Two Russian servicemen were sentenced in absentia to life in prison for killing four civilians in Chernihiv region in March 2022. They also robbed the victims of their mobile phones, which were used by the investigators to identify the military.
Two Russian servicemen were sentenced in absentia to life in prison for killing four civilians in Chernihiv region in March 2022. They also robbed the victims of their mobile phones, which were used by the investigators to identify the military. © Ed Ram/Getty Images

Two Russians Sentenced to Life for Murder and Looting

The servicemen killed four civilians and took their mobile phones which helped investigators identify them.

Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

Two Russian tankers have been sentenced in absentia to life in prison after being found guilty of killing four civilians in March 2022 in the Chernihiv region. 

On March 25 judges of the Ichnyanskiy district court of Chernihiv region issued Senior Lieutenant Kirill Boykov and Sergeant Artyom Razinkin with the maximum prison term for violating the laws and customs of war as per Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code.   

Boykov, 27, is from Russia’s western Nizhny Novgorod region and his subordinate Razinkin, 26, is originally from the south-western region of Voronezh; they both serve in the unit 58198 of the Russian forces, which is based in the Moscow region. 

From late February 2022, their unit controlled Olshana, a village in the Ichnyanska territorial community. The settlement had a pre-war population of about 500 people and is an hour's drive from the administrative border with the region of Sumy, which Russian troops invaded in the first days of the all-out war. From there they pushed further west, in the direction of the capital Kyiv. 

At the end of February, the two reportedly camped for the night on the territory of a farm at the entrance to Olshana. In the morning of March 1, 2022, Boykov and Razinkin were near the farm and saw a white Renault Master minibus loaded with bread driving along the road. There were two civilians in the vehicle: the driver and a passenger who were bringing supplies to the residents of the occupied Ichnyanska community.  

The investigation found that the accused opened fire on the minibus. The driver stopped the vehicle and both civilians tried to escape as the Russian military continued to shoot. They fell, fatally wounded, a few metres from the van. One of them was found to have suffered 13 gunshot wounds. 

The two servicemen took the driver's mobile phone, ransacked the interior of the minibus and took everything, including the bread, to the farm. 

Less than an hour after the first shooting, a taxi driver drove his blue Russian VAZ car along the same road, taking a disabled person to the local hospital. The two accused opened fire on it as well. Similarly to the minubus, the driver and passenger tried to escape, but the shots killed them a few metres from the car. Again, the two servicemen took the mobile phone of the two murdered people, shot open the trunk lock with Makarov's Soviet semi-automatic pistol, inspected the car and returned to the farm. 

The mobile phones the two Russians looted were instrumental in their identification. Investigators found out that the phone of the passenger from the taxi was switched on the day after the murder. The subscriber who used it was moving through the regio of Chernihiv in the direction of Sumy. From this device, they called the Russian military, Boykov’s wife and mother and accessed the internet. 

The same phone number was traced through the territory of the Prylutsky district, in Chernihiv region, to Sumy, Russia and then back into Ukraine in Donetsk and Kharkiv regions. It stopped operating at the end of April 2022. Investigators found out that Boykov had inserted his Russian SIM card into the deceased’s phone and used it. 

Investigators established that Razinkin used the phone number of the white minibus’ driver: almost immediately after the murder, his SIM card was inserted into another phone and calls were made to Russian numbers, including Razinkin's wife. 

Local residents heard gunshots on the road at the entry of the village. One of them testified how he saw Russians shoot at cars and people. On the day of both shootings, the man was outside the village, in a forest strip near the farm where the Russians camped and close to the place of both shootings.  

The witness told the court that he saw the shooting as he had binoculars and was able to describe the two soldiers’ height, build and approximate age. He also saw the military men taking items out of the vehicles. During the investigation, his testimony was tested and conducted in an experiment and which concluded that it would have been possible to see the suspects from that distance using  binoculars. During the pre-trial investigation, the witness identified the suspects from a photo. 

The case file also contained the testimony of a captured Russian tanker. The court examined the protocol of his interrogation, which was conducted in the Kyiv pre-trial detention centre in June 2022. The prisoner said that until February 24, 2022, the commander of the tank in which he served was a serviceman called Boykov, who was about 24-26 years old and hailed from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod. The captured man identified the suspect from a photo and reported that the Russian officers were supplied with AK assault rifles, like all soldiers, as well as Makarov pistols. Boykov also had one. 

The judges rejected the arguments of the defence attorneys who claimed that there was insufficient evidence that Boykov and Razinkin were the ones who committed the crimes. The defence has 30 days to appeal the sentence. According to the investigators both soldiers are currently in the Russian Federation.

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