Russian Paratrooper Faces New Charges for Abusing Civilians
Major accused of brutal treatment in Bucha in addition to similar offences in Irpin during March 2022.
The Irpinsky city court announced new charges against a captured Russian paratrooper already standing trial for abusing civilians during the occupation of Irpin, a town 25 kilometres west of the capital, in March 2022.
On November 7, Bucha district prosecutor Olena Vasileva announced that 33-year-old Andrii Medvedev was also accused of abusing civilians in Bucha, a town of 30,000 people, north-west of Kyiv. The Russian major is from the village of Matino in Russia’s western region of Tver and is a resident of Pskov, a north-western city near the border with Estonia.
Russian tanks rolled into Bucha on February 27, 2022 and occupied the area, along with Irpin and Hostomel, with the aim of surrounding and besieging Kyiv.
Ukrainian troops regained control of the city on March 31, finding corpses on the streets and mass graves. The town became a symbol of war crimes perpetrated by Russian soldiers: mass murders, kidnappings, torture, rape and looting.
Medvedev was subsequently wounded and captured by Ukrainian forces in the southern Kherson region where his unit had been deployed.
During the November 7 court hearing, prosecutors stated that Russian paratroopers were stationed in the area of the Radiant' children's camp, located in Bucha’s Vokzalnaya Street. According to the investigation, on March 4 Medvedev and some comrades were ordered to detain civilians with the purpose of interrogating them and obtaining information about Ukraine’s armed forces.
Medvedev and his group reportedly detained six civilian men, two of whom were disabled and one visually impaired. Two civilians were taken from the Kampa holiday resort where they worked. Others were detained on the street. The men's hands were tied with ropes, they were blindfolded and taken to the Transkom trucking company in Bucha, where they were beaten, interrogated and tortured with a stun gun.
The six men were then escorted to the Radiant children's camp, where they were again interrogated and beaten before being thrown into a cold basement. The following morning, on March 5, five of the men managed to escape. One of the victims said that there were no Russians around. The disabled man, however, remained in the basement as he could not walk on his own. Other civilians helped him get out later that day.
According to the investigation, Medvedev participated in the detentions, interrogations and beatings of civilians, threatening to kill the civilians and shooting one of them in the knee.
During the November 7 hearing, Yuriy Sharykin, a lawyer from the Free Legal Aid Centre, filed a civil lawsuit for moral damages in the amount of one million hryvnias ( 27,000 US dollars) on behalf of the visually impaired victim, 52-year-old Kostyantyn Shkolnenko.
Before Russia's full-scale invasion, Shkolnenko lived in the Kampa resort where he worked as a gardener. Sharykin said that after the violence he experienced, Shkolnenko's health deteriorated and he had become almost completely blind. This had deprived him of his means of livelihood and forced him to exist at the expense of benefactors, Sharykin told the court.
Medvedev pleaded not guilty to the new indictment and stated that he had never seen Shkolnenko before.
“I did not take part in the listed events. I took part in only one episode,” the Russian corporal told the court.
“Which episode do you acknowledge and which do you not?” asked Natalya Karabaza, the panel’s presiding judge'
“The only thing I admit is that I escorted three civilians from Transkom ATP to the Radiant camp,” replied Medvedev.
“So you do not admit being guilty at all?” said Kazabaza.
“No,” he replied.
“What about the civil lawsuit?” the presiding judge asked.
“What can I say? I have never met this citizen, so I know nothing about him. I never saw him…” Medvedev replied, agreeing to testify in this case.
Only one of the six civilians involved in the events attended the hearing, 51-year-old Oleksandr Lytvyn. The other five provided written statements.
Lytvyn said that on March 4, he was walking towards the house of an acquaintance when he was detained by Russian soldiers, his hands were tied and a cap was pulled over his eyes. He said that he did not see who seized him and escorted him to the children's camp.
“They were all in balaclavas,” Lytvyn said.
While in the basement, he recognised two victims by voice, his younger cousin and the son of a neighbour, who disappeared after escaping from the basement. He remains missing.
“First, I untied them and then said ‘keep your hands behind your back as if they were tied’. In the morning, I saw that it was dawning and I went out [to the street], I saw that they were not there [the Russian military], they had gone somewhere and I said ‘let’s run away,’” Lytvyn told reporters after the hearing.
Medvedev is already on trial for torturing civilians in Irpin, a charge to which he pleaded not guilty and refused to testify.
Prosecutor Vasylieva combined all episodes into one case and submitted written evidence to the court; the Russian faces between eight to 12 years in prison for violating the laws and customs of war as per Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code.
The paratrooper is also a witness in the case of a shooting of cars with civilians trying to leave Kyiv’s occupied suburbs. The news outlet Suspilne reported that Medvedev was a key testimony in the death of the Chikmaryov family on March 5, 2022 in Bucha.
In addition, Ukraine’s security service (SBU) stated that the major confirmed the torture and shooting of a resident of the Buchan district on March 12, 2022.
Investigators reported a suspicion in absentia to three higher ranking Russian officials: Lieutenant Nursultan Mussagaleev, commander of the reconnaissance platoon of the 104th Airborne Assault Regiment of Russia’s 76th Pskov Airborne Assault Division, and two of his subordinates, Deputy Platoon Commander Senior Sergeant Oleksiy Kolesnikov and the Commander of the 2nd Department Sergeant Oleksandr Viselkov.
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