A woman walks by in the city of Chernihiv on November 28, 2022 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. The Chernihiv region found itself on the frontline of Russia's invasion in February, when Moscow's forces were attempting to quickly seize Kyiv.
A woman walks by in the city of Chernihiv on November 28, 2022 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. The Chernihiv region found itself on the frontline of Russia's invasion in February, when Moscow's forces were attempting to quickly seize Kyiv. © Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Russian Sentenced to Life for Shooting Car Carrying Civilians

Soldier killed one passenger, while the others pretended to be dead and survived.

Tuesday, 9 May, 2023

A Russian sergeant has been sentenced to life in prison for shooting at a car carrying civilians in the Chernihiv region of Ukraine in February 2022, killing one of the passengers.

On April 26, judges of the Ichnianskyi district court of the Chernihiv region sentenced in absentia Aleksandr Karpov, 25. 

A native of Russia’s western region of Tuva, Karpov is a junior sergeant in a medical unit of the 1st tank regiment of the 2nd Taman motorised rifle division (military unit 58198).

According to Ukrainian police investigators, Karpov and his unit controlled the village of Krupychpole of the Ichnia territorial united community, in Chernihiv region’s Pryluky district, in late February 2022.

On April 26, the Ichnyan district court found Russian sergeant Aleksandr Karpov, guilty of shooting a car with a family of four during the period of temporary occupation of part of the Ichnyan community, in Chernihiv region, on February 26, 2022. © National Police of Ukraine

On February 26, between 5.35 pm and 5.56 pm, Karpov, together with some ten other Russian soldiers, was in the centre of the village, at the intersection of Bohdan Khmelnytskyi and Travneva streets when a car drove towards them. It was a red VAZ-2109, a Soviet small car popularly known as “the nine”, with a hatchback cab; it did not have any identifying marks or emblems, except for the registration number.

A family of four was in the vehicle. The father, identified as Vitaly G, was at the steering wheel, the mother sat next to him in the front seat, while their daughter and her husband were in the back seats. 

One of the Russian soldiers ordered the driver to stop. The car stopped and all the passengers remained seated without moving, but Karpov opened fire on the car and its passengers.

The mother died immediately from bullet wounds to her chest. The driver was injured in the chest and right shoulder, while his daughter was wounded in the chest, shoulder and forearm. The son-in-law was unharmed.

One of the Russian soldiers approached the car and told the rest of his group that there were four corpses inside. Karpov and his comrades concluded that all the passengers had died and they then left the scene, driving an armoured vehicle towards the village of Svarychivka.


Despite the wounds they had received, none of the passengers moved. 

“We pretended to be dead,” Vitaly G told the court during the trial, explaining that one of the Russian soldiers approached the car from the side, shining a flashlight into the vehicle.

The soldier then said, “Why were you shooting? Four corpses [are here].”

The other soldiers did not answer and quickly jumped on the armoured personnel carrier and drove off, after which the victim lost consciousness.

Vitaly G said that they were driving to their home in Fastivtsi, a village about 160 kilometres south-east of Chernihiv. He stopped the car as soon as one of the Russian soldiers shouted at them to stop. It was dark but as the headlights were on he saw the group and the armoured vehicle. On its front there was a soldier whose uniform bore the identification marks of the Russian army as well as a Russian flag. 

The victims told the court that Karpov, for reasons unknown to them, shot directly into the windshield of the car with a weapon similar to a Kalashnikov assault rifle. The injured driver also saw that, from the rear left of the armoured personnel carrier, two Russian soldiers began firing at the left side of the car. 

The injured driver had time to see only the Russian soldier who was shooting while standing on the armoured personnel carrier. In addition to his facial features, he saw that the soldier was also wearing a hat with ear flaps. The victim recognised Karpov from a photo provided by the police investigators.

The driver’s son-in-law told the court that he had seen the face of the Russian soldier who shot at them and also identified him as Karpov. 

The family doctor of the Krupychpole outpatient clinic witnessed the crime from the top floor of his house, which is nearby the scene. He also heard the Russian soldier asking the shooter, “Why were you shooting?” 

Realising that there might be victims in the car, the doctor rushed to the car to provide medical assistance. He provided first aid to the three surviving passengers. 


During the investigation, the police recreated the scene to check whether the victims would indeed have been able to see the face of the Russian soldier who had fired at the car. At the place indicated by the driver and the doctor, investigators placed a GAZ truck to represent an armoured personnel carrier. Both the doctor and the driver indicated at what height and in what position the Russian soldier was. 

The crime scene was recreated with the help of a man acting as the Russian soldier: he was not known to the witnesses and also wore a hat with ear flaps. Witnesses positioned in the attic of the doctor’s house and the driver’s seat were able to see him and describe his face. Investigators then determined that it would have been possible for the victim's father and son-in-law to see the shooter in the light of the headlights. 

Investigators also researched information from mobile operators. Between March 2 and 11, 2022, Karpov’s phone number was tracked first in the territory of the former Ichnia district, and then in the village of Krasnopillya, in the Sumy region, about ten kilometres from the state border with Russia. The phone was then allegedly turned off, indicating that the accused had left for Russia. 

In January 2023, the Ichnianskyi district court decided to hear Karpov's case in absentia as a special court proceeding as his whereabouts were unknown. Accordingly, the accused did not testify at the trial. 

As per the Ukrainian legislation, the accused was provided with a lawyer and called to the court with summonses on the website of the prosecutor general's office and the  Government Courier newspaper. 

Based on the evidence presented in the trial, Karpov was found guilty of a violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder, committed by a group of persons and of an attempted violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder, committed by a group of persons (Part 1 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 438, part 2 of article 15, part 1 of article 28, part 2 of article 438 of the criminal code). 

In accordance with Ukrainian criminal law, the court sentenced Karpov to life imprisonment. The accused has 30 days to appeal the verdict, which will enter into force once the period to file the appeal expires. In the event of an appeal, the sentence, unless it is annulled, will enter into force after the decision of the court of appeal.

Frontline Updates
Support local journalists