Odessa Self-Defense, we’re in the army now…

On April 16 armedpolitics.com and a TV crew of Kanal 7 attended a military training of ‘Odessa Self-Defense’. Firstly, this post is about observations during military exercises. Secondly, we had the opportunity to see how Ukrainian news are produced… and became finally a part of it.


are we ready?

‘Odessa Self-Defense’ is a unit formed of civilians, living in Odessa and around. It’s a new group. We are not sure about organization, chain of command, legal base or the like. There were different informations from different sources. A request to one of their directors and to the email of ‘Oberig‘ wasn’t answered. Never mind.

We’re in the army now…

About 65 to 85 men took part of the exercises, all ages. They met at 8 am, grouped and drove in buses to the training site, somewhere out of Odessa. It was their third field exercise. The training included functionality and handling of guns, including shooting.

‘Odessa Self-Defense’ consists of various smaller subunits of 8 to 15 individuals each. Members of the subunits live in the same parts of Odessa and know each other. Other subunits seem to be based on other networks. This enables quick mobilization and simplifies coordination. This was mentioned by presents in conversations.


military training of civilians in Odessa


weather is good


Why are you spending your free time for this? Without payment? – I want to be able to defend my self if necessary.


Observations, impressions

The mood was relaxed, the exercise had rather the character of further education courses than of military drill (phone calls while the man in charge informs). Military procedures and routines are not in practice yet (smoking next to the ‘fictional’ ammunition store). Skills in handling of the gun were heterogeneous (lot of dust from the bullets several meters next to the targets). The shooting training was structured and safety precautions were take care of by men who seemed to know what they were doing.

The exercises were a opportunity for networking. Knowing someone who knows someone can be of use, especially in Ukraine. At the end, the mood was good, pictures were taken (for remembering or posting on social media), some sort of identification with the unit, Odessa or Ukraine.

// best guess: Subunits might be able to mobilize and possibly coordinate with other subunits. Hierarchies are flat and not transparent. – Possible base for a national guard as well as for guerrilla or volunteer battalions.


preparing for… what?


Blogger on TV

The exercise also served as an opportunity for our colleagues from Kanal 7 to get material for the evening news. Wenzel was dressed in a suit and behaved like an expert. Maybe this was the reason why he was asked for a short interview. Maybe the TV crew was just bored. First we declined, after two cigarettes we agreed under the condition of fair reporting and non-political questions.

// side note: When media starts interviewing other media, it’s an indicator that there is no new information around. If a TV station starts interviewing a blogger, this might be even more the case. If there is no useful information, it must be produced.

The (angry) email below explains the rest of the story. It was sent from armedpolitics to Kanal 7. The email wasn’t answered yet.

Dear Friends from Kanal 7,

[…] A few days ago I received a link of your TV news which includes some parts of our interview I was highly surprised how the cutting and translation deformed the content of my statements. Therefore I feel obliged to insist on the following corrections. […]

I also mentioned that I find it very interesting event and a great opportunity for me to see how an ‘army’ that consists of civilians is formed in such a short period of time. The statement on the quality of organization was my impression that there is still a lot of work to do. I also told you about my impression that the men did not learn a lot about military procedures (such as shooting) during this exercise.

I emphasised my impression that the men were motivated and dedicated, and that the exercise seemed to me mainly about networking (knowing each other). But I haven’t said that it’s great when military exercises motivate civilians.

I was asked about my opinion of European support for Ukraine. I told your team that Ukraine certainly has sympathy in Europe. But I made clear that support is a different thing and that I am not that sure whether this is going to happen. The impression your viewers must have from your translation must be very different. […]

My imagination is big enough not to exclude the possibility that your translator or cutter just had a bad day. In case you are interested in accurate reporting of facts, I would suggest that you post the full interview with a correct (linguistic) Russian translation on your web page, distribute it via your regular social media channels, mention the correction in your TV reporting (at the same time as your ‘report’ was aired on April 16).

If you feel the need to compensate the violation of our agreement and my efforts of writing this, I suggest your team (no interns) gives me an interview on the issue of quality of Ukrainian media in general and your station specifically.

Thank you for your cooperation and good luck!