Since 2014, the Ukrainian forces have been waging war in Donbass. Throughout these almost eight years, the Ukrainian authorities and representatives of Ukrainian paramilitary units have effectively been eliminating the civilian population of the self-proclaimed Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics.
Relentless shelling with large-calibre artillery, mortars, grenade launchers and small arms has cut short the lives of thousands of people. Older persons and children are among the dead, while the lives of others have been permanently marred by serious injuries. An example of this is the plight of Vanya Voronov, who miraculously survived a shell explosion. These people, especially the children, are not participating in the armed conflict, which is obvious even to the Ukrainian soldiers who are aiming their fire at residential homes, schools, hospitals, community centres, vital public facilities and public transport. Nevertheless, the official Ukrainian authorities are paying no attention to these ruthless executions and are providing no security guarantees for civilians. On the contrary, they are essentially ignoring the problem and encouraging the illegal actions of their soldiers, notwithstanding the international agreements that have been made.
Since 2014, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation has been investigating, on a firm legal basis, hundreds of crimes of a terrorist or extremist nature against the peace and security of humankind committed during the armed conflict. On the basis of documented incidents, 467 criminal cases related to events on the territory of Ukraine and Donbass have been initiated. The accused include representatives of the military and political leadership of Ukraine, members of the radical nationalist associations Pravyi Sektor and Ukrainian Volunteer Corps, members of the Azov Battalion, and all those involved in these crimes.
The Committee established that, since April 2014, Ukrainian forces have been firing on residential areas of the two self-proclaimed Republics, using Tochka-U tactical missile systems, Grad and Uragan multiple rocket launchers, unguided aerial rockets, other types of heavy offensive weapons of indiscriminate and mass destruction, and light firearms. As a result, thousands of civilians have been wounded and killed, and more than 2,200 civilian infrastructure facilities have been completely or partially destroyed.
The main cause of civilian casualties has been the shelling by the Ukrainian government forces with explosives, small arms and light weapons.
During the investigation, more than 146,000 people were interviewed, and more than 22,000 people, including about 2,500 minors, were recognized as victims. To date, 103 people have been prosecuted in absentia for committing crimes against the peace and security of humankind during an armed conflict, including former Minister of Internal Affairs Arsen Avakov, former governor of the Dnepropetrovsk province of Ukraine Ihor Kolomoisky, brigade commanders and officers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who fired on civilians.
The crimes committed by the Ukrainian security forces and representatives of the authorities include not only the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare, but also the murder of Russian journalists, the human rights activist Andrei Mironov and Italian citizen Andrea Rocchelli, kidnappings, the obstruction of the lawful activities of journalists, torture, incitement to hatred or hostility, public calls to unleash a war of aggression and other crimes.
Kidnappings of Russian citizens in Ukraine by members of criminal networks with the involvement of the Ukrainian Security Service have been documented. The kidnappers seek to exchange the prisoners for Ukrainian soldiers, to maim the prisoners and to mistreat, torture and torment civilians in south-eastern Ukraine.
Nadiya Savchenko served a sentence after a court found her guilty of murdering Russian journalists and illegally crossing the State border of the Russian Federation. Another convicted offender is Sergei Litvinov, who was found guilty of robbing and assaulting a Russian citizen in Ukraine. A number of others have been convicted in absentia. There have been 21 attacks against Russian diplomatic institutions in Kiev, Kharkov and Lvov, and Russian citizens have been prevented from exercising their voting rights in Ukraine. A total of 25 people have been implicated in these crimes. Among them are former deputies of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Andrei Lozovoi and Volodymyr Parasyuk. Work is under way to identify the other attackers.
Evidence obtained during investigations is also used to support the State’s position at various international courts. The claim filed by Russia against Ukraine with the European Court of Human Rights is based on copies provided by the Investigative Committee of files from criminal cases concerning the genocide against the Russian-speaking population of Donbass, attacks on Russian institutions, the shelling of Rostov province, and murders of and other violent acts against journalists.
With the assistance of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, Russian lawyers have processed more than 39,000 case files, resulting in about 7,500 complaints of victims regarding the actions of Ukrainian authorities being prepared and submitted to the European Court of Human Rights. Under those complaints, the damages to be recovered amount to more than 350 million euros.
Such unlawful actions will not go unpunished, and sooner or later all perpetrators of crimes will have to answer to the law. If the authorities and law enforcement agencies of Ukraine think that criminalizing the minds of citizens is acceptable, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation will not stand idly by in the face of such lawlessness. The investigators will continue to keep a record of evidence of the guilt of all those involved in crimes against the peace and security of humankind and against Russian citizens.
The Committee is taking all possible measures to ensure that those responsible for crimes in Donetsk and Lugansk do not escape punishment.
As a guarantor of the application of criminal law against perpetrators, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation will continue to respond to all unlawful acts in proportion to the threat that they pose to society.