The Center for Security Studies “CENSS” continues to monitor the situation with illegal trafficking and use of weapons in Ukraine.
In this report, we publish the results of our study concerning certain tendencies that have been observed in this sphere in January-June 2020 taking into account their relevance and expected impact on the state of illegal trafficking and use of weapons in the future.
Quarantine restrictions in March-June 2020, caused by COVID-19, did not affect the total number of cases of illegal use and trafficking of weapons, although new tendencies and risks for the security of the population emerged in this period.
On July 16, during a joint meeting of all law enforcement agencies dedicated to the issue of weapons trafficking, the Prosecutor General’s Office and Ministry of Internal Affairs officially reported on the issue of illegal trafficking of weapons and ammunition in Ukraine. As a result of the meeting, it was decided, inter alia, to establish an Interdepartmental Working Group to prevent criminal offenses against public order and security committed with the use of weapons, to identify priority areas of work in the area of illegal arms trafficking, and to identify channels of supply to the criminal environment, primarily from the JFO area.
According to the official data of the Prosecutor General’s Office in January-June 2020, there were 3519 criminal proceedings brought under Article 263 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which provides for liability for carrying, storing, purchasing, producing, repairing, transferring or selling firearms (other than smoothbore hunting guns), ammunition, explosive substances or explosive devices without a permit required by law. Furthermore, 331 criminal offences were qualified as terrorist acts, and in 296 cases a separate criminal offence was accompanied by the use of weapons and ammunition.
CENSS experts have analysed cases of trafficking and use of illegal weapons, ammunition and explosives in various regions of Ukraine in January-June 2020, which were reported in open sources. Therefore, a total of 841 reports (events)*, related to the use, possession and illicit arms proliferation were identified in January-June. Analysis of this number of reports makes it possible to provide an overall picture of the situation on the illegal trafficking and use of weapons in Ukraine and to identify some tendencies that pose a threat for society and the state.
According to the results of the study, cases of illegal storage (422 cases) and the use of weapons (217 cases) were recorded most often. There were also isolated cases of theft, production and sale of weapons (66).
For example, in June, law enforcement officers detained a person while purchasing two TT combat pistols. It was tentatively established that the aforementioned citizen encouraged a serviceman of a military unit to steal these pistols and hand them over to him for a monetary reward.
In general, all ratios of events related to the weapons are as follows:
If we analyse the places where illegal weapons were identified more often, the first place will take private house and public places, less often they will be in cars.
According to the results of our study, most cases of illegal arms trafficking and use of weapons are recorded in Dnipropetrovsk and Kyiv oblasts, Kyiv City, Kherson and Donetsk oblasts.
Criminals and victims
According to the CENSS experts, based on an analysis of 841 reports, neighbours and acquaintances of those persons who are in possession of weapons, as well as occasional passers-by and family members are the most frequently affected by the use of weapons. Out of the cases analysed in January-June, 126 persons were injured and 54 died as the result of the illegal use of weapons.
The cases of the use of weapons and explosives against persons due to their professional activities are also recorded.
Therefore, on June 18, unidentified persons placed several grenades in the Artem Semenikhin’s vehicle, mayor of Konotop (Sumy oblast).
On June 19, in Dnipro, a 26-year-old policeman was killed during the detention of a suspect in a robbery attack. The intruder fired several shots from Makarov’s pistol towards the officer of Shevchenko Police Department.
Analysis of information from public reports regarding entities who use or store weapons has shown that they are most often neighbours or acquaintances of those on whom the weapons were used, drivers, young persons, relatives and foreigners. In almost 10 % of all reported cases, weapons were seized from intoxicated persons. At the same time, both registered weapons and unregistered or prohibited weapons are used for possession by citizens. It should be noted that 17% of criminal offences with the use of weapons are committed by groups of persons (including criminal groups), and in 10% of cases it is noted that there is a previous criminal record of those who use or store the weapons.
There was a conflict between a pedestrian and a driver in Dymer settlement, due to the fact that the pedestrian believed that the driver parked the car incorrectly. A man started hitting the vehicle. In turn, the driver came out of the car and fired a hard rubber gun towards a pedestrian.
On June 5, unidentified persons fired at a trolley bus with passengers in Kharkiv City. The bullet hit the rear door window. It was preliminarily established that the fire was opened from an air rifle.
In the yard of the multi-storey building in Poltava City, a resident of one of the apartments fired a pistol and threatened local residents, who were walking with children. As a result of loud shots, two young children received a hearing and psychological trauma.
On June 16, law enforcement officers detained an intruder, who was shooting near a café in Lviv oblast. The police have identified that he was a 50-year-old resident of Ivano-Frankove settlement in a state of alcohol intoxication.
Police detained a 16-year-old resident of Dnipropetrovsk City for the attempted murder. The crime occurred on June 2. According to the police, a 47-year-old local resident in a state of alcohol intoxication fired his own registered rifle towards the bushes. As a result, a guy who was doing sports on the river bank was injured.
On June 19, law enforcement officers of Kyiv City detained a woman with signs of alcohol intoxication, who shot into the air. In a course of personal belongings search, police identified a device for firing rubber bullets “Ford-12” and ammunition to it in the backpack.
During the quarantine, the use of converted weapons increased. A total of 60 reports were recorded of the use of converted weapons or places where converting is carried out. Most of them were reported in April and May. According to the official data of the Prosecutor General’s Office for January-June 2020, 92 criminal offenses of illegal production, conversion or repair of firearms or falsification, illegal removal or alteration of its markings, or illegal production of ammunition, explosives or explosive devices (Article 63-1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine) were recorded.
In general, the tendency towards the conversion of weapons has been of concern for a considerable time in Ukraine. Therefore, the monitoring data confirm that the non-lethal weapon is converted into lethal one, and the signal weapons (with the origin mainly from Turkey) into non-lethal and lethal ones.
On June 6, a man with a gun was detained in Kyiv City, according to the results of ballistic examination the gun turned out to be a Turkish-made gun with signs of conversion and 8 rounds of ammunition.
Near Brovary City there was a conflict between local residents and a local deputy over the passage to the water reservoir. During the incident, the father of the child complained about the neighbor and fired in his direction. A deputy of the Brovary District Council was injured. Police officers seized a gas weapon, which had been converted into a non-lethal one.
On June 18, law enforcement officers seized drugs and two handguns with signs of conversion from a rented garage of a 26-year-old man in Dnipropetrovsk oblast.
An extraordinary event was a mass fight of foreign citizens with the use of weapons in the center of the capital on Bessarabska Square. One woman, a casual witness, got leg injuries due to the gunshot. It was noted that only the starter gun was seized at the site.
Foreigners with weapons
Cases of use or storage of weapons by foreigners in Ukraine are not rare. This tendency became especially dangerous in June compared to other months. In general, out of all reported cases on the use or storage of weapons in June, 8% were foreigners. Among those affected by the use of weapons are 3 foreigners. At the same time, among those who used weapons, 24 persons are foreign nationals.
On June 30, law enforcement officers of Kyiv City detained a gang of foreign citizens during a special operation for robberies of private homes. The last crime they committed was in the Kyiv-Sviatoshynskyi district, where they attacked the house of a woman entrepreneur: threatening with weapons, tied her up and took money and valuables.
In Chernivtsi oblast, a man was detained who, while robbing a private house during an escape attempt, injured two policemen. The criminal was a 36-year-old citizen of another country, who in 2010 was sentenced to 11 years in prison for committing serious crimes in Odesa oblast, including robbery attacks.
In Zaporizhia, members of an ethnic criminal group were detained, they tried to “resolve” the conflict with gunfire. Two members of a criminal group were detained for criminal mischief.
Weapons and drugs
Weapons continue to “accompany” drug trafficking. Law enforcement raids to identify new “drug harvest” were launched in June. During searches, weapons and ammunition were often seized along with drugs. In June, 41 of such cases were reported, while in the first six months of 2020 there were 126 reports, which is 15% of all cases of illegal trafficking and use of weapons recorded during monitoring.
On June 5, police seized weapons and drugs from a resident of Kryvyi Rih City (Dnipropetrovsk oblast). During a search, authorized by the court, law enforcement officers found two guns, 500 grams of marijuana and 400 ml of precursors. The 31-year-old man kept prohibited items and substances in his own garage, located in the garage cooperative.
Police detained armed drug dealers, a man and a woman, 32 and 57 years old in Mykolaiv oblast. Drugs, weapons, inter alia, firearms, ammunition of various calibers and money were seized from them.
On June 5, police detained a drug dealer with dozens of ready-made stashes, weapons and money from the sale of psychotropic substances in Volyn oblast.
On June 14, various kinds of narcotic and psychotropic substances were seized from a man in Dnipropetrovsk City. The man also kept an improvised explosive device in a plastic case, which included a grenade RGD-5, a kilo of semtex-type explosive, three electric detonators and metal bolts. In addition, police found the Mosin rifle bolt, half a kilogram of powder and up to 200 rounds of ammunition.
In Zakarpattia, police suppressed the illegal activities of another drug offender, law enforcement officers seized 94 rounds of ammunition, a “Magnum” rifle and a crossbow. The man had no permits for weapons possession.
Types and quantities of weapons
CENSS experts note that grenades are still one of the most common types of weapons. In six months, 597 grenades were seized (528 according to the Prosecutor General’s Office), including 183 in June. The second most common are handguns and revolvers, 420 of them, followed by 323 RPG rockets, as well as 211 fuses for grenades and 164 TNT slabs and detonators were seized. Moreover, according to the Prosecutor General’s Office, 576 kg of explosives were seized in the first half of 2020.
Monitoring data once again confirms that an important indicator of the situation with illegal trafficking and proliferation of weapons is the storage of parts of ammunition, fuses and explosive assemblies, grenade bodies, TNT slabs by the population of Ukraine at their houses. The production of ammunition or explosive devices remains a distinctive phenomenon for Ukraine on several grounds. One of them is a consequence of armed conflict, during which servicemen and other ATO/JFO participants were trained to use weapons, their conversion or the production of improvised weapons and explosive devices.
Military counterintelligence of the Security Service of Ukraine has prevented a series of terrorist attacks on the territory of the military medical hospital in Sievierodonetsk and the railway station Rubizhne. According to the investigation information, a former Ukrainian serviceman attempted to carry out terrorist acts. For this purpose, he took 3 directional type anti-personnel mines with fragmentation effect MON-50 and an anti-tank blast mine, equipping them with remote control equipment. Officers of the Security Service of Ukraine detained the terrorist while inserting explosive devices at the facilities.
A local resident of Nikopol was detained for offenses against the life of police officers. The 33-year-old intoxicated intruder threatened to blow up an F-1 grenade.
In the Lozivskyi district of Kharkiv oblast, a 45-year-old man blew himself up with an F-1 grenade.
In Sumy oblast, a local woman called the police with the message that as a result of the grenade explosion her 62-year-old husband died. Law enforcement officers established that the man probably detonated the grenade himself after leaving the house. According to the information posted on the website of the agency, among the reasons for this action the investigation considers suicide. As for the grenade, her husband had probably stored it for several years, since the ATO, where he had served as a volunteer in the National Guard.
Furthermore, in this period, based on the analysis of open-source reports, it was estimated that law enforcement officers seized at least 81200 rounds of ammunition. The tendency of seizure of grenade launchers (63) and machine guns (32) from the illegal trafficking remains unchanged during the monitoring period, such types of weapons are found both in private homes and in caches. According to the Prosecutor General’s Office, only 38 grenade launchers and rocket systems were seized during the same period.
Law enforcement officers seized an arsenal of weapons and ammunition in Odesa oblast. A cache with explosive weapons and ammunition was found in an abandoned building, which was located in the territory of the former military unit in Lyman district. Among the seized items were an RPG launcher and two anti-tank grenades, smoke grenades, a unified fuse for a hand grenade, RGD-5 body, three TNT slabs, two electric detonators, a mortar flare, several cartridges for a Kalashnikov assault rifle and more than a thousand rounds of ammunition.
In Vyshneve City (Kyiv oblast), one man of the group fired several shots from a non-lethal weapon towards another group of men and then left with the weapon from the site. Law enforcement officers detained the criminal and, in his house, they found and seized a collection of various weapons, among them a PPSh-41 and a device for firing rubber bullets.
Let us recall, that in April 2020, Center for Security Studies “CENSS” published the results of quarterly monitoring on offenses involving the use of weapons during the quarantine period and increased activities of organized groups.
* The study was conducted by analysing the information obtained as a result of special processing of information received from public sources (official websites of state and local authorities, units of law enforcement agencies of central and regional levels; their profiles in social networks (Twitter, Facebook) as well as Ukrainian digital mass media), state statistical reporting.