Ukrainian special operations soldiers searching for evidence of war crimes Vyshneve, a village in the Chernihiv region.
Ukrainian special operations soldiers searching for evidence of war crimes Vyshneve, a village in the Chernihiv region. © Carl Court/Getty Images

Stripped Naked, Beaten and Threatened with Death

Man's arms, legs and fingers were broken, and his internal organs damaged, in five-hour long assault.

Tuesday, 8 August, 2023

A Russian soldier has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for torturing a civilian in Vyshneve, a village in the Chernihiv region, in an attempt to force the man to confess to spying for Ukraine. 

Anchy Ondar, 36, is a native of the Russian republic of Tuva, in southern Siberia, and a rifleman of the 35th Separate Guards Motorised Rifle Brigade, located in Aleysk, a city about 350 kilometres south of Novosibirsk. 

The Russian army entered Vyshneve on February 24, 2022 and took control of the village, which lies about 45 kilometres from the border with Belarus, the following day. Ukraine’s forces liberated it after 35 days, on April 2. 

The Russians established a headquarters in the settlement to direct the assault on Chernihiv, the region’s administrative centre. They also reportedly set up a torture chamber. Vyshneve had a pre-war population of about 500 people: many sought shelter from the shelling in the basement of the local school. 

On February 28, the victim, who declined to be identified in court and is indicated in the files as Person 7, decided to flee the village and loaded his Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibus with clothes and groceries. After leaving his yard, he heard shots and saw an armoured personnel carrier. 

The victim’s mother, a village official, told the court that about 15 men wearing balaclavas then broke into their yard. The court’s files indicate her as Person 8.

The Russian soldiers ordered the victim to lie on the ground and threatened to kill him.  They then took his phone, kicked him and, after opening his car, distributed his groceries among themselves.

The soldiers accused the man of informing the Ukrainian armed forces about the Russian army’s positions and, threatening both mother and son with automatic weapons, forced them back into their minibus. They then instructed Person 7 to drive to the local sawmill. 

The investigation established that Ondar was the soldier who then interrogated and threatened to kill both of the victims. 

In his testimony, Person 7 described the person who'd interrogated him as a man of medium body build, with Asian features and black hair. 

Ondar beat him on the stomach and back with the butt of a machine gun in an attempt to force him to confess to spying for the Ukrainian army. 

Ukrainian media outlet Suspilne reported the victim as stating in court that, when he did not disclose any information, he was taken to the garden opposite the sawmill to be shot. 

However, shelling then began and the Russian servicemen sought shelter and did not comply with the order. The victim and his mother were released in the evening after being forced to hand over the keys to their minibus, which was later used by the Russian military to transport items looted from the village.

On March 3, Russian soldiers detained the victim again as he went to the village shop, owned by his family, to fix the broken front door. 

According to the testimony, the soldiers stopped and searched him. When they found flashlight batteries in the man's pocket, they again accused him of spying and took him back to the sawmill.

“Confess. You have batteries, accumulators. You launched the drone, we saw the drone flying, you launched it, where is your base?” the victim reported being told by the Russians.

 The soldiers then stripped him naked, tied his hands behind his back, knocked him to the ground and beat him. When he lost consciousness, they poured water on him, left him in the cold and then beat him again. The victim added that his heels were hit with sticks and his fingers with machine gun butts and he and his mother were both repeatedly threatened with death. He said he was sure that he would not be released alive a second time.

According to the testimony, the torture lasted for about five hours, with soldiers taking turns in beating the villager. The man's arms, legs, and fingers were broken, and his internal organs were damaged. 

Meanwhile, having learned that her son had been captured again, Person 8 ran to the checkpoint to try to find him. While she was out, Russian soldiers ransacked the house and, she stated, “took what they wanted”. 

The Russians did not find confirmation that the batteries found on the man were from a drone and let him go later in the day. Person 8 said that her son was still being treated for his injuries.

The victim told the court that Ondar was among the soldiers who beat him, identifying the accused from a photo. His mother also identified Ondar as the one who kidnapped, held and beat her son.

Chernihiv investigators notified Ondar of the suspicion in absentia over a year ago, in May 2022. A special court proceeding was conducted because after active hostilities in the Chernihiv region ended, the accused was relocated to the territory of the Russian Federation.

On July 17, the Ripkinsky District Court of Chernihiv Region found Ondar. The judge sentenced Ondar to 12 years in prison for violating the laws and customs of war: it is the maximum term under the criminal code’s Article 438, Part 1.

Issuing the ruling, the judge noted that the crime “constitutes an increased public danger in view of the wild and barbaric behavior of the accused in the modern world, which cannot take place in the 21st century. Committing such crimes, according to the court, nullifies all the achievements of modern civilisation in the field of peace and humanity”.

The Russian soldier’s defence lawyer has 30 days to appeal to the sentence.

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