26-year-old Ainur Shafikov was among the Russian forces deployed to the eastern front to capture the Kharkiv region.
26-year-old Ainur Shafikov was among the Russian forces deployed to the eastern front to capture the Kharkiv region. © Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office

Case Launched Over Cruel Treatment of Civilians

Serviceman accused of seeking revenge on Ukrainian man who refused to sell him his three-year-old daughter.

Tuesday, 9 January, 2024

A Russian officer stands accused of the cruel treatment of civilians during the capture of Kharkiv oblast in the spring of 2022.

In late February 2022, as Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine began, 26-year-old Ainur Shafikov was among the Russian forces deployed to the eastern front to capture the Kharkiv region. 

As part of these efforts, the Russian army occupied the Kupyansk district and its regional centre, more than 100 kilometers from Kharkiv. 

Kupyansk, located 40 kilometers from the border with Russia, had a pre-war population of 27,000 and is a key transport hub. The occupying forces captured the city on February 27, 2022 and held it until it was liberated in a  counteroffensive on September 10. 

On February 27, the Russians set up a roadblock at the crossroads of the village of Pervomaiske so as to control the movement of transport and civilians in the direction of Kupyansk. The investigation detailed how in April, a group of Russians including Shafikov, stopped a man at this roadblock along with his wife and three-year-old daughter.

"The military personnel saw the child and said that the girl was too beautiful and they were ready to buy her for 200,000 Russian rubles,” the press service of the Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor's Office reported. “The child's father refused and began to argue with the occupiers. After an argument, they told the family to drive on. In turn, the accused was very surprised why the man did not want to give up his daughter for such an amount." 

Later, on April 25, Shafikov and four other armed Russian soldiers broke into the family’s house in the village of Pervomaiske. According to the investigation, the Russians wanted to take revenge on the man for "disobedience". 

They took him outside the house, where they beat him. Shafikov threatened to kill the victim, reloading the weapon and bringing it into combat readiness. All this happened in front of the victim's wife, who begged the Russians not to kill her husband. The Russians took the man away g with them in the direction of the local cultural centre, allegedly to be shot. The victim's wife was forced to stay at home. After taking the victim to the cultural centre, they beat him again, fired a shot into the air and let him go.

Shafikov is also accused of another episode which took place on the morning of August 27. According to the investigation, the accused, along with three accomplices, drove a black vehicle marked with the letter Z to the village of Zoryanske in Kupyansk district. There, he searched the house of a local businessman, looking for service weapons as they knew that the man’s daughter-in-law was a Ukrainian policewoman. According to the prosecutor's office, local collaborators had informed Shafikov that the man was hiding his daughter-in-law's weapon at his home. 

After the soldiers failed to find any weapons, Shafikov beat the householder and drove away.

Shafikov, from the Republic of Bashkortostan, part of the Russian Federation, is accused of the war crime of cruel treatment of the civilian population as a result of a prior conspiracy by a group of persons (Part 2 of Article 28, Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine concerning the violation of the laws and customs of war. 

He was informed of the absentee suspicion against him in October 2023. On November 28, the Kharkiv Kyiv district court gave permission for a special pre-trial investigation. Shafikov is believed to currently be in Russia and has been declared an internationally wanted man.

The case will begin to be considered on its merits only after three summonses and if the accused fails to appear in court. Permission for special court proceedings will also need to be granted. 

If found guilty, Shafikov faces eight to 12 years imprisonment.

The first preliminary court hearing in this case is scheduled for February 14, 2024

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