May 25, 2022 - World

Ukraine charges 8 Russian soldiers, mercenaries in killings of mayor and family

 Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Irina Venediktova speaks to journalists during the exhumation of the victims of the Buchan genocide.
Ukraine's prosecutor general Irina Venediktova. Photo: Mikhail Palinchak/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Five Russian soldiers and three mercenaries have been charged with the murder of a Ukrainian mayor and her family in a Kyiv region village, Ukraine's prosecutor general Irina Venediktova said Tuesday.

Driving the news: Venediktova alleged in a Facebook post the soldiers and mercenaries from Wagner Group, a Russian paramilitary organization with ties to Russia's President Vladimir Putin, "kidnapped Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son from their home in the village of Motizhyn" in March.

  • They allegedly "tortured them, trying to beat out information," Venediktova said. "Just in front of the mother, they first shot her son in the leg and then killed him with a shot in the head. The whole family died from multiple gunshot wounds," she continued.
  • "In addition to killing, torturing and holding prisoners ... the suspects also bombarded and [torched] the homes of civilians and stole mobile phones," Venediktova added.
  • Their bodies were discovered in a shallow grave near their village, some 30 miles west of Kyiv, on April 2, after Russian forces pulled out of the capital, per the New York Times.

The big picture: Venediktova said last month that her office had opened 5,600 cases of alleged war crimes by Russian soldiers since the start of the invasion.

For the record: The Kremlin has repeatedly rejected the war crimes allegations and denied that its forces target civilians.

Go deeper: What counts as a war crime and why they're so hard to prosecute

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