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War and justice

“I was running away from your soldiers for five days.” The trial of the captured paratrooper from Pskov started in Irpin

“I do not need simultaneous interpreting,” says the captive Russian military right when he sees an interpreter. 33-year-old Andriy Medvedev, a corporal and senior scout of the 76th Pskov Guard Airborne Assault Division, stands leaning on a crutch in a glass cabin in the hearing room at Irpin City Court of Kyiv Region.

On April 10, the court was to hold the preliminary session on his case. The captive paratrooper from Pskov is accused of a war crime committed in Irpin in March of 2022. The investigation says that the Russian, jointly with other RF military, bullied the civilians: beating them and imitating the execution of three locals by shooting. As a result of that, in accordance with Article 438, Part 1, “Violation of the Laws and Customs of War” of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, he faces 8 to 12 years of imprisonment.

— Nothing has changed in you, hasn’t it? — Oleksandr Petrenko, one of the wronged persons, addresses the Russian before the session. The Russian military evades a direct answer.

— And why are you asking? — says Medvedev.

— I just wonder: here you are, coming to Ukraine, — continues the complainant.

— I have the right not to answer your question, — the defendant responds. 

Medvedev, a native of Tver Region, lives in Pskov. After Irpin, via Belarus, Russia, and Donetsk Region, he reached the Region of Kherson, where he was captured in September 2022. He does not know or does not say to journalists where exactly he was captured.

— I was wounded and was getting away from your soldiers for five days, — says Medvedev. 

— Were you found at the place where you were hiding? — journalists try to clarify.

— Well, almost.

Before he was taken captive, the Russian took a bullet to his left leg in action. His reconnaissance team was on an assignment then. In his talk with journalists, Medvedev admits that the balance of power was not good for them: the Russian military turned out to be outmanned. He doesn’t have a part of the ring finger on his right hand. “Did it happen there?” — they ask him. The defendant nods yes.

— What about the others? Did they leave you?

— They thought I was killed. 

— In the leg?

— When one is running, is being shot at, and falls, how do you think? What might people have thought?

Before, the National Police made public the information that Medvedev had been fighting in Syria. But he denies that: “No, it’s not true. Did the police provide such info? For what purpose? To display how bloodthirsty I am?”

The defendant tells the press he does not recognize all the episodes they charge him with except for one: “I did not commit the other ones.” What specifically he does not recognize, he is to say during the trial.

There is currently no information on whether they incriminate other episodes to Medvedev, i.e. from Kherson Region. However, it is known that the captive has been served with charges on one more Irpin case, which is also about the cruel treatment of civilians. The specification is being prepared for its submission to the court.

Without a lawyer. Judge Natalia Karabaza and Prosecutor Oleksandr Koval. Photo by MIHR

Before the session, it turns out that there will be no lawyer at the trial. The defense lawyer engaged from the center of free legal aid in Kyiv refused to come to the session, stating that he does not work in the region. As the captive is held at the pre-trial detention facility in Kyiv, they had appointed a defender from the capital for him in the stage of pre-trial investigation. Now it is a different territorial jurisdiction based on the scene of the crime. As it is Irpin, another defender, the one from Irpin, has to be appointed.

— The lawyer’s presence is mandatory. According to the law, if an article provides a punishment of more than 10 years, there must be a lawyer, [whether] you want to have him or not, — the prosecutor Oleksandr Koval explained to the defendant.

The lawyer sent a motion for the court to release him from his obligations on commission and to engage another defender from the regional center of legal aid, and that was ruled by the court. After several hours of waiting for the new lawyer, the court extended the measure of restraint for Medvedev by 60 more days: he will be kept in detention through June 8.

As to the preliminary session on the case of the Russian, it was postponed due to the non-appearance of two out of the three complainants. The second attempt at the preliminary session is to take place in May.

Iryna Domashchenko, Journalist, MIHR

Translated from Ukrainian by Olena Balatska


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