Thursday, 05. March 2015
13. 06. 14. - 16:00
A viral video last week of pranksters starting up a WW2 tank as it was perched on a memorial has inspired pro-Russian rebels in the Ukraine to plunder military museums of arms and ammunition to use in their fight to break away from the capital Kiev.
The rebels are desperately short of any sort of military armament and after seeing the way the tank had started up despite being exposed to the elements for decades, they started scouring museums and have found tanks and other armoured vehicles which they now plan to enlist in the defence of the eastern city of Donetsk which has declared its independence from the Ukraine.
According to Oleksandr Lukyanchenko, mayor of Donetsk, the official request has been made to museum authorities to hand over the weapons. But smaller towns say that people are just taking them from displays and then working on them to get them back on the road.
The militias say they do not care that the most of the tanks are not properly combat ready - they just want to be able to deploy heavier weaponry against the Ukrainian foe.
Alexei Kosalokin, a local militia leader, said: "There is tons of stuff that we can make use of - mortars, heavy machine guns, truck-towed artillery pieces. This was the stuff our ancestors beat the Nazis with and if it was good enough for them it is good enough for us.
"Some guns from a military museum last week were still in the greased packing paper that they were wrapped in back in 1944. They are in perfect condition and just as deadly as anything made today. We hit upon the idea of raiding museums after seeing the tank video on the internet."
The tank in question was atop a memorial in Kostiantynivka, an industrial city in eastern Ukraine, when two jokers who were both mechanics clambered aboard and began poking about inside.
Built in 1943, retired in 1945, and placed on the pedestal in 1994, the mighty diesel engine stunned the mechanics when it roared into life after they played around with it. The tank's engine did not need electricity to start and only needed compressed air to get it going.
"No-one was more surprised then me when she kicked into life," said Dimitry Koskalovin, 23, who clambered into the tank with his pal Mikhail Stakavan, 22.
"We let it rip for a few minutes and then did a runner. We never meant to pinch it or anything."
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