Tuesday, 14 February ‘23

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

Tuesday, 14 February ‘23

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

Tuesday, 14 February, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Former SSU Chief Reported on Suspicion of Torturing Civilians in Kherson

Ukraine’s security services (SSU) reported in absentia  its former head Oleksandr Yakymenkoo on suspicion of torturing civilians in Kherson, alongside eight members of an illegal armed group, who previously worked in law enforcement agencies. 

According to the investigation, the illegal armed formation known as the State Security Service of the Kherson region operated in the then-occupied region between April and May 2022 with the aim of suppressing dissent towards the occupation authorities.

Members searched and detained Ukrainian citizens and pro-Ukrainian activists under various pretexts, in some cases only releasing them after the payment of bribes. Investigators stated that a torture chamber was set up in the basement of an occupied office in the centre of the city of Kherson. Kept in inhumane conditions, detainees were subjected to psychological and physical violence: they were beaten, tortured with electric currents, with limited access to food and water. The accused also staged mock executions.

According to the investigation, after Ukrainian forces regained control of Kherson, Yakymenko and other members of the formation fled to the left bank of the Dnieper, which remained under Russian occupation. 

The 58-year-old led Ukraine’s security service in 2013-2014 under president Viktor Yanukovich and went into hiding in the Russian Federation after the Euromaidan revolution.

Yakymenko and the other eight men are charged with encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine (Part 2 of Article 110 of the criminal code of Ukraine), treason committed under martial law (Part 2 of Art. 111); creation of paramilitary or armed formations not provided for by law (Art. 260) and violation of laws and customs of war (Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 of Article 438).

Resident of So-called DPR Captured in Kherson Region Sent to Trial

Kherson’s regional prosecutor’s office sent an indictment to the court against a resident of Donetsk region on several charges of treason, participation in illegal armed formations and robbery of the civilian population (Part 2 of Article 111, Part 5 of Article 260, Part 2 Article 28, Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code).

The investigation found that the accused, a Ukrainian man, served in the motorised rifle regiment of armed formations of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). As a senior rifleman, he received a weapon and performed combat tasks related to the occupation of Ukrainian territory.

In the wake of the invasion he moved to the Kherson region and performed security duties, including checking people's documents, searching cars and personal belongings at checkpoints in the direction of the Kherson, Novaya Kakhovka, Kryvyi Rih cities. In March 2022, he, together with other Russian soldiers, robbed a family in one of the occupied towns. 

Captured in late October in a clash with Ukraine’s armed forces, he faces between 15 years and life imprisonment with confiscation of property.

SBI Investigators Identify 46 Russians for the Shelling of Kharkiv

Employees of the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) unearthed documents identifying the Russian troops who shelled the city of Kharkiv with long-range artillery.

The documents, found in the liberated territories of the region, specifically identified 46 servicemen of the 138th motorised rifle brigade of the Russian armed forces as well as the numbers and the type of weapons assigned to them and other internal documents and reports. 

Half of the servicemen of the unit, deployed from the training ground of Russia’s Kursk region, were conscripts tasked with shelling Kharkiv. Between June and August 2022, in particular, they used Grad salvo fire systems, 152-mm self-propelled Acacia installations and other long-range artillery to shell northern Saltivka, Kharkiv’s largest neighbourhood. 

All the documents found by the SBI were handed over to the Ukrainian Security Service.

Russian Railways’ General Director Investigated for Aiding Invasion 

The Security Service of Ukraine suspects Russian Railways’ general director Oleg Belozerov of delivering military equipment to the Russian army in Ukraine, hence aiding the invasion (Part 5 of Article 27 and Part 2 of Article 437 of the criminal code of Ukraine).

The 53-year-old, appointed in 2015, is suspected to have facilitated, and to continue to facilitate, Russia’s invasion, using the rail network to deliver armed personnel and armoured vehicles to Ukraine and to the temporarily occupied territories. He also involved 185 Russian companies, which provided their own wagons, tanks and platforms.

The investigation found that the delivery of military equipment to the Ukrainian border began as early as April 2021, transported to the regions of Bryansk and Rostov and to the occupied Crimea.

In January 2022, military equipment from the regions of Eastern Siberia and the far east of the Russian Federation was moved to the border with Ukraine. In February, forcibly mobilised residents of the Luhansk region were transported to Russia and military equipment from Krasnodar Territory to Crimea by Russian railway. Then the equipment was transported from the Crimea to the occupied territory of the Zaporizhzhya region.

Three Russian Soldiers Suspected of Shooting Civilians During Irpin Evacuation 

National police investigators notified a suspicion and summoned three Russian servicemen for cruel treatment of the civilian population in combination with intentional murder (Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code).

Grenade launcher Grigoriy Biryukov, 22, sergeant Vyacheslav Buryak, 31, and captain and commander of the reconnaissance company Stanislav Stenin, 34, are suspected in absentia. The three are part of the Russian army’s 137th Guards Parachute Regiment, 106th Airborne Division, military unit 41450.

According to the investigation, on the morning of March 6, 2022, the three set up a firing position near Oleg Koshovoy street in Irpin, the only road available for the evacuation of civilians from the town in the outskirts of the capital Kyiv. 

The servicemen opened fire against a convoy of five cars heading towards the Stoyanka village; the cars were marked with the word дети, meaning children, to indicate there were kids in the vehicles. Five people died and four adults and two children were injured.

The servicemen fired 17 shots at a car with two civilians inside; the driver received a gunshot wound to the head.

Russia’s Head of Investigative Committee Suspected of Repression

Ukraine’s Security Services (SSU) summoned in absentia Aleksandr Bastrykin, head of the investigator committee of the Russian Federation, on suspicion of deliberate actions committed with the aim of changing the borders of Ukraine (Part 2 of Article 110 of the criminal code) and justification, denial, recognition of the legitimate armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine from 2014, and the temporary occupation of a part of the territory of Ukraine, committed by an official person (Part 3 of Article 436-2).

According to the SSU’s main investigative department, in March 2014, 69-year-old Bastrykin issued a decree to establish the territorial units of the Investigative Committee (IC), tasked to operate in occupied Crimea. More than 150 investigators from various regions of the Russian Federation moved to Crimea, starting criminal persecution of its residents, promoting Ukraine’s border changes and establishing control over the civilian population.

Since Russia’s full scale invasion, Bastrykin continued his activity to change Ukraine's state borders. In March 2022, he signed a cooperation agreement between Russia’s IC and the prosecutor's offices of the so-called DPR and LPR. The agreement indicates as a priority the documentation of crimes allegedly committed by the Ukrainians, both civilians and servicemen, against civilians in Donbas. Bastrykin also spoke to media about the “crimes of Ukrainian nationalists”.

After the pseudo-referendums held in Zaporizhia and Kherson and the inclusion of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions into the Russian Federation, Bastrykin signed a decree on the creation of investigative departments of the IC in these territories.

As a result, more than 2,000 criminal cases were reportedly initiated against citizens of Ukraine.

Frontline Updates
Support local journalists