Nationalists Catch Brazilian Man Who Fought for Russia-Backed Separatists
4 May, 2018

Members of the Ukrainian nationalist group C14 have captured former “Donetsk People’s Republic” militant and Brazilian citizen Rafael Lusvarghi in Kyiv, according to a Facebook post by C14 member Yevhen Karas.  

Karas says that they captured Lusvarghi at the Brazilian embassy in Kyiv. The far right-activists then took their captive to the Ukrainian security services.  

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

Among those taking part in the capture of the former militant were representatives from the National Corps political party.  

“Let somebody with more authority come out and take him. We don’t understand how he ended up in Kyiv,” one member of the organization said.  

SBU spokesperson Olena Hitlianska said Lusvarghi will be taken to the office of investigators, where they will speak with him.  

READ MORE: What’s Behind Ukraine’s Shocking “National Druzhyna” Militia?

“I cannot predict what will happen with him after that and whether he will be detained,” she said.

In response to the question of whether there are legal grounds for detention and whether there are any open criminal proceedings against Lusvarghi that could lead to his arrest, Hitlianska said she didn’t know.

Photo credit: HROMADSKE

“There was a verdict, but now I can not say if there are grounds for his detention. Our specialists will now chat with him, conduct an interview, then a procedural decision will be made. I’m not authorized to give out those details,” she said.

Just a day earlier, international news and broadcasting organization Radio Free Liberty ran a story about Lusvarghi living in the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, where he was allegedly learning to be a monk. 

Lusvarghi came from São Paulo to Donbas in Autumn of 2014. In videos broadcast on the militants' channel, he talked about shelling Ukrainian military positions as well as taking part in the battles for Donetsk airport and Debaltseve. He also promised to come to Kyiv and end the war.

Photo credit: Volodymyr Hontar/UNIAN

Ukrainian law enforcement arrested the Brazilian citizen at Kyiv’s Boryspil airport in October last year, immediately after he arrived in Ukraine from Brazil. He was accused of taking part in the war in Donbas on the side of the “DPR” militants. 

An investigation then established that, between September 2014 and May 2015, Lusvarghi was part of the 1st Motorized Infantry Battalion, “Viking,” of the 1st brigade of “DPR” militants.  

Photo credit: Volodymyr Hontar/UNIAN

Law enforcement authorities also reported that he formed an armed group of foreigners, mainly from Brazil. As a result, a Kyiv court sentenced the Brazilian citizen to 13 years imprisonment in January 2017.

But on August 18, 2017, the Kyiv Court of Appeals revoked Lusvarghi’s sentence. The change was initiated by prosecutor Igor Vovk in order to exchange the Brazilian citizen as part of a large prisoner exchange on December 27, 2017. However, this never happened. Lusvarghi could not be handed over to the “DPR” militants as part of the exchanged because he is a foreign national.