Tuesday, 5 March ‘24

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

Tuesday, 5 March ‘24

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

Tuesday, 5 March, 2024


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Russian General Suspected Over Attacks on Civilian Infrastructure

Investigators of Ukraine’s security service (SBU) reported the suspicion in absentia against Russian Major General Oleg Pchela for implementing an order to launch missile strikes on critical civil infrastructure, thus violating the laws and customs of war and giving an order to do so, combined with intentional murder (Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 and 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code). He is also suspected of deliberate actions to change the borders of the territory and the state border of Ukraine, which led to the death of people (Part 3 of Article 110) and of waging an aggressive war (Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 2 of Article 437). 

According to the investigation, between October 2022 and February 2023 the 53-year-old was deputy commander of the long-range aviation of the Russian aerospace forces. This included the 22nd heavy bomber long-range aviation division, which is stationed in Engels in Russia’s southwestern region of Saratov, and the 52nd heavy bomber aviation regiment, located at the Shaykivka airfield in the Kaluga region, south of Moscow. 

In the autumn of 2022, Pchela gave subordinates the order to launch cruise missiles against electrical substations in Ukraine’s central and western regions of Zhytomyr, Volyn, Kirovohrad and Vinnytsia. On October 18, 2022, three Kh-101 cruise missiles hit the area of a thermal power plant in the capital Kyiv, killing one person and injuring two others. He is also suspected to have implemented the order to launch missiles against a nine-story residential building in Dnipro on January 14, 2023, which killed 47 people and injured 79.

Russian Soldier Issued Suspicion For Sexual Abuse

SBU investigators reported in absentia the suspicion against Russian soldier Roman Popov on charges of cruel treatment of the civilian population (Part 2 of Article 28 and Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code) during the occupation of Kherson. The 23-year-old private is a rifleman of the operational assignment company of the Federal Service of Russia’s National Guard. 

According to the investigation, in August 2022, the suspect and three accomplices detained the owner of a cafeteria in a cell of a temporary detention centre for two weeks. The 28-year-old victim was beaten and interrogated about the whereabouts of his acquaintances serving in Ukraine’s armed forces and police. 

The suspect and other three Russians allegedly tortured the man: they hit his torso and his genitals with a stun gun, then attached electricity-charged steel clips to his genitals and toes. The four were then joined by another suspect and they sexually violated the victim with an object. The victim was released when his wife paid the Russian military 100,000 hryvnias ( 2,630 US dollars).

Lithuania Prosecutors Launch War Crimes Investigation

The Lithuanian prosecutor general’s office announced it had begun investigating suspected crimes against humanity and war crimes in Ukraine following Russia's invasion. According to a statement issued on February 29, the probe includes “military attacks on civilians, doctors, destruction of homes, hospitals, educational institutions and other civilian facilities, which lead to deaths of adults and children”. 

The prosecutor's office announced suspicions against three militants from the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic for the murder of Lithuanian film director Mantas Kvedaravicius on April 2, 2022 in Mariupol. Kvedaravicius’ case is being investigated by the Joint Investigative Team (JIT), which was established in March 2022 to probe alleged war crimes in Ukraine. Supported by Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, the JIT aims at facilitating investigations and prosecutions in seven member states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Romania and Ukraine) as well as those which could be taken forward to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Damage to Ukraine’s Cultural Heritage Estimated at 19 Billion Dollars

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine has damaged or destroyed more than 900 objects of cultural heritage, according to Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin. Speaking during United for Justice, the international conference held in Kyiv on February 29, Kostin said that Russian forces looted tens of thousands of exhibits from over 40 Ukrainian museums, with an estimated value of 19 billion dollars. There are more than 60 open investigations into crimes against cultural heritage.

He announced the establishment of a special state register listing objects of cultural heritage destroyed or damaged as a result of the Russian aggression; this will be one of the tools to determine future compensation.

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