On the 18th of May, around 16:13 Ukrainian time, a group of Africans were paraded before a Lugansk tele-media, “Telekanal Ukraine 112“. It was alleged that the Africans violated existing curfew restrictions, and were therefore arrested.
Responding to questions from a reporter, the representative of the South-Eastern Army, Vladimir Gromov “Владимир Громов”, confirmed the arrest of what he referred to as a “Guards division from their African friends”, for violating the existing curfew. He further said that they were consuming alcohol, and some of them were in possession of drugs like Marijuana, popularly known as “weed”. According to Vladimir Gromov, he also alleged that the Africans did beat up one assistant to a member of the Parliament (MP), who pleaded anonymity and also openly expressed their satisfaction and likeness for Ukraine.
He further alleged that the Africans, on learning about the battalions being formed by a presidential candidate in order to sanitize Donbass 1, Donbass 2 and Donbass 3, expressed their interest to enlist in the South-Eastern forces and form what he referred to as “Black Snake” or “Black Waters”, and fight against Kiev. He concluded by saying that the Africans were already requesting for weapons and ammunition to enable them fight against what he referred to as “Kiev Junta”, but they are hesitant to grant the request considering their lack of basic combat training.
In his words, they won’t be handed over to the police but will be fed in the restaurant and released to go home due to what he referred to as their good behaviour and willingness to take up arms and fight for the South-Eastern Army.
Another version of the story, from Yulia Krasilnykova added a different twist to the incidence. According to her Facebook update, which she said was from an eye-witness, the Africans numbering about 20 were forcefully abducted from a restaurant named Bakkara “Баккара” around 2:00 am on the 18th of May 2014. According to her, about seven or eight (7 – 8) unidentified men in camouflage entered the restaurant, pointed at all the Africans present and ordered them to come outside the restaurant.
Upon refusal, they were forced outside the restaurant, and people in the restaurant overheard them being beaten. The bartender, when asked thrice by one of the girls in the restaurant, who reported the incidence, whether the police has been notified, answered yes.
After a while, sensing the police wasn’t alerted, the girl pulled out her telephone and decided to call the police herself, but one of the female bartenders reported her to the unidentified armed men in camouflage. The man in camouflage came and demanded to know from the girl if she was an acquaintance to any of the abducted Nigerians, and the frightened girl answered no.
Later, the remaining people in the restaurant noticed that one of the Nigerians was hiding, and one of the bartenders wanted to report him to the men in camouflage, but was begged by people in the restaurant not to do that, a request that was granted. Thereafter, the men in camouflage came into the restaurant, took the keys to the cars belonging to the abducted Nigerians, loaded them in a van and drove away to an unknown destination, with their fate unknown.
A yet another update to the incidence, from Alexander Djychkovsky “Александр Жучковский” via his Facebook update, posted two images that matched those of the Africans paraded on television, engaged in some cleaning activity in a place that seems to be a large compound. According to Alexander, “the authorities in Lugansk are capturing poor black students and forcing them to work”. Continuing, he said that some negroes got into a fight with the militia. They were tied, while some narcotics and ammunition were found on them, according to him. As a way of redeeming their guilt, the “Afro-Ukrainians” were subjected to physical labour, under the scorching sun of Lugansk. He posted two images, below, to support his account.
A Nigerian student resident in Lugansk, and conversant with the incidence but pleaded anonymity gave his version. According to him, one of the Nigerian victims celebrated his birthday and eventually decided to round it up at a local club house with friends. Meanwhile, there was a curfew in Lugansk, that required everyone to be indoors after 9 pm. Earlier, another Nigerian, also a victim, had a physical fight with a member of the militia, the self-defense force. So, while they were at the restaurant in continuation of the birthday celebration and obviously violating the curfew, about seven (7) members of the militia, dressed in camouflage and armed, traced them to the venue and forcefully abducted the Nigerians from the restaurant.
Altogether, twenty (20) of them were bundled in a van and driven away, around 2 am in the morning, while three of their cars were also impounded and driven away by the men. Later in the day, videos of them surfaced online where it was, among other issues, alleged that they were willing to enlist into the self-defense militia and fight against what was referred to as the “Kiev Junta”.
According to him, all the detained Africans have been released.
From the accounts above, one thing that is consistent is a violation of the existing curfew, and their subsequent arrest by the self-defense force. The arrest, however, may not be unconnected to the fight earlier in the day, which according to the representative of the self-defense force, was with an assistant to the MP, who he said was beaten up and pleaded anonymity.
- Nigerians, and indeed Africans have had a long standing peaceful co-existence with Ukraine that dates back into the Soviet era, and are therefore not happy or in support of the recent civil disturbances affecting the length and breadth of the country. Being issues between brothers, it is deeply believed that it will be resolved peacefully, and hopefully sooner than later as violent resolution of conflicts between siblings produces no true winner. Ukraine is blessed with people of high intellectual standing and wisdom to help her reach an amicable solution.
- Nigerians, and indeed Africans living in Ukraine should observe and respect existing laws and regulations, more so during this period of protracted civil unrest in Ukraine.
- Even without an existing curfew, Africans living in some of the volatile cities should be security conscious and endeavour to avoid keeping late nights if it is not “absolutely inevitable”.
- The alleged claim that the students were willing to voluntarily enlist in the self-defense militia and form a special unit to fight against Kiev, is unverified. However, the images of the people paraded in the video paint a picture of weariness, tiredness and generally lack the high spirit and enthusiasm expected of people happily enrolling into a military formation. Of noteworthy is that, this is not a unilateral claim, as Russian information media also alleges that foreign mercenaries, “including blacks”, were fighting alongside Ukrainian troops against Ukrainian citizens, in the so called “anti-terrorist operation”.
- With regards to the current civil unrest in Ukraine, such information is capable of putting the lives and security of thousands of Nigerians and people of African descent in great danger, considering they are directly pitched simultaneously against the two opposing forces, making them appear as enemies to both sides and therefore target to either of the camps.
- Most of the Africans living in Ukraine are students, studying on contractual basis and funded by their parents and guardians, whose main purpose of sending them to Ukraine is to acquire education. Majority of them study in English language, and barely understand or communicate in the local Russian / Ukrainian language. Bearing these in mind, the authorities are please notified that these students are not completely independent, and therefore requested to kindly contact their diplomatic missions, if and when some of them purportedly come requesting to join any of the forces, before making such information public or enlisting them. This is to ensure that the consent of their parents and sponsors, that sent them to Ukraine for studies, are obtained on issues that sensitive.