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Tuesday, July 19, 2016


Lieutenant Colonel
Mikhail Tolstykh
Givi during the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport.
July 19, 1980 (age 35)
Ilovaisk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
 Ukraine (1998-2000)
 Donetsk People's Republic (2014–present)
Years of service
Somalia Battalion
War in Donbass

Mikhail Sergeyevich Tolstykh (Russian: Михаи́л Серге́евич Толсты́х), better known by his callsign Givi (Ги́ви), is a commander in the pro-Russian separatist "Somali Battalion" (Russian: Батальон Сомали) in the War in Donbass. In an online interview, Givi claimed that he is from Ilovaisk and served in the Ukrainian Army from 1998 to 2000 before working at a sling rope factory. He is 36 as of July 2016; his civilian name is Mikhail Tolstykh. In an interview he stated that his great-grandfather was an ethnic Georgian.

He joined the separatists in the early stages of the war and was involved in the Battle of Ilovaisk. Givi led separatists in the Second Battle of Donetsk Airport. He received widespread fame in October 2014 when a video of him ignoring a rocket artillery strike landing near enough to him for shrapnel to fall at his feet was uploaded to YouTube and gained over 1,000,000 views.

On February 16, 2015, Mikhail Tolstykh was included by the European Council in the sanctions list.


Givi briefing his comradres.
Mistreatment of prisoners

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 them into the prisoners' mouths. 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.

From the left: Serb (Rusich), Givi (Somali), Slavyan (Rusich), unknown warrior

Commander Givi in his office

Commander Givi and his Somalia Battalion

Commander Givi and his Somalia Battalion in training

Commander Givi and comrades

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