Andrii Medvedev in the courtroom on 20 June.
Andrii Medvedev in the courtroom on 20 June. © Iryna Domashchenko

Captured Russian Paratrooper Pleads Not Guilty

Accused declined to answer questions from journalists during most recent court hearing.

Tuesday, 29 August, 2023

A Russian prisoner of war has pleaded not guilty on charges of the cruel treatment of civilians during Russia’s occupation of the Irpin region in March 2022. 

Paratrooper Andrii Medvedev was wounded and captured in the southern region of Kherson after Russian troops retreated from Irpin on March 28.

Appearing in court still using crutches due to this injury, the 33-year-old is accused of the cruel treatment of the civilian population, under Part 1 of Art. 438 of the criminal code concerning the violation of the laws and customs of war. 

On August 10, the Irpin city court began to consider the merits of the case, first brought to its attention in May.

A view inside the courtroom on August 10. © Iryna Domashchenko

Medvedev, who is being held in the Kyiv pre-trial investigation prison, initially requested that his case be considered by a panel of judges, as is his right. According to the Ukrainian criminal procedure code, the accused may ask the court for his case to be heard by a panel of three judges, if the article under which he is tried provides for a punishment of more than ten years of imprisonment. The crime Medvedev has been accused of carries a penalty of between ten and 12 years.

Therefore, the court granted his request and postponed the preparatory meeting and the case was sent to the court office to determine the three judges.

The accused also asked the court to ensure that journalists should not record him on video or take photos. The judge granted this request and allowed the filming of all participants in the process, except for Medvedev. 

After the panel of judges was formed, the Pskov paratrooper did not ask for a further ban on filming.

Medvedev’s participation in court is mandatory, and it is the duty of the court and the prosecutor to ensure that the accused has the right to use an interpreter. 

However, Medvedev understands Ukrainian, and has rarely used the services of a Ukrainian-to-Russian translator. During the first court meeting in May, he said that he did not need simultaneous translation and that he would turn to the translator when he did not understand something.

Medvedev initially appeared willing to speak to Ukrainian journalists about his case, but has become more withdrawn in the last four months.

At the first hearing in April, he told reporters how he had been wounded and captured, and that he had been serving in the Russian army for 12 years. 

Asked about how he became involved in the war in Ukraine, he said, “[If] it is necessary, it means it is necessary. There were no thoughts about the reason." 

But asked about the case against him at another hearing on July 18, he said, “I will not answer your questions… I do not want to.”

Asked about the conditions in which he was being held, he said, “Come to the pre-trial detention centre, I will answer everything.”

In his appearance on August 10, Medvedev answered only the court's questions. 

The prosecutor of the Bucha district prosecutor's office announced the indictment, alleging how Medvedev brutalised civilians in Irpin in March 2022. 

In the first episode, Medvedev entered the territory of the Irpin military hospital on March 3. 

He allegedly detained two civilian men in the hospital warehouse, threatened them with a gun and staging a mock execution by forcing them to kneel and firing a machine gun twice over their heads. He also interrogated them in an attempt to get information.

Subsequently, according to the investigation, Medvedev - together with his commander Oleksandr Viselkov and other Russians - took up positions at a checkpoint set up in Irpin near a forest and private homes. On a date in the second half of March, Medvedev, together with Viselkov and accomplices, broke into one of the nearby houses. 

There were two civilian men there, and the accused allegedly beat one of them, Oleksandr Petrenko, and simulated killing him with two shots. Then he continued the interrogation in the yard and, after Petrenko provided him with false information, kicked him in the chest and simulated shooting him with his machine gun.

Medvedev's accomplice and commander, 32-year-old Viselkov, is a native of the Altai Territory of the Russian Federation. According to the Ukrainian investigation, he is the commander of the reconnaissance platoon of the parachute battalion of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division, known as the Pskov Airborne Division and has the military rank of sergeant.

A separate case has been opened against Viselkov under Part 1 of Art. 438 of the Criminal Code, concerning cruel treatment of the civilian population in Irpin by a group of persons in a previous conspiracy. According to the suspicion, announced in January 2023, Viselkov and Medvedev mocked, simulated a shooting and interrogated Petrenko. 

Viselkov is now also being tried in the Irpin court, but in absentia. Earlier, Medvedev told reporters that he did not know where his commander was. The sergeant's case is in court at the preparatory stage.

Medvedev told the court that he was a citizen of Russia, born in the village of Matino in Russia’s western region of Tver. He said that he lived in Pskov, a north-western city near the border with Estonia, and was married with an 18-month-old daughter.

“Do you understand what you are being accused of?” asked presiding judge Natalya Karabaza.

“Yes, everything is clear,” Medvedev replied. “Do you plead guilty and do you want to testify?” the judge asked. "No, I do not plead guilty, I refuse to testify,” he responded.

The court later decided on the order of the consideration of the case. First, the victims and witnesses will be questioned, then the written evidence examined, and after that the court will listen to Medvedev's testimony, if he changes his mind and decides to give it. 

Kyrylo Shurkhno, the accused's lawyer provided by the Free Legal Aid Centre, supported such an order as in the interests of his client. 

Following the hearing, Medvedev declined to answer any questions from journalists. The next meeting in this case is scheduled for September 6, when the victims will be questioned. 

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