“I am a patriot of my country. I believe that our government, our military should be held accountable for what they do. If they send in soldiers to die for the interests of Putin and his gang, I think that Russian society and the world has to know about that”, says Kirill Mikhailov, a contributor to the Conflict Intelligence Team.
Mikhailov, an ethnic Russian, moved to Ukraine to “live in a free country that’s gradually changing for better”, where he joined the investigative group to do his part for the country he now lives in: “There is this idea that all Russians should be held responsible for the Russian conflict in Donbass, for the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I am responsible for that as long as I haven’t done anything to stop it”.
Mikhalov was introduced to the Conflict Intelligence Team during their MH17 investigation, which subsequently led to his first investigation of a Russian soldier fighting in Debaltseve. He is now “proving war crimes committed by the Russian Airforce” in Syria, where the CIT was first to share the story of a Russian Marine influx at an airport in the western part of the country.
According to Mikhalov, any military should be held accountable for their human rights violations, however, the “Russian military is one of the most responsible for war crimes. They are being really non-transparent about it and that should change.”
Members of the Conflict Intelligence team refer to themselves as activists, not journalists, and their goal is for their investigations to eventually reach the Russian audience: “Being Russian and Russian-based is what makes us more credible. It’s more credible when Russians do it, when they call out their own government.”
Hromadske spoke to Kirill Mikhailov, Contributor for the Conflict Intelligence Team in February, 2016 in Kyiv.