“To mine a bridge,” “to shell a neighbouring village,” and “to conduct harassing fire” are on the to-do list of the Russian military, found in a village abandoned by the occupiers in Kyiv oblast. “Slidstvo.Info” investigated this list and was convinced that most of these crimes were indeed committed. The journalists also have the surnames and names of the alleged performers.
The journalists of “Slidstvo.Info” found out previously unknown details about the presence of the 38th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from the far east of Russia in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. The journalists have found a list and some evidence of the crimes committed by them in Kyiv oblast and Zhytomyr oblast, and also have talked to the people who confirm the findings. The video has English subtitles.
CHORNOBYL EXCLUSION ZONE
The Exclusion Zone, which arose as a result of the accident at the Chornobyl Nuclear Power Plant, was under Russian occupation almost from the first days of the full-scale war. The Ukrainian defenders managed to free these territories only at the beginning of April. That is, they were occupied for more than a month.
So, in fact, from the first days of the war, the village of Poliske, 16 kilometers from the Ukrainian-Belarusian border, was under occupation.
Poliske was once the center of an entire district and more than 10,000 people lived there. However, after the accident at the Chornobyl NPP, almost the entire population was evacuated to other regions of Ukraine. It was in Poliske that Russian troops decided to deploy during the invasion.
Already after the escape of the Russians, Ukrainian defenders found a chevron with the inscription “Vitebskaya” in this village. Given this, one might think that it is a military unit of Belarus named after its city.
In fact, this chevron belongs to a military formation from the far east of Russia. Namely, the 38th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade from the village of Ekaterinoslavka, Amur oblast. The word “Vitebskaya” in the name of the unit has remained there since World War II. At the same time, the unit received the rank of Guardsman, which in Russia is considered to be the sign of “elite”.
The 38th Brigade is part of the 35th Combined Arms Army of the Russian Federation, which also includes the 64th Brigade from Khabarovsk, known in the media as the “Bucha Executioners”. Until now, it was not clear exactly where the 38th Brigade was located in Ukraine.
At the beginning of April, the ground troops of the Armed Forces of Ukraine published a photo with some burnt equipment and a burnt chevron of this unit. “The 38th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and its scrap metal. More precisely, this is exactly what our defenders turn units and divisions of the occupier into, no matter how “elite” they are,” — the Ukrainian defenders wrote, although they did not specify where exactly this happened.
However, “Slidstvo.Info” received some evidence that confirms that at least in the first month of the war, this brigade was in the territory of the Exclusion Zone in the north Kyiv region.
FORGOTTEN TO-DO LIST
The journalists have received a handwritten list of occupiers from the 38th Brigade, found in Poliske. In addition to this list, there was also a list of tasks for the day, namely, March 23. This is about a week before the liberation of Kyiv Oblast from Russian troops. This list of tasks allows one to reproduce the agenda of the occupiers to understand exactly where they were and exactly what crimes they committed.
The first task from the list refers to the mining of the bridge over the Uzh River and the village of Poliske itself. As the journalists learned, the bridge across the Uzh River near Polisky is now blown up.
The third task of the occupiers mentions the village of Radcha, Zhytomyr oblast, which is located three kilometres from the Ukrainian-Belarusian border. It was under occupation from the first days of the war.
The fifth task was to “take insulin to Mar’yanivka”. Mar’yanivka is a village 10 kilometres from Polisky. Local residents who suffer from diabetes could probably need the medicine. As a result of an airstrike in this village in the first days of the war, at least four civilians were killed.
The sixth task mentions another abandoned village of Tarasy, located near Polisky and not far from the village of Motiyka of the Narodytska hromada.
Also, among the tasks of the occupiers for March 23, the shelling of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and peaceful settlements was indicated.
So, the ninth task says, “Put into practice shooting from infantry fighting vehicles for training.” The next, “Train the Armed Forces too, conduct harassing fire from the reserve positions.” The so-called “harassing fire” is shelling, the purpose of which is not to hit the target, but to exert psychological pressure.
In the penultimate paragraph it is written, “Shell Narodychi.” Narodychi is the center of the community in Zhytomyr Oblast, located 20 kilometers from Poliske.
Oleg Yarmolyuk, the head of the Local Military Administration of Narodychi, told “Slidstvo.Info” about the frequent shellings of the Narodytska hromada, which includes a number of villages.
“There were shellings, and mortars, there were shellings and hailstorms, there were also shellings from helicopters, which worked quite effectively on our territory until a certain period of time until certain forces that could strike them approached it,” – Yarmolyuk noted.
He also said that one person was killed in the second half of March as a result of shelling in the village of Selets, near Narodychi, and another later died in the hospital. Yarmolyuk believes that the fire could have been from the territory of Poliske.
“It went on like that. Most likely, it went from there. Because it went not in a straight line, but it went from there to here. That was, most likely, the territory of Poliske,” – said the head of the military administration.
And on March 23, when the occupiers set themselves the task of shelling Narodychi, the shells flew to the village of Zalissya of the Narodytska hromada. It is 13 kilometers from it to Poliske. However, no one died that day.
The Ukrainian defenders also told the journalists that the occupiers could fire at Narodychi, in particular, from the territory of Poliske.
This is what a Ukrainian military officer with the call sign “Czech” told the journalists about the shelling from the territory of the village of Poliske: “Their self-propelled artillery units (self-propelled artillery installations – ed.) could almost reach Ivankiv and 100% Ovruch, Bazar, Narodychi. They were based, reloaded the Grad systems here, then went to the edge of Poliske to the field. From there they were already wandering around Zhytomyr Oblast, here, in the direction of Ivankiv.”
THE IDENTIFIED OCCUPIERS
Together with the list of tasks, the journalists have received a list of Russians who may be involved in their implementation.
Judging by the document, these occupiers are part of the signals unit. “Slidstvo.Info” have managed to identify at least five people from this list.
One of the figures on the list is Sonin Vladimir Nikolayevich, a Senior Warrant Officer and a Senior Technician. According to the journalists, he is 35 years old. In his “Odnoklassniki” account there is an old photo of him, which is more than ten years old. However, with the help of the occupier’s wife’s social networks, “Slidstvo.Info” have managed to find a newer photo of him.
Another Russian from the 38th Brigade is Grogulenko Yevhenii Nikolayevich. He has the rank of Sergeant and holds the position of Commander of the Сable Сommunication Services. The journalists found out that he was born in April 1977. It was possible to find one of his ten-year-old photos in “Odnoklassniki”.
With the help of the Russian War Criminals online map, “Slidstvo.Info” established some data about the Captain and Assistant Chief of Communications Berezutsky Sergey Valeryevich. In particular, he was born on January 6, 1989. With the help of other sources, the journalists learned that he comes from the village of Krasnogvardiyske, Stavropol Krai.
The journalists also managed to find a photo on social networks, which probably shows Berezutsky.
The man in the photo, the same as Sergey Berezutsky, comes from Krasnogvardiyske and probably serves in Amur oblast, where the 38th brigade is based. Like Berezutsky, he received the rank of captain.
In addition, the man’s son in the photo represented the village of Ekaterinoslavka, where the mentioned unit is located, at some local competition. Also, the Russian’s son was photographed in his father’s military uniform with a “Guards” badge. Such a badge can be worn only by military personnel of those units that have been assigned the rank of guards. The 38th Brigade has this rank.
Also, with the help of the Russian War Criminals database, the journalists have identified several more occupants of the 38th Brigade. For instance, a 28-year-old Sergeant and Instructor of the Signal Department Kiril Kanaev from the city of Kisel, Perm oblast, and 42-year-old Warrant Officer Alexander Neburakovsky from the village of Berezovka, Amur oblast of Russia.
After the escape of the 38th Brigade from the Kyiv oblast, it seems that it also suffered a setback in the Kharkiv oblast. In June, the media reported on the significant losses of the 35th Army of the Russian Federation, primarily the 38th and 64th Brigades of the Russian Federation. This information was confirmed by the Head of the Office of the President, Andriy Yermak. It is not known for certain where is this unit now.