Media “SBU kidnapped separatists leader of an anti-aircraft unit which could be important MH17 witness”

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Ukraine and Russian media are reporting that special forces of the  Ukraine Secret Service (SBU) kidnapped a  separatists leader of an anti-aircraft unit called Tsemakh Vladimir Borisovich (born July 4 1961) from separatists controlled area. He was given some drugs, put in a wheelchair and passed the border at a checkpoint near Maryinka. Tsemakh could be an important witness for the Joint Investigation Team.

BBC Russia writes the kidnap was done at June 27 2019. The laywer and daughter of Tsemakh confirmed the kidnap to BBC Russia. The wife of Tsemakh found blood and traces of a fight in his apartment when she returned from work.

At June 28 he was brought to Kiev. At June 29 the Shevchenko District Court in Kiev decided to keep Tsemakh two months in custody, according his lawyer Roman Gontarev.

Tsemakh might have knowledge about the downing of flight MH17.  Tsemakh lead the anti-aircraft defense in Snizhne in the summer of 2014, the town nearest to the Buk launch site on 17 July 2014.

The SBU did not comment on the reports in media.

At July 7 UAwire reported that Igor Girkin confirmed on his vKontakte page that Tsemakh was a commander.

“Borisovich” (a nickname of Tsemakh) was the chief of  air defense in Snizhne in July-August 2014. Before that, he was the crew commander of of ZU-23-2 anti-air systems in Semenovka, and he excelled at this position,” — Girkin wrote on his VKontakte page.


Pieter van Huis, who did a lot of research on MH17 writes on Twitter:

Photos on Tsemakh’s OK profile reveal that Tsemakh served in an air-defense unit in the Soviet Army. However, photos from Snizhne show his air defense was limited to autocannons as of August 2014.

Tsemakh reportedly served in the 1st Slavyansk Brigade, which suggests he was part of the Snizhne-based units that were directly commanded by Strelkov in the summer of 2014. This photo on Tsemakh’s profile suggests he may have been trained to operate a Strela-10, which was stationed south of Snizhne on 16 July 2014, one day before the Buk arrived in its place.


This is another photo from Tsemakh’s album. The text on the vehicle translates to “Anti-aicraft Missile Forces of Snizhne”.

On his profile Tsemakh indicated that he had graduated from the higher anti-aircraft missile command school in Poltava, Soviet Ukraine. He then served in military unit 98933 which was stationed in Faizabad, Afghanistan. At one point he also served in a unit stationed near the Chinese border in Russia’s Primorsky Krai.

Former separatist claims that Tsemakh, received the post of air defense brigade chief only by 14.10.2014. However, the photos from his OK  were uploaded on 24.08.2014 and shows he was already with such a unit (though perhaps not yet as a chief)

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