OAN’s Brooke Mallory
1:25 PM – Wednesday, December 6, 2023
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that U.S. federal prosecutors have charged four Russian soldiers with war crimes after it was discovered that the men allegedly kidnapped and tortured an American citizen in Ukraine, immediately after Russia’s incursion.
Three war crimes were brought against the soldiers—two commanding officers and two lower-ranking soldiers—for allegedly abusing the U.S. resident in Ukraine. The two low-ranking members were identified simply by their first names, Valerii and Nazar, while the commanding leaders were named as Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan and Dmitry Budnik.
According to the Justice Department, each defendant faces charges of wrongful detention, torture, and inhumane treatment, in addition to one count of conspiracy to commit war crimes.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made a statement at the Justice Department on Tuesday, stating that the charges—which were made possible by federal legislation from 1996 that made violations of the Geneva Conventions illegal—were presented in an indictment in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The men are not in American custody.
“These charges, against four Russia-affiliated military personnel, are the Justice Department’s first criminal charges under the U.S. war crimes statute. They are also an important step toward accountability for the Russian regime’s illegal war in Ukraine,” Garland said. “Our work is far from done.”
The unidentified victim was allegedly taken by Mkrtchyan and his men in April 2022 from the village of Mylove in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson Oblast. The Justice Department claims that they assaulted him and placed him in an unlawful detention facility for ten days.
Some of the Russian men, according to officials, either led or took part in the interrogation sessions, during which they tortured the victim, removing his clothing, taking pictures, and abusing him.
The accused “threw [the victim] face down to the ground while he was naked, tied his hands behind his back, pointed a gun at his head, and beat him with their feet, their fists, and the stocks of their guns,” wrote prosecutors in the 9-page indictment.
Prosecutors highlighted one particularly violent session, when Budnik “threatened the victim with death and asked him for his last words.”
The victim was subsequently taken outside by Nazar and others.
“There, they forced him to the ground and put a gun to the back of his head. The victim believed he was about to be killed. They moved the gun just before pulling the trigger, and the bullet went just past his head,” Garland asserted. “After the mock execution, the victim was beaten and interrogated again.”
According to the charging documents, the unidentified victim had neither fought nor taken part in the war and had been residing in Ukraine since 2021.
The Justice Department has established a War Crimes Accountability Team to look into possible war crimes in Ukraine that could be prosecuted in the United States as part of its assistance in the investigation of Russian service members. Additionally, U.S. investigators are helping Ukrainian officials collect and record proof of Russian atrocities.
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