Russian soldier has revealed details of looting, torture and killing that took place in the Kyiv suburb of Andriivka back in March-Zamkuwire -

Russian soldier has revealed details of looting, torture and killing that took place in the Kyiv suburb of Andriivka back in March-Zamkuwire

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WARNING: This story contains graphic details some readers may find disturbing.

Despite blanket denials of war crimes from the Kremlin, a Russian soldier has revealed details of looting, torture and killing that took place in the Kyiv suburb of Andriivka back in March.

The soldier’s confession came in an interview with iStories, an organization of independent Russian journalists who have left their country for their own safety. The interview is part of a documentary investigation of alleged war crimes by The Fifth Estate in collaboration with iStories and the Swiss public broadcaster RTS.

Russian soldiers were tracked down after they left photos of themselves on cellphones they stole from Andriivka residents, some of whom they killed. Survivors in the town later recovered the phones and the photos.

When invading Russian soldiers arrived in the Kyiv suburb of Andriivka in the early hours of the February invasion of Ukraine, the first things they wanted from residents were cellphones. They didn’t like being photographed with cellphone cameras.

“People were filming a lot,” said resident Anatoly Boyko, “and that was the first thing the Russians were looking for. If you walk with a phone, you could be tortured and then executed. They look through your Facebook because it can incriminate you, and then they know more about you.”



Looking for cellphones

Andriivka resident Anatoly Boyko recalls how Russian soldiers collected cellphones of residents, who ‘could be tortured and then executed.’ 

As word spread, residents quickly erased videos and social media links. Boyko managed to survive, but several other Andriivka residents weren’t so lucky. The mayor, Anatoly Kibukevych, lost three of his relatives.

“All my three cousins were executed on the same day. Vitalik, Vadym Hanuk and Ruslan Yaremchuk, all hands behind their backs. I don’t know why, maybe there was something in their cellphones, maybe they took pictures of their tanks, I don’t know.”

Yaremchuk’s body was found next to his house with several bullet-riddled cellphones strewn around it.

Russian soldier Daniil Frolkin of the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade eventually confessed in an interview with iStories to the execution of a civilian in Andriivka.

It turns out his victim was Ruslan Yaremchuk, a father of three young girls.

Frolkin said he marched Yaremchuk through the town to the front yard of his house. “I told him: ‘Go forward.’ He went forward. I told him: ‘On your knees.’ And I just put a bullet in his brain.”

Ruslan Yaremchuk with his three daughters. (Ekaterina Fomina/iStories)

Frolkin said he was ordered to shoot civilians by his commanding officer.

“The commander said: ‘Dispose of them.’ So I went and disposed of them. They had a bundle of money, with bucks and stuff. This lieutenant-colonel took the money for himself. And he gave us the rest, like documents and phones. And he was like: ‘Bring them there, shoot them and destroy the phones and documents, too.'”

According to Frolkin, the Russians suspected Yaremchuk was filming them and reporting their positions to the Ukrainian side.

There is no evidence that was the case. His family says Yaremchuk had a hobby of collecting photos and old cellphones.

Andriivka residents buried their loved ones after they were killed by the Russian army. (Ekaterina Fomina/iStories)

As Frolkin and his unit withdrew from the Kyiv suburbs weeks later, they left hundreds of civilians killed in Andriivka and the neighbouring town of Bucha.

The regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin has suggested evidence of those crimes was faked.

Frolkin confirmed looting, torture and killing, and said he was overcome with guilt after the execution and his seven-month tour in Ukraine.

“For the record: I, a serviceman of the military base, Daniil Andreyevich Frolkin, confess to all the crimes I committed in Andriivka: shooting civilians, plundering civilians, taking away their phones, and the fact that our commanders don’t give a f–k about our fighters, the entire infantry that fights on the front line,” he said in his confession to Ekaterina Fomina of iStories.



Russian soldier confesses to killing and looting

Russian soldier Daniil Frolkin tells journalist Ekaterina Fomina about the crimes he committed during his unit’s invasion of Andriivka. 

“Yes, I was trembling for very long. I survived it, but … I realized that if I kill at least one more person, I would shoot myself.  My conscience could not bear any more deaths of people.”

Frolkin was tracked down after he returned to his home town near Khabarovsk in Russia’s far east by Fomina. She figured out who he was through photos on a discarded cellphone that had been stolen from an Andriivka residents. He forgot to destroy the phone and also left a military uniform behind with his name stamped on it.

Frolkin agreed to talk to Fomina.

Daniil Frolkin from the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade stands inside an Andriivka home. The medals on his chest belonged to the homeowner’s father-in-law, a Second World War veteran. When the Russian troops left, the medals disappeared from the house, the family said. (Ekaterina Fomina/iStories)

“I think the main motivation to talk to me was his psychological and physical condition,” Fomina said.

“At that moment, he was completely exhausted. He spent seven months away from home. He was witness of all these crimes, and he also was a criminal, and yeah, he couldn’t … hold all these feelings inside himself. This is why he shared it.”

Ekaterina Fomina, an independent Russian journalist with iStories, tracked down Frolkin in Russia. He agreed to speak to her and confessed to shooting a civilian in the head. (Alex Shprintsen/CBC)

Frolkin was approached by war crimes investigators but he refused to co-operate. He is now out of the army and hoping to become a police officer in his hometown in Russia’s far east.

British lawyer Wayne Jordash, one of many international war crimes experts in Kyiv assisting Ukrainian prosecutors, said Frolkin could be tried in absentia.

“I think the bigger challenge is to go after his commander and his commander’s commander.”

Jordash said the complicated part of war crimes investigations is establishing a criminal enterprise.

“If you’re talking about an ordinary crime such as a robbery, you’re talking about a limited number of people who are likely to be responsible, including for example the head of the criminal gang, whereas in a war, you have potential for a huge number of people to be responsible for what happens on the ground, all the way in this case up to Putin.”

Wayne Jordash, a British lawyer, investigates alleged war crimes in Ukraine. (Volodymyr Cheppel)

Unlike other wartime leaders, Putin has not distanced himself from allegations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. He has awarded medals and special commendations to Frolkin’s unit, the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade, for their “heroism” in the fighting around Bucha and Andriivka.

Jordash said that implicates Putin in those crimes.

“Putin giving medals to them showing his approval will in due course be collected alongside other signs that he approves of the crimes being committed and other indications of his control over the military. I think a solid picture of his involvement is building up day by day.”

A decree of the president of the Russian Federation issued on April 18, 2022, praises the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade ‘for mass heroism and bravery, fortitude and courage shown by the brigade personnel in combat operations to protect the fatherland and state interests in armed conflicts,’ and promotes them to the rank of ‘guards.’ (Russian Federation official internet portal)

Many observers believe that Putin or his commanders could never be brought to justice because Russia does not recognize the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Netherlands, and would not co-operate with the investigation.

Jordash is more hopeful, and points to Serbian leaders who were eventually tried in The Hague long after the Bosnian War of the early to mid-1990s.

“I think international criminal law, there’s lots of problems with it. It is slow, it is expensive and sometimes often quite disappointing, but actually it has quite a good record of getting hold of those like [Slobodan] Milosovic and [Radovan] Karadzic, [Gen. Ratko] Mladic from former Yugoslavia.”

Jordash said that’s also to some extent true for the Second World War.

“I mean in 1942, who would have thought Hermann Goering would be sitting in a courtroom? Three years later he’s on trial in Nuremburg,” Jordash said.

“I have no doubt that we will be disappointed in terms of how many trials are held, but I’ve also no doubt that there will be trials of high-ranking Kremlin officials.”

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