The horrifying images revealed after the withdrawal of the Russian army from a quiet northwestern suburb of Kyiv have shocked and sickened people around the world.
Hundreds of corpses of civilians lay where they fell, in the cities and villages occupied by Russian troops. In Bucha, the most notorious example of Russian atrocities, the bodies of Ukrainian civilians were left to rot in the streets, basements, and other places - in cars, gardens, shelters. According to preliminary data from the mayor's office, about 400 people were murdered by Russian occupiers in the town.
The EU imposed a fifth package of sanctions after the atrocities in Bucha became public knowledge. It banned new coal supply agreements with Russia from August, forbid Russian ships from docking at enter European ports, and imposed a halt on all Russian trucks from traveling through EU territory.
There are other legal consequences. International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan, who visited Bucha, said Ukraine was a crime scene and he saw grounds for an investigation within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. Russia will now face investigations and charges for war crimes, and crimes against humanity.
Revealing the architects of these horrors has become a priority for the Ukrainian government, private businesses, and dozens of activists and volunteers, both in Ukraine and abroad.
Some progress has been made. The Main Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry published lists of personnel of Russian army units that were stationed in Bucha during the atrocities.
Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to the Ukrainian president, named specific units that committed war crimes during the occupation. Most of these occupiers are representatives of the Eastern Military District, including the 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade and other units from Khabarovsk Krai.
Much of this data has been gathered by employees and volunteers working for Ukrainian private intelligence firm Molfar, who set themselves an ambitious task: to identify every Russian soldier who had been in Bucha during the occupation.
According to the firm, experts have identified almost 500 Russian soldiers, out of 1,060, who committed genocide in Bucha. This data has been passed along to the relevant law enforcement departments, for the further identification of war criminals and their accomplices.
What is the purpose of this project to personally identify the butchers of Bucha?
It is important to show Russian soldiers that we know more about them than they expected would be known, says Artem Starosek, CEO of Molfar. This sends the soldiers into a panic, who typically attempt to quickly delete this data. But information on the internet, once released, is incredibly difficult to scrub entirely.
According to the UN Convention (1968) and the European Convention (1974), war crimes and crimes against humanity have no statute of limitations. Volunteers from Molfar call on Ukrainians to join the initiative to search for Russian soldiers who took part in the occupation of Ukrainian territories affected by war crimes.
NV has selected the five most typical representatives of the Russian military who were in Bucha during the occupation. We believe this information to be of the utmost public interest, in order to put a face to the butchers and genocidaires of those responsible for fulfilling the Kremlin’s mission of eradicating the Ukrainian nation.
Faces of fascism
- 29-year-old soldier Oleg Bozhenko from Khabarovsk. In his profile on the social network Odnoklassniki, he posted quotes from Joseph Stalin arguing against abortion: "We need people. Abortion ends life and therefore it has no place in our country." He also commemorated the October Revolution to his followers, boasted about a trip to China, and a visit to the gym. Volunteers were able to further identify members of his family from an Instagram profile: his father, mother, his two brothers, and his sister.
- 27-year-old soldier Yakov Karbusov, from Khabarovsk. According to his profile on the social network Vkontakte, he is a contract soldier with the Russian army. He was last online on April 15. A video published in 2018 can be found in one of his profiles, probably one of the episodes of the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Donbas (2014-2021), where Karbusov recorded point-of-view video following the aftermath of a battle, and how other Russian soldiers were looting the corpses of fallen Ukrainian soldiers. His profile on Odnoklassniki shows that he is a fan of mobile games and likely an alcoholic.
- 36-year-old soldier Zorigto Zhigzhitov from the Republic of Buryatia. An active user of social networks with a daughter and a wife. Likely many Russian soldiers, he enjoys picturing himself with large quantities of alcohol, as well as many photos of himself in his military uniform. In his profile on Odnoklassniki, he shared a quote emblematic of Russian patriarchy and casual violence against women: "Don't shout at me, or you'll get regret it! – How? – You'll have a fractured jaw and a concussion."
- 41-year-old Andrei Pavlov, a junior sergeant. Investigators also located his brother, who works in the police of his hometown of Ust-Kalmanka, Altai Krai, as well as his son and sisters.
- 29-year-old soldier Igor Timoshevsky. A native of Irkutsk region. Married. He started his business as a wedding photographer, but it seems the Russian military was more appealing.