Last weekend, Polish border guards detained one of the leaders of UNA-UNSO far-right organization Igor Mazur. The detention was conducted at the request of the Russian Federation which accuses Ukrainian of participating in hostilities against its troops in Chechnya. Later, Mazur was released on bail by the Consul General of Ukraine in Lublin. During the waiting and consideration of the extradition request, Mazur will stay at the Consulate General of Ukraine in Poland. But first things first.
Who is Igor Mazur
Igor Mazur (call sign "Topolia") was born in 1973 in Khmelnytsky region. He graduated from Voronezh State University as a history teacher. Later, Mazur graduated from the Institute of Postgraduate Education of Kyiv National University majoring in Law. Married a second time. He has a daughter from his first marriage and two sons from the second.
Since 1992, Mazur has been an active member of UNA-UNSO, since 1997 - the chairman of the Kyiv branch of the UNA-UNSO party, and since November 2011, Mazur has been the chairman of the UNA-UNSO political council.
In 2001, he was arrested and spent 3 years in prison for participating in a brawl with law enforcement officials near the Presidential Administration during the "Ukraine without Kuchma" protest
During the Orange Revolution, Mazur was one of the leaders of the tent camp on Independence Square, a participant in the Friendship Train rally in Crimea and Donbas in December 2004.
During the Revolution of Dignity, Igor Mazur was the chief of staff of the 24th Maidan Self-Defense Hundred. Since May 2014, he served in Donbas conflict zone. In April 2015, Mazur was appointed company commander, deputy chief of staff of the reconnaissance battalion in sector "M". After demobilization in 2016, Mazur became deputy chairman of the UNA-UNSO party and deputy chief commander of Ukrainian nationalist self-defense.
In addition, Mazur is an employee of the authorized representative for the human rights secretariat.
In the early 90s, he was part of the “Argo” Ukrainian volunteer corps, which stood on the side of Georgian government forces in the fight against Russian-backed separatists. One of the proofs, according to NV, was his appearance in "Shadows of War" documentary (a film about the role of UNA-UNSO in this conflict). It is also noted that in 1993, the former president of Georgia, Eduard Shevardnadze, awarded Mazur the Order of Vakhtang Gorgasali of the 3rd degree.
In 2018, in an interview with Mir, Mazur confirmed that he took part in hostilities in Georgia.
“I had 11 fights in total. In the end, we were not so much fighting as defending refugees from marauders. Ethnic cleansing began, people went in full flow, they thought the enemy would shoot Georgians. On the memory stele in Tbilisi, among those who died in the battles for Abkhazia, the names of our seven Ukrainians were the first to be beaten out, ”Mazur noted in an interview.
In the same interview, he said that he soon went to Chechnya after returning from Georgia. To the question: "Why did the Chechens need Ukrainians," the Ukrainian replied, "in order to show the world community that they are supported by other nations."
"We stayed in ordinary apartments, slept on the floor, ate normal food. It was November 1994. In December, Russian military convoys entered. We did not sit constantly at the front. Rather, we were a visiting card. We were mainly located near the headquarters so that you can show foreign journalists that Ukrainians support the Chechens. We also guarded the journalists, since they did not trust the Chechens very much," said Mazur.
According to Arsen Avakov, the head of the Internal Ministry of Ukraine, the formal reason for the detention of Mazur was precisely the accusation of the Russian Federation regarding his alleged participation in the hostilities against Russian troops in Chechnya. On November 10, 2019, at a press conference in Lublin, Mazur denied the accusations, saying that he was in Chechnya as a journalist.
How Mazur was detained
On November 9, Polish border guards detained Mazur at the Dorohusk checkpoint. It is reported that he was detained at the request of the Russian Federation through Interpol. The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine noted that Mazur was detained by circular communication, and not by the red card of Interpol, which means that the Russians knew about his trip.
Vice-Speaker of the Sejm of Poland Malgožata Goszewska stated that the detention of Mazur is solely the technical fulfillment of international obligations by Poland. According to her, "the road to Russia is not open" for the Ukrainian. She also added that what happened is a good example of the Kremlin’s use of international law institutions for “political revenge”.
“We cannot succumb to provocation. We cannot be actors in the Russian scenario,” said Goszewska.
On the evening of November 9, the protest in support of Mazur was held in Kyiv near the Polish Embassy. The protesters demanded from the Polish law enforcement authorities to release Ukrainian.
On Sunday, November 10, Verkhovna Rada’s ombudsman, Lyudmyla Denisova, reported that the Polish prosecutor’s office had submitted an extradition arrest of Mazur to the court. But after some time, Ukrainian was bailed out by the Consul General of Ukraine in Lublin.
At a press conference in Lublin, Mazur noted that the Ukrainian border guards did not warn him of his presence at the Interpol base. The deputy head of the UNA-UNSO suggested that he had been in the Interpol base since 2014, but this information was not known.
“I don’t think anyone betrayed me. Most likely, over the past few months, Russia has begun to work actively at the international level, and, unfortunately, Denmark“ surrendered ”and allowed the construction of Nord Stream-2. And as well, Interpol surrendered and decided to include us in that “blacklist,” Mazur said.
In turn, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Poland Andriy Deshchytsia said that the release of the ATO veteran Igor Mazur from arrest is only half the way. In a commentary on Radio Liberty, he noted that now Ukrainian diplomats will fight for Mazur's return to Ukraine.
“Then we are faced with work and the struggle for Igor to return to Ukraine and Russia to stop using the Interpol tool to find those people who are disadvantageous to it or are its enemies. This is a small, intermediate victory,” Deshchytsia said.
According to the ambassador, the date of the first court hearing in the case is still unknown.
“It will depend on the Polish law enforcement agencies which are getting acquainted with the case. We will do our best to make it happen as soon as possible, and close the case as soon as possible. I am glad that Igor is free, that he is safe in the consulate general in Lublin, and our consuls will deal with it and provide all kinds of help," Deshchytsia noted.
It is noted that until the completion of the trial on Ukrainian’s extradition to Russia, Igor Mazur will be in Poland on bail of the Consul General of Ukraine in Lublin Vasyl Pavlyuk.