The village of Sloboda in Chernihiv oblast was occupied by Russian troops in early March. Russians were looking for Ukrainian defenders in the homes of civilians, interrogated and tortured people.
The Slidstvo.Info journalists talked to a local resident Anatoliy Miroshnyk, who told us about the murder of two Ukrainian soldiers. The man gave the soldiers civilian clothes and hid them in his house from the Russian occupiers.
“DO NOT BE AFRAID, WE ARE YOUR PEOPLE”
When Russians entered the village, Anatoliy Miroshnyk with his family – a wife, children and grandchildren – was hiding in the cellar. The man entered the house and met two soldiers there.
“I go in… it’s dark… the door is completely open in the house… I go in, look, I see the guys were on the phone, because it was shining, but there was no light. I went back, and they said: “do not be afraid, we are your people,” Anatoliy recalls.
The man says that they were Ukrainian defenders. They were hiding in his house from the Russian occupiers.
“They (Ukrainian military – ed.) spent the night at my place, and in the morning they called somewhere. They were told that maybe there is a territorial defense here… “so go and get us taken out”. So I went, asked around the village… they said they would not take us,” Anatoliy says.
The soldiers stayed with the man for four days. Anatoliy gave them his clothes to blend in with the civilians.
“I dressed those guys, and they lived with me for four days. And the columns (Russian – ed.) were walking here day after day, they broke through to Budy (a village in Chernihiv region, – ed.), they were constantly moving,” the man says.
“MEN – TO LEAVE, BUT WOMEN AND CHILDREN – TO STAY!”
Anatoliy says that on March 9, a convoy with Russian equipment was marching through the village, so everyone hid in the cellar, as explosions were constantly heard.
“Well, it stopped (the column with the occupiers’ equipment – ed.), we are sitting in the cellar. I say, they must be entering the yard, because everything was cracking. And they drove behind the shed. And they came into our cellar. “Hello?” Well, we could not keep silent, we are here,” the man recalls.
Anatoliy says that five or six Russian soldiers burst into the cellar and ordered all the men to go outside.
“Men – to go out, and women and children – to stay”. Well, they took me, my son and the same two guys out, stood us up, undressed and interrogated us. They asked who those guys were. I said that we were just passing by,” the man says.
According to Anatoliy, they were taken outside, put in front of the fence and forced to undress. The Russians were looking for marks on the body from carrying weapons, as well as any evidence that they might be military.
“Well, when they undressed, Oleh did not take off his army underwear. And they (Russians – ed.) immediately asked him where he got it. He says that volunteers gave it to him,” the man says.
Anatoliy says that the Russian occupiers took him and his son into the house, and left the Ukrainian defenders on the street.
“Well, then they brought us, me and my son, into the house, and left the guys. After 10–15 minutes, maybe five, I don’t remember, it was so stressful… we could hear machine guns nearby,” the man recalls.
“ONE WAS LYING IN ONE CORNER, AND THE OTHER IN ANOTHER”
On March 30, the Armed Forces of Ukraine liberated Sloboda from the Russian occupiers. The next day Anatoliy’s son found the killed soldiers near the barn.
“I came in and saw my clothes that I had given to the boys, and I saw: one was lying in one corner, and the other in another,” the man recalls.
Anatoliy knew only the names of the shot Ukrainian defenders. Slidstvo.Info decided to identify both the dead and the killers.
Journalists found out who the soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine killed in Sloboda were. They appeared to be 22-year-old Oleh Snizhko and 30-year-old Mykhailo Loshak.
Both served in the 58th separate motorized infantry brigade named after Hetman Ivan Vyhovskyi, which was stationed in the city of Konotop in Sumy region. According to the relatives of the victims, Oleh and Mykhailo were contract soldiers.
“He was already under contract. Two years. In February his contract would have ended. On March 8, the last time he greeted me and said: “I’ll call you, because the phone is running out of battery”. But we had no more communication,” recalls Angela, the mother of the deceased Oleh Snizhko.
Kateryna, the sister of the deceased Mykhailo Loshak, says that the man served in the East of Ukraine, his contract was due to expire in October this year. The relatives of the victims did not know where the soldiers were.
“We did not know where exactly he was, in what city… We knew that he was in Chernihiv oblast and that was all. But no one told us the location. We tried not to talk about it, because everything could be monitored,” Kateryna says.
THE KILLER FROM TUVA
Relatives learned about the death of Oleh and Mykhailo in April, after the liberation of Sloboda. Subsequently, the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office opened a murder case. Currently, investigators officially suspect a Russian Arzhaan Sat in the murder of two defenders of Ukraine.
Arzhaan’s social media accounts have now been deleted. However, journalists managed to find the archive of the Russian soldier’s page in the social network “Vkontakte”.
36-year-old Arzhaan Sat comes from the city of Chadan, Tuva Republic. According to the information in Arjaan’s profile, he has two children – a boy and a girl. In one of the pictures, the daughter poses in her father’s military cap.
On Arzhaan Sat’s page you can see photos with a 5-pointed star (the symbol of the Russian army) and the emblem of the military unit where he probably served earlier.
According to the prosecutor’s office, Arzhaan Sat serves in the 55th separate motorized rifle brigade. The Center for Strategic Communications reported about its involvement in war crimes in the Chernihiv region in early April.
It is unknown where the alleged killer of the two Ukrainian defenders is now. The social network states that the last time he visited his page was three months ago.
It is important to note that at the time of their stay in the village, Ukrainian soldiers – Oleh and Mykhailo – did not participate in hostilities. The defenders were in civilian clothes and unarmed. However, this did not stop the Russians – they shot the men only because one of them was wearing army underwear.
The video has English subtitles.