A man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building on April 4, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a "deliberate massacre" as they occupied and eventually retreated from Bucha, 25km northwest of Kyiv.
A man walks past a heavily damaged apartment building on April 4, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine. The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a "deliberate massacre" as they occupied and eventually retreated from Bucha, 25km northwest of Kyiv. © Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Bucha: Kidnapped and Tortured Three Times

Servicemen are accused of beating and starving 32-year-old hostage on several occasions.

Tuesday, 7 March, 2023

Nine Russian soldiers have been indicted for the repeated detention and torture of a Ukrainian civilian during the occupation of Bucha in the Kyiv district in March 2022

Ukrainian law enforcement officers have documented mass killings and torture during the 33 days the city was occupied by the Russian military, from the morning of February 27, 2022 to March 31.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general Andriy Kostin said that the Russian army had committed more than 9,000 war crimes in the Bucha district of the Kyiv region. More than 1,700 civilians were killed, including some 700 in Bucha city alone. So far, 91 Russian military personnel have been identified as involved in these crimes.

In April, after the deoccupation of Bucha, Ukrainian law enforcement officers and journalists identified the first ten Russian soldiers involved in the torture of civilians.

Nine of these military men are accused of abusing Serhii K 32, who in March 2022 was captured and tortured three times. 

The suspects are junior sergeant Vyacheslav Lavrentiev, corporals Mikhail Kashin, Andriy Bizyaev, Dmitriy Sergienko and Semyon Maltsev, as well as four privates: Grygoriy Naryshkin, Vasiliy Knyazev, Sergey Peskaryov and Albert Radnaev.

During his captivity, Serhii K was interrogated about the Ukrainian military, the territorial defence, the placement of base communication stations and weapons. He was beaten, blindfolded and his hands tied with plastic cuffs. He was denied food throughout his periods of imprisonment. Each time, the man was kept in an apartment on the fourth floor on Mykhaylovskyy Street in Bucha.

The case has been pending since the indictment was submitted to the Irpin city court of the Kyiv region in September 2022. The accused were summoned t, as required by Ukrainian legislation, by publications on the official court website and the Government Courier newspaper, but did not appear at the preparatory hearing. Therefore, the court granted the prosecutor's request for a special trial in the absence of the accused persons. 

According to the evidence provided by the prosecution, the suspects are on the territory of the Russian Federation. Their lawyers, assigned by the Ukrainian Centre for Free Legal Aid, reported that they had been unable to contact their clients.

The case began to be considered in substance in November 2022. Serhiy K was interviewed by journalists of the Media Initiative for Human Rights and his testimony provided to  the court. 

Serhiy, an electronics engineer, related that he worked in Bucha and had stayed there for the entire duration of the occupation.

When he was first captured, Serhii and a colleague were forced to stand facing a fence and asked if they had weapons. 

“They said that if we don't tell, they will maim us,” he recalled.

The Russian military searched them for weapons and forced them to take them to their workplace. They were then stripped, searched for nationalistic tattoos and taken to the basement.

"After a while, they came down to me and started asking about the communication towers, because I told them that I was an electronics engineer," Serhii said. “I didn't know about any towers, but they said, ‘If we find anything here, we'll shoot you.’ Later, the victim and a colleague were put on top of a military car and taken to an apartment, where they were locked up for several days, and then released.

The victim was detained a second time shortly after that. Russian soldiers  came to the yard again. 

"The commander says, ‘Oh, electrician man, you again?’” Sergii said, adding that he was again questioned about weapons. 

"They beat me on the fingers, on the knees," he said. The soldiers then blindfolded him and took him in a military car to the same apartment where he had been recently held.

The victim was detained for the third time as he helped locals transport water and medicine. He was beaten, put in an armoured personnel carrier and driven to a house where another civilian was being held. Then everyone was taken to the same apartment on the fourth floor. Later, after Serhii was released, he learned that the second civilian had been shot. This incident is being investigated in another case.

Serhii identified all the accused men from photographs and said that each had played a role in his abduction and mistreatment. 

The nine Russian servicemen are indicted under Part 1 of Art. 438 on the violation of the laws and customs of war of the Ukrainian criminal code relating to the cruel treatment of civilians. This article provides for punishment from eight to 12 years of imprisonment.

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