The U.S. Department of Justice has filed war crime charges against four members of the Russian military, alleging their involvement in abducting and torturing an American during the invasion of Ukraine.
“As the world has witnessed the horrors of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, so has the United States Department of Justice,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.
“That is why the Justice Department has filed the first ever charges under the U.S. war crimes statute against four Russia-affiliated military personnel for heinous crimes against an American citizen. The Justice Department will work for as long as it takes to pursue accountability and justice for Russia’s war of aggression.”
The accusations state that the victim — a U.S. citizen who was not identified by name — was kidnapped from the village of Mylove in southern Ukraine, subjected to beatings, interrogations, death threats and a mock execution at a Russian military compound for 10 days.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas reported that the victim detailed the abduction, including being stripped naked, having a gun pointed at his head, and enduring severe beatings.
“The evidence gathered by our agents speaks to the brutality, criminality, and depravity of Russia’s invasion,” Mayorkas said.
The defendants were charged with four crimes: one count of conspiracy to commit war crimes and three counts of war crimes (unlawful confinement of a protected person, torture and inhuman treatment).
Mayorkas mentioned that investigators from Homeland Security and the FBI conducted interviews with the American, his family, and individuals in the vicinity of Mylove during the kidnapping timeframe to identify the four Russians.
The indictment listed the names of the defendants as commanding officers Suren Mkrtchyan and Dmitry Budnik, as well as two lower-level soldiers identified only by their first names, Valeriy and Nazar.
Cover photo: Photo of Suren Mkrtchyan, taken from Ukraine's Myrotvorets website.