Article by: Liubov Chyzhova, Andriy SharohradskyThe OSCE does not know ‘human rights activist’ Einars Graudynsh who claimed monstrous behavior on part of Ukrainian soldiers in Donetsk oblast
Einars Graudynsh, cited by Rossiyskaya Gazeta when reporting on mass burials of civilians in Donetsk oblast and violation of women by Ukrianian servicemen, has nothing to do with the OSCE. This was reported to Radio Liberty by the representative of the OSCE press service Natasha Rayakovic. Graudynsh is a Latvian politician and businessman who is currently preparing for the elections to the Seym.
He is a member of the board of the Congress of non-Latvian citizens created two years prior, and he will run in the October 4th elections from the party Russian Union of Latvia. As his biography notes, Graudynsh had served in the USSR Armed Forces, later in the intelligence paratrooper divisions of the national armed forces of the Republic of Latvia. He retried as senior officer with the Latvian Defense Ministry in 1997. Graudynsh, who poses as a Lithuanian human rights advocate in Donetsk, is currently part of the left-wing political antiglobalist party Demokrāti.lv. He calls himself the “ideologist of the contemporary anti-imperialistic struggle in Latvia.”
The information about the mass graves full of Donbas civilians, spread by Einars Graudynsh was even denied by the separatists. Their representative Andrey Purgin stated that in the grave on the outskirts of Makiyivka, only nine bodies were discovered, and the 400 unidentified bodies they had reported earlier came to the morgues from various locations in the region.
“They misunderstood us, and information was distorted as a result. We were saying that 400 is the overall number of unidentified bodies that remain in Donetsk morgues. 90 percent are civilians who died at various moments. Many of the bodies are maimed and cannot be easily identified. This is why we asked Russian specialists to carry out DNA investigations,” Andrey Purgin told Interfax on Wednesday.
Earlier, the Russian media cited Einars Graudynsh, saying that currently there are 400 unidentified bodies of civilians who have been killed by Ukrainian soldiers in the morgues of Donetsk. Graudynsh said he visited two mass burial grounds: in the village of Nyzhnya Krynka and near the Kommunarska-22 mine as part of a group consisting of eight OSCE experts from France, Germany, Bulgaria, the United Kingdom and other states, together with separatist representatives.
Einars Graudynsh cited the locals saying their houses had been looted by Ukrainian servicemen who “queued up at the post office to send what they had stolen back home.” The women also told the Latvian politicians that allegedly Azov and Donbas battalion fighters had frequently group-raped all the women in the village. The victims were teenage girls from 12 years of age and elderly women, Graudynsh reported, noting that he was “simply speechless from the evils these women had experienced.”
Graudynsh himself did now say he was an OSCE representatives (as Russian media report). According to him, he came to Donbas as part of “a group of experts from various European countries.” It seems this group escorted members of the OSCE mission when they visited the villages of Nyzhnya Krynka and Kommunar – a person who looks remarkably like Graudynsh is visible on one of the photographs. Some journalists write that Graudynsh had been invited to Donbas by the separatists:
This is what OSCE press service representative Natasha Rayakovic told Radio Liberty: “At the moment we are verifying this person’s identity, but he is definitely not a member of the OSCE Special Observation Mission in Ukraine.”
“We are trying to find out who he really is and where he came from, but he is not listed as one of our employees. And, of course, we cannot confirm the validity of any of his statements. The only claims we can support are the claims made officially by our special observer mission in Ukraine. They are the messages published daily on our website and which we view as the only official messages on our part. We cannot confirm the rest. This is all I can say at the moment, but we are checking the circumstances of this story. We always try to be reliable information sources. And it is very important to us, that even if someone who is an OSCE employee had made such statements, to verify and re-verify the given information. And if it is proved to be true, we would not refuse the responsibility of publishing it. We are posed with quite a difficult task: various people emerge here and there. And we have to go on location to find out who those people are. And it is frequently very difficult,” Rayakovic said.
Assistant to governor Serhiy Taruta Konstantin Batozsky told Radio Liberty in an interview that they were talking about territories which are out of Ukraine’s control:
“I spoke with OSCE experts, they have clear criteria as to what is considered to be mass graves and not. Two people were found. According to our information, they are unidentified mercenaries, the rest of the messages that some sort of mass graves were discovered there… We can definitely say that these territories were not under control of the Ukrainian government, are not under their control, and at the moment when the Ukrainian government was there, there could have been no and there were no mass graves. These events should be put in the spotlight to create international investigation committees – we are fully prepared to do this, – to discover who these people are. We are interested in this information ourselves.”