A house destroyed during battles at the start of Russia's full scale invasion, in Novoselivka village on October 30, 2022 in Chernihiv, Ukraine.
A house destroyed during battles at the start of Russia's full scale invasion, in Novoselivka village on October 30, 2022 in Chernihiv, Ukraine. © Ed Ram/Getty Images

Ukraine: Family Escaped Threats From “Intoxicated” Soldiers

Victim told Russian troops would arrange a "safari with her children in the garden" if she did not submit to sexual violence.

Tuesday, 1 August, 2023

Two Russian soldiers stand accused of abusing and threatening a family in a village in the Chernihiv region during its occupation in March 2022.

Nikolay Budaev and Fayzybek Nematov were summoned to a preparatory court session of the Chernihiv district court on August 1, accused of part 2 of article 28 and Part 1 of article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine concerning the violations of the laws and customs of war by a group of persons in a prior conspiracy.

Budaev is a 40-year-old native of Ulan-Ude, Republic of Buryatia, Russian Federation. A gunner of the 2nd mortar platoon of the mortar battalion of the 55th separate motorised rifle brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. His military unit No. 55115 is stationed in the city of Kizil, Republic of Tuva.

Nematov, 28, is a native of Novosibirsk, Russia. The sergeant is a mechanic-driver of the 1st Motorised Rifle Battalion of the 423rd Guards Motorised Rifle Regiment of the Armed Forces of Russia. Military unit No. 91701, where Nematov serves, is located in the city of Naro-Fominsk, Moscow region, Russian Federation.

If convicted, Budaev and Nematov face between eight to 12 years in prison.

On March 5, 2022, Russian forces occupied the village of Ivanivka, 15 kilometres from the regional centre of Chernihiv, and remained there until March 30. The crime with which Budaeva and Nematova are charged took place in the afternoon of March 6, the day after the occupation of the village.

The Russian soldiers arrived at a private house where a husband and wife were in the yard,  with their two children and three minor granddaughters in the house.

In order to intimidate the owners, Nematov fired uncontrolled shots from a submachine gun at the building and the family’ Soviet-made VAZ 21093 car. Then the Russians went inside the house, where Nematov fired randomly down a corridor. After searching the house and its occupants, the female victim was told to go out into the yard.

There, Budaev told her to go with Nematov to the cellar. The woman refused because she was afraid of physical and sexual violence. Budaev then ordered her to kneel and, pointing his machine gun at her, threatened to kill her. He said he was prepared to shoot her, her husband and her children if she refused to go to the cellar.

The victim told the pre-trial investigation that she was told that the Russian soldiers would arrange a "safari with her children in the garden" if she did not comply.

Nematov also pointed his machine gun at the victim, forcing her to get up from her knees and go down to the cellar. She managed to persuade Nematov to leave his machine gun in the yard with Budaev, after which he went into the cellar with her. 

There, he showed the victim what appeared to be a hand grenade and threatened to use it if the victim resisted his assault. As Nematov moved towards her, the victim - threatened with sexual violence and fearing for her life - managed to run out of the cellar, locking the door nd trapping Nematov inside.

Budaev was in the yard, supervising the house where other members of the family were being held.

Hearing his wife's cries for help, the victim's husband ran out into the yard towards Budaev and grabbing the machine gun that Nematov had left behind, ordered the family’s pet dog to 
attack the Russian soldier. The dog chased Budaev away a short distance until the soldier managed to shoot it dead.

Taking advantage of the confusion, the family was able to escape and hide in another house in the village.

Ukrainian prosecutors informed Budayev and Nematov of their suspicions in January 2023. While substantiating them, the investigation relied on the evidence and protocols of interrogation of the victims. Among them, the owner of the house, in particular, indicated that the Russian soldiers were in a state of alcohol intoxication. 

The case also includes a report on the identification of the accused by the victims from a photo and a report on the investigative experiment to reproduce the events.

On March 1, the Desnian district court of Chernihiv gave permission for a special pre-trial investigation. According to law enforcement officers, the accused are currently in the territory of the Russian Federation and remain wanted. In May, the Chernihiv district court received an indictment in this case and began the preparatory stage of the court proceedings.

The trial will begin after the completion of the procedure of summoning the accused to court and obtaining permission to consider the case in absentia.

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