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Russian investigators establish 65 top Ukrainian officials, involved in military crimes

“We also know other names, active work is conducted in their regard and it is not ruled out that they will also be charged soon,” Markin said

MOSCOW, January 21. /TASS/. Russian investigators have established identities of 65 top officials and servicemen of Ukraine’s armed forces, national guard and Interior Ministry troops involved in military crimes in Ukraine, a source told TASS.

The full list contains in particular Right Sector (far-right ultranationalist movement) head Dmitry Yarosh, Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) head Valentin Nalivaichenko, former commander of the national guard, currently Ukrainian Defense Minister Stepan Poltorak, Interior Minister Arsen Avakov, the heads of the Azov battalion, former commanders of the Aidar and Donbass battalions.

The list also contains Dnepropetrovsk Region Governor Igor Kolomoisky, five generals, more than 30 former and current servicemen of various ranks and posts, chairman of the Svoboda nationalist party Oleg Tyagnibok and Aidar battalion gunner Nadezhda Savchenko.

Russia’s Investigative Committee confirmed that investigators know names from the list that has been made public. “Yes, we know these surnames. I can specify that criminal cases have been launched against some on this list,” Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said.

“Some have already been charged. We also know other names, active work is conducted in their regard and it is not ruled out that they will also be charged soon,” Markin said.

“Someone, like, for example, Savchenko and Litvinov (held in custody in Russia) will surely come before Russian justice, someone is in for international courts, and someone may be lucky enough to land in the dock in Ukraine or what will remain of it,” he said.

Ukrainian crisis

Ukraine has been in deep crisis since the end of 2013, when then-President Viktor Yanukovich suspended the signing of an association agreement with the European Union to study the deal more thoroughly. The move triggered mass riots that eventually led to a coup in February 2014.

The coup that brought chaos to Ukraine prompted the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol with a special status to refuse to recognize the legitimacy of coup-imposed authorities, hold a referendum and secede from Ukraine to reunify with Russia in mid-March 2014 after some 60 years as part of Ukraine.

After that, mass protests erupted in Ukraine’s southeast, where local residents, apparently inspired by Crimea's example, did not recognize the coup-imposed authorities either, formed militias and started fighting for their rights.

Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after the February 2014 coup.

Despite Moscow’s repeated statements that the Crimean referendum on secession from Ukraine was in line with the international law and the UN Charter and in conformity with the precedent set by Kosovo’s secession from Serbia in 2008, the West and Kiev have refused to recognize the legality of Crimea’s reunification with Russia.

The West announced new, sectoral, restrictions against Russia in late July 2014, in particular, for what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in protests in Ukraine’s southeast.

In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.

New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.

Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of “annexing” Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.

Over 4,000 people have lost their lives and hundreds of thousands have fled Ukraine’s southeast as a result of clashes between Ukrainian troops and local militias in the Donetsk and Lugansk regions during Kiev’s military operation, conducted since mid-April 2014, to regain control over the breakaway territories, which call themselves the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s republics (DPR and LPR), according to UN data.

A ceasefire was agreed upon at talks between the parties to the Ukrainian conflict mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on September 5 in Belarusian capital Minsk two days after Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed his plan to settle the situation in the east of Ukraine.

Numerous violations of the ceasefire, which took effect the same day, have been reported since.

A memorandum was adopted on September 19, 2014 in Minsk by the Trilateral Contact Group on Ukraine comprising representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the OSCE. The document outlined the parameters for the implementation of commitments on the ceasefire in Ukraine laid down in the Minsk Protocol of September 5.

The nine-point memorandum in particular envisioned a ban on the use of all armaments and withdrawal of weapons with the calibers of over 100 millimeters to a distance of 15 kilometers from the contact line from each side. The OSCE was tasked with controlling the implementation of memorandum provisions.

A "day of silence" in eastern Ukraine began at 09:00 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on December 9. It was seen as another attempt by both parties to the intra-Ukrainian conflict to put an end to hostilities. Both Kiev and the self-proclaimed republics voiced the necessity to start withdrawal of heavy armaments, swap prisoners and demilitarize the region.

The situation in the region recently deteriorated when a passenger bus bound from Donetsk to Zlatoustovka was shelled on January 13. Twelve civilians were killed and 16 wounded.

Military crimes in Ukraine

Crimes in Ukraine during the hostilities in the country's east include murders of journalists, the tragedies in Odessa and Mariupol, a Malaysian Boeing crash, mass killings and others.

Murders of journalists

All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) special correspondent Igor Kornelyuk and cameraman Anton Voloshin were killed by mortar fire on June 17, 2014 near Lugansk, a place of combat clashes between Ukrainian military forces and southeastern militias. They were filming a report on people’s self-defense soldiers taking refugees from the danger area.

Russian television Channel One cameraman Anatoly Klyan was killed June 30, 2014 near Donetsk. Rossiya Segodnya news agency photojournalist Andrey Stenin died when a refugee convoy was shelled by Ukrainian servicemen on August 6, 2014. His car was later discovered burned near Donetsk.

Odessa, Mariupol tragedies

The southern Ukrainian city of Odessa saw riots on May 2, during which soccer fans from other cities, as well as Right Sector militants and so-called “Maidan self-defense” representatives from Kiev organized a march along city streets. Clashes with federalization supporters occurred during the march.

Radicals set ablaze the Trade Unions House, where their opponents hid, and a tent camp where activists were collecting signatures for a referendum on Ukraine’s federalization and for the status of a state language for Russian. The attackers did not let anyone leave the burning Trade Unions House building.

At least 48 people died and 247 were injured in the clashes and the fire in the Trade Unions House. Another 48 people were listed as missing. Some Ukrainian politicians asserted that the death toll reached 116 but that the Kiev authorities concealed the facts. Investigators have so far failed to name those guilty of the crime.

In Mariupol in the Donetsk Region, Ukrainian law enforcers opened fire from armored vehicles on participants of a rally held in honor of Victory Day on May 9 who gathered near the building of the local Interior Ministry department and who were trying to prevent its storm. Nine people died and 42 were injured.

Malaysian Boeing crash

On July 17, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger airliner on flight MH17 from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board. Most passengers - over 190 people - were Dutch nationals.

The Dutch Safety Board, which is leading the probe and coordinating the international team of investigators, said in its preliminary report published September 9 that “Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside.”

Mass graves

Last year, southeastern militias found a few mass graves at sites where Ukrainian troops had been stationed. It was reported on September 23 that militiamen found unidentified burial sites in the vicinity of the villages of Kommunar and Nizhnyaya Krynka in the Donetsk Region. After examination of one of the graves, forensic experts concluded that people buried there had been killed by shots to the head at close range.