On December 6th, 2023, the United States Department of Justice charged four Russian nationals with war crimes over their detention and torture of U.S. citizens in Ukraine. The four men were military commanders in the Russian Federation Armed Forces and the Donestk People’s Republic Armed Forces. The charging documents reads below:
“Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan, 45, Dmitry Budnik, Valerii LNU (last name unknown), and Nazar LNU were each charged in connection with their unlawful detainment of a U.S. national in the context of the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. The defendants are alleged to have interrogated, severely beaten, and tortured the victim. They also allegedly threatened to kill the victim and conducted a mock execution.
According to allegations in the indictment, Mkrtchyan and Budnik were commanding officers of military units of the Russian Armed Forces and/or the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic, and Valerii and Nazar were lower-ranking military personnel. The defendants are alleged to have been fighting on behalf of Russia in Ukraine when they allegedly committed war crimes.
In April 2022, Mkrtchyan and soldiers under his command allegedly abducted the victim, a U.S. national, from his home in the village of Mylove in the Kherson Oblast region in southern Ukraine and unlawfully confined him for at least 10 days. During the abduction, Mkrtchyan, Valerii, Nazar, and others allegedly 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 severely beat him, including with the stocks of their guns. Mkrtchyan, Valerii, Nazar, and others then allegedly transported the victim to an improvised military compound in Mylove.
The indictment also alleges that Mkrtchyan and Budnik led and participated in at least two interrogation sessions during which the four defendants and others tortured the victim. During one interrogation, Mkrtchyan, Valerii, and Nazar allegedly stripped off the victim’s clothes and photographed him. The defendants and others then allegedly severely beat the victim, pointed guns at the back of his head, and threatened to shoot him. Budnik allegedly threatened the victim with death and asked for his last words. Shortly thereafter, Nazar and others allegedly conducted a mock execution. They allegedly forced the victim to the ground, put a gun to the back of his head, then moved the gun slightly and shot a bullet just past the victim’s head.“