By Kit Klarenberg / The Grayzone
Years before emerging as Kiev’s top private weapons trafficker, ex-legislator Serhiy Pashinsky played a key role in the 2014 US-backed coup which toppled Ukraine’s democratically-elected president and set the stage for a devastating civil war. Though the notoriously corrupt former Ukrainian parliamentarian was condemned by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy as a “criminal” as recently as 2019, a lengthy exposé by the New York Times has now identified Pashinsky as the Ukrainian government’s “biggest private arms supplier.”
Perhaps predictably, the report makes no mention of evidence implicating Pashinsky in the 2014 massacre of 70 anti-government protesters in Kiev’s Maidan Square, an incident which pro-Western forces used to consummate their coup d’etat against then-President Viktor Yanukovych.
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In an August 12 report on Ukraine’s new weapons-sourcing strategy, the New York Times alleged that “out of desperation,” Kiev had no option but to adopt increasingly amoral tactics. The shift, they say, has driven up prices of lethal imports at an exponential rate, “and added layer upon layer of profit-making” for the benefit of unscrupulous speculators like Pashinsky.
According to the Times, the strategy is simple: Pashinksy “buys and sells grenades, artillery shells and rockets through a trans-European network of middlemen,” then “sells them, then buys them again and sells them once more”:
“With each transaction, prices rise – as do the profits of Mr. Pashinsky’s associates – until the final buyer, Ukraine’s military, pays the most,” the Times explained, adding that while using multiple brokers may technically be legal, “it is a time-tested way to inflate profits.”
As the seemingly endless supply of cash from Western taxpayers provides a bonanza for arms manufacturers such as Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, it similarly benefits war profiteers like Pashinsky. His company, Ukrainian Armored Technology, “reported its best year ever last year, with sales totaling more than $350 million” — a whopping 12,500% increase from its $2.8 million in sales the year before the war.
Pashinsky is not the only racketeer benefitting from the elimination of anti-corruption measures in wartime Ukraine. Several suppliers previously placed on an official blacklist after they “ripped off the military” are now free to sell again, according to the Times investigation. The outlet downplayed this as an unfortunate, but ultimately necessary measure.
“In the name of rushing weapons to the front line, leaders have resurrected figures from Ukraine’s rough-and-tumble past and undone, at least temporarily, years of anticorruption [sic] policies,” the Times asserted, describing “the re-emergence of figures like Mr. Pashinsky” as “one reason the American and British governments are buying ammunition for Ukraine rather than simply handing over money”:
“European and American officials are loath to discuss Mr. Pashinsky, for fear of playing into Russia’s narrative that Ukraine’s government is hopelessly corrupt and must be replaced.”
However, even the seemingly critical Times report overlooks a key aspect of Pashinsky’s unsavory biography. Conspicuously absent from the coverage was any explanation of his role in carrying out the infamous massacre of anti-government activists and police officers in Kiev’s Maidan Square in late February 2014.
A defining moment in the US-orchestrated overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government, the death of 70 at the hands of mysterious snipers triggered an avalanche of international outrage that led directly to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych. Even today, these killings officially remain unsolved.
However, firsthand testimony by individuals who claimed to have helped carry out the false flag attack suggest Kiev’s most prolific gun runner was intimately involved in the grisly affair.
MAIDAN MASSACRE ORGANIZER ‘TAKES NO PRISONERS’
In November 2017, Italy’s Matrix TV channel published eyewitness accounts by three Georgians who say they were ordered to kill protesters by Mamuka Mamulashvili. Then the top-ranking military aide to Georgian president Mikhael Saakashvili, Mamulashvili later founded the infamous mercenary brigade known as the Georgian Legion, whose fighters were widely condemned after they published a gruesome video of themselves gleefully executing unarmed and bound Russian soldiers in April 2022.
The documentary, “Ukraine: The Hidden Truth,” features an Italian journalist’s interviews with three Georgian fighters allegedly sent to orchestrate the coup. All described Pashinsky as a key organizer and executor of the Maidan massacre, even alleging the corrupt arms dealers provided weapons and selected specific targets. The film also featured footage of him personally evacuating a shooter from the Square, after they had been caught with a rifle and a scope by protesters and surrounded.
One of the Georgian fighters recalled how he and his two associates arrived in Kiev in January, “to arrange provocations to push the police to charge the crowd.” For almost a month, however, “there were not many weapons around,” and “molotov [cocktails], shields and sticks were used to the maximum.”
This changed around mid-February, they said, when Mamualashvili personally visited them alongside a US soldier named Brian Christopher Boyenger, a former officer and sniper in the 101st Airborne Division, who personally gave them orders they “had to follow.”
Pashinky then personally moved them along with sniper rifles and ammunition to buildings overlooking Maidan Square, they alleged. At that point, Mamualashvili reportedly insisted that “we have to start shooting, so much, to sow some chaos.”
So it was that the Georgian fighters “started shooting two or three shots at a time” into the crowd below, having been ordered to “shoot the Berkut, the police, and the demonstrators, no matter what.” Once the killing was over, Boyenger moved to the Donbas front to fight in the ranks of the Georgian Legion, which Mamulashvili commands to this day.
In the meantime, Ukrainian journalist Volodymyr Boiko, who headed the civic council of the Prosecutor General Office of Ukraine after Maidan, has alleged that in order to obscure his role, Pashinsky personally hand-picked the figures leading the official investigation into the massacre, and even bribed the prosecutor who headed it.
Despite these shocking claims, Pashinsky’s involvement in the Maidan massacre has never been officially investigated, let alone punished, and his most recent experiences with the Ukrainian judicial system suggest it is unlikely to be heavily scrutinized by officials in Kiev. While a member of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada, he was arrested for shooting and wounding a pedestrian in a traffic-related dispute, but was ultimately acquitted in 2021.
When Israeli journalists confronted Pashinsky about his role in the Maidan massacre, the arms dealer warned that they would be tracked down in their home country, where his associates would “tear them apart.” They could be forgiven for believing it was not an idle threat; there is a troubling tendency for Pashinky’s detractors to end up viciously beaten or shot dead in the street.
Kit Klarenberg is an investigative journalist and MintPress News contributor exploring the role of intelligence services in shaping politics and perceptions. His work has previously appeared in The Cradle, Declassified UK, and Grayzone. Follow him on Twitter @KitKlarenberg.