Atamanshchina spreading among Russia’s hybrid military force in Ukraine’s Donbas

Mercenaries fighting for Moscow's hybrid military force in the Donbas come from all over Russia. In the declining economy, mercenary salaries are enticing to many. Some Ukrainians from the occupied territory also join, especially as their civilian jobs disappear following the Russian invasion, while a few mercenaries come from abroad driven by adventurism or false ideals. (Image: video screen capture)

Mercenaries fighting for Moscow's hybrid military force in the Donbas come from all over Russia. In the declining economy, mercenary salaries are enticing to many. Some Ukrainians from the occupied territory also join, especially as their civilian jobs disappear following the Russian invasion, while a few mercenaries come from abroad driven by adventurism or false ideals. (Image: video screen capture) 

2016/07/06 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis, War in the Donbas

Atamanshchina is spreading through Moscow hybrid forces in the Donbas, Beness Aijo, a pro-Moscow mercenary has warned. And because this phenomenon not only is leading to the decay of these forces but also alienating the population from them, he has appealed for “complete uprooting” this dangerous trend.

The term “atamanshchina,” as American historian Canfield F. Smith has pointed out, “connotes in one word” in Russian what it takes several words in other languages to describe” (Canfield F. Smith, “Atmanshchina in the Russian Far East,” Russian History/Histoire Russe, 6:1 (1979): 57).

In general, Smith writes, the suffix “-shchina” “means ‘the evil deeds of’ the name that precedes it,” thus, the Pugachevshchina for the peasant revolt against Catherine the Great and the Yezhovshchina for the bloodiest period of Stalin’s repression in the 1930s. But its most frequent application has been to the partisan leaders on both sides in the Russian civil war, 1917-1922.

Many of the “atamans” at that time were little more than brigands who maintained their power by brutal means, had little attachment to any ideology – many of them changed sides – and by their actions drove the population over which they aspired to rule into the hands of whatever side they were not on at any particular time.

An armed personnel carrier with Russian mercenaries in Donbas, Ukraine (Image: inforesist.org)

An armed personnel carrier with Russian mercenaries in Donbas, Ukraine (Image: inforesist.org)

Consequently, for a pro-Moscow participant in the Donbas fighting to speak about the emergence of such a phenomenon there now underscores the extent to which the pro-Moscow forces have deteriorated into little more than criminal bands and to which some in these forces fear they are alienating the population beyond any hope of recovery.

In an article on the IAREX.ru portal entitled “Makhnovshchina in Action” – the Makhno in this word is a reference to Nestor Makhno, one of the more notorious atamans in Ukraine during the Russian civil war – Beness argues that “unfortunately in certain units of the L/DNR” there are actions which recall those of Makhno.

His 2500-word article documents numerous examples of the brigandage such forces are now engaging in and warns that if this continues, pro-Moscow forces will suffer a double loss, the first causing the collapse of military discipline and the second resulting in the alienation of the population from them.

Beness, it should be noted, has an interesting biography. Born in Latvia in 1979 to an Ugandan father and a Russian mother, he’s been part of many pro-communist and pro-Moscow activities in Latvia and the UK over the years. He attracted attention by organizing a demonstration against the Riga visit of US President George W. Bush. He participated in Putin’s anschluss of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and is currently a mercenary in the Russian hybrid military forces in the Donbas.


 

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Edited by: A. N.

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  • http://eatgrueldog.wordpress.com eatgrueldog

    Like “Clintonshchina” ! Got it.

  • Randolph Carter

    And Merkelshchina, Hollandshchina, Obamashchina, Putinshchina, Yanukovikshchina, …

  • Oknemfrod

    >In general, Smith writes, the suffix “-shchina” “means ‘the evil deeds of’ the name that precedes it…<

    Hm… a curious assertion. In this case, "zhen-shchina" (Russian for "woman") must connote something related to evil deeds as well, After all, no Slavic language but Russian and, to a degree, Belarusian ("zhan-chyna") forms the word for "woman" in this manner.

    In an oblique way, I can imagine the same with "tre-shchina" (a crack), "tol-shchina" (thickness, width), and especially with "tyo-shchina" (mother-in-law's).

    On the other hand, it's hard to gather how "godov-shchina (anniversary), "Pskov-shchina" (Pskov oblast), etc. could be possibly perceived in the same "evil" sense.

  • Tatra

    Ukrainian anarchist Nestor Makhno was not a “Hetman” (Ukrainian Cossack leader), let alone an “Ataman” (Russian Cossack leader). He fought against the German-backed ‘Hetmanate’ of Pavlo Skoropodsky and was part of the ‘left opposition’ to Russian Bolshevism. The Soviets demonized Makhno as a brigand after betraying him when they no longer needed his help in defeating the ‘whites’ during the civil war. It is understandable for a Russian blog site to continue to disparage Makhno as the epitome of the bandit warlord, since they have been doing it for nearly a century. But, “long-time Eurasian specialist” Goble should know better than to adopt old Soviet era propaganda and anti-Ukrainian stereo-types to make his point.
    Further, to infer that Makhno had “… little attachment to any ideology.” shows an utter lack of historical perspective. The Ukrainian Free territories (1917-1921) was the first attempt to create an anarcho-syndicalist federation. It was the pre-cursor to ‘revolutionary Catalonia’ (1936-1939) during the Spanish Civil War and the current Zapatista movement in Chiapas Mexico. Goble may not agree with the ideology, but he should be honest enough to recognize the Makhnovist effort rather than try to tie it to nihilists in Lughansk & Donetsk.

  • disqus_aJpixObjG7

    Who is this IGNORAMUS AND RUSSIAN STOOGE writing this article?
    He refers to a russian lie saying, quote:
    “…But its most frequent application has been to the partisan leaders on both sides in the Russian civil war, 1917-1922.”
    IN UNDEBATABLE FACT AND HISTORICAL TRUTH THERE WAS NO SUCH THING AS ANY “RUSSIAN CIVIL WAR” as this indoctrinated ignoramus parrot writes. The so-called “russian civil war” was in fact no civil war at all. IT WAS INDEED THE WAR BY RUSSIA TO RETAKE, TO RECAPTURE A NEWLY FREE AND INDEPENDENT UKRAINE. PERIOD. HISTORICAL FACTS NEED TO HAVE A HUGE LOAD OF MANURE SHOVELLED OFF OF THEM AND IT’S TIME TO DO SO UNEQUIVOCALLY, especially as concerns THE FACTS AND TRUTH about UKRAINE and some sort of “russia.”