In many liberated Ukrainian villages police have discovered buildings that appear to have been used by Russian soldiers as prisons and suspected torture chambers.
In many liberated Ukrainian villages police have discovered buildings that appear to have been used by Russian soldiers as prisons and suspected torture chambers. © Paula Bronstein/Getty Images

Torture in the Chernihiv Region

Case brought over brutal detention and abuse of local man randomly shot at and imprisoned.

Wednesday, 22 February, 2023

A Russian military officer is to face trial for detaining a civilian in the Chernihiv region and torturing him relentlessly over a period of four days in March 2022. 

Konstantin Kuznetsov, 21, is from the village of Volchikha, Altai Territory of the Russian Federation and a soldier in Military Unit No 14330, 40th Engineer and Sapper Regiment of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District of the Russian Federation.

According to the investigation, on March 13, 2022, unidentified Russian soldiers at the entrance to the village of Tovstolis shot at a VAZ 2101 Zhiguli civilian car, a Soviet rear-wheel drive sedan-type vehicle. According to the case file, the Russian military did this “out of hatred for the Ukrainian people”.

Two civilian men aged 43 and 38 were in the car. The younger man, Oleksandr M, received minor injuries of tangential gunshot wounds to the right thigh. There is no information about the condition of the second man as he was not declared a victim in the Kuznetsov case.

Unidentified Russian soldiers then aimed further shots at Oleksandr M in order to intimidate him, before tying his hands behind his back, putting a bag on his head and dragging him to the crossroads. There they threw him into a Russian Tiger military vehicle and drove him to the nearby village of Terekhivka, 17 kilometres from Chernihiv.

Kuznetsov is accused of keeping the victim bound with a bag over his head in a shop in the village of Terekhivka from March 13 to 17. The room was not heated and the victim was not provided with the necessary medical care, water, food or the opportunity to use the toilet.

The victim was questioned about his alleged cooperation with the Ukrainian armed forces and accused of providing them with information about the location of Russian soldiers and military equipment. He was also beaten with the aim of extracting information about the Ukrainian special forces and places of deployment of the Ukrainian military.

Kuznetsov tortured Oleksandr M in the presence of a Russian military officer, who was not identified during the pre-trial investigation: while wearing heavy military footwear, he kicked him and stepped on his shins and knees. The severe physical pain led the victim to lose control of his bladder and bowels and he begged Kuznetsov to kill him on the spot so that the torture would stop.

According to the investigation, Kuznetsov continued to torture Oleksandr M from March 13 to 17 with only brief intervals of respite that were too short to allow the victim to sleep.

On March 17, Kuznetsov, together with other Russian soldiers, put a bag over Oleksandr M’s head and drove him in a Tiger military vehicle to a section of the highway near the village of Roishche, Chernihiv district. 

There, the Kuznetsov made the victim lie face down on the side of the road and placed a box filled with nails on his neck and back, telling him that this was a mine which would explode if he tried to get up within the next ten minutes. Oleksander M was too frightened to move.

Kuznetsov is charged under Part 1 of Art 438 of the criminal code concerning the cruel treatment of the civilian population. If convicted he faces eight to 12 years in prison, which will count from the moment of his arrest.

Among the evidence collected by the prosecution during the pre-trial investigation was a photo identification report, according to which the victim identified Kuznetsov as the person who inflicted physical injuries on him. There was also information on the identity of the accused from the Ukrainian security service in the Chernihiv region.

Due to his failure to appear at summonses to the prosecutor during the pre-trial investigation, the Russian was declared wanted. Therefore, in August 2022, the court granted permission to for a special pre-trial investigation. 

According to the Ukrainian security service, Kuznetsov is currently in the territory of the Russian Federation, and has failed to appear for court summons three times.

Therefore, in accordance with Ukrainian legislation, the court decided to hold a special trial and proceeded directly to consider the merits of the case in the absence of the accused.

The defence lawyer and the victim did not object to the appointment implementation of a special trial. This means that the court will now hear the indictment, examine the evidence of the parties, interrogate the victim and proceed to the debate between the defence and the prosecutor, after which it will announce the verdict.

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