Ukraine says it has identified a Russian commander accused of Bucha atrocities

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Ukraine’s Security Service says it has identified a Russian commander who is accused of giving orders to shoot civilians.

The SBU announced in a statement on Thursday that it is investigating Vadym Ovchinnikov, the commander of a Russian intelligence group, who it alleges ordered the shooting of a Ukrainian family during the occupation of the town of Bucha in March of 2022.

“The Security Service has established the identity of another Russian occupier who is involved in mass murders of civilians during the occupation of Kyiv region. The perpetrator is Senior Lieutenant Vadym Ovchinnikov, the commander of the reconnaissance platoon of the 37th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the 36th Combined Arms Army of the Eastern Military District of the Russian Federation,” the SBU said in the statement.

The SBU alleges Ovchinnikov “took direct part in the capture of the villages of Severynivka, Motyzhyn, and Kopyliv of the Bucha district,” and rode around the territory in armored vehicles “in order to intimidate local residents” accompanied by his subordinates.

The SBU alleges that during a raid in early March 2022, Ovchinnikov ordered his subordinates to open fire on two cars carrying civilians that were moving towards the Russian infantry fighting vehicle.

“A Ukrainian family was in the car, and they were trying to leave Severynivka for Uman in Cherkasy region,” the statement said, adding that “a man, his wife and their 15-year-old daughter were killed on the spot” and only the youngest daughter, who was 9 years old, survived.

According to the investigation, “the criminal order to shoot local residents” was carried out by five of Ovchinnikov’s subordinates, whose names the SBU has included in the statement.

Ovchinnikov and his accomplices were investigated for “the violation of the laws and customs of war, combined with intentional murder, committed by a group of persons according to a prior conspiracy,” according to the statement.

The SBU didn’t report any information about the whereabouts of the suspects, only noting that “comprehensive measures are being taken to fairly punish Russian war criminals, regardless of where they are.”

Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, was occupied by Russian troops shortly after the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. According to the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office, the Russian army committed thousands of war crimes in the Bucha district, and hundreds of people were killed in the town of Bucha alone before it was liberated in March 2022.

The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings and has reiterated baseless claims that the images of civilian bodies were fake.

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