Slava Novorossiya

Slava Novorossiya

Sunday, May 24, 2015


                I will post information about women soldiers in the Sparta Battalion from some internet source.

Margarita Maimur, Irina Zarubina and Dasha Savich (from left to right), fighters of the Sparta battalion of Russian-backed militants, patrolling Donetsk.

Kremlin’s Warriors Want To Take Lviv
March 20, 2015, 1:54 p.m. | Ukraine — by Danilo Elia

DONETSK, Ukraine – Ryzhik, Gaika and Dasha are three friends who, until recently, dressed like other young women. Now they no longer choose their clothes: They just don military uniforms, pick up their Kalashnikovs and put in another day of work with the Russian-backed Sparta Battalion in Donetsk.

The battalion is headed by Russian citizen Arseniy Pavlov, a famous separatist leader better known as Motorola.

Sparta’s female soldiers and their friends have outlandish plans to march on Lviv and they even joke about conquering European countries. They claim to be defenders of their homeland, although their pro-Ukrainian acquaintances say they are merely helping the Russian aggressors. A feeling of sadness is evident when they speak about their friends who chose to be on Ukraine’s side in the war.

Irina Zarubina is the youngest of the three. She is only 17, and her nom-de-guerre is “Ryzhik” (Red). “My family is now in Horlivka,” she says, adjusting her machine gun at the shoulder strap. “But I prefer to stay here in Donetsk. With my fellow soldiers. Now my life is here, together with my husband.”

Dasha Savich, 19, married a soldier during the war, too. She is a doctor. She was on duty at the airport in Donetsk in January, but only for a short time. “It was very dangerous,” she says. “I was afraid, of course. It’s better to stay here safe.”

Margarita Maimur is the oldest of the three. She is 20. Her nom-de-guerre is “Gaika” (Gadget Hackwrench, as in Disney character). And she too got married during the war with a soldier.
They talked in a central Donetsk cafe popular among Kremlin-backed militants. Camouflage uniforms and AK-47 assault rifles look eerie next to families sitting at tables with TVs showing music videos.

The barracks of their battalion are right around the corner. In the courtyard, tanks and armored personnel carriers are parked and repaired, while many other weapons are stocked inside. It is not rare that, while sipping tea, the teapot trembles as tanks drive by.

“We’re like a big family, and that’s our big house,” says Zarubina. “Our husbands are there, and also our new friends. Even Motorola, our commander, is like a family member. We call him Dad.”

Zarubina and Maimur have medals pinned to their chests.

“We were awarded these for defending the city of Sloviansk,” Maimur says, referring to its siege by Ukrainian troops in April-July 2014. “I’m from Sloviansk as well. I was there before enlisting in the Sparta Battalion. We controlled the city for three months. Three months in peace, before the Ukrainians bombed us.”

Sloviansk was initially seized by Russian mercenaries and local insurgents in April 2014. Russian citizen Igor Strelkov, who has been identified by Ukraine’s Security Service as an ex-officer of Russia’s Main Intelligence Directorate, led the operation and said last year that he “pulled the trigger” of the war in eastern Ukraine and takes responsibility for starting it.

Ryzhik, Gaika and Dasha agreed to be joined on a patrol of the northern outskirts of Donetsk, riding in a car with Kalashnikovs and grenade launchers.

Vladimir, Dasha’s husband, is behind the wheel.

“We are winning this war, you know?” he says, speeding through the empty streets of the Kyivsky district. “We will first take the whole of Donbas, and then we will get to Poland.”

“But we first have to take Lviv,” Dasha corrects him.

“Yes, Lviv, then Warsaw, and then we will even come to you, in Italy,” Vladimir adds.

Now that the ceasefire is in place and shells do not hit the city every day, the destroyed Donetsk airport is not such a risky place to be.

An unexploded Grad missile is stuck in the asphalt of Kyivsky Prospect and must be detonated.

Gaika shakes her head. “There, you see why I decided to enroll?” she says. “I wanted to do something for us, for our people. It is not right to bomb the city and its inhabitants. When children die, when your relatives die, you know that it’s time to fight. And I want to fight.”

The Kremlin narrative is that the separatists are defending their hometowns from Ukrainian troops. Pro-Kyiv Ukrainians dismiss the claims as a facade to mask Russia’s direct aggression and de facto occupation.

Old billboards dangle in the wind, with an ominous creak, on nearly deserted streets with damaged buildings all around.

On patrol, several checkpoints exist on the way to the former airport. Someone fires a warning shot from a Kalashnikov. Journalists are not welcome. Gaika calms them down, saying that everything is under control and that their positions will not be photographed.

“These are tanks taken from the Ukrainians. They do not want them to be published,” she says.

The ruins of the Donetsk Airport are a few hundred yards away. Despite the Feb. 15 truce, mortars continue to hit the area occasionally.

Here the Sparta Battalion fought one of the most symbolic battles of the war. The takeover of the Donetsk airport by the Kremlin-backed militants in January was a blow to the morale of Ukrainian troops who defended it for months.

“I was here in January,” Dasha says. “You know, for me it all started in a hospital at the beginning of the war. I worked there for three weeks, but every day I had the feeling I wasn’t doing enough. So I went to Motorola and I enrolled in the Sparta Battalion. There was Ryzhik—she immediately accepted me—and then I also met Gaika and we became good friends as well as fellow soldiers.”

“You know, in Sloviansk I still have a lot of friends who support Ukraine. Well, I used to… Because since I came to fight here in Donetsk they don’t want to hear from me anymore. They say they that I’m a separatist, that I’ve become a terrorist, that I fight against my homeland. But my homeland is this one, Donbass, Novorossia.”

A car approaches. Two gunmen get out and stare grimly at us. No one here has their ranks on their insignia and you never know who is the highest in the hierarchy. “If you want to stay here, those are not enough,” says one of the soldiers, pointing at the Kalashnikovs. The other one pulls a couple of bazookas out of the car trunk and passes them to the women.

“Do you know how to use this?” he asks Gaika. She shakes her head no. “Well, remove the safety catch, this way. Then put it on your shoulder, raise the viewfinder, point, pull the trigger and … hasta la vista.”

All of them laugh out loud.

The road that runs from the airport to the northern side of the station is a desolate landscape of fallen trees and bombed buildings. Asphalt is marked with tank treads. Vladimir drives, avoiding the fallen logs and grenade craters.

The route takes the group past the heavily damaged train station and the suburb of Kuybishevsky, where those who could not flee elsewhere continue to live, despite the shelling. Gaika, Ryzhik and Dasha’s words about victory and peace are not consistent with the destruction and devastation around.

Back at base, a tank passes at high speed and disappears behind the high gate. They say Motorola was on board, back from the war front. The women are in a hurry to return. Before they, too, disappear behind the gate, Ryzhik requests: “Please, when you write, say that we are not terrorists. Maybe our friends on the other side will read it. ”

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