Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Russia’s plans to create new “republics” in southwestern Ukraine

Russia’s plans to create new “republics” in southwestern Ukraine
Article by: Lilia Makashova
Translated by: Anna Mostovych

Why did Russia exchange political prisoners Yuriy Soloshenko and Hennadiy Afanasyev specifically for Ukrainian journalists Olena Hlishchynska and Vitaliy Didenko?

On June 14,  two political prisoners returned to Ukraine — 74-year-old Yuriy Soloshenko and 25-year-old Hennadiy Afanasyev. The exchange took  place according to the “two for two” scheme. However, flying to Russia were not Russians but two Ukrainian journalists — Olena Hlinshchynska and Vitaliy Didenko.

Espreso TV Decided to find out who the two “journalists” Hlishchynska and Didenko are and why Russia had agreed to such an exchange.

Vitaliy Didenko and Olena Hlishchynska arriving in Moscow.

Kremlin agents

Despite rumors that Soloshenko and Afanasyev would be exchanged for the defendants in the “May 2” case — Evgeniy Mefedov and Maxim Sakaulov (Russian citizens implicated in the violent events that took place in Odesa on May 2, 2014, where 48 people were killed and over 200 were injured — Ed.) — Ukrainian journalists Olena Hlishchynska and Vitaliy Didenko were the ones who flew to Russia.

Hlishchynska ( known as Olena Romanova in Facebook) was director of the Nova Khvyla (New Wave) TV company, and Didenko was editor of the pro-Russian site Nastpravda. Hlishchynska was arrested in April 2015 for violation of territorial integrity and treason. Incidentally, she gave birth in jail.

Didenko was sent to prison after a search in his apartment, where cocaine was found as well as a manifesto about the secession of Bessarabia. During the arrest, he attempted to escape, jumped out of a window and broke his legs.

Both journalists are defendants in the case of the so-called “Bessarabian people’s republic.”  The scenario for the secession of Bessarabia called for Hlishchynska and Didenko to provide the communications support for this separatist movement.

According to the information of the local pro-Russian publication Taymer, Hlishchynska is accused of:

  • Creating the necessary conditions for forming the false impression in society about the failure of state institutions to carry out their proper functions on the territory of the Artsyz, Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi, Bolhrad, Sarata, Tarutyn, Tatarbunary, Reniysk, Kiliya and Izmail districts of the Odesa Oblast.
  • Disseminating views about the national and cultural distinctiveness of these areas and the possibilities of passing laws on the local level.
  • Encouraging general dissatisfaction with the fact that these districts are part of Ukraine and taking active steps for separating their territories.

Then the indictment refers to “planting and disseminating the following ideas through the media”:

  1. The idea that Bessarabian society should decide independently whether to participate in the military mobilization in Ukraine.
  2. The idea that a legislative body — a national parliament — should be created in Bessarabia that was not envisioned in the Constitution of Ukraine.
  3. The granting of special status to Bessarabia

What was the plan?

bessarabia protest
Demonstration to support “National Council of Bessarabia.” Photo:

The “Bessarabian People’s Republic” was to secede through the “People’s  Council of Bessarabia,” which was created in 2014 after the tragic events in Odesa. It was supposed to be announced at a congress but was disrupted by the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which summoned the organizers and handed them warnings.

According to  information obtained by, a second congress took place later, which was attended by Didenko and Andriy Buzila, another journalist from Odesa. After this congress, the SBU arrested Hlishchynska, Didenko and Buzila. Buzila was released  through the so-called “Savchenko law” (which  stipulates that one day spent by a convict in pre-trial detention will be counted as two days — Ed.) and went to Russia.

The global plan of the separatists called for the creation of another “Odesa People’s Republic” in addition to the “Bessarabian People’s Republic.”

As reported by media, the Bessarabian “republic” was supposed to secede first because of two blown up bridges in the Odesa Oblast (on the Gulf and in the village of Mayak). Troops from Transnistria and Gagauzia (unrecognized Moldovan break-away “states” with heavy Russian military presence — Ed.) were supposed to arrive rapidly.

Meanwhile, as Ukraine was distracted by this problem, the so-called “Orthodox Cossacks” gang in Odesa was to capture the administrative buildings and declare the Odesa republic.

As the Odesa publication Dumskaya reported, political assassinations (including that of MP Oleksiy Honcharenko) were among the possible tactics to be employed by the “People’s Council of Bessarabia” to destabilize the situation. However, according to Vasyl Hrytsak, Director of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), all these separatist plans have been disrupted.

Maundy  Thursday

Inal Ardzinba behind Vladimir Putin. Photo

In his interview with,  Vasyl Hrytsak revealed new details. The  Bessarabia project was directed from Moscow by Inal Ardzinba, the deputy of Putin’s advisor Vladislav Surkov. It was with him that Hlinshchynska and Didenko were  in direct contact.

According to Hrytsak,  Russia agreed to the format of the exchange because “these people were needed to explain what information they had revealed to the investigators, how our side worked with them, how they were discovered, where they failed.”

“All this is needed to analyze shortcomings for the future. And, of course, it is understood that one influential group in Moscow’s government has struck a blow against another. Our intelligence indicates that there is a showdown between them now. And the people we turned over to Moscow in exchange for our patriots will help these groups fight among themselves,” Hrytsak said.

The SBU director also reported that last spring, on the Thursday before Easter, his office literally prevented the opening of a second front for the Ukrainian army. Details of the operations of the security forces were known only to President Poroshenko and the Chief of the General Staff. Even the head of the Security Service at the time, Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, was not informed.

Taking part in the operation were 150 Alpha Group special forces from different areas. On that day agency operatives secured Odesa and the  Alpha agents almost simultaneously opened doors in the different parts of the city and detained suspects.

On the first day more than 30 people were detained, followed later by second and third stages of “cleaning.” When asked if Odesa was under any threats at present, Hrytsak said the city has been “cleaned out very well.”

Therefore, given the fact that Russia had agreed to the exchange of “Ukrainians for Ukrainians,” we can assume that Hlinshchynska and Didenko are really valuable employees for the Kremlin.

And the project of detaching the Bessarabia and Odesa oblasts is generally viewed by Moscow as Putin’s plan for connecting the Donetsk and Luhansk “people’s republics,” Crimea, and Transnistria with a common border.

Translated by: Anna Mostovych
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Will the West continue to support Ukraine?
    • Know what moves the world.
    • Stay informed with Kompreno.
    • Get quality journalism from across Europe.
    Special discount
    for Euromaidan Press readers
    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!