A Russia-backed separatist commander has claimed Kyiv sent female terrorists to launch terrorist attacks in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, but has been caught using fake photos and IDs that belong to other people to substantiate his assertion.
Eduard Basurin claimed at his daily “battle briefing” on August 30 in the eastern city of Donetsk that the Ukrainian military had deployed "a terrorist group of three persons," DAN News, a pro-separatist news service in Donetsk, reported.
"In August 2016, a group composed of three women arrived from the territory of Ukraine who underwent training overseen by instructors from the special operations forces and the [Ukrainian] Main Directorate of Intelligence (GUR). Their main task was to commit terrorist acts on the territory of the (Donetsk People's) Republic, recruit officers of the force units, create an agents' network, and obtain and transmit intelligence data," Basurin was quoted as saying.
He added that the women had been put on a wanted list in separatist-controlled areas of the Donetsk region and warned that they and any accomplices would be sentenced to death if captured. DAN published three photos and two names of women said to be the "special agents" being dropped behind enemy lines.
DAN published photos of two women identified as Anna Tarasyuk and Myroslava Klimchuk, and a third woman in a military uniform whose identity was not disclosed.
The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta traced the names and pictures of the three women and concluded that they were apparently taken randomly from pictures of three unrelated people with different names and identities.
The exact same picture of "Anna Tarasyuk" was published August 24, 2016, by Komsomolskaya Pravda Ural, which identified her as Tatyana Tsykina in a story with the headline "Girl From Nizhny Tagil Saves Guy Who Challenged Right Sector."
Right Sector is the ultranationalist group in Ukraine whose members have volunteered as fighters with Kyiv’s forces in eastern Ukraine, where more than 9,600 have died since the conflict with Russia-backed separatists began in mid-April 2014. The report said Tsykina met online -- and fell in love with -- a Ukrainian man named Sergei Danchenko who opposed Ukraine’s Maidan protest movement that led to the ouster of pro-Kremlin President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.The newspaper said Danchenko had fought against Right Sector members after the group allegedly forcibly recruited young men for its ranks in his town. The article says that Tsykin convinced Danchenko to move to Nizhny Tagil, as he believed Ukrainian authorities were pursuing him, he decided to flee Ukraine for Russia. The report does not describe Tsykina's sympathies, but it suggests that they were compatible with this fierce anti-Maidan activist’s, making it unlikely she would have later joined an anti-separatist cell dropped into eastern Ukraine.
The photo of the second woman, who is shown wearing a hospital gown and identified as Myroslava Klimchuk, in fact shows Yarosh’s daughter, Irina. It appears to have been cropped from a photo that was posted on both Twitter and Facebook on January 23, 2015, and published by Ukrainian and Russian media outlets. The original photo shows Irina and two other women together with Yarosh while he was hospitalized. On his own Facebook page, Yarosh has identified the woman shown on the separatists’ wanted list as his daughter.
The third photograph in the wanted poster was originally published by Reuters on October 8, 2014. It is captioned only as "A Ukrainian servicewoman" and was reportedly taken in the Ukrainian city of Horlivka.
The photograph contains a sign for the 34th Battalion of the Ukrainian Army, which is partly cropped from DAN's version of the photo.
Given that two out of the three photos belong to women with other names and established identities different than stated, the claim about the third woman may be false as well.