The Metinvest Group of Mr. Rinat Akhmetov has called on Ukrainian authorities to stop the ATO–in particular, the operation in Mariupol. “We believe that Ukrainian servicemen, as well as other armed people, should immediately leave the city,” announced the Akhmetov group. Metinvest also stated that “to maintain order in Mariupol, the Metinvest Group, together with the municipal police, will create people’s squads from among the employees of the metallurgical works.”
This scenario can be called nothing but provocation. Here’s why:
First of all, Mr. Akhmetov, a businessman, has no legal rights to form a private army. It would be inaccurate to compare this with the activity of the governors of Ukrainian oblasts [regions]. The latter have the right to participate in the formation of units of territorial defense, which are created under the law “On approval of the Presidential Decree,” “On partial mobilization,” and the Presidential Decree “On approval of the regulations on the territorial defense of Ukraine.” Thus, these territorial defense units are always included in the legitimate armed forces of Ukraine.
Metinvest, on the other hand, would create some undefined “people’s squads,” which have no legal status and will probably be subject to Mr. Akhmetov only. In this case, it’s unclear how Akhmetov’s “squads” are different from pro-Russian terrorist groups in Donbas in terms of the Act.
Second, the reasons by which Metinvest does not recognize the rights of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies and other similar organizations to provide lawfulness and order in Donbas as a territory of the Ukrainian state, or explain why Akhmetov’s private army would have more rights to conduct such enforcement, are unclear.
Third, Metinvest advocates the withdrawal of “Ukrainian military and other armed individuals” from Mariupol. At the same time, it advocates for full control in the city by its “teams.” If these “teams” are armed, then it’s unclear where Metinvest obtained the weapons, and on what grounds it distributed them among civilians. If they are not armed, then the use of such “teams” against armed terrorists in the city is a provocation.
Fourth, the Metinvest statement about Akhmetov’s “teams” being formed “jointly with municipal police” is absolutely unclear. What type of “municipal police” are they talking about? The local Interior Ministry officials that pander to terrorists and are traitors? What right do they have to participate in the creation of armed formations not stipulated by Ukrainian legislation?
Overall, we’d like to state the following: the Metinvest announcement is absolutely incomprehensible and provocative. We observe that Mr. Akhmetov, just like some other Donbas oligarchs, is imposing his ideal scenario on Ukraine. Very important questions arise regarding this scenario, primarily of their adherence to the national interests of Ukraine.
Dmitry Tymchuk, Coordinator, Information Resistance
Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine