Tuesday, 30 January ‘24

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

Tuesday, 30 January ‘24

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

Tuesday, 30 January, 2024


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Former Commandant of Donetsk Torture Chamber Sentenced

On January 3, the Shevchenkivsky District Court of Kyiv sentenced 40-year-old Denys Kulikovsky, the former head of the illegal detention centre Isolatsiya in occupied Donetsk, to 15 years in prison with confiscation of property. The court found him guilty of participating in a terrorist organisation and paramilitary armed formations not provided for by law, as well as violating the laws and customs of war (Part 1 of Article 258-3, Part 1 of Article 260 and Part 1 of Article 28, Part 1 Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine). 

From 2014 to 2018, Kulikovsky was commandant of Isolatsiya, during which time he organised the illegal imprisonment of abducted Ukrainians and together with his subordinates, carried out acts of torture including mock executions and electric shocks.

Kulikovsky was arrested in November 2021 in Kyiv, where he had been in hiding. The trial was held in closed session and 22 former prisoners testified in the case.

Life Imprisonment for Russian Lieutenant

On January 9, the Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky district court of the Kyiv region sentenced 28-year-old Russian senior lieutenant Nikolai Sokovikov to life imprisonment in absentia. The court found him guilty of violating the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder, based on a prior conspiracy by a group of persons (Part 2 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine). 

In March 2022, five Russian soldiers including Sokovikov approached a car dealership near the village of Mriya in the Kyiv region. The owner and security guard were shot with machine guns and killed, a crime recorded by the company's video surveillance cameras.

A witness, a Russian prisoner of war who recognised Sokovikov, testified in court. Materials related to Sokovikov's accomplices are being investigated in a separate case. 

In September 2022, after the announcement of the suspicion in absentia, Sokovikov told the Russian service of RFE/RL that he was innocent. He can appeal the verdict within a month.

Investigation of Kupyansk Torture Chambers

Serhiy Bolvinov, head of the investigative department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region, said that investigators had found 28 torture chambers in de-occupied areas of the oblast. Three of these remain undocumented because they are located in heavily shelled settlements on the border with Russia.  Among the most grievous cases was a torture chamber in Kupyansk, where more than 150 victims aged 16 to 65 were held. Two prisoners died, with four considered missing and another four more are still in captivity.

"We are working to establish the identities of each executioner,” Bolvinov said. “Due to the fact that they constantly hid their faces, it is difficult to investigate this case. But we have a lot of testimonies from the victims, a list of Russian police personnel, their reports and detention logs, and in the near future we will announce a series of suspicions to them." 

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