A Ukrainian reconnaissance officer with callsign Grad asked the editorial office of Slidstvo.Info to identify the occupiers and return the find to its owners. During the occupation of Nova Basan village in Chernihiv Oblast, a camera belonging to the Ustyanivskyi family was among the looted but forgotten items in an infantry fighting vehicle. Slidstvo.Info journalists returned the memories.

The video has English subtitles.

A frosty December day in 2009. The village of Nova Basan, Chernihiv Oblast. The Ustyanivskyi family is celebrating the second birthday of their son, Bohdan. Father Ihor enters the room with a small box. Mother Oksana unties the gift bow and takes it out. It’s a camera. The first shot with a little son in her arms, the first skiing in a snowy village, the first grade, the first dance at a school holiday, the first selfie with friends… the first days of the occupation.


The Russian military entered the village of Nova Basan, 80 kilometers from Kyiv, in the first days of the war. They deployed almost 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, and other equipment in the village and lived in the homes of the locals. The occupiers intimidated the villagers and took men prisoner. For 33 days, the Russian military abused the captives, keeping them without food and water in cold basements. 

The Ustianivskyi family was able to evacuate only on March 20, after which the occupiers came and looted their house. The stolen items included clothes, alcohol, a hair clipper, and a camera. The Russians turned all the cabinets upside down, and took clothes, alcohol, a hair clipper… and a camera with family memories. 


For 10 days, during the occupation, the Ustianivskyis’ camera traveled in an armored personnel carrier with the Russians from house to house. The Russian military used it to take pictures. 

The Slidstvo.Info journalists managed to identify the occupiers from the photos: Aleksandr Gornostayev, Ivan Ivanov, and Nurlybek Bayganin. The permanent location of their 14th Army District of the Northern District of the Russian Armed Forces is in Murmansk Oblast, almost 3,000 kilometers from this Ukrainian village. 

In the spring of 2022, in the battles near Kharkiv, the Ukrainian Armed Forces liquidated the commander of their 200th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, Colonel Denis Kurilo. However, this fate did not befall all the Russian military from this unit, who occupied Nova Basan, among other places. 

On his VKontakte page, Russian soldier Ivanov’s name is Vanya Ivanov. He is 32 years old, lives in Kirov, and has four minor children.

Ivanov does not hide his participation in the hostilities and his affection for the Russian dictator as he posts photos from an exhibition hugging a wax figure of Putin.

In June 2022, Ivan published a photo of himself and other Russian military personnel whose faces are on the camera from Nova Basan. However, these photos were taken earlier, in the spring of 2022.

Some time later, the occupier published a photo with the caption: “While dad is working, mom and kids are vacationing”.

Slidstvo.Info tried to call the occupier, but he blocked the phone numbers. 

It seems that the Russian occupier returned home in June 2022. Photos with his family appeared on his page from a joint vacation in a water park. Ivanov posted photos from his civilian life every month, probably because the Russian authorities did not send him to war in Ukraine for the second time.

From the photos on Vanya Ivanov’s social network, it was possible to identify Vladimir Menigechev, who was also in Nova Basan, lived in the same yard, and stored the looted items from Ukrainians in an infantry fighting vehicle.

Vladimir is from Altai. He is 23 years old. The occupier publishes his photos from the war on the territory of Ukraine. Sometimes, he is in the middle of a field near some equipment, sometimes against the background of the Russian flag under a tree. He also writes that he misses his cat, likely a Ukrainian one. 

Occupier Vladimir Menigechev

Menigechev shares sad social media posts about the lost love of a soldier. He also publishes the song Okrain Russkaya Zemlya (“Outskirts of Russian Land”), which glorifies the “exploits of the Russian army”, the battles in Hostomel, and the occupation of Ukrainian cities.

Together with Ivanov, Alexander Gornostayev posed for the stolen camera. He is 39 years old, and goes by the name “Shurik from Volchansk” on social media. He posts photos only with fish and has no mention of war crimes on the territory of Ukraine.

Slidstvo.Info journalists called Gornostayev and asked him about the camera stolen from a Ukrainian family.

“Who did I steal it from? (“The camera was not yours. There are photos of civilians who lived in that village, in Nova Basan. It wasn’t yours, was it?” the journalist asked). Well, of course, it’s not ours. (Laughs) You’re calling the wrong number. You have the wrong number. Please don’t call me again, first of all. Secondly, I will not deal with any cameras. Do you understand? Goodbye,” the occupier said.

After the journalist said that he was in a photo, the Russian hung up. 

Another Russian who took a selfie in an IFV with a stolen camera is Nurlybek Bayganin.

A selfie of the occupier Bayganin from the stolen camera of a Ukrainian family

The photo is not of very good quality. But his “colleague” Vanya Ivanov “helped” to identify Bayganin. He published a better photo in which 27-year-old Nurlybek can be seen. 

Using artificial intelligence, journalists identified the Russian and found his VKontakte page. The occupier had old photos from his military service there. Bayganin hides his number, and did not accept a request to become friends. The Russian does not have a page anywhere else.


The camera had a joint photo of the occupiers and a local, Viacheslav Shyrhan. The man owns the shop where the occupiers lived.

Viacheslav Shyrhan told Slidstvo.info journalists that the occupiers had machine guns and ordered him to carry a cauldron of food. According to the man, the photo was taken without his consent. 

“When they were cooking behind our barn. One of them said, ‘Take the cauldron with the food’. They were carrying something from a neighboring house, picking up food, and their hands were full. Of course, I didn’t want to carry anything, but how can you [object] when they were all armed with machine guns and [said it] in the form of an order,” Viacheslav recalls.


At the beginning of this year, a Ukrainian scout with the call sign “Grad” contacted the editorial office of Slidstvo.info. He told us about his find: “Good evening, I have some information about the b*ggers. I found their (the occupiers’ – ed.) camera in an abandoned vehicle. It was in Chernihiv Oblast, Nova Basan. There are photos of them and a photo of a local who helped them. If you are interested, please write back.”

Grad found the camera in a Russian IFV left by the occupiers during the liberation of Nova Basan by Ukrainian defenders on March 30, 2022. The soldier said that in addition to the camera, the occupiers left army backpacks, first aid kits, and loot: a leopard plaid, a ring, and perfume. 

“I wanted to give the camera to the owners as soon as I had the chance, but I haven’t found them, so I hope you can help. It’s important to me because it’s their property, and there may be photos that are important to them. Memories: photos of their young grandchildren, perhaps these are the only photos they have left after the enemy arrived,” the Ukrainian scout Grad said in a conversation with a journalist. 

Slidstvo.Info decided to track down the owner of the camera and return the valuable item to the family.

Oksana Ustyanivska works as a technician at a local school. Until March 20, 2022, the woman and her son were in the occupied village.

“The Russians have never seen anything like this, they probably don’t have anything like this. They picked up this camera and started taking pictures, is it yours? You take it and start taking pictures of yourself. Bloody monsters. How did the Russians dare to come here, to kill our children and boys? How many people died, how much grief they brought us! I feel so angry with them that if I were given an assault rifle, I would go and shoot them all indiscriminately,” says the owner of the camera stolen by the Russians.

Oksana took the camera out of its case and put it on the couch, next to her cat, Hayka, who has been living with the family for only a month and, fortunately, has not seen the occupiers.

The article was prepared with the support of the European Union and the International Renaissance Foundation within the framework of the joint initiative “European Renaissance of Ukraine”. The piece represents the position of the authors and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union or the International Renaissance Foundation.

READ ALSO: Relatives Identified the Bodies of Soldiers Captured by Russians in Avdiivka