Russian Investigators Have Evidence of Azov Commanders' Attempts on Lives of 8 Russian Troops
09:56 GMT 07.04.2022 (Updated: 12:40 GMT 07.04.2022)
Ukrainian neo-Nazi battalion fighters and their foreign legion allies have been accused of extreme violence and sadism against Russian troops and prisoners of war (POWs), with a series of gruesome videos circulating online showing cruel treatment, torture and murder of captured personnel.
The Russian Investivative Committee has evidence that two commanders of Ukraine's Azov Regiment were directly involved in severe crimes against at least eight Russian servicemen, the agency announced Thursday in a press statement
Azov commanders Sergei Velichko and Konstantin Nemichev are accused of violence to life and person against the Russian servicemen by inflicting multiple bodily injuries on them, including with the use of firearms, in Ukraine's Kharkov region. Velichko and Nemichev have been charged in absentia under Article 317 of the Russian Criminal Code ('Encroachment on the life of an officer of a law enforcement officer or serviceman'), with measures underway to find and arrest them.
If caught and convicted, the commanders would face between 12 and 20 years behind bars.
Russian Investigative Committee chairman Alexander Bastrykhin travelled to Donetsk on Thursday to discuss the state of investigations into suspected crimes against civilians and Russian military personnel in the Donbass and Ukraine, and other related matters.
During the trip, Bastrykhin was brought up to speed on the preliminary results of ongoing probes. At the moment, investigators have accumulated information related to suspected criminal activities by a total of 59 Ukrainian military units, including for the shelling of civilians in the Donbass between 2018 and 2021. Cases have been opened against O.V. Senchenko, commander of the 25th Separate Airborne Brigade, I.V. Ivanov, commander fo the 56th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade, A.D. Lutsenko, commander of the 79th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade, and G.M. Shapovalov, commander of the 59th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade. All four men have been charged in absentia.
Separately, F.S. Yaroshevich, commander of the 19th Separate Missile Brigade, has been charged with involvement in last month's Tochka-U attack on Donetsk, which killed 20 civilians and injured nine others. He has been charged in absentia under Article 356 of the Russian Criminal Code - 'Use of banned means and methods of warfare', and will face up to 20 years in prison if caught and convicted.
The Russian Investigative Committee has opened a total of 146 criminal cases against representatives of the Ukrainian military since February. Over 3,000 criminal cases of alleged crimes against civilians by the Ukrainian military are being processed separately by the Donetsk People's Republic's Prosecutor's Office. DPR prosecutors have been collecting evidence on artillery shelling, mortar, sniper and sabotage attacks against the region and its population since 2014.
Bastrykhin was also briefed on the state of the investigation into the suspected US-sponsored work on components of bioweapons at Ukraine-based biolabs, including the plague and anthrax. To date, investigators have determined that the Pentagon has been working jointly with Ukrainian scientists since 2007, with cooperation taking place under the auspices of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Documents received and analysed by scientists assisting with the probe have allowed investigators to determine that the purpose of research included the selection and isolation of particularly dangerous pathogens.
The Russian chief prosecutor was also told about an ongoing probe about the involvement of foreign mercenaries in the Ukraine conflict. To date, investigators have amassed data on nearly 600 foreigners hailing from 47 countries. Work is underway to determine their precise location and the exact circumstances of their involvement.
Bastrykhin was informed about investigations into suspected crimes against civilians in Mariupol, including the taking of hostages, torture, firing on humanitarian corridors and the alleged use of civilians as human shields by Ukrainian military and nationalist formations. He instructed subordinates on next steps after being briefed on the planned probe into the circumstances behind the suspected provocation by the Ukrainian special services in Bucha
The prosecutor was also said to have paid special attention to issues surrounding investigations into the activities of surrendered Ukrainian troops and nationalist battalion PoWs in Russian hands to determine any possible criminal activity on their part. Bastrykhin called for continued interviews to be held with eyewitnesses, for the collection of evidence, and for special attention to be placed on the need to hold commanders responsible for criminal orders accountable.