Five Russian Soldiers Face Trial Over Shooting to Kill

Three commanders and two subordinates accused of firing at convoy fleeing Hostomel on the second day of the full-scale invasion.

Five Russian Soldiers Face Trial Over Shooting to Kill

Three commanders and two subordinates accused of firing at convoy fleeing Hostomel on the second day of the full-scale invasion.

Russian soldiers in Hostomel in early March 2022. The town is located 30 kilometres from Ukraine's capital Kyiv city and is the location of the strategically important Antonov international airport. The battle for control of the airport in Hostomel began on February 24, 2022 and by March 5, the Russians already controlled the towns of Bucha, Vorzel and Hostomel.
Russian soldiers in Hostomel in early March 2022. The town is located 30 kilometres from Ukraine's capital Kyiv city and is the location of the strategically important Antonov international airport. The battle for control of the airport in Hostomel began on February 24, 2022 and by March 5, the Russians already controlled the towns of Bucha, Vorzel and Hostomel. © Prosecutor General's Office
Tuesday, 20 June, 2023

A case in which Russian soldiers allegedly shot at ten civilian cars, killing five people and injuring several more, is to be considered by the Irpin city court of the Kyiv region.

According to the indictment, the five soldiers are accused of firing on a convoy of cars carrying civilians fleeing from the town of Hostomel on February 25,2022, the second day of the full-scale invasion.

Hostomel is located 30 kilometres from Kyiv city and is the location of the strategically important Antonov international airport. In the first days of the full-scale war, Russian troops sought to gain control over the towns of Hostomel, Bucha and Irpin, located near Kyiv, in order to surround the capital from the west. 

The battle for control of the airport in Hostomel began on February 24, 2022 and by March 5, the Russians already controlled Bucha, Vorzel and Hostomel. They refused to organise so-called green corridors to allow people to leave the captured towns. The Kyiv region was under occupation until early April. 

Burnt civilian cars in Hostomel, about 30 kilometres from Kyiv. During the battle for control of the strategically important town, the Russian military refused to organise so-called green corridors to allow people to leave the captured towns in Kyiv region. © National Police of Ukraine

In September 2022, Ukrainian police investigators announced in absentia that they suspected five Russian soldiers of shooting civilians. The suspects are Sergey Kazeichev, the 52-year-old commander of the special purpose unit of the Rosguardia (Russian Guard) in the Krasnoyarsk territory, his deputy 46-year-old Sergey Veikkolainen as well as Oleg Potopalskiy, 51 and subordinates Nikita Gadalov, 30 and Aleksey Malakhayev, 45. Kazeichev and Veikkolainen are natives of the Krasnoyarsk region of the Russian Federation, while Gadalov is from the Irkutsk region, Malakhaev from Saratov and Potopalskiy from the city of Rostov-on-Don.

The investigation found that on February 25, 2022,  having failed to complete the combat task of capturing Kyiv, soldiers of the consolidated detachment of the Russian Guard units, as well as the mobile special purpose detachment in the Krasnoyarsk territory, retreated and took up positions in Hostomel.

Russian soldiers were in combat positions in the area of Shevchenko and Sviato-Pokrovska streets in the centre of Hostomel. According to the suspicion, eight cars carrying civilians were shot at on Shevchenko street and two more on Sviato-Pokrovska street.   

Prosecutors believe that the order for the indiscriminate attacks was given by Kazeichev in coordination with Veikkolainen and Potopalskiy, and was carried out by Gadalov and Malakhaev, along with other unidentified Russian military personnel. They opened fire to kill.

The five civilians who were shot were the driver of a BMW, a 52-year-old Russian citizen of the Russian Federation and a boy, the passenger of a Renault Clio, the 22-year-old driver and female passenger of a Chevrolet Aveo, and the 42-year-old driver of a VAZ 2107. They all died at the scene.

Among six people injured was the 44-year-old driver of a Skoda Fabia, a German citizen.

According to information from the prosecutor's office, the investigation identified 41 witnesses and ordered 57 examinations as well as nine investigative experiments. Law enforcement officers received video from cameras located near the crime scene, as well as a recording of an eyewitness to the events. 

The investigation continues to identify other Russian soldiers involved in the shooting of civilians in Hostomel as Russian Guard units from the Russian cities of Kemerovo and Novokuznetsk of the Kemerovo region were also stationed in the area.

The case of Kazeichev, Gadalov, Veikkolainen, Malakhaev and Potopalskyi was separated into a separate criminal proceeding, the investigation of which took the investigators half a year.

In October 2022, the suspects were declared wanted. The court also chose preventive measures for them in the form of detention without determining the amount of bail, which will be implemented if they are detained. In November, the Shevchenkivskyi district court of Kyiv city granted permission to carry out a special pre-trial investigation. According to the investigation, the suspects are in the territory of the Russian Federation. 

In May 2023, the case was referred to the court. According to territorial jurisdiction, it was sent to the Irpin city court of the Kyiv region.

This case will be considered by a panel of judges as, according to Ukrainian criminal law, if the accused faces life imprisonment, the court proceedings must be heard by three judges. 

Kazeichev, Gadalov, Veikkolainen, Malakhaev, and Potopalskiy - ndicted for violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder by a group of persons (Part 2 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine) -face ten to 11 years of imprisonment or life if convicted. The accused were provided with the right to defence and lawyers from Ukrainian Centre for Free Legal Aid were appointed.

On May 29, the court received the indictment and scheduled a preliminary hearing for June 26. The court will be able to close it and proceed with the substantive consideration of the case only after the procedure of summoning the Russian military to court and granting permission for special court proceedings in the absence of the accused.

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