Tuesday, 21 February ‘23

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

Tuesday, 21 February ‘23

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

Wednesday, 22 February, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Colonel General Notified of Suspicion 

The SSU reported the suspicion in absentia of Colonel General Serhiy Rudsky, the first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. The 62-year-old is accused of encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine, waging, justifying and recognising as legitimate the aggressive war against Ukraine. He is also accused of denying the armed aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine, and glorifying its participants (Part 3 of Article 110, Part 2 of Article 437, Part 3 of Article 436 -2 of the criminal code of Ukraine).

Rudskyi allegedly gave orders on the planning, preparation and conduct of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine: under his instructions, occupation groups held combat training and were provided with weapons. On March 25, 2022, in a speech broadcast on Russian TV, the official also justified armed aggression and war crimes. 

Two Russian Soldiers to be Tried in Absentia 

Kyiv prosecutors sent two indictments to the court against two Russian servicemen as part of a special pre-trial investigation on charges of violating the laws and customs of war.

The investigation found that between late February and March 2022, when Russians occupied the village of Katyuzhanka in Kyiv region, one suspect illegally detained two former participants of the anti-terrorist operation (ATO), established in 2014 in the wake of the war in Donbas. The accused threatened the men with murder and demanded information about the positions of the Ukrainian forces.

The men were imprisoned in the basement of the local school and the suspect interrogated the victims, who were threatened with execution as well as tortured and denied food and water.

In March 2022, in the occupied village of Gavronshchyna, near Bucha in Kyiv region, the other Russian servicemen allegedly shot a 70-year-old unarmed civilian three times.

Suspicion Issued to Belarusian Wagner Group Mercenary

Investigators notified a Belarusian citizen of suspicion for his participation as a mercenary in an armed conflict  as per Part 4 of Article 447 of Ukraine’s criminal code. The office of the prosecutor general notes that the Minsk resident was hired by the Wagner military group and fought in eastern Ukraine, near the city of Bakhmut. 

According to the investigation, the accused signed a contract with the Wagner Group to pay back a large debt. He then completed a ten-day combat training course in Russia and was deployed to Ukraine. Captured in November 2022, he faces up to ten years in prison.

After his arrest, the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, provided testimony of war crimes committed by occupation forces. He reportedly also spoke of torture and murder in Wagner’s ranks in case members failed to comply with orders.

Russian Militia Leader to be Tried in Absentia for Crimes in Crimea

An indictment was sent to the court against Russian citizen Igor Bezler for violating the laws and customs of war and encroachment on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine  as per Part 1 of Article 438 and Part 2 of Article 110 of Ukraine’s criminal code. Bezler, nicknamed Bes (demon in Russian) is a former leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) and was an active participant in Russia's occupation of Crimea, where he has reportedly been living since October 2014. He will be tried in absentia. 

The investigation established that in March 2014, on Bezler’s orders, four Ukrainian citizens were kidnapped and imprisoned in the military commissariat in Simferopol because of their pro-Kyiv views. The investigation found that they were blindfolded and left without proper food and contact with their families; Bezler is suspected to have tortured and threatened some of the captured civilians.

Deputy Head of the Occupation Administration in Kharkiv Region Suspected of War Crimes

Investigators in Kharkiv suspect Volodymyr Demchenko of ordering the illegal transfer and deprivation of liberty of a person, in violation of the laws and customs of war (Part 1, Article 438 of the criminal code). Demchenko, a native of Kharkiv, was te deputy head of Russia’s occupation administration in the region and head of the unit of the Russian military formation of the brigade Pryzrak (meaning “ghost” in Russian). The whereabouts of the 56-year-old are unknown and the suspicion was announced in absentia.

According to the investigation, on March 28, 2022, Demchenko established a Russian headquarters in a local barn in a village near Vilkhivka, in Kharkiv region. There they held a 59-year-old civilian captive alongside two volunteers from the territorial defence unit

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