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Russian investigators press charges against Ukraine's defense minister

September 08, 17:03 UTC+3
Among the charges filed is a count of genocide against a national group of Russian-speaking residents in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic
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MOSCOW, September 8. /TASS/. The Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case against the Ukrainian defense minister and the country’s chief of the General Staff for shelling Donbass, the committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said on Thursday.

"The main investigation department of the Russian Investigative Committee has opened two more criminal cases in connection with the developments in southeastern Ukraine," Markin stated.

Among the charges filed is a count of genocide against a national group of Russian-speaking residents, including minors in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). "The defendants in the case are both current and former officials of the Defense Ministry and the National Guard of Ukraine, including Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Chief of the Ukrainian General Staff Viktor Muzhenko, former Commander of the Ground Forces Anatoly Pushnyakov, current Commander of the Ground Forces Sergei Popko, Commander of the National Guard Yuri Allerov," Markin said.

According to investigators, "From January to August 2016, all of them were handing down criminal orders to their subordinates in the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the Ukrainian National Guard to employ highly destructive heavy weaponry to destroy civilian infrastructure and DPR settlements, as well as for use in the total or partial liquidation of a national group of Russian-speaking people, including minors." These actions resulted in the deaths of at least 9 people and injuries to at least 110 people, among them 9 minors. In addition, at least 279 homes and infrastructure facilities suffered partial and total destruction.

Previously, the Investigative Committee filed criminal charges against the same officials over the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare (Article 356 of the Russian Criminal Code).

The committee also filed its second criminal case against the Commander of the 14th separate mechanized brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel Alexander Zhakun. In April 2016, he organized a heavy artillery bombardment of the Yelenovka vehicle and civilian checkpoint, in the Donetsk People’s Republic. The shelling damaged and partially destroyed four cars, killed four people and injured seven. "The investigation has uncovered evidence of the crime under Article 356, part 1 of the Russian Criminal Code (the use of prohibited means and methods of warfare)," Markin said.

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