Oleg Roslyakov: Putin’s Volunteer Soldier

Олег Росляков Фото: blackseafleet-21
Oleg Roslyakov. Photo: blackseafleet-21.com

It is well known that Russian retired officers, including officers of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, played an important role in Russian occupation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol. They were used to discipline and were well aware about location of troops of the Ukrainian Navy. They readily participated in taking «the city of Russian sailors» and the Crimean peninsula under Russian control.

The Center of Journalist Investigations has already covered the activity of Mikhail Chaly, reserve Captain of the second rank, who headed so-called «Coordination Council of Sevastopol», Russian body, managing Sevastopol since February 23, 2014, after overthrow of Ukrainian authorities.  Oleg Roslyakov, retired Colonel, has been his direct subordinate. He has headed «Headquarters of self-defense of Sevastopol» in February-March 2014 and coordinated pro-Russian illegal military units. Our new issue of special project «Putin’s schutzmanns» explores his activity.

As the head of «Headquarters of self-defense of Sevastopol», Oleg Roslyakov followed orders of Mikhail Chaly. The latter received orders from the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Therefore, Roslyakov bears responsibility for all crimes committed by above mentioned pro-Russian illegal military units: illegal detainment, abduction and beating of Ukrainian and foreign citizens, blockade of Ukrainian military units, violating rights of journalists, «filtering» at illegal checkpoints etc.

Oleg Roslyakov as the head of regiment of Marine Corps of the Black Sea Fleet. Photo: sevastopol.su

Oleg Yuriyovych Roslyakov was in the family of army officer on December 17, 1952 in the Russian city of Vladivostok (Far East). In 1974, he graduated from Soviet Far East High Military School. He has served in the Russian Black Sea Fleet from 1974 until 2003. He participated in real combat operations in Angola, Ethiopia, Indian Ocean and in Mediterranean Sea. He has been commander of the regiment of Russian marines of the 810th brigade of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (Sevastopol) for five years. The regiment has been praised as the best of the Fleet during three years. Roslyakov also participated in the «antiterrorist operation» against Chechnya.

In 2001, Vladimir Putin awarded him Order «For Military Merits» on board the cruiser «Moscow» at the celebration of the Day of the Russian Navy in Sevastopol. Roslyakov retired as the Colonel in two years after Putin’s award.

Oleg Roslyakov and Vladimir Putin. 2001. Photo: sevastopol.su

Then, he worked as the director of Sevastopol branch of Saratov State Socio-Economic University and came back to his 810th brigade of marines – as the «civilian» head of the guard.

As many Russian retired officers in Sevastopol and Crimea, Roslyakov received Ukrainian passport, though, he kept being Russian citizen and reserve Captain of the Russian Armed Forces. Ukrainian policy towards citizenship in Crimea, with Russian military base, has been shortsighted during thirty years of the Ukrainian independence. Ukrainian citizens, with Russian passports in their pockets, have been massively elected or appointed to self-government and executive bodies in Sevastopol and Crimea. They followed Moscow’s policies and played clearly destructive role in 2014.

As Roslyakov told, he has been in the Russian resort city of Yessentuki in North Caucasus on the 23rd of February, 2014 when Ukrainian authorities were overthrown in Sevastopol by so-called «Coordination Council» headed by Aleksei Chaly. He came back to Sevastopol on February 25 and he has been elected as the head of «headquarters of self-defense of Sevastopol» by «18 companies of self-defense» on February 26, 2014.

It is clear that retired Colonel Roslyakov, with his experience of military service in Sevastopol, has been the best candidate for the commander of illegal military units in the city.

Reserve officer Ihor Petrov has been appointed as the commander of pro-Russian military «self-defense units». As Roslyakov recalled later, Ihor Petrov has been approved and appointed by Aleksey Chaly and the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. 

Ihor Petrov, commander of illegal military unit «Rubezh». Photo: sevastopol.su

However, Petrov has commanded «self-defense companies» for short period of time. Consequently, he has been appointed as the deputy commander of illegal military unit «Rubezh», commanded by Vladimir Melnik. This unit has been staffed with Russian retired officers. Mikhail Chaly called them «assault soldiers» as they have been used to seize Ukrainian military objects and ships.

When Petrov left, Viktor Petrovich Litvinov, the head of body guards of people’s mayor Aleksei Chaly, has been appointed as the commander of Sevastopol self-defense. He has served in and then has been expelled from the Russian Black Sea Fleet. In 1992, he joined the Ukrainian Navy. He retired as the Captain of the third rank and launched his business. He has been suspect in several criminal cases about fraud. He set up military patriotic club «Yastreb» [Hawk] training children hand-to-hand combat.

Viktor Litvinov, «commander» of illegal military unit «Self-defense of Sevastopol»

Headquarters of «Sevastopol self-defense» has been stationed in the building of industrial and pedagogical high school on Radyanska street, 65. The location protected the road to the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (it has been ruined by Ukrainian missiles in September 2023). 

Location of «headquarters of Sevastopol defense» at Radyanska street, 65. Photo: Yandex

Recruitment center, intelligence and counterintelligence services, the unit of rapid response and press center of «Sevastopol self-defense» have been set up by the midnight of the 26th of February, 2014. The headquarters of self-defense also hosted «self-defense company» headed by retired Colonel Oleg Malynovsky. He has served together with Roslyakov. In 1996, he headed the 299th center of training marines in Kozacha harbor in Sevastopol – so-called «Saturn» center for training subversives and combat swimmers.

On February 27, 2014, Roslyakov sent his armed soldiers for their first mission. It has been reported five unknown men in camouflage cut communication cable of «Sevtelecom», local provider of communication services. As Roslyakov later reported, «spies disappeared before the arrival of self-defense and policemen». Then, «self-defense» illegally detained six young people from Ukrainian political party «Udar» [Strike]. «Self-defense» accused them of meeting in the apartment with Ukrainian symbols.

They were severely beaten and brought to the headquarters. As Roslyakov said, they were handed over to their parents after «instructive discussions».

There were cases with far more serious outcomes. Roslyakov told in his interview that «self-defense» detained two or four «neo-Nazi» at the railway station and then handed them over to the police. Neither Roslyakov nor other members of Russian paramilitary disclosed their names.

We know names of participants of the Revolution of Dignity who came to Crimea at the beginning of March 2014 and disappeared. Ivan Bondarets and Valerii Vachuk from Rivne region came to Crimea and disappeared on March 7, 2014.

39 years old resident of Sevastopol Vasyl Chernysh disappeared in the middle of March 2014. He has been former officer of the State Security Service of Ukraine and participated in the Revolution of Dignity as activist of «Automaidan». Vasyl came back to Sevastopol before the Russian occupation of Crimea and connected with his girlfriend on March 15. His neighbor reported that she saw how Vasyl has been taken from the apartment by policemen. They told him – «Now you will come back home».

Since then, there has been no news about the destiny of these Ukrainian activists.

Traitor Yurii Kashpur. Photo: primechaniya.ru

There are a lot of facts confirming that Sevastopol police cooperated with Russian occupants, including «the headquarters of self-defense». Roslyakov mentioned close cooperation of «self-defense» with police during the patrolling of city. As he sad, police Lieutenant-Colonel Yurii Kashpur came to «self-defense headquarters» to launch cooperation on February 28, 2014: 

It should be noted that after the Russian occupation of Crimea, Lieutenant-Colonel Kashpur has been promoted to the position of Deputy Head of occupation «Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation in Sevastopol». In 2015, he has been appointed as the Head of occupation «Department».

Mikhail Chaly told in his interview to Russian propagandists that «representatives of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, officers of the State Security Service of Ukraine who joined Russian forces, counter-intelligence, police and self-defense sat together at the beginning of March 2014».

Self-defense of Sevastopol had more important task than detainment of «suspicious activists». It has been about blockade of Ukrainian military units and governmental buildings. They have been blocked upon orders from Mikhail Chaly or directly – from Headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation. Headquarters of the Russian Sea Fleet appointed special supervisor.

Below is the quotation from Roslyakov’s interview to Russian propagandist project «Modern people’s history of Crimea» (it has been financed by «Gasprom» and implemented by the Institute of CIS countries headed by experienced Russian propagandist Konstantin Zatulin):

«We closely cooperated with commanders of the Black Sea Fleet. The Fleet gave precise orders to us. Captain of 1st rank Andrii Mykolayovych Palii has been our supervisor, appointed by the Fleet. We have been an «advance people’s unit». The Fleet used our support for maintaining public order in the city. 

Commander of Black Sea Fleet Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Viktorovich Vitko invited me and Aleksei Mikhailovich Chaly on March 4, 2014 to legitimize the work of our self-defense headquarters».

Andrii Mykolayovych Palii was born in Kyiv. In 1992, he graduated from Kyiv High Military Political School and joined the Russian Navy. He served in Northern and Baltic Fleets of the Russian Federation. He fought in Chechnya and participated in the Russian occupation of Georgia. Palii actively participated in the Russian annexation of Crimea. For example, he persuaded Ukrainian marines to betray Ukraine and issued orders to «Sevastopol self-defense».

Since 2020, he has been Deputy Commander of the Black Sea Fleet of the Russian Federation on military political work. He has been killed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in Mariupol on March 19, 2021.

Andrii Palii, Deputy Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet (2020-2022), supervisor of Self-defense of Sevastopol». Photo: Y.Yuganson

The Commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet has also directly cooperated with «headquarters of self-defense». As Roslaykov recalled, Vice-Admiral Aleksandr Vitko invited him and Aleksei Chaly on March 4, 2014 to discuss «legitimization of headquarters of self-defense».

As an outcome of that meeting, the «headquarters of self-defense of Sevastopol» has been relocated close to Kamushova Harbour on March 7, 2014 into the building of the former military conscription office at Marshal Krylov street, 8a. Reliable radio communication has been established with the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

As Roslyakov said, necessary equipment has been provided by «the Ministry of Defense of Crimea». More to that, «the Ministry» delivered weapons and ammunition to illegal military units controlled by Roslyakov on March 11, 2014.

However, there has been no «Ministry of Defense of Crimea» at that time. Though future Russian «Head of Crimea» Sergei Aksyonov has been declared «Chief Commander of Armed Forces of Crimea» before the Russian annexation of Crimea, in fact, only the Russian Black Sea Fleet could have provided weapons and ammunition to Roslyakov’s paramilitary units.

Building of «headquarters of Sevastopol defense» at Marshal Krylov street, 8a. Photo: Yandex

As Roslyakov recalls, he has been active in persuading commanders of Ukrainian military units to take the Russian side and betray Ukraine.

«We worked in the following way. We called Ukrainian commanders by phone, met on «neutral territory» and discussed situation with them. Let me emphasize: the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine did not issue any precise orders to them. We came to military checkpoints and talked. If commander agreed to join people’s side, we called the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Captain of the 1t rank Andrii Palii sent a group of Russian officers to negotiate practical steps».

As Roslyakov states, commander of Ukrainian air defense brigade followed this procedure and joined the Russian Armed Forces. Some Ukrainian commanders approached him upon their own initiative. For example, commander of small anti-submarine ship «Lutsk», Captain of the 3rd rank Sergii Makeev called Roslyakov on March 11, 2014 and informed about readiness of the team to join the Russian Navy. Today traitor Makeev is the commander of Russian anti-submarine ship «Suzdalets» and active participant of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine. 

Seizure of Ukrainian ships in Sevastopol, March 20, 2014. Photo: AP

If there was no readiness to betray Ukraine, upon the order from the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Roslyakov dispatched illegal military troops to disobedient Ukrainian military units. As he said, members of pro-Russian paramilitary from illegal checkpoint «Shaiba», intelligence platoon of «self-defense headquarters» together with personal guard of Mikhail Chaly «Rubezh» and «Night wolves» assaulted Ukrainian ships «Khmelnytsky» and «Ternopil» on March 20, 2014.

In order to block Ukrainian ships in Donuzlav Lake, «the headquarters of Sevastopol self-defense» sent squad, headed by reserve Captain of the 1st rank Vladimir Vladislavovich Kovalenko, to Ukrainian military naval base on March 18, 2014.

Roslyakov’s paramilitary troops have blocked the Headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy for three weeks and assaulted it on March 19, 2014. Ukrainian officers, who left the Headquarters, were not able to come back as they were blocked by pro-Russian paramilitary.

«Finally, Litvinov gathered all of us and told that we would assault the Headquarters of the Ukrainian Navy. There were a lot of people and units – «Russian block», «Night surveillance» etc. We erased the fence and gates and entered the territory of the Headquarters. There was no fighting; we just pressured them», as Roslyakov recalls.

He seized the weapons and ammunition, official documents of the Ukrainian Headquarters and transferred them to officers of the Russian Black Sea Fleet.  

Checkpoint «Shaiba», Sevastopol. Photo: blokpostsevastopol.ru

Upon the order from the Headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, Roslyakov’s team introduced strict control over checkpoints around Sevastopol on March 14, 2014. They supplied food, equipment and fuel, delivered by the Russian Fleet. Viktor Litvinov in his interview to local media «Novosti Sevastopolya» [News of Sevastopol] recalled:

«This task had to be realized by Oleg Roslyakov. His people received the stuff, brought it to the building of the former conscription center and handed over. By the way, dry rations have not been supplied as humanitarian assistance. They were supplied by the Russian military. They were remnants from Olympic Games in Sochi. They contained food products, breakfast, lunch and supper».

When the Russian Federation put the peninsula under its effective control, it declared the annexation of Crimea on March 20, 2014. Upon the order from Russian authorities, all checkpoints have been dismantled. Roslyakov took away weapons from checkpoints and persuaded people to leave them.


Parade of participants of illegal military unit «Self-defense of Sevastopol». Photo: eprostir.org

All units of «self-defense» were dismantled on March 21, 2014 whereas «the headquarters of self-defense of Sevastopol» was dismantled on March 24, 2014.

«When it became obvious that Ukrainian authorities would not apply any counter-measures, Chaly issued the order to dismantle all checkpoints on March 20. By the way, we received weapons from the Ministry of Defense of Crimea on March 11. When referendum was held, it has been necessary to collect those weapons. I took a car and three intelligence officers. We visited all checkpoints and collected weapons within one day», as Roslyakov recalls.

There were people with various backgrounds at checkpoints. Some of them exaggerated their role in the Russian annexation of Crimea and hoped to remain «masters» of Crimean streets. However, the play was over and its ordinary actors had to leave the stage.

Oleg Roslyakov. Photo: Meridian Sevastopol

In order to meet «enthusiasm» of pro-Russian paramilitary, the Russian authorities introduced a number of «incentives» for them. Non-governmental organizations of former «self-defense members» were created. People’s voluntary group «Rubezh», headed by Igor Petrov, has been institutionalized. Finally, Russian occupation «governor» Sergei Menyalo set up umbrella «Association of self-defense organizations».

As the «payment for his services», Roslyakov has been appointed as the «deputy governor of Sevastopol» in April 2014. Putin «thanked» «people’s governor» Chaly and appointed Sergei Menyalo as the «governor» of occupied city.

Then, Oleg Roslyakov has been appointed as the head of the «secretariat of governor and government of Sevastopol». In January 2016, he lost this position amidst the struggle between «people’s governor» and Shoigu’s appointees (Menyalo and Belaventsev) who tried to present themselves as main heroes and organizers of «Russian spring» in Sevastopol…