Mikhail Tolstykh

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Mikhail Tolstykh
Mikhail Tolstykh, aka Givi.jpg
Born(1980-07-19)19 July 1980
Ilovaisk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Died8 February 2017(2017-02-08) (aged 36)
Donetsk, Ukraine[a]
Allegiance Ukraine (1998–2000)
 Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) (2014–2017)
Service/branch Ukrainian Ground Forces (1998–2000)
Novorossiya Armed Forces (2014–2017)
Years of service1998–2000; 2014–2017
RankLieutenant colonel[1]
Commands heldSSI of the Somalia Battalion.svg Somalia Battalion
Battles/warsWar in Donbass

Mikhail Sergeyevich Tolstykh (Ukrainian: Михайло Сергійович Толстих, Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Толсты́х; 19 July 1980 – 8 February 2017), better known by his call-sign Givi (Ги́ви), was a commander of the Donetsk People's Republic's Somalia Battalion of the Separatist Forces in the War in Donbass.[3]


In his interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda and other Russian mass-media, Tolstykh claimed that he was from Ilovaisk and served in the Ukrainian Army from 1998 to 2000 before working at a sling rope factory and as a security guard in a supermarket[4][5] (although Tolstykh said he had speech impediment which barred him from serving in the Ukrainian army[4]). In an interview he stated that his great-grandfather was an ethnic Georgian. His nickname Givi is Georgian.[6]

Tolstykh joined the rebels in the early stages of the war and was involved in the Battle of Ilovaisk.[7] Givi led the DPR Somalia Battalion in the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport.[8] The Telegraph wrote a brief article about him where he gives interview to Novorossiya TV, during which an explosion took place supposedly in close vicinity.[9]

On February 16, 2015, Tolstykh was included by the European Council in their sanctions list.[10] In 2016, he was charged in Ukraine with crimes including the creation of a terrorist organization, abduction, and abuse of prisoners of war.[11]

Mistreatment of prisoners[edit]

In January 2015, several videos surfaced of Tolstykh physically abusing prisoners captured at the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport. Tolstykh is seen clearly identifying himself before grabbing the prisoners by the face, brandishing a dagger, and cutting off military insignia and forcing prisoners to eat them. Oleksandra Matviychuk, head of the Kiev-based Center for Civil Liberties, calls what appears in the videos "flagrant violations of the Geneva Conventions" and says she is preparing the groundwork for prosecution.[12]


Early morning on February 8, 2017 while working in his Donetsk office, Tolstykh was killed by an explosion said to be caused by the RPO-A Shmel rocket launcher fired from an unknown distance.[13] DPR officials accused Ukrainian forces of carrying out the attack,[14] while Ukrainian security officials claimed it to be the result of DPR infighting.[15][16]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Lt. Col. Givi prepares "surprise" for Ukrainian troops. Novorossia TV. 1 December 2014. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  2. ^ "Militant Konsul killed; Givi wounded near Avdiivka, - militants' websites". Censor.NET. 5 February 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  3. ^ "In Ukraine, Civilians in Crossfire". New York Times. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  4. ^ a b Zhukova, O. Givi: I was taught to battle by Chapayev and Ukraine. Komsomolskaya Pravda. 8 February 2017
  5. ^ "Interview with NAF commander Givi about his personal life". YouTube. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  6. ^ "In Donetsk was killed terrorist Givi (В Донецьку вбито терориста Гіві (ОНОВЛЮЄТЬСЯ))". Retrieved 8 February 2017.
  7. ^ "Pro-Russian rebels take Ukrainian town". CNN. 2 September 2014. Archived from the original on 7 September 2014. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
  8. ^ "Rebel commander wages fight to the death for east Ukraine airport". Yahoo News. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  9. ^ "Ukraine: Donetsk fighter unfazed by heavy shelling". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/241 of 9 February 2015 amending Decision 2014/145/CFSP concerning restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine". EUR-Lex. Retrieved 5 March 2015.
  11. ^ "Separatist Commander 'Givi' Killed In Eastern Ukraine". RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 21 February 2017.
  12. ^ Kates, Glenn; Removska, Olena (January 28, 2015). "Disturbing Videos Raise War-Crimes Concerns In Ukraine". Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
  13. ^ "Separatist commander Mikhail Tolstykh, 'Givi', killed in eastern Ukraine". CBA News. CBC. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  14. ^ "В ДНР погиб командир батальона «Сомали» Гиви". Dozhd. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  15. ^ "Key Ukraine rebel commander killed in 'act of terror'". France 24. AFP. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.
  16. ^ "Ukraine conflict: Rebel leader Givi dies in rocket attack". BBC News. 8 February 2017. Retrieved 9 March 2017.