Nikolai Kartashev follows the proceedings in the Irpinsky court in September 2023. The senior artillery gunner is accused of killing an unarmed supermarket guard in the village of Bucha in March 2022. He was captured by Ukraine’s Armed Forces in February 2023 in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
Nikolai Kartashev follows the proceedings in the Irpinsky court in September 2023. The senior artillery gunner is accused of killing an unarmed supermarket guard in the village of Bucha in March 2022. He was captured by Ukraine’s Armed Forces in February 2023 in the northeastern Kharkiv region. © Irina Domashchenko

Russian Soldier To Face Trial for Murdering Supermarket Guard

Case will proceed after Kyiv court of appeal accepts prosecutor's objections over procedural shortcomings.

Tuesday, 12 March, 2024

A Russian paratrooper is to face trial for his alleged involvement in the shooting of a supermarket guard in Bucha, in Kyiv region, on February 27, 2022.  

Nikolai Kartashev, a native of Russia’s Rostov region, was captured in February 2023 in the northeastern Kharkiv region. 

His military unit, No 74268, is stationed in Pskov, a Russian city about 20 kilometres from the border with Estonia. Before his capture, the 21-year-old served in the first battalion and tactical group of the 234th Airborne Assault Regiment of the 76th Airborne Assault Division of Russia’s Airborne Forces. He is the senior gunner of the Nona-S self-propelled artillery gun. 

According to the investigation, on February 27, 2022, the paratrooper was in a column of Russian military that had entered Ukraine from Belarus and was moving along Vokzalnaya Street in Bucha, near Kyiv. Vadim Tsvetkov, a 25-year-old senior officer of the first self-propelled artillery battery, reportedly ordered his subordinates via radio to shoot all people wearing black clothes, in violation of the principle of distinction, because a large number of civilians could be wearing black clothes.

Kartashev, together with four others - deputy platoon commander Denis Monakhov, 25; loader Artem Derkach, 19; commander of the self-propelled artillery gun Dmitrii Antonnikov, 26; and senior scout-rangefinder Ruslan Gorshkov, 19 - obeyed and opened fire with automatic weapons on Valery K, a 25-year-old unarmed guard of a local supermarket who was wearing his official uniform, which was black. 

Nikolai Kartashev, accused of killing an unarmed supermarket guard, in the village of Bucha, where the crime happened, with police investigators in August 2023, during the pre-trial investigation. © Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine

In a video released by the Ukrainian police, Kartashev was seen giving evidence during the pre-trial investigation in Bucha. 

“When you were travelling [in the convoy], did you receive any orders from your leadership?” the investigator asked him.

“Yes, [they said that] those in black are enemies” Kartashev replied.

“Did you fulfil the order or not?” the prosecutor continued.

“Yes. When we stopped here, a man in black clothes was running near Novus [a supermarket chain],” replied the soldier, adding that he then fired with a machine gun.

The wounded man tried to escape. He managed to reach the basement of the supermarket, where store employees were hiding.

“We heard a whisper, ‘Help’. We recognised it was Valery’s voice,” a witness told investigators in the video. The woman worked in the same supermarket and, together with other employees, was in the basement. The 25-year-old guard managed to reach the basement seeking help but died there from a gunshot wound to the chest, a lung injury and blood loss.

Procedural Deficiencies

According to Russian media, in December 2022 Kartashev was convicted for desertion after willingly leaving the combat zone, returning home and twice failing to rejoin his military unit. A Russian court handed him a one-year suspended sentence and he was then sent again to fight in Ukraine, where he was captured.

In August 2023, Kartashev was informed of the suspicion of murdering a civilian and the Irpinsky City Court in the Kyiv region received his case in September 2023.

During the preparatory hearing on November 2, presiding judge Yana Shestopalova asked the paratrooper whether he partially understood Ukrainian. 

“Yes,” he answered through the translator.

At the hearing, Artem Galkin, the defence attorney from the Free Legal Aid Centre, asked the court to return the indictment to the prosecutor.

“My client, Mr Kartashev, sincerely and consistently cooperated with the pre-trial investigation authorities all the time and admitted his guilt in the indicted criminal offence,” the lawyer said. “The prosecution did not indicate a number of circumstances that mitigate his responsibility [which are] sincere remorse and active assistance in the disclosure of the criminal offence. Under such circumstances, the defence considers it necessary to return the indictment to the prosecutor.” 

The court accepted the attorney’s request and sent the indictment to the prosecutor to address the deficiencies. The judges stated that Kartashev's case violated the principle of presumption of innocence; it named his alleged accomplices, with details that made them identifiable. Since the four men are not part of this criminal proceeding, their details should not have been disclosed.

In November 2023, the Irpinsky city court, in the Kyiv region, accepted the defence request to send the indictment back to the prosecutor for procedural shortcomings.  Mykhailo Nechytalyuk, a prosecutor from the Prosecutor General's Office, appealed the decision, and on 

February 28, 2024, the Kyiv Court of Appeal accepted his objection and annulled the decision of the Irpinsky court, ordering a new trial of first instance against Kartashev.

The indictment against Kartashev will return to the Irpinsky city court where the preparatory stage will begin again.

Kartashev is accused of violating the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder under Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 2 of Article 438 of Ukraine’s criminal code. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison or life imprisonment.

The case of Kartashev’s accomplices - Derkach, Antonnikov, Monakhov and Gorshkov - is being considered separately. The four were reported the suspicion in absentia in September 2023 and in October their file was transferred to the court for the preparatory hearings. 

On February 7, 2024, during a preparatory meeting of the court in Irpin, the prosecutor planned to request a special trial in absentia because the four defendants had failed to appear at the summons. 

The court delayed the decision and requested updated data on the accused’s whereabouts and status, in case the men had been captured or killed since the pre-trial investigation. The court adjourned the hearing to March 26, 2024.

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