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.

‘Investigators’ in military gear extract Ukrainian POW ‘confessions’ to Russia’s war crimes in occupied Ukraine

Halya Coynash
Released hostages have given detailed accounts of the savage torture used to extract videoed ‘confessions’. There is nothing to suggest that any of this has now changed.

Dinu Shiman who appears to be looking at the ’investigator’ to see if he’s giving the ’right answer’ in this supposed ’confession’ Screenshot from video posted by IC

Dinu Shiman who appears to be looking at the ’investigator’ to see if he’s giving the ’right answer’ in this supposed ’confession’ Screenshot from video posted by IC

Russia’s Investigative Committee has reported several more ‘sentences’ passed by the Russian proxy ‘Luhansk people’s republic’ [‘LPR’] against Ukrainian prisoners of war.  The latest batch of such reports all show the men purportedly ‘confessing’ to such crimes while seated at a table facing a man sitting with his back to the camera, in full camouflage gear with the words ‘Investigative Committee’. It is this body which is claimed in every report to have provided the ‘evidence’ which the ‘court’ examined. There is, however, nothing to suggest that there was any other evidence to back the charges aside from these alleged confessions from men who, as can be seen here, appear to be intently watching this supposed ‘investigator’s’ face as though checking to see whether he is saying the right thing.

All of the men are prisoners of war whose treatment is regulated by conventions that Russia has committed itself to comply with.  Unlike other obligations under international agreements which Russia is flagrantly violating, here it is pretending to comply by claiming that the men deliberately targeted civilians. While such actions might well constitute war crimes for which even prisoners of war are accountable, there is nothing at all to suggest that they took place except ‘confessions’  from men who are totally at the mercy of their captors and who, almost certainly, do not have access to independent lawyers.  Russia’s Investigative Committee was first caught using torture to extract television ‘confessions’ to apparently horrific crimes against civilians from Ukrainian political prisoner Serhiy Lytvynov back in 2014.  On that occasion, it was proven that neither the women and children whom he was alleged to have raped and murdered, nor their addresses, had ever existed and that Lytvynov had been savagely tortured into reciting what he was told to say.  There is no reason to believe that Russia’s ‘investigative’ methods are any different in these cases, with this further confirmed by the fact that all such ‘trials’ are effectively held in secret, on occupied territory to which neither international monitors, nor independent media have any access.

Dinu Shiman

On 29 August, the Investigative Committee [IC] reported that the so-called ‘LPR supreme court’ had sentenced Dinu Shiman from Ukraine’s Armed Forces 115th Mechanized Brigade to 14 years harsh regime imprisonment.

As reported earlier, Russia is using these pseudo ‘republics’ and their extremely questionable ‘courts’ for these ‘trials’, while still charging the men under articles of Russia’s criminal code.  Shiman was accused of ‘harsh treatment of civilians and the use of prohibited means of war’ (Article 356 part 1 and deliberate damage to others’ property’ (Article 167 part 2). Here, however, Russia is claiming that such deliberate damage to civilian infrastructure was carried out by Shiman, with the only ‘proof’ being the videoed ‘confession’.

Dmytro Lihusha

This was one of two verdicts from otherwise unreported ‘trials’ announced on 29 August.  The charges laid against this National Guard serviceman are under the same articles of the Russian criminal code, with the alleged shooting at a residential building claimed to have taken place in Sieierodonetsk on 17 April 2022.

Lihusha, who is also shown ‘confessing and repenting’, was sentenced to 15 years harsh regime.

Oleksandr Novik

This POW faced the same illegal charges under Russia’s criminal code and the same 15-year sentence.  The alleged shelling of a residential apartment claimed to have taken place in Sievierodoentsk on 17 May 2022.

This time an ‘expert assessment’ was also presented, estimating the extent of the material damage.  There is nothing at all, except for Novik’s ‘confession and repentance’ to indicate that the damage was caused by Ukrainian soldiers and not by the aggressor state which had been bombing and shelling Ukrainian cities since 24 February 2022.

‘Donetsk people’s republic supreme court sentences’

In both proxy ‘republics’,  Russia is using such prisoner of war ‘trials’ to accuse Ukrainians of crimes that there is plenty of documented evidence that it committed. Those POWs seized in Mariupol are more often accused of actually killing civilians. 

Vitaliy Prokopchuk

IC reported on 4 September that Prokopchuk, a Ukrainian marine from the 36th Brigade, had been sentenced by the so-called ‘Donetsk people’s republic supreme court’ to 25 years.  It was claimed that he had killed or tried to kill civilians in Mariupol, and that he had “confessed and repented”.

Vitaliy Lysiura

On 5 September, IC reported that Lysiura, who is also from the 36th Marine Brigade had been sentence to 27 years on very similar charges. 

Serhiy Batynsky

Sentenced on 5 September to 25 years.  Everything, from the claims about the supposed killing of civilians, to the videoed ‘confession and repentance’ follow the same template as above.  The only difference here is that IC added a charge or rape.

Valentin Vasylenko

Sentenced to life imprisonment, with it claimed that he had killed 14 civilians, including a child, “out of motives of political and ideological hatred”.

Russia’s proxy ‘republics’ were holding at least 300 Ukrainian prisoners of war and civilian hostages even before the full-scale invasion.  In 2021, Freedom House gave both occupied Donbas and Crimea ratings perilously close to those given to North Korea due, among other reasons, to the lack of any resemblance of rule of law.  Released hostages have given detailed accounts of the savage torture used to extract videoed ‘confessions’.  There is nothing to suggest that any of this has now changed.

See also:

Russia uses fake ‘republics’ to sentence POWs to hundreds of years for defending Ukraine

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