Tuesday, 7 February ‘23

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

Tuesday, 7 February ‘23

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

Tuesday, 7 February, 2023


Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Security Services Identify Russian Soldiers Behind Shelling of Kharkiv TV Tower 

The prosecutor general’s office summoned two Russian servicemen in absentia on charges of ordering the shelling of the Kharkiv radio and television transmission station on March 6, 2022. 

According to the investigation, Major General Oleg Makovetsky, commander of the 6th Army of the Air Force and the Western Air Defence military district of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation ordered the bombing, which was executed by Alexey Loboda, commander of the unit 45117, the bomber Aviation Regiment 6. On Loboda’s orders two planes, with pilot and one navigator each, took off from the military airfield in the Russian city of Voronezh (about 340 kilometres east of Khakiv), crossed into Ukraine’s airspace and destroyed the civilian facility. 

The attack released eight FAB-500 aerial bombs totalling a TNT equivalent of 2.4 tonnes. The tower had no military significance and was exclusively used to provide telephone communication and radio and TV broadcasting.

Former Ukrainian Soldiers in Crimea Indicted

The Security Intelligence Service (SBI) completed a special investigation into six former Ukrainian soldiers, stationed in Russia-controlled Crimea, who now serve with the Russian army and participate in the shelling of Ukraine-controlled territory from the Russian S-300 and S-400 complexes. The indictments were sent to court.

According to the investigation, after Moscow annexed the peninsula, the servicemen refused to relocate to Ukraine’s Vinnytsia region and joined the Russian Federation.

One of the four currently holds the position of deputy commander of the anti-aircraft missile regiment of the Russian Federation and manages air defence in Crimea. The other three hold high-ranking posts in the same air defence units.

The former Ukrainian military personnel are accused of treason and desertion, Part 1 of Article 111 and Part 1 of Article 408 of Ukraine’s criminal code, and face imprisonment for up to 15 years.

Commander of Russian National Guard in Chechnya Indicted for Taking a Minor Hostage 

Kyiv prosecutors sent an indictment to the court against the commander of the special purpose mobile unit Office of the Federal Service of the National Guard of the Russian Federation in the Chechen Republic. He is accused of hostage-taking and torture against the civilian population (Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine).

According to the pre-trial investigation, during the occupation of Babyntsi, a settlement in Bucha district near the capital Kyiv, the accused and fellow officers conducted an illegal interrogation of an underage boy. 

At gunpoint, the commander allegedly  demanded the minor disclose information about the location of servicemen of Ukraine’s Armed Forces and volunteers of the Territorial Defence Units. During the interrogation, a knife was put to his throat and the victim was then forced into an armoured car, driven around the settlement and pressured to provide information about the Ukrainian army.

Prosecutors Identify Russian Soldier Who Killed and Dismembered Farmer

Kharkiv prosecutors notified in absentia a serviceman of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation on suspicion of violating the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder (Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine) during the occupation of Bezmiatezhne, a village about 100 kilometres south-east of Kharkiv.

The investigation revealed that on July 31, 2022, the soldier, hailing from Russia’s Kursk region which borders Ukraine’s north-eastern region of Sumy, entered a farm in Bezmiatezhne with other Russian soldiers.

According to the investigation, the suspect got out of his car and told the farmer to help them to repair the car. Once near him, he shot the farmer in the head, killing him immediately. The Russian soldier then dismembered the body, put part of it in the car, and set the rest on fire. To hide the crime, the remains of the body were chopped up and the suspect disposed of them en route to Vyshneve, a village in Kupianskiy district. 

Law enforcement officers are investigating to identify other Russian servicemen involved in the crime.

Russian Soldier Investigated for Robbery

Ukraine’s security service suspect Russian soldier Vladimir Nomokonov of robbery of the civilian population, in violation of the laws and customs of war (Part 1 of Article 438 of the criminal code). The 20-year-old is a private in military unit No. 69647 of the 37th Separate Guards Motorised Rifles of Budapest of the Order of the Red Star of the Don Cossack Brigade, located in Russia’s Republic of Buryatia in eastern Siberia.

According to the investigation, in spring 2022 Nomokonov, together with other unidentified Russian servicemen, broke into a house in Obukhovychi, a village in Kyiv region and stole the owner’s personal property, including a washing machine, a petrol generator, a chainsaw and a piston air compressor. The overall damage amounted to over 36,000 hryvnias ( 900 US dollars).

Prosecutors Investigate 90 Crimes of Deportation from Occupied Territories

Law enforcement officers in the Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions have started a pre-trial investigation into 90 criminal proceedings regarding the illegal transfer of Ukrainians from occupied territories to the Russian Federation.

The Kherson prosecutor's office opened the largest number of cases, 48 - of which 13 are related to children - with Donetsk region reporting 33 proceedings. The prosecutor's office of Zaporizhzhia region is investigating six cases and Luhansk region has three. 

According to human rights defenders, the small number of proceedings may be related to the fact that people are not turning to law enforcement agencies to report that they have become victims of deportation. 

Prosecutors Report Suspicion to Founder of Wagner Group

The office of the prosecutor general of Ukraine reported a notice of suspicion.

to Yevhen Prigozhin, founding chief of the Wagner private military company. He is accused of encroaching on the territorial integrity and inviolability of Ukraine and waging an aggressive war (Part 3 of Article 110, Part 2 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 437 of the criminal code of Ukraine).

The investigation files state Prigozhin, 61, recruited, trained and managed his subordinates for further use in hostilities on the territory of Ukraine, with the support of the Russian government. According to the indictment, representatives of the Russian authorities provided Prigozhin and his subordinates with the opportunity to staff the private military company with citizens from Russia and Ukraine, as well as foreigners and persons serving sentences on the territory of the Russian Federation. As a result, Wagner amassed a force of 40,000 people, which corresponds to the army corps or army of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.

Prigozhin is considered directly responsible for thousands of war crimes, the prosecutor general's office noted, including ordering and monitoring offensive and defensive combat actions for the capture and occupation of populated areas of Ukraine. 

Centre for Prosecution of “Aggression” Crime in Ukraine to be Set up in The Hague

On February 2, the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said that the bloc would set up an international centre for the prosecution of the crime of aggression in Ukraine in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Von der Leyen stated that the centre would coordinate the collection of evidence and will be embedded in the joint investigation team supported by Eurojust, the EU agency dealing with judicial cooperation in criminal matters among agencies of member states. 

She spoke during an official visit to Kyiv with over a dozen other senior EU officials for two days of high-level talks. The UN defines an act of aggression as the “invasion or attack by the armed forces of a state (on) the territory of another state, or any military occupation”.

The International Criminal Court (ICC), also based in The Hague, is already investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in connection with Russia's invasion of Ukraine. The ICC can prosecute genocide in Ukraine but has no jurisdiction in the country over alleged crimes of aggression by Russia.

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