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War and justice

Life imprisonment for shooting civilians and restriction of freedom for glorifying Russia. We analyze the important rulings in war cases

In April, 49 verdicts appeared in the Adjudication Record in war cases. The MIHR tells about the outcome of the most resonant cases we followed.  There have also been many verdicts under the article of justifying the armed aggression of the RF. In most of them, the accused agreed to a plea bargain and got a suspended sentence. However, in one of the cases, the person involved was sentenced to six months of restraining his freedom.

Shooting down a car with civilians in Chernihiv Region 

The Chamber of Ichnivsky District Court in Chernihiv Region imposed life imprisonment on Oleksandr Karpov, the RF Armed Forces junior sergeant. The court adjudged him guilty under Article 438, Part 2 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws or customs of war).

The verdict of April 26 states that 25-year-old Karpov, born in the City of Uzlov in Tula Region, RF, held the position of Squad Leader, Paramedic of the Medical Company at the Screening Platoon and he was to deal with the evacuation of the wounded. He served in the 1st Tank Regiment of the 2nd Taman Motorized Rifle Division. In February of 2022, with his subdivision, he broke into the territory of Ukraine.

On the evening of February 26, the Russian, jointly with other RF military, shot a VAZ-2109 motor car in the Village of Krupychpole in the Chernihiv Region. According to the verdict, there were four civil persons therein. The passenger of the car was killed. The driver and another passenger got gunshot wounds.

Kupychpole, after the Russian occupation. Photo: Suspilne Chernihiv

The complainant told in court that she had been going via Krupychpole to Fastivtsi with her husband, father, and mother that evening. Her father was at the wheel, her mother was at the front passenger seat, and she and her husband were at the back. At the crossroads, they saw lights switched on in the direction of their car. When they drove closer, they understood that those were Russian military. One of them called out: “Halt!” When they stopped, the military started shooting.

Her father said that he stopped the car, the light from the Russian armored personnel carrier did not blind him anymore, and he could see the one who had started firing. The other military were also shooting. After the gunfire was over, the victims pretended to be dead. At that time, another military came up, shone a torch into the car, and said: “Why did you shoot? Four corpses.” The driver’s wife was killed in the shooting.

The complainants identified the gunman’s photo. The inquest experiment was also held in the case. According to the complainants, a ZIL truck was placed at the spot where there had been the armored personnel carrier (APC), and a headlight was installed on its roof. A VAZ was put at a distance of 15 meters, and, with the assistance of attesting witnesses, they verified whether the complainants could identify the gunman from such a distance. The experiment showed that the extras would have been able to see a person’s face on the APC. The evidence also included information on the phone connections of the accused, which showed that he could have been in the Ichnia District of the Chernihiv Region during February and March.

The defendant’s lawyer insisted on lacking evidentiary support for his client’s guilt. However, the court adjudged Karpov guilty.  The case was tried in absentia. The verdict will come into force after the deadline for appeal. 

He captured a civilian and threatened a weapon

Makariv District Court of Kyiv Region sentenced to 11 years in prison 31-year-old Oleksiy Khaludorov, a tank commander from the 5th Tatsyn Separate Guard Tank Brigade of Red Banner, Suvorov Order (OTBr 5) from Buryatia. The court found him guilty under Article 438, Part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine (violation of the laws and customs of war) due to the cruel treatment of civilians.

According to the verdict of April 20, the accused crossed the state border of Ukraine in the area of Prypyat City, Kyiv Region, on February 24, 2022.  Soon after that, near the Village of Kopyliv, his subdivision was smashed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and Khaludorov fled to the forest. 

On March 2, he sneaked to a farm in Makariv Community, where he captured a guard. Threatening with his automatic gun, the military of the RF Armed Forces forced the man to help him hide. He also took away the farm guard’s phone, watch, money, and documents. In the process, he was bullying the guard, taking the safety off his gun and pointing it at the man, threatening to shoot him. Two days later, Khaludorov decided to walk to his subdivision and ordered the complainant to show him the way. However, the man managed to escape.

The complainant testified upon the trial that he had heard Khaludorov’s phoning to his commander and that the latter ordered him to kill the captive.  He also said the Russian military pulled his weapon on him three times. The complainant remembered the gunman’s name and identified his photo.

The farm director told the court that he had asked the guard to prepare a vehicle for the Armed Forces of Ukraine. However, when the representatives of the territorial defense arrived at the enterprise, there was nobody there. Later he found out that the man was taken captive.

The court studied the materials from the offender’s social networks, by which he was identified. They also looked into the data of phone connections, which show that Khaludorov had been in the Kyiv Region during that period. The evidence also included a video from a surveillance camera at the farm. It recorded Khaludorov’s stay at the farm and his walking with a weapon behind the guard.

The court considered the above evidence and found Khaludorov guilty of violating the laws and customs of war. A special court proceeding was conducted in the case. He will serve the term when detained.

They extracted involuntary confessions about the Armed Forces of Ukraine 

Chernihiv District Court of Chernihiv Region sentenced in absentia Russian military Dmytriy Makhovskiy, born in Briansk Region, RF, and Shyvit Dongak from the Republic of Tuva.

According to the verdict of April 27, early in March of 2022, a subdivision of Russian forces entered the territory of Sloboda Village in Chernihiv District. They kidnapped a local and brought him to a shop where other military stayed. Makhovskiy started beating the complainant with a shovel handle and demanded to indicate the location of AFU troops. Then he ordered his subordinates to continue beating the detainee. Shyvit Dongak, pursuant to the order, was kicking the civilian in his kidneys and hit him twice in the ear and in the back of the man’s head with the butt of his automatic gun.

Dmytriy Makhovskiy and Shyvit Dongak. Photo:

Not having received the information, Makhovskiy returned and beat the man with a metal chair leg, threatening to kill him and deal with his wife and son. Then he took the captive outside, poured a flammable substance on him, and threatened to set him on fire.

The victim told at the trial that after the beating, the commander ordered other servicemen to stand him against a wall and shoot him. But one of them said that he would not shoot an unarmed man. In the end, the detainee was thrown into a shed near the shop, and later two other locals were brought there. The next day the village was shelled, as a result of which part of the shed collapsed so that the man could escape.

The complainant identified the photo of the gunmen and stated that Makhovskiy had been their commander.

The witness, a local who had been thrown into the same shed together with his father, said that he had seen the complainant, who had been severely beaten up by the Russian military.  

The evidence examined by the court also included the materials of the operational subdivision, who established the identity of the Russian military, and the information from their social media that enabled them to identify the offenders. The investigation established that Makhovskiy and Dongak could have served in the BTG of the 228th Motorized Rifle Regiment with a tank company of the 35th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in the 41st Army of the RF.

The court found the evidence sufficient and adjudged the RF servicemen guilty of violating the laws and customs of war in collusion. The court awarded 11.5 years in prison to Makhovskiy and 11 years to Dongak. They will serve the term when detained.

“Bucha is a fake”

On April 12, the Zaliznychnyi District Court of Lviv sentenced a local under Article 436-2, Part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine, which is the justification of the armed aggression of the RF. The accused lives in Lviv. He is a Ukrainian citizen with a high education, worked at accepting goods in one of the largest supermarket chains, and is ethnically Russian.

Zaliznychnyi Court

The investigation established that in April of 2022, during his phone conversations with his acquaintance, the accused was justifying the aggression of the RF.

His statements included, but were not limited to, the following:

  • “There are only two words there: demilitarization and de-Nazification.  Well, if it were a war. If it were a war, then they would declare war on Ukraine, right”;
  • “Dumb-asses, you have bombed your houses!”;
  • “…Bucha is the same fake as all your rest…”;
  • “No, well, but that’s a war, somebody gets killed anyhow. No, that’s any, any operation. If there’s a military group, then it is held this way.  Then there’s a mass bombing with eliminating everybody and not a selective one somewhere, and then there’s a mass offensive from all sides. There’s nothing of the sort here.”;
  • “…As for me, I don’t understand why couldn’t a couple of missiles be launched against Rzeszów, yes, the Polish one, and cover with S-300 there instead of waiting for her till she comes to Dnepropetrovsk to hit her in Dnepropetrovsk. I would hit in Rzeszów”.

The examination found that these statements deny and justify the RF’s aggression.

The defendant did not admit his guilt in court. He explained that he had become a Ukrainian citizen by chance because his country had disintegrated. From his perspective, Ukraine had never existed. He confirmed his statements. However, he did not agree with the law on the ground of which he was accused, saying that for him, Ukraine is not a state. He claimed that Russia had been provoked into the full-scale war against Ukraine and that the West waged war for its own interests using Ukrainians, and that those interests were aimed against Russia. He stated that Ukrainians did not exist as a nation and that Russians were brothers. He believes “Ukraine should be deprived of weapons and the current authorities need to be physically removed because they cause harm to people’s life.” He called fake the crimes in Bucha and other Ukraine cities that had been occupied, and he claimed that Russians were incapable of that.

The witness, who is the defendant’s neighbor, said that since the beginning of the RF’s invasion, he went to the local territorial defense. He learned that the law-enforcement authorities search for people who could collaborate with the enemy. Therefore, knowing that his acquaintance adhered to the anti-Ukrainian position, he recorded the conversation with him and delivered it to the SBU.

The court adjudged the man guilty and sentenced him to six months of arrest. 

Anastasia Zubova, Journalist, MIHR

Translated from Ukrainian by Olena Balatska


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