Another Cossack formation commander detained in Lugansk subject logo: DONBASWAR
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By Chris Covert

Another Cossack military formation commander for the separatists of Lugansk was detained by Lugansk authorities several days ago to face charges including robbery, rape, kidnapping and murder, according to Russian language news accounts.

Vladimir Timofeev appeared to the prosecutor's office in Lugansk last Friday. He was immediately detained, and is currently held in prison in Lugansk.

Russian journalist Boris Rozhin, in noting the arrest said that four other formation commanders were detained the following day, but they were identified only by their Russian call signs: Sumpak, Tema, Son, Ytsyk and Malenkiy.

According to Rozhin, their arrests were in connection with an incident involving members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

According to Rozhin, Ukrainian forces fired on members of the OSCE, which destroyed the two vehicles they were riding in. Timofeev, and presumably the four other commanders were charged with firing on the vehicles.

According to an news article which appeared in, Lugansk attorney general Leonid Tkachenko charged Timofeev with rape and murder in and around Stkhanov in northern Lugansk. A total of 20 reports had been received by authorities.

Several news site say that Timofeev was in Lugansk because he also was wanted in Russia for serious crimes.

Although Timofeev's ethnicity is unclear from news releases, Lugansk officials are sensitive to charges about Cossack formation commanders disappearing or being murdered. An unusually large number of them were either ambushed well behind the line of contact since December, 2014, or were detained and their formations disbanded or turned over to new commanders who were more cooperative to Lugansk officials.

It is an unlikely testament to Russian and Ukrainian language blogging in this region of the world that officials are so sensitive to charges they have repeatedly denied. Not even the accounts by friendly news outlets can cover up the stink.

The last Cossack commander to be killed, Colonel Pavel Dremov, was awarded an honorific for his regimental unit and was lavished with praise and medals until he was killed in an ambush between Pervomaisk and Stakhanov on December 12th, 2015. Dremov immediately after being rewarded the honorific was recorded in a Belorusian newspaper severely criticizing the Lugansk civilian leadership for hiding the fact that Debaltsevo was such a bloodbath for the rebels. Those criticisms came even after, Dremov claimed, he and other commanders had warned the civilian leadership about the attack on Debaltsevo.

Seven others besides Dremov have died or have disappeared in the preceding year, with charges leveled at Lugansk authorities for their alleged role in those commanders' demises.

According to a news report in, Tkachenko was quoted as saying, "I draw your attention to the fact that such actions of law enforcement bodies of the republic are not an attempt to discredit or eliminate" undesirable "people who position themselves as" defenders "of [Lugansk], but persons who commit crimes against their citizens. They are not advocates, they are common criminals," said Tkachenko.

Other reports say that Timofeev and the other detainees were involved in marijuana dealing around Stakhanov.

Rozhin, on his blog, made mention of the issue of smuggling, some of the routes of which go through Stakhanov, hinting Timofeev's unit may have objected to smuggling to Ukraine, including drugs and excise goods.

Several Cossack commanders, including Col. Dremov had openly objected to business dealings between Lugansk government officials and Ukrainians in coal sales.

Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for He can be reached at and on Twitter. You can read past articles about the 2014 war in southeastern Ukraine by clicking here.

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