On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it has filed the first-ever charges under the U.S. war crimes statute against four Russian fighters for committing heinous crimes against an American citizen. The indictment was brought by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia.
The four defendants, Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan, Dmitry Budnik, Valerii LNU, and Nazar LNU, were charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, unlawful confinement, torture, and inhuman treatment. These charges are in connection with their alleged unlawful detainment of a U.S. national during the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
According to the indictment, the defendants interrogated, beat, and tortured the victim while threatening to kill him. They also conducted a mock execution, where they put a gun to the victim’s head and moved it just before pulling the trigger. The victim was severely beaten and threatened with death multiple times throughout his detainment.
Attorney General Merrick Garland stated that these charges are an important step towards holding the Russian regime accountable for its illegal war in Ukraine. He emphasized that the rule of law is crucial in pursuing true accountability for individuals involved in war crimes and deterring future aggression.
In a historic move, AG Merrick Garland announces the Justice Department is filing war crimes charges against 4 Russian-affiliated soldiers accused of abducting and torturing an American in Ukraine.
This is the first time the DOJ has filed charges under U.S. war crimes statute. pic.twitter.com/BB8hGbi4iR
— The Recount (@therecount) December 6, 2023
Garland detailed the allegations against the defendants, stating that the victim, who was living in a small village in southern Ukraine, was not participating in the armed conflict and was considered a protected person under international law. He was abducted by the defendants, who threw him to the ground, tied his hands behind his back, and beat him with their fists and guns. The defendants then took photos of the victim while he was naked and threatened to sexually assault him.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also addressed the charges, highlighting the work of his department’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center. He praised the agents for their tireless efforts in gathering evidence and bringing charges against the perpetrators. He also vowed that the United States would hold the Russian fighters accountable for their unthinkable mistreatment of the American citizen.
Mayorkas also stated that the evidence gathered by the agents speaks to the brutality and criminality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He reiterated the United States’ support for the Ukrainian people and their fight against Russia’s unlawful war of aggression.
The charges brought against these four Russian fighters are a significant development in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. It sends a strong message that the United States will not tolerate such egregious violations of human rights and will take action to hold those responsible accountable for their actions.
The case serves as a reminder that no matter where in the world these crimes are committed, the United States will pursue justice for its citizens and stand in solidarity with those who are victims of such atrocities. The Department of Justice and other federal agencies will continue to work tirelessly to bring an end to these heinous acts and prevent them from happening in the future.