Russians are planning to hold so-called elections in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia oblast in autumn. Among the candidates are Russian military personnel, Zaporizhzhia collaborator educators and priests.
The journalists of Slidstvo.Info investigated the list of so-called candidates (more than 700 people) running for the Yedinaya Rossia (United Russia — transl.) party in the occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia region. The video has English subtitles.
Slidstvo.Info has learned from propaganda media that Russians are planning to hold elections to some local councils in Zaporizhzhia Oblast in September 2023. The Russians want to elect deputies to the councils of Melitopol, Enerhodar, Tokmak, Mykhailivka, Vesele and other occupied cities and towns.
Most of the candidates are collaborators who, apparently, not only agreed to cooperate with the occupiers, but also received Russian citizenship. After all, holding it is one of the conditions for participating in the so-called elections.
At the same time, among the “candidates”, journalists found Russians who were brought from Russia to take up leadership positions in the occupied region.
According to their social media pages, most of the candidates are imbued with a love of all things Soviet. They always have photos with St George’s ribbons, Victory Day cards, posts about “one nation,” as well as video messages from dictator Putin or the Russian flag.
FORMER EDUCATION AND SCIENCE MINISTER ON THE WANTED LIST
One of the most well-known in Ukraine candidates who wants a bit of occupation power in Zaporizhzhia is Dmytro Tabachnyk. His election profile states that he is an adviser to Gauleiter Yevhen Balytskyi, who considers himself the head of the occupied Melitopol.
Tabachnyk is a long-time fan of the aggressor country. He was twice an MP from the Partiya Rehioniv (Party of Regions — transl.). During Yanukovych’s time, he served as Deputy Prime Minister and later became Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine, where he demonstrated anti-Ukrainian sentiments.
For example, in 2011, he publicly promoted the introduction of Russian textbooks in schools in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea.
“‘If schools in Kharkiv, Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk and other oblasts want to order 11th grade textbooks in Russian, they will receive them in Russian at the expense of the state budget,’ Tabachnyk says.
At the same time, the number of Ukrainian-language schools in these regions was being reduced under the pretext of a small number of children.
After the Revolution of Dignity, Tabachnyk fled Ukraine, as he was suspected of abuse of office and embezzlement of budget funds. In 2015, the former minister was put on the wanted list and his assets were seized.
Already in 2022, after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Dmytro Tabachnyk helped Balytskyi (the governor of the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia oblast) and Saldo (the head of the occupation administration of Kherson) to contact Russian representatives to seize Zaporizhzhia and Kherson oblasts. For this, he received a suspicion, and in 2023, Volodymyr Zelenskyy deprived Tabachnyk of Ukrainian citizenship.
PRODUCER OF ANTI-UKRAINIAN FILMS
Viktor Zubrytskyi is another candidate for the post of fake deputy. The 51-year-old man, originally from Mykolaiv, calls himself an adviser to the head of the so-called Zaporizhzhia Oblast administration.
Previously, Zubrytskyi lived in Kyiv and worked as the creative director of the 112 Ukraine TV channel. This is a channel that has been promoting anti-Ukrainian narratives and Russian propaganda for years, and eventually came under sanctions. By the way, Zubrytskyi’s wife was a co-owner of 112.
In 2016, Zubrytskyi was included in the “21” list, which provided for the imposition of personal sanctions against Viktor Yanukovych and people from his inner circle. He was on this list as the organiser of an operation to disinform Ukrainians about the Maidan. By the way, the aforementioned Tabachnyk is also on the same list.
Zubrytskyi also produced two anti-Ukrainian propaganda films: Massacre on the Maidan (2014) and Ukraine on Fire (2016).
THE AUTHOR OF THE FAKE ABOUT “BULLFINCHES BEING KILLED IN UKRAINE”
Volodymyr Rohov, the author of the fake news story about bullfinches allegedly being killed in Ukraine because they symbolise Russia, also wants to become an elected official in the Russian-occupied territories.
“Little kids in grades 3-4 are told by their teachers in science class to feed the titmice because they are yellow and blue and to hunt bullfinches,” Rohov said on Russia 1 propaganda channel.
Recently, Rohov urged people to leave Zaporizhzhia because, in his opinion, it was Ukrainians who occupied the “Russian” land, and not vice versa. He also stated that the entire Zaporizhzhia oblast dreams of becoming part of Russia.
Previously, he headed the Slavic Guard, a youth organisation that was banned for promoting war, violence and Kremlin narratives. Rohov was one of the organisers of the Zaporizhzhia Anti-Maidan, a rally with Russian flags, St George’s ribbons and pro-Russian narratives.
Already in 2014, Rohov fled to Russia, where he held a press conference and claimed that he had been abducted and interrogated in Ukraine. Later, Rohov was seen at an anti-Ukrainian rally in Moscow, where he stayed after fleeing Ukraine.
A PRIEST WITH THE “ORDER OF THE RED STAR”
Slidstvo.Info journalists found a priest in the lists of candidates for deputies in the fake Russian elections.
Anatolii Zyhar, who listed the Church of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God as his place of work, serves in the church of Pidhirne village, Zaporizhzhia oblast.
On the church’s website, Zyhar’s biography states that he decided to become a priest while serving in the army, where he took part in combat operations in the late 1980s. However, when he returned home, he went to work at the Zaporizhzhia Titanium and Magnesium Plant, and only then to the Zaporizhzhia Theological School.
Zyhar received the Order of the Red Star and the Medal for Courage.
From the first days of the full-scale war, Zyhar kept silent about his ties to the occupiers. He actively maintained a Facebook page where he posted about peace and prayers for Ukraine.
The priest managed to become a deputy of the Vasylkiv District Council of the V and VI convocations. And now he has decided to become a deputy again, but from the United Russia party.
“LIBERATOR” FROM SARATOV OBLAST
Artem Terentyev, 31, from the Saratov oblast of the Russian Federation, also wants to become a deputy on the occupied Ukrainian land. He is an “asvoboditel” (“liberator”, as Russians call themselves — transl.) who was sent to Zaporizhzhia by the occupiers to guard the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the “new” region of Russia, according to him.
In his so-called election campaign, Terentyev notes that he served in the army, which is why he was unable to get a higher education. So he mostly worked as a driver.
In 2021, he joined the United Russia party. Now he sees himself as a deputy in one of the Ukrainian cities occupied by Russia.
Among the so-called candidates, Slidstvo.Info journalists found educators who used to work in Ukrainian schools and kindergartens and now actively promote Russian narratives to children.
Olena Shapurova, who worked for 20 years at the Melitopol Industrial and Economic Vocational College and seemed to have no political ambitions. But after the occupation of the city, she was appointed the so-called Minister of Education for the entire region. Now, Shapurova is engaged in the Russification of schoolchildren and students in Zaporizhzhia oblast.
According to the Slidstvo.Info sources, the woman, accompanied by an armed Russian military, came to the settlements of the oblast and facilitated the forced education of children according to the Russian curriculum. Shapurova also threatened parents with the deprivation of their parental rights and the removal of their children if they did not attend Russian schools. She persecuted teachers who remained in the occupied territories and did not want to cooperate with the Russians.
The woman was awarded an order for her crimes against Ukrainians. “It was like a dream,” Shapurova describes her meeting with Russian dictator Putin. Now the woman wants to get into the fake ‘legislative’ bodies.
A SINGER FOR THE RUSSIAN MILITARY
Yulia Vachenkova, 36, worked for many years as a presenter at TV Berdiansk, but after the occupation she agreed to cooperate with the enemy and lead a team at the Svobodny Berdiansk TV and Radio Company.
Nowadays, Vachenkova is not only engaged in propaganda, but also performs at Russian concerts dedicated to the Crimean Spring and Victory Day.
“We are often on the front line, performing our own songs for the guys (occupiers — ed.) who are now defending us, who are bringing our victory closer. And when you see those eyes, songs are born, not just songs, but prayers,” Vachenkova says from the stage.
Now Vachenkova is preparing for the elections and hopes to get a seat in one of the fake councils.
THE ACTRESS WHO HELPED CAPTURE VASYLIVKA
Another young Ukrainian woman who sided with the enemy is 30-year-old Natalia Romanichenko, who has been the head of occupied Vasylivka for more than a year. Now she wants to become a representative of the Kremlin’s party.
Before the occupation, she was an actress, starred in Ukrainian TV series and owned a modelling agency for children in Zaporizhzhia called Be WOW.
However, already in February 2022, the woman helped the Russian military capture Vasylivka — thanks to her, the occupiers were able to set up their checkpoints, strengthen their defences and create obstacles to the Ukrainian army’s counter-offensive.
Ukrainian investigators have found that the woman arranged for equipment for the Russian military and engaged employees of her company to repair and paint the equipment — applying the “Z” symbol, providing additional spare parts, etc. For such activities, she faces up to 15 years in prison for high treason.
As of today, Ukrainian law enforcement officers have served suspicion notices to few of the traitors from the list investigated by Slidstvo.Info journalists. However, it is clear that many of them have long been pro-Russian activists and engaged in anti-Ukrainian activities.