Slidstvo.Info journalists found a family who left the occupied village of Nova Basan in Chernihiv Oblast. At the time, the Russian military ordered the locals to blindfold their children and walk to a neighboring village, holding onto a rope. The video was filmed by a local Leonid, in whose house Anatoliy and his family were staying in the basement, according to the Slidstvo.Info investigation.

The video has English subtitles.


Anatoliy and his family were under Russian occupation in Nova Basan in Chernihiv Oblast for 21 days. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, Anatoliy left Brovary, Kyiv Oblast, with his two children (2 and 13 years old), wife, and dog. The Russian army occupied the village of Nova Basan on February 27, 2022.

The Russian military deployed nearly 1,000 infantry fighting vehicles, tanks, and other equipment in the village and lived in the homes of the locals. They intimidated the villagers and took men prisoner. One day, the Russians kidnapped Anatoliy and his friend. The men were interrogated for a day, and eventually released, but a few days later, Anatoliy’s friend was taken captive. He was subjected to psychological torture and held until March 30, 2022, when Ukrainian defenders liberated the village.

Anatoliy, spent 21 days under occupation in the village of Nova Basan

The Russian roadblock was located 100 meters from the villagers’ houses. The civilians had not left the basement for two weeks, they were running out of food, and shells were constantly exploding outside. People decided to evacuate.

“We managed to find the contacts of a Ukrainian major, and we discussed the details of leaving the occupation with him on a daily basis. We had to negotiate with the Russians [the permission] to walk to the village of Velyka Krupil. On March 18, 2022, we took white armbands and a white flag and were walking toward their checkpoint… We heard someone shouting behind us: ‘Stop!’ We turned around, and there was a Russian commander Ruslan (Russian soldier Ruslan Uralbayev — ed.). His hands were covered in blood, he was cutting up a lamb or something — I don’t know. He overtook us and stood in front of us, saying: ‘You won’t be able to get out because there are mines and tripwires’,” Anatoliy recalls.

The civilians managed to negotiate their way out of the occupation. The next day, on the instructions of the Russians, their group gathered at 10 a.m.

“We gathered. The Russians told us to bring a rope so that we could walk in lockstep. My close friend Leonid filmed the video of how we were moving, as it was from his house that we walked toward the Russian roadblock. A soldier around the age of 20 said: ‘We remember that the commander told us to let you out’,” says Anatoliy.

There were about six kilometers of mined fields ahead to the village of Velyka Krupil. The youngest children, who were two years old and older, were carried in their arms, while the rest had to cover this distance on their own.

“We walked half a kilometer and untied our eyes. The children were even laughing, happy to be walking. The weather was so sunny then. We reached the forest, I was walking ahead, and a soldier shouted: ‘Man, come over’. I throw out this white flag, I didn’t even realize if it were Russians or our guys. And then I see a yellow and blue flag. They checked me to see if I was mined, and then the rest of us came, tore off the ribbons — we could not hold back our feelings, we couldn’t grasp that we were already free,” Anatoliy shares his memories.

On March 9, 2022, 28 children and eight adults (including two men) evacuated from Nova Basan.


A year and a half ago, journalists identified Russian military officer Ruslan Uralbayev, who ordered the evacuated children and adults to be blindfolded. Uralbayev was in charge in Nova Basan in March 2022. He was recognized by the villagers with whom the journalists spoke. The locals told how Uralbayev held 18 men captive for a month, and on his orders, the Russians imitated an execution, shooting directly over the heads of Ukrainians.

The deputy head of Nova Basan, Valeriy Mozhovyi, told reporters how Uralbayev abused him and the other 17 captured men: “Four shots. Another one is standing with a gag, covering his mouth. That’s it, drag him away. Let’s get to the next one”.

After the publication of the article “Stolen Memories: Camera Helps Identify Russian Occupiers of Northern Ukrainian Village,” people who survived the occupation in Nova Basan started writing to the editorial office. A local resident Kateryna recognized the Russian commander and told us how he “made life a nightmare” for the entire village and came to her house.

“I was sitting with my mother in the cellar because the fighting broke out near us, explosions were heard everywhere, and the Russians were shooting at the buildings. One day, three people came to us: two fair-skinned Russians, and in the middle was he (Ruslan Uralbayev – ed.) — short, darkish, mulatto. He pointed an assault rifle at us and said: ‘Now get your phones out, put your phones right here’. I gave him my phone because he would not get quiet, he was saying all kinds of dirty things,” Kateryna recalls.

The journalists of Slidstvo.Info collected information about Ruslan Uralbayev, a man from Kazakhstan, 35 years old, and a career military officer of the Russian Federation. He is married, and has a son and a daughter.

On Russian social media, there are many photos of Uralbayev: walking with his wife, on vacation, with his newborn son. Currently, Uralbayev lives in Orenburg Oblast, in the village of Totskoye, in southwestern Russia, on the territory of the former Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

Most likely, Uralbayev serves in military intelligence. The occupier has a tattoo of a bat, a symbol of Russian military intelligence. The same symbol was tattooed by the Russian military on the walls of a local toilet in Nova Basan.

Together with journalists from Toronto Television, we managed to find Uralbayev’s contacts and learned that before the full-scale invasion, he worked in military unit No. 12128, where in 2017, he was a deputy platoon commander. This unit is part of the 21st Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade. already conducted an investigation into this brigade last year. Back then, journalists received a video from a Russian military drone, which helped to determine the positions of the Russians.

In 2021, Uralbayev’s phone number was listed as “work number” by another Russian soldier from the same military unit, driver and mechanic Leonid Mironov. Therefore, before the full-scale invasion, Uralbayev probably served in the same unit.

Uralbayev’s wife is called Maryna Bodnar, 27 years old. She is a Ukrainian woman from Antratsyt, Luhansk Oblast, which was occupied by the Russians in 2014.

Maryna’s father worked at the local Komsomolska mine, and judging by their social media accounts, after Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, they began to support the occupation authorities.

The journalists of called Maryna to find out where her husband is now.

Journalist: I’m trying to contact your husband Ruslan, can I talk to him now?

Maryna Uralbayeva: No, my husband is not with me.

Journalist: He’s a serviceman, is he in the “SMO” (special military operation – ed.) zone now?

Maryna Uralbayeva: What did you want?

Journalist: He was probably involved in a war crime, and I wanted to find out.

Maryna Uralbayeva: I can’t answer such questions over the phone.


Ukrainian law enforcement officers are still probing Ruslan Uralbayev. The victims told journalists that they have not been interrogated yet. The prosecutor of the Chernihiv Oblast Prosecutor’s Office, Kyrylo Puhachov, says that Uralbayev’s involvement in the illegal detention of civilians in Nova Basan is being checked.

“The investigation in that criminal proceeding is ongoing. Indeed, we knew him before all these events (public attention to the video published by Slidstvo.Info with blindfolded children — ed.) We are checking his involvement in the illegal deprivation of liberty of civilians in Nova Basan. We need to analyze a large amount of data from open sources, to obtain data from intelligence agencies and military command. We are also taking measures to establish a complete list of people who could have been illegally detained in the village,” says Kyrylo Puhachov, Head of the Department for Combating Crimes Committed in the Context of Armed Conflict.

Anatoliy said he will always remember the day he left the occupation.

“I got a tattoo to commemorate that day. My family and the vast majority of others who were with us remain in Ukraine. One left for the United States. It’s good that we are alive,” Anatoliy says.

READ ALSO: During the Occupation of Bucha, a Buryat Staged the Chopping off of a Leg With an Axe to Intimidate an Unarmed Ukrainian