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.

Evangelical deacon and his son found murdered near Nova Kakhovka after being abducted by the Russians

Halya Coynash

From left Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his son, Oleksandr Prokopchuk Photos posted by the Centre for Journalist Investigations

From left Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his son, Oleksandr Prokopchuk Photos posted by the Centre for Journalist Investigations

The bodies have been found in a forest near Nova Kakhovka of Anatoliy Prokopchuk, an evangelical deacon and his son, Oleksandr.  Citing friends of the two men, the Centre for Journalist Investigations reports that their bodies were found on 26 November, four days after they were abducted by Russian soldiers.

Father and son were seized while working in their garage at around 7 in the evening on 22 November.  Family and friends who immediately sounded the alarm on social media reported that the Russians had taken them away in the direction of a neighbouring village, Raiske.  This was seemingly in the car of their friend, a Honda Odyssey.  It is unclear why they were abducted, but the car has disappeared.  The family learned on 27 November that both father and son had been shot, with their bodies left in the forest. Oleksandr was just 19 years old, one of six sons and a daughter.

Although Russian occupation invariably brings pressure and restrictions on all faiths except the Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate, it is not at all clear whether Anatoliy Prokopchuk was targeted as deacon of a local evangelical church.  The Russians are now retreating from Nova Kakhovka, and the father and son could have been killed in revenge and/ or to steal the car. 

Ukrainian investigators continue to discover the bodies of civilian victims in all areas liberated after months of Russian occupation.  Sometimes the victims were bound or had in some other way clearly been subjected to torture before being murdered.  In other cases, the Russians appear to have simply shot and killed people who were unfortunately enough to be on the road when they passed.

On 26 February, two days after Russia began its full-scale invasion, Viktor Dalibozhko set off with his elder son, Oleksandr from Chaplynka, Kakhovska raion  to try to collect his younger son Andriy from Kherson, where the young man was studying.  The father and both sons vanished, with relatives trying desperately to find out what had happened.  On 17 August, Kakhovka journalist Oleh Baturin reported that the car the family had been driving in had recently been found, riddled with shots in Chornobaiivka, Kherson oblast.  Their bodies, together with that of Andriy Dalibozhko’s classmate, were found in an unmarked grave in Kherson.  The city was still under occupation at that time, and the victims’ bodies could only be recognized from photos.

The real number of civilian victims will only be known once the Russians have been driven out of the entire Kherson oblast.  As of 16 November, 11 places had been found where the Russians had held Ukrainian civilians prisoner.  In four of these, it is known that the Russians tortured their prisoners. Ukraine’s Interior Minister Denys Monastyrsky also said that 63 bodies of the Russians victims had been discovered, with their exhumation now underway.  It is likely that this figure has not only risen because of the killing of evangelical deacon Anatoliy Prokopchuk and his 19-year-old son Oleksandr.

See also: Russian torture was particularly savage in Kherson oblast, with even teenagers imprisoned

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