Yesterday, directly after reports confirmed that Dmitry Voronenkov, the fugitive ex-Communist Russian MP, had been gunned down in Kiev, I said that speculation the Russian authorities had killed him was almost certainly wrong, and that it was a virtual certainty that Voronenkov had been killed by a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist.
That Voronenkov’s murderer was indeed a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist who murdered Voronenkov because he was a Russian and an ex-Communist received what should have been conclusive confirmation today when Voronenkov’s killer was identified as Pavel Parshov, a Ukrainian citizen and veteran of Ukraine’s National Guard.
Ukraine’s National Guard was set up by Andrey Parubiy, the so-called Maidan Commandant and now the Speaker of Ukraine’s Parliament, in 2014 shortly after the Maidan coup. Some of its original members were veterans of the various right wing paramilitary groups which had participated in the Maidan protests.
The National Guard has always been considered a strongly nationalist force, with some even speaking of it as a sort of praetorian guard for the Maidan regime. It is barely conceivable that any person who served in it would be anything other than a committed Ukrainian nationalist, and there is no reason to doubt that Parshov was one.
Notwithstanding this obvious fact, the Ukrainian authorities are persisting in their claim that Parshov was a Russian agent. Their explanation for how this could be so is tortuous to say the least. Here is how Anton Gerashchenko, a senior aide to Ukraine’s hardline Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, explains it
Gerashchenko said that according to his sources “Parshov had never left Ukraine officially. In February 2015 he crossed into Belarus on foot through a border checkpoint.” Gerashchenko says that “in Russia, before returning to Ukraine he (Parshov) underwent a course of special training at a school for saboteurs created by the NKVD security police during Stalin rule.”
Presumably that would mean that Parshov, who apparently served in the National Guard for a year before quitting in August 2016, was some sort of Russian ‘sleeper agent’ sent by Moscow to infiltrate the National Guard. Why in that case he quit the National Guard in August 2016 Gerashchenko does not explain.
That this is a totally fantastic scenario straight out of a bad Cold War spy thriller should not require explanation. Suffice to say that the claim Parshov is supposed to have gone to Belarus on foot – so that there is no formal evidence he ever left Ukraine at all – looks like an attempt to get round the fact that there is no actual evidence that Parshov was ever in Russia. As for the invocations of Stalin’s name and of the long vanished NKVD (abolished in 1946), they merely add to the fictitious quality of the whole story.
The sad and depressing truth however is that despite the frankly ludicrous nature of the story of Russian responsibility for Voronenkov’s death, there will still be people in the West who will either believe it or who will choose to believe it. The political and emotional investment in the twin fantasies of ‘Putin the killer’ and of ‘Ukraine the democratic victim of authoritarian Russia’ is too strong for it to be otherwise.
The only qualification I would make is that this story is so ludicrous that some of the more tough minded people in the West, who certainly know more of the truth about Ukraine than they let on but who continue to back Ukraine for ideological and geopolitical reasons, will probably be just too embarrassed by the absurdity of this story to repeat it. They are unlikely however to admit the truth: that Voronenkov was killed by a Ukrainian ultra-nationalist and that the Ukrainian authorities are covering up the fact. Instead they will simply cease to report the story.