Documenting war crimes in Ukraine.
The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.



1. Some general problems

Volodymir Bondarev, a judge of the military chamber of the Supreme Court of Ukraine, major-general of justice:

“To study the relations contradicting articles of war (this is in official euphemism for “dedovshchina”. – Translator’s note) we, for the first time in Ukraine, conducted the de4tailed statistical analysis. To this end, we used the data about the size, level, structure and dynamics of various indicators of this type of crimes for all years of the development of the Armed Forces. There are enough grounds to state that the situation with dedovshchina still remains dangerous. These crimes are dominating and they determine the level of violence in the Armed Forces. The negative dynamics of dedovshchina is typical, the proportion of those, who were condemned for dedovshchina resulting in grave consequences is steadily growing. It is true, although that the official statistics does not reflect the real scale of the dedovshchina, firstly, because of the imperfection of the statistics as such, and, secondly, because the phenomenon has an extremely high latency. The concealed cases of dedovshchina became practically normal, so they do not shock anybody.

The army reflects completely and exactly the cultural, social, economic and other features of the society.  Yet, one can observe specific traits of violence typical for military collectives. These traits are determined by the specifics of servicemen’s life, of their activities, social position and roles. For this, along with studying the statistical data, one must investigate not only the nature of dedovshchina, but also its determination. The obtained results testify: dedovshchina is, upon the whole, situational, while its structure suffers qualitative negative changes, in particular, in emotional and motivational base. Expansion of the motives of criminal behavior in the form of the wish to satisfy the need in aggressive violence becomes the especially dangerous symptom. The most important element of a big part of violent crimes committed by servicemen is especial unmotivated cruelty. The peculiar ground for these crimes under modern conditions is separation in social layers in military collectives.

The one-time campaigns and measures taken after crimes connected with dedovshchina do not give positive results. On the contrary, the essence of the phenomenon of dedovshchina is that the structure of this kind of crime is more complicated than the system of measures used for fighting these crimes. The sophisticated character of the criminal behavior connected with dedovshchina calls for the necessity to use the equally sophisticated system of fighting it. This must be purposeful, systematic activity in the sphere of social rule and control, which consist in the active influence of the society on the determinants of such crimes itself and the persons, who commit or may commit such crimes, with the aim of the triumph of law and the values protected by it”.

 («Narodna armiya», No. 240, 26 December 2001)

2. Dedovshchina in figures

Leonid Gavriliuk, a deputy of the military prosecutor of the Kharkov garrison, informed that seven servicemen have been recently condemned for dedovshchina in the Kharkov garrison.

(«Panorama», Kharkov, No. 37, 14 September 2001)

* * *

Oleksiy Protsenko, the head of the State indoctrination directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, told that from 1995 to 2002 the number of the crimes connected with dedovshchina diminished by 89%.

 («Molod Ukrainy», No. 71, 11 June 2002)

3. Dedovshchina in facts

Military unit No. 0222 is a presidential regiment and is an elite unit. Mykhaylo Shkarbatovskiy and Oleksandr Otryshko were honored to be directed to this unit.

Half a year later Mykhaylo repented of his agreement to serve in Kyiv.

On 24 December 2000 the guys took the oath. On 17 February Mykhaylo’s parents came to visit him. His mother, Lubov Shkarbatovska, recollects: “He slept badly that night: shivered and woke up. Then he confessed to us, that he was beaten, but after all it was possible to carry on”.

“Every month our son got the wages – 19 hryvnas, but the money was immediately taken away by sergeants. My son was beaten regularly”.

Oleksandr Otryshko left his unit. He said to his mother that he would not return to his unit alive. He had two stab wounds on his head. Hie mother came to the unit, promised not to raise scandal and Oleksandr was transferred to Zaporozhye.

In his explanatory note Mykhaylo Shkarbatovskiy wrote that after the escape of Oleksandr Otryshko, on 28 March, senior lieutenant Shangin and lieutenant Buriak took Mykhaylo from orderly and led him to the room for cleaning firearms. They demanded to give information about Otryshko. Then they together started beating Mykhaylo. They beat him and kicked him on his chest, head and arms. “For several minutes I lost my senses. When I regained consciousness, they said that they would return…” On 18 April Mykhaylo was smoking in WC (where smoking was permitted). Sergeant Tkach strongly hit him with the butt of tommy-gun on the chest. On 20 April private Kulish hit Mykhaylo several times with the mop handle on his buttocks, since Mykhaylo slowly washed up being on duty in the kitchen. Later private Kulish beta him with a stick on the head, after which Mykhaylo became sick, he felt giddy. On 20 April Mykhaylo’s parents received a letter from him, where he asked for help, and on 23 April they came to Kyiv. The three of them came to a forensic expertise to register beatings. Mykhaylo did not want to return to his unit, he was afraid that they would beat him again. Next day the parents were not admitted to regiment commander Didenko. And they went to the committee of soldiers’ mothers. The same day Mykhaylo underwent the ultrasound examination, which showed a haematoma of his left kidney. The serviceman complained that he had headache, was psychically depressed, he was sleepy all the time. The parents took him to the Institute of neurosurgery, then to the Institute of nephrology. All the conclusions of the civil doctor were brought to the regiment commander. Didenko did not permit to hospitalize Mykhaylo. “It would be a criminal case, and I do not want a criminal case. I shall give him a leave”.

Private Shkarbatovskiy got a month leave. The parents insisted on his hospitalization. Now military doctors are preparing documents for the dismissal of Shkarbatovskiy from the army. And the prosecutor’s office of the Kyiv military garrison has opened the criminal case against sergeants and officers of the brave regiment. The officers deny the facts of dedovshchina in their unit. The militia prosecutor’s office conducts a check of these facts. Commander of military unit No. 0222 colonel Didenko said: “One must be careful in starting criminal cases. I object to condemn our boys, who are 19-20 years old”.

The prosecutor’s office of the Kyiv military garrison considers “the case of private Shkarbatovskiy”. The guilt of Mykhaylos tormentors is not proved yet, but they were already punished on the service level. Colonel Viktor Didenko, the commander of military unit No. 0222, lieutenant Shangin, the second-in-command in charge of indoctrination, and senior lieutenant Zavadskiy, the commander of the 1st company, were dismissed from their posts.

 («Golos Ukrainy», No. 144, 14 August 2001)

* * *

An awful situation developed in one of the units of the Simferopol garrison. It is established that the commandment of the unit (united artillery stores) practically disregarded their duties. The only way to influence subordinates was punishments for hard drinking, skipping the service and ignoring service duties. The indoctrination work was practically absent. The result was the development and spreading of dedovshchina. Taking money from younger soldiers for so-called “current needs” on the side of older servicemen and commandment became a usual practice. Young soldiers were made to purchase silver chains for those, who were demobilizing; this practice was severed. Young soldiers were permitted to wash their uniforms only at night. The disobedience to this rule was punished physically and morally. One of the privates told that he would cut his vein, and the commanders and the head of medical part, instead of investigating the situation, managed to give him a reputation of a drug addict.

A result of the check was the order for the dismissal of lieutenant colonel V.  Naguliak, the unit commander, lieutenant O. Zaporozhan, the second-in-command in charge of indoctrination, and some other officers.

 («Narodna armiya», No. 172, 19 September 2001)

* * *

In November 1999 Sergey Morozov, Vitaliy Kobzar, Sergey Novik and Dmitry Sytnikov were mobilized to the army and directed to one of the units of the Chuguev garrison (the Kharkov oblast).

On 30 October 2000 a young soldier, Artem by name, arrived at the same unit (No. A-4104). He got a bunk in the same barrack, where the four mentioned servicemen lived. From the very first days Morozov, Kobzar and Novik did all they could to demonstrate their superiority over the greenhorn.

Tormenting and beating started from the beginning of November 2000. The “deds” tormented not only Artem. Another young soldier, Dmitry, also suffered from them. Their service-mate private Belous reported about these torments at the preliminary investigation. But at the trial, being perhaps under duress of other “deds” and the parents of the accused, Belous told that during the investigation he framed up Morozov, Kobzar and Novik, and that he was made to give his false evidence under the pressure of the military prosecutor’s officers. His testimony was thoroughly investigated, but no proofs were found, and his preliminary evidence was regarded as truthful and was used as a base for the verdict. The court martial decided that reforming the accused in dedovshchina might be reached in a penal unit. Morozov, Kobzar and Novik were condemned to serve in a penal unit during a year, Sytnikov got 6 months with the postponement of the verdict and paying fine of 680 UAH in favor of the state. Artem and Dmitry were transferred to another unit. Giving false evidence by private Belous was considered by the garrison court martial on 10 September 2001. 20-year-old Poltava dweller Sergey Belous was found guilty in giving false evidence and was condemned to 3 months of incarceration in the garrison guardhouse.

 («Panorama», Kharkov, No. 38, 21 September 2001)

* * *

The court martial of the Donetsk garrison began to consider the case on dedovshchina in one of motorized infantry units of the Atermovsk district. The facts of dedovshchina were found during a prosecutor’s check. A so-called “ded” first took the wages from a young soldier, and then demanded 40 hryvnas more warning that if in two weeks the soldier did not find the money, he would be beaten. And he did so, when the young soldier was at the permission box.

“Commanders of the unit knew about this accident, but not take any measures”, informed Rodion Pugach, the military prosecutor of the Donetsk garrison, “Meanwhile the young soldier was permanently molested by the older serviceman”. The “ded”, who remained unpunished, started to intimidate witnesses. A criminal case was opened. Fortunately, the victim got to serious body injuries.

Recently the court martial of the Donetsk garrison has condemned to 5 years of incarceration the sergeant, who made a young soldier an invalid. The sergeant demanded from his victim to bring him toilet paper to the lavatory. When the soldier refused, the sergeant kicked him in the midriff, and so hard that the guy was hospitalized with the rupture of the spleen and later was dismissed from the army.

This year the prosecutor’s office of the Donetsk garrison opened 4 criminal case on similar facts; all the accused were condemned.

 («Fakty», No. 181, 9 October 2001)

* * *

On 14 November of the current year the judges collegium of the court martial of the Donetsk garrison issued the verdict on the case of taking a hostage, which occurred in Kyiv penal unit in August 2000. One of the accused, Aleksandr Stankevich, got 8 years of incarceration, and another, Mikhail Nevzorov – 6 years and 3 months.

A. Stankevich’s advocate Igor Godetskiy intends to protest against the verdict in appeal court martial of the Central region. He insists that Stankevich must be released.

Colonel of justice Nikolay Turkot, who supports the state accusation, said that “in its verdict the court pointed out the high social danger of the crime. Nowadays all countries pay a special attention to the problem of terrorism, one of the forms of terrorism being taking hostages. This example shows that the fight against terrorism in Ukraine is effective and uncompromising”.

We want to remind that when A. Stankevich sent a letter to a newspaper, the prosecutor’s office was investigating two criminal cases on dedovshchina. Guards of the penal unit got under investigation and were condemned. The then commander of the penal unit had to retire from his post. Stankevich’s advocate based the defense focusing on the facts of violence against his client.

 («Kievskie vedomosti», 21 November 2001)

* * *

In one of the units of frontier guards situated in Reni (the Odessa oblast), a 24-year-old lieutenant shoot from his pistol and gravely wounded a 19-year-old sergeant. Vasiliy B., a dwelled of the Kyiv oblast, was taken to a hospital, where he died of the wound. Military prosecutor of the Bolgrad district is now investigating all the details of this accident. The criminal case is opened on the careless use of firearms. The lieutenant was detained. The version of a premeditated murder is being checked.

(«Fakty», No. 229, 14 December 2001)

* * *

The editorial board of the magazine “Shliakh peremogi” received an open letter addressed to the President of Ukraine, to General Prosecutor’s office of Ukraine and the prosecutor’s office of the Dnepropetrovsk garrison. The letter is signed by Mykola Marusiak, an inhabitant of the village of Iltsy of the Verkhovynskiy district of the Ivano-Frankivsk oblast. It is already for one year and a half that he cannot obtain the answer, why his son, who served in military unit No. 3021 in Dnepropetrovsk, perished.

From the letter of M. Marusiak:

“… I insisted and insist: he was beaten by his colleagues at arms. But the investigation is prevented by the so-called “esprit de corps”. The investigation in the regiment told me: “It would not be better for you, if somebody is punished”. Well, I will not be relieved, but, perhaps, others will be awaited by a better lot…”

 («Shliakh peremogi», issues 22, 23-29 May 2002)

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