Russian Investigative Committee chief says 75 probes into foreign mercenaries fighting Russian forces

Russian Investigative Committee chief says 75 probes into foreign mercenaries fighting Russian forces

The chairman of Russia's Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, told RT about cases involving violations in Donbass.

The chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, told RT that at least 75 criminal investigations have been launched into foreign mercenaries fighting Russian forces in Ukraine. He claimed that among the individuals are British, American, Norwegian, Canadian, and Georgian nationals.

In an interview published on Tuesday, Bastrykin said Russian authorities had collected extensive evidence implicating these foreign fighters, and some have been captured by Russian troops.

When asked to comment on the criminal investigations opened in Ukraine, as well as the investigations opened by the International Criminal Court into a number of Russian officials, Bastrykin called the probes absurd and unlawful, citing cases in which the Ukrainian authorities accused Russian nationals of war crimes despite the fact that they had apparently left the Russian army long ago.

The head of the Investigative Committee said that his subordinates had countered these unlawful Ukrainian investigations by launching 14 of their own investigations into the Ukrainian officials behind them.

Bastrykin said that since 2014, around 800 criminal investigations into current and former members of Ukraine's political leadership, as well as the top brass of some of the country's security services and radical nationalist organizations have been initiated by his committee on the topic of crimes allegedly committed by Ukrainian forces in the two breakaway Donbass republics. He said that among the suspects are Ukraine's former interior minister Arsen Avakov, as well as former governor of Dnepropetrovsk Region, Igor Kolomoisky.

According to Bastrykin, the vast majority of crimes investigated by the Russian authorities concern the shelling of civilians with artillery, ballistic missiles, mortars and firearms, noting that these actions are classified as inhumane treatment of civilians, the use of banned weapons and methods in an armed conflict, and even as genocide. He said that 115 individuals have been identified in connection with these cases, and that the number is likely to increase over time as the committee continues to investigate.

Bastrykin claimed that Ukrainian forces have committed similar crimes, most notably targeting the Russian-speaking population of Donbass who opposed Kiev's nationalist policies since the start of February 24 of Russia's military offensive. The head of Russia's Investigative Committee said it had recognized as many as 59,000 people as victims and is helping them file lawsuits to claim compensation from the Ukrainian government.