Written by 16:49 World

Russia Arrests Top Military Officer, Artyom Gorodilov, on Corruption Charges

The Russian authorities have arrested a top military colonel and charged him with large-scale fraud, the state news agency TASS reported on Thursday. The colonel was previously the commander of troops responsible for a 2022 massacre in the Ukrainian city of Bucha.

The authorities arrested the colonel, Artyom Gorodilov, on July 3 and charged him with committing fraud amounting to at least a million rubles ($11,236), TASS reported. A military court ordered that he be held in pretrial detention until Aug. 19, and he faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, TASS reported. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Colonel Gorodilov is currently the commander of the 83rd Guards Air Assault Brigade, a unit based in the Russian Far East, which is operating in eastern Ukraine. He previously led the 234th Guards Air Assault Regiment, based in the Russian city of Pskov.

An investigation by The New York Times in 2022 determined that members of the 234th Regiment had been behind a massacre of civilians on Yablunska Street in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, when it was occupied by Moscow’s troops in the early days of the war.

Colonel Gorodilov led the unit at the time and was present in the town where hundreds of civilians died, in some cases as a result of brutal executions, The Times found. Russian troops retreated from the area in early 2022.

The U.S. government imposed sanctions on Colonel Gorodilov last year for what it called “his involvement in gross violations of human rights, namely extrajudicial killings.”

He was promoted to the rank of colonel days after images from Bucha emerged publicly and turned the suburb into a global symbol of the terror that Russian forces have brought to occupied Ukrainian towns.

Moscow has denied involvement in the Bucha killings, with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia calling the events “a provocation.” The Times, however, identified two dozen members of the 234th Regiment who were in Bucha at the time of the massacre, in part by tracing the numbers the troops called in Russia using the Ukrainian victims’ mobile phones.

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Last modified: 6 July 2024
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