killed Motorola?

What now? Just nothing. No memorials, no memory. The page in Russian Wikipedia will remain – the one with a picture of an overated car washer wearing an oversized [crash] helmet. Besides, no one can guarantee the inscription under this picture will not be changed the very moment when history zigzags again. Others didn't get even that. After all, what do we remember about Ponomaryov and Zdryliuk, Purgin and Makovich, Berezin and Bezler?

The only thing we should know about them is due to them, the new Ukraine was born – the one deprived of dangerous illusions." 


As reported, the number of versions of 'Motorola's' death have risen dramaticallyUkraine Today readers can choose their variant in our poll.

Last year Russia-controlled territories of Donbas are seeing the continuous blood purge of militant warlords and 'officials'. A month ago Russian army colonel Osipov became a victim of separatist showdownand  ex-Luhansk 'Prime Minister' was arrested by separatists, then allegedly 'committed suicide'. One more militant leader, Evgeniy Zhilin, was killed near MoscowThis case was the first example of killing the leaders of Kremlin-backed militants on Russian soil. Previous murders of top sepatatists, who became inconvenient for Moscow, took place in Donbas, only, like it was in Aleksandr Bednov or Aleksey Mozgovoy cases. Ukrainian sources – among them media and volunteers – earlier informed about the involvement of the Russian mercenary "Wagner group" in those operations. Later Russian FSB openly intervened,arresting Luhansk separatists' "parliament speaker". Western analysts called militant bloody purge in Donbas 'a politics of a street gang'.

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