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In cold blood: Defense Ministry says Ukrainian soldier murdered by Russians in Crimea was unarmed, fleeing

by Nataliya Trach   08 Apr 2014

Ukrainian soldier murdered

Ukraine's Defense Ministry says that Russian soldiers chased down Ukrainian soldier Stanislav Karachevsky (in photo) and shot the unarmed man to death, while beating his companion, Captain Artem Yermolenko, who remains missing.  The Russians say the victims were drunk and aggressive and that their soldiers acted in self-defense.  Karchevsky is the second confirmed Ukrainian soldier killed in Russia's military invasion of the Crimean peninsula.

Russian military soldiers shot dead an unarmed Ukrainian officer on April 6 in the dormitory for officers in the Crimean village of Novofedorivka, according to the Ukrainian Defense Ministry.

Meanwhile, an officer accompanying the gunshot victim is missing after witnesses said Russian military soldiers beat him and carried him away.

Oleksandr Razmazin, the deputy chief of the principal command center of the armed forces of Ukraine, says that Stanislav Karachevsky, the slain Ukrainian officer, was returning home after military service with his friend, Captain Artem Yermolenko, the beaten companion who remains missing.

On their way home, the two Ukrainians had to pass the checkpoint of their military unit, which is controlled by Russians now.  The Russians behaved aggressively and, to avoid escalating the tense situation, Karachevsky and Yermolenko ran to their dormitory trying to find a hideaway there.

The Russian soldiers followed them.

Mykhaylo Horbatyuk, a senior pilot of the Saki naval aviation brigade, says that a group of armed Russian soldiers broke into the dormitory.

"The Russians ran up into the dormitory and started the gunfire," Horbatyuk said.  "They should not have been there.  Little children might have come out in the corridor and been shot."

Yermolenko managed to hide in a room.  But Karachevsky was less lucky and got shot by Yevheniy Zaytsev, a Russian naval infantry soldier.

An official statement of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine says that one bullet struck his chest and another went through his eye.  The body was found on the fifth floor of the dorm, but Ukraine's Defense Ministry suspects that the body was moved there after the killing.  "Traces of blood lead from the third floor," the ministry explained.

The Russian Investigative Committee in Crimea launched criminal investigation into the murder but has its own version of the events that led to Ukrainian soldier's death.

Andrey Vasylkov, a committee's representative, believes that Karachevsky provoked the conflict.  "These are the drunken Ukrainian soldiers who provoked a conflict with the Russian military men who had to defend themselves," Vasylkov said.

Ukraine doubts that the investigation conducted by the Russians will be fair.

"All the statements of Russian invaders say that the murdered officer of the Ukrainian Military Forces Major Stanislav Karachevsky was allegedly drunk are cynical and overt lies.  These statements are made in order to shield the murderer.  We have the reasons to consider that the so-called investigation will be preconceived," reads the statement of Ukraine's Defense Ministry.

Dmytro Tymchuk, a director of the Center for Political and Military Studies, is skeptical about the Russian investigation, too.

"Russians insist that drunken unarmed Karachevsky attacked the armed Russian soldiers but do not specify why the Russian squads pursued the officer to the dorm and killed him there," Tymchuk told the Kyiv Post.  "It is clear that the murderer will be completely acquitted."

Ukrainian soldiers are being constantly abused by Russian military men so the murder took place in the context of the overall Russian pressure on Ukrainian troops in the Crimea, Tymchuk believes.  "This officer did not want to tolerate humiliation that's why they killed him," he said.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry told the Kyiv Post that it is not aware of Yermolenko's whereabouts.

Karachevsky and Yermolenko are not the only Crimean victims. On March 18, during the storm of photogrammetric center in Simferopol Russian military troops killed Ukrainian warrant officer Serhiy Kokurin and injured two other soldiers.

Karachevsky had a five-year son and a four-year daughter.

Kyiv Post staff writer Nataliya Trach can be reached at trach@kyivpost.com