Alexander Bastrykin: ‘The Ukrainian military understands the futility of resistance’
The head of the Investigative Committee of Russia believes that a special tribunal can be created to bring justice to the soldiers of nationalist battalions and mercenaries
Throughout the special military operation in Ukraine, the Investigative Committee of Russia records traces of crimes committed by nationalists. Among the main crimes of the Ukrainian security forces — the shelling of civilians from artillery guns, tactical missile systems and mortars. In total, since 2014, the Investigative Committee has initiated about 800 criminal cases related to the events in Donbass and Ukraine, the chairman of the department, Alexander Bastrykin, told RT. Realnoe Vremya presents the main points from the interview.
“The figures are far from final”: about 800 criminal cases, thousands of victims
Russia's special military operation in Ukraine has been going on for over two months. Over this time, Ukrainian nationalists have been shelling residential buildings and civilian infrastructure with heavy weapons with high damaging properties, Alexander Bastrykin said. Besides, they use prohibited ammunition.
“Our investigators are working on the ground, and we are getting more and more concrete evidence of the commission of particularly serious crimes against the Russian-speaking residents of Donbass, who did not agree with the nationalist policy of Kyiv, the prohibition of the Russian language and who united to create autonomy of the south-eastern regions of Ukraine," said the chairman of the investigative committee.
According to Bastrykin, the actions of Ukrainian nationalists and the Armed Forces of Ukraine are characterised by “special cruelty, selectivity, cynicism and ruthlessness”. They demonstrate them even in relation to Ukrainians who “do not share their nationalist views”.
Most often, the Investigative Committee of Russia records attacks by Ukrainian security forces on civilians from artillery guns, tactical missile systems, mortars and small arms. Bastrykin particularly noted the use of the Tochka-U tactical complex missiles by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. He recalled that when they attacked in March, more than 20 people were killed in Donetsk, and more than 30 were injured in various ways.
"115 persons are involved in these crimes against the peace and security of mankind, which do not have a statute of limitations, of which 63 were ordered to be brought as defendants. But these figures, as we all understand, are far from final. Every day, the investigation establishes new defendants, brings new charges to the Ukrainian commanders of the Armed Forces and members of nationalist formations," Bastrykin said.
The head of the Investigative Committee also mentioned that nationalists in Ukraine use civilians as a human shield. According to him, the department has a lot of data confirming this. Everything is recorded in the materials of criminal cases.
“The people who arrived in Russia from Donbass and from Ukraine told about the deployment of nationalists and the Armed Forces of Ukraine, their military equipment near five schools, as well as the use of hospitals and maternity hospitals by Ukrainian servicemen as a shelter, the conduct of mortar attacks by Azov fighters from the territory of the Primorye shopping centre, the placement of firing positions by the Ukrainian military on roofs of residential buildings," Bastrykin said.
In total, since 2014, the Investigative Committee of Russia has initiated about 800 criminal cases related to the events in the Donbass and Ukraine. Investigators have already interrogated over 181 thousand people. The number of victims exceeded the mark of 59 thousand, of which more than 10 thousand are minors. The amount of claims for compensation for material and moral damage has reached tens of billions of rubles.
The defendants in the criminal cases initiated by the Investigative Committee are, among others, high-ranking Ukrainian officials, as well as representatives of radical nationalist organisations of Ukraine. As Bastrykin clarified, today there are 287 of them, almost half have already been charged. Among them — former Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov and Governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast Ihor Kolomoyskyi, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Herashchenko, former Defence Ministers Valeriy Heletey and Stepan Poltorak, First Deputy and deputy heads of the Defence Ministry Ivan Rusnak, Igor Pavlovsky, Oleg Shevchuk, Alexander Dublyan, commanders of individual units of the Armed Forces and participants of nationalist battalions.
“Ukrainian servicemen prefer to surrender when the opportunity occurs”
According to Bastrykin, today there are more than 2 thousand Ukrainian servicemen in Russia who voluntarily laid down their arms. Among them — five commanders of the Armed Forces of Ukraine brigades who fought against the population of Donbass.
“Everyone sees that Ukrainian servicemen, no matter how it sounds in the Western media and propaganda social media, prefer to surrender when the opportunity arises. They understand the futility of resistance," Bastrykin said.
The Ukrainian servicemen who surrendered are being interrogated by investigators. During interrogations, they tell, among other things, about mercenaries who arrived in Ukraine from other countries. Based on the data received, the Investigative Committee has initiated criminal proceedings against 75 mercenaries who came from the UK, USA, Norway, Canada, Georgia and other states.
Bastrykin also commented on the torture of Russian servicemen captured by the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to him, there they “beat” them to try to get information about the special operation from them. The committee is investigating these crimes.
“For example, several Russian servicemen participating in the special operation to protect the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics were fired upon by Ukrainian security forces and captured in the Zaporizhzhia region of Ukraine. They were handed over to the Security Service of Ukraine officers, who illegally detained them for ten days. At the same time, physical violence was systematically used against Russians," the chairman of the committee said.
“The question of where the trial of Ukrainian nationalists will take place is still open”
Bastrykin said that Ukraine is not fulfilling its international obligations — the country is not investigating crimes committed by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Donbass. He reminded that the norms of international humanitarian law oblige states to search for and bring to justice those responsible for war crimes or serious violations of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols I and II thereto of 1977. Kyiv does not prosecute such persons.
“The question of where the trial of Ukrainian nationalists will take place is still open. We believe that several options can be implemented here. The principles of universal jurisdiction allow such criminal cases to be considered by a national court. At the same time, we would support the creation of a separate special tribunal. The most important thing is that such a court should be impartial," Bastrykin said.
He also noted that the competent authorities of Ukraine on far-fetched grounds persecute Russian deputies and officials. He considers these actions “absurd and illegal”.
“For illegally bringing our citizens to criminal responsibility. Lawyers of the Russian Investigative Committee initiate criminal cases against Ukrainian officials and bring them to the criminal liability established by law. The Investigative Committee initiated 14 such criminal cases," said the chairman of the Investigative Committee.
Investigative Committee has identified the circle of persons associated with military biological activities in Ukraine
Bastrykin also told about the investigation of a criminal case on the development of biological weapons of mass destruction in laboratories in Ukraine. The Investigative Committee of Russia has already identified the circle of persons associated with this activity. Among them — representatives of the US Department of Defense and American contractors.
“It has been established that since 2005 the volume of funding by the United States of biological programmes in Ukraine has amounted to more than $224 million. The United States have consistently carried out work on the modernisation and re-equipment of about three dozen scientific institutions of the Ministries of Healthcare and Agriculture of Ukraine, as well as a number of sanitary and epidemiological facilities of the command of the medical forces of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine," Bastrykin said.
He clarified that before the start of the Russian special operation, the results of research conducted in Ukrainian biological laboratories were taken to the territories controlled by the Kyiv regime.
The Investigative Committee of Russia intends to continue to investigate new information about biological laboratories operating in the neighbouring country with Russia. In particular, the agency uses documents provided by the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation in its work.
“They are waging an information war against our country”
Since the beginning of the special military operation, the Investigative Committee of Russia has already initiated 35 criminal cases under the recently adopted Article 207.3 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, that is, for the public dissemination of deliberately false information about the use of the country's Armed Forces, the execution of their powers by Russian state bodies.
Bastrykin also commented on the fakes that are disseminated by the Western media. According to him, some of them contain “frankly false information”. He considers the discrediting of Russia to be the purpose of some such publications.
“They are waging an information war against our country. Our task is to clearly explain what is really happening, to show evidence of crimes, our position. And we will continue to do it," Bastrykin assured.