Former IDF officer found dead in Ukraine

Bar Bonen, who had joined anti-separatist forces fighting in the Ukraine, was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A self-described Israeli military adviser to a force fighting pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the Ukraine was found dead Monday of a gunshot wound to the head, possibly self-inflicted.

A handgun was found near Bar Bonen’s body in an apartment in Kiev and the initial conclusion of the police is that the death was a suicide, although they say the investigation has not yet been completed.

To bolster the theory, a goodbye letter was posted on Bonen’s Facebook page, which said in part, “I am a broken soul, and I didn’t open it very much to most of you. I can no longer tolerate this internal pain…”

He also asked “forgiveness” from those he may have hurt and to be remembered “as a good man.”

However, his comrades in arms threw doubt on the letter, saying it was “hard to believe that Bar committed suicide” because “he loved life.”

Bonen, 36, was a former IDF officer who volunteered with a force called the Georgian National Legion (GNL), which faced off with rebels who declared independence in the eastern part of Ukraine in an attempt to grow closer to Russia. He was not its only foreign member; several retired American soldiers had also joined the legion over the years.

One theory offered was that Russians had killed him and faked the letter to throw the police off the scent.

Certainly his commander, Majuka Mamulashvili, did not believe the suicide theory.

“We hope that the investigation will be objective because Bar was not the kind of person to kill himself, he wrote on Facebook. “There are many facts that are not consistent with the investigation’s version, and we hope that the truth will be brought to light.”

He mourned Bonen’s death, saying, “We are extremely sorry about the loss of a friend and a like-minded person.”

Mamulashvili sharpened his tone in an interview with the Kyiv Post, which reported him as saying that “it’s Russia’s message to the Georgian Legion” and that it could be part of “the war to discredit” the Legion.

The GNL was established in 2014 by ex-soldiers from neighboring Georgia to help the Ukrainians hold the country together after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula in March of that year. According to UAWire, the GNL was officially made part of the army in 2016, fighting the separatists in the Donbas region.

The Legion’s Facebook page says it withdrew from the 54th Brigade at the end of 2017 after accusing its commanders of incompetence and complaining that their weapons and other supplies had been stripped from them – but they did not withdraw from the field.

In the Kyiv Post report, Mamulashvili claimed that the group’s 50 fighters had been “fired” from the Ukrainian army over recent months “because of their ethnicity.”

He also told the paper that Bonen had told him in recent phone calls that the Ukrainian security service “had forbidden him to communicate or meet members of the Georgian Legion.”

The report noted that Bonen had first moved to the Ukrainian capital about 18 months ago and worked for a security software company before joining the Legion as a “press officer” in May. The police were saying that according to some of his acquaintances, Bonen had recently become withdrawn, the report added.