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At about 20.00 on February 12, in Chongar village (Kherson region) there was a conflict between Ukrainian military and representatives of the Asker Crimean Tatar public organization. Crimean Tatars argue that Armed Forces military illegally occupied activists’ territory. The South operational command centre denies this and says that unidentified armed men attacked the position of military. There are different versions of the incident, and there are still a lot of questions.
Version of Crimean Tatars: the base was attacked by military
Speaker of the Mejlis of Crimean Tatar people Refat Chubarov said that Ukrainian military forces occupied the territory of Asker public organization, where fighters of Crimean Noman Çelebicihan battalion were based. The battalion began to be formed in December 2015, and in June 2016 in Chongar its flag was raised.
Chubarov said that the Armed Forces soldiers damaged some buildings and property of the organization, as well as tried to use physical force to the members of Asker.
Version of journalist Pashayev: attack was ordered by local businessman
Famous journalist Osman Pashayev said in his Facebook, that Asker’s territory was occupied by soldiers from the 57th Brigade 34th Battalion led by Armed Forces Major, who received complaints from a local entrepreneur - the owner of a cafe and market in Chongar. Allegedly, the businessman said that the Crimean Tatar activists occupied part of his land and asked the military to help him. Soldiers arrived at the base, drove IFV, beat unarmed people, put director of secondary school, who is the head of the local Mejlis, face-down on the ground.
The journalist writes that in the morning Major apologized for his actions and introduced himself as battalion commander of the 34th Brigade Major Serhiy Shpanko. There is a video where the military, being in a drunken state, apologies for his actions.
It should be noted that Serhiy Shpanko is a former member of ATO, he participated in the liberation operations of Dzerzhinsk, Zaitseve, fought in Debaltseve, Mayorsk and at Horlivka direction.
Version of local media: Asker intervened in military exercises
The Kherson. Online website informs that Asker tried to intervene in the Armed Forces exercises, due to which conflict emerged. As a result, Ukrainian military decided to check the representatives of Crimean Tatar battalion and the territory where they are located.
It is reported that on the Asker base military discovered a lot of illegal weapons, and called the police to register the fact and seize ammunition (charges to the RPG - 30, AKS – 8, SVD – 3, M16 – 1, PK – 1, RPG7V – 1, GP25 – 2, VOG25 – 110, RPG17 – 38, AGS 17 – 1, MON50 – 6, PS 7.62 – 3360, PS 5.45 - 17 277).
While police and Security Service of Ukraine employees were working at the base, the founder of Asker Lenur Islyamov also came there.
"Accusing Armed Forces of Ukraine fighters in betrayal", the representatives of the Crimean Tatar battalion literally kicked guests out from the territory of their base, blocking the car, in which law enforcement officers intended to remove illegal weapons, belonged to the military," says the publication.
The same version was confirmed in the commentary of Advisor to the Minister of Interior Ilya Kiva to Strana edition. According to him, the military went to the base to verify the received information about unregistered weapons. "Someone called the Crimean Tatars, when they blocked the car with weapons, and they stopped. Law enforcers now register seized weapons and transport it under police escort," Kiva said.
Version of Armed Forces commanders: military were attacked by unknown persons
The South operational command denied the information about the attack of Ukrainian military. The report says that unknown armed men attacked the soldiers.
"Division, which is part of South operational command military unit and performs combat missions in the Kherson region, on the border with Crimea, was preparing battle positions on the orders of the commanders. During the implementation of the required list of works armed representatives of illegal armed formation came to the position of division. Given the specifics of the situation and conditions of unit service, attackers were arrested and disarmed in compliance with all requirements of the Constitution and other legislation for dealing with such situations, " said in a statement.
"The message of the attack on Asker public organization conducted by Ukrainian military is nothing like a fake, and yet another attempt to discredit the Armed Forces of Ukraine, to make a certain discord and distrust in Ukrainian society", added the South operational command.
What happened next?
At noon, February 13 Chubarov said that the conflict has been settled, the military and police left the Asker base on Chongar, activists and volunteers have returned to their daily lives. One of the causes of the incident, he called the delay in formalizing the Crimean Tatar battalion as part of Armed Forces of Ukraine or the National Guard.
The commander of the 34th battalion of Armed Forces of Ukraine Serhiy Shpanko said that the conflict with the Crimean Tatar battalion was not an attack, but a joint shortcoming.
"It was not an attack. It was our joint shortcoming. We conducted joint exercises, and just did not take into account some things. The incident has been settled, there were no injuries..." Major of Armed Forces said.