Tuesday, 10 October ‘23

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 10 October ‘23

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 10 October, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Russian Official Issued Suspicion in Absentia for “Kamikaze Drones”

Ukrainian investigators issued a suspicion in absentia to Russian official Yury Velyokoklad for assisting in the conduct of an aggressive war under Part 5 of Article 27 and Part 2 of Article 437 of Ukraine’s criminal code.

Velyokoklad is the general director of the 223 Flight Squad, an airline operating under the umbrella of Russia’s Ministry of Defence and included in Ukraine’s list of sanctioned individuals.

According to Ukraine’s security services (SBU), the 67-year-old organised the transport of Shahed-type kamikaze drones from Iran to the Russia-Ukraine border, which were then employed to shell the Ukrainian city of Sumy on July 3. The attack killed three civilians and wounded 19. 

The Iran-manufactured drones were allegedly transported to the territory of the Russian Federation with a Il-76 military transport aircraft of the fleet Velykoklad manages. According to the investigation, between the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, the suspect provided planes to transfer units of the Russian Wagner private military company from Africa to Ukraine.

Official Suspected over Detention of Ukrainian Journalist in Crimea

Investigators of the Kyiv-based National Police of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea issued a suspicion in absentia to Russian official Vitaly Vlasov for violating the laws and customs of war under Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code for his role in the detention of a Ukrainian journalist. Since the 2014 annexation Crimean institutions, including the Prosecutor's Office, security services and high officials, are based in Ukraine-controlled territory. 

Vlasov is senior investigator in the investigative department of  Russia’s security service (FBS) in Crimea. On March 10, 2021, FSB officers detained Radio Liberty freelance journalist Vladyslav Yesipenko on the Simferopol-Alushta-Yalta highway in Crimea. Yesipenko’s car was searched and personal belongings seized. The journalist was taken to the town of Bakhchisaray, where he was beaten and electrocuted to force him to confess to manufacturing explosive devices. Under duress, Yesipenko confessed what the FSB officers accused him of and signed documents stating that he had illegally purchased explosive components that were allegedly found in his car.

According to Ukrainian investigators, Vlasov drafted the documents the journalist signed and e also issued and signed the decision to open a criminal case against the reporter.

On February 16, 2022, the Russian-controlled Simferopol District Court sentenced Yesipenko 

to six years in prison and a fine of 110,000 rubles ( 1,097 US dollars). On August 18, the Supreme Court of Crimea reduced the sentence to five years in prison with a fine.

Ukrainian Artist to be Tried for Kherson Collaboration

The Prosecutor's Office in Rivne, in north-western Ukraine, sent an indictment to the court against a Ukrainian citizen of the city of Kherson on collaboration charges as per Part 6 of Article 111-1 of the criminal code.

According to the pre-trial investigation, Ruzhena Rublyova, who worked in the Kherson Regional Theatre for two decades and received the title of People's Artist of Ukraine in 2021, collaborated with the Russian occupation administration. She headed two local music schools and then the Kherson Regional Russian Academic Music and Drama Theater in Henichesk, a port city on the Sea of Azov.

On September 30, 2022, Rublyova performed at a concert in Moscow: the event was dedicated to the temporary occupation of part of Ukraine’s territory of Ukraine and the "incorporation of new territories" into the Russian Federation, namely the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions. In August 2023, Rivne’s regional investigators issued a suspicion in absentia against her.

The Environmental Impact of Russia’s Aggression

Ukrainian prosecutors have recorded more than 265 potential war crimes against the environment and 14 cases of alleged ecocide. According to data released by the Specialised Environmental Department of the Prosecutor General's Office, the largest scale crime was the blowing up of the Kakhovskaya dam in June 2023, which flooded 80 settlements across 610 square kilometres of land, killed 33 people and has had an extremely destructive impact on the country’s environment and biodiversity. 

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