Execution of civilians in Kupyansk: propagandists justify the war crimes of Russian soldiers (video)

The video of the prisoner's execution was published in two parts, with a delay of about 30 hours.

  • The first part: from the beginning of the video to the dumping of the body in the mass grave.
  • The second part: after dumping the body in the mass grave and until the end of the video.
  • In the second part, the military escorts a person, and in the first part, they throw his corpse into a mass grave. However, we do not change the order of video parts according to the chronology of publication in open sources.

👉 Link to the video 👈

To understand the details of the investigation, we suggest considering the events in chronological order. 

Telegram channel Catharsis on October 9, 2022, at 13:26 published a video (first part) where the burial of the bodies of no less than six civilians in a mass grave was filmed. A comment was added to the video: "We received a video from Kupyansk before its deoccupation. How Russian pigs destroyed the Ukrainian civilian population." At the same time, the source of the video is not indicated, but the following two posts contain photos of documents, a notebook and a letter of the killed Russian soldiers (1, 2).

Photos of documents, a notebook and a letter of the killed Russian soldiers

At 14:12 of the same day, the video was also published on the channel of the former "Azov" regiment commander and the head of the Kharkiv regional party organization of the National Corps, officer Maksym Zhorin – Zhorin from Azov. At the same time, Zhorin noted that the video was taken from the phone of one of the Russian soldier. As of October 2022, the head of the Kharkiv regional organization of the National Corps is Kostyantyn Nemichev, a former Azov fighter, commander of the Kraken volunteer battalion, which participated in the liberation of Kupyansk. However, there is no such video in the channels of the battalion and Nemichev himself.

Next, Russian propagandists took up the work!

  • On the same day, Shariy posted his video on this topic, who emphasized the lack of a source for the video in the Catharsis post, and expressed confidence that it was filmed by the representatives of the National Corps themselves. 
  • Later, this video was also made public by Russian bloggers, Telegram channels, and former People's Deputy from the Party of Regions Oleg Tsarev (1, 2, 3, 4).
  • Later, the Deputy Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev commented on the video.
  • The video was also shown on Russian television, including on the propaganda channel Russia 24. Based on the video, Russian bloggers and propagandists accused Azov of killing civilians, including teachers.

In their materials, the Russians, analyzing the video from the Zhorin from Azov channel, claimed that it was created at 13:24, such a time can be seen in the properties of this video uploaded from Telegram. According to metadata obtained using the online service Metadata2go, the video was created on October 9, 2022, at 10:24:26. Russian bloggers claim that the metadata indicates the time UTC+3, that is, the same 13:24 Moscow and Kyiv summer time, but even they question the version that the video taken at 13:24 could have been published in the Telegram channel already at 13:26. Most likely, the metadata shows the creation time of the video file that was cut from a longer video fragment, Metadata2go also defines this parameter as the date of creation of a specific file.

File properties (left), file metadata analysis using the Metadata2go service (right)

Also, Russian propagandists claimed that the events filmed in the video took place in the fall, as yellowed leaves can be seen on one of the trees near the mass grave, and one of the corpses is dressed in an autumn jacket (1, 2, 3). At the same time, the Russians claim that "Russian troops left the suburbs of Kupyansk in the summer." 

However, in reality, the yellow and partially fallen leaves in the video can only be seen on one tree, while the other trees and bushes are green:

Tree with yellowed and fallen leaves (left), trees with green leaves (right)

Possible cause of yellowing leaves on an individual tree: this can occur even in summer for a variety of reasons, including damage to the root system or an imbalance of nutrients, particularly magnesium. Lack of magnesium is observed on sandy soils, this is the type of soil that can be seen in the video. The video was probably shot in the first days of September: according to the Ventusky service, on September 5-7 in Kupyansk, the morning temperature was 5-7 °C (1, 2, 3), which may explain the presence of warm clothes on some corpses in the mass grave at the same time as the green leaves on the trees. Also, Kupyansk was liberated by Ukrainian troops on September 10, and the Russians themselves claimed that they "left Kupyansk completely" only on September 28.

The second fragment of the video! At 20:37 on October 10, Catharsis released a new fragment (the second fragment) of the same video, in which two people lead past the mass grave of the man whose corpse can be seen in the video released on October 9. One of them has a red bandage or tape on his leg, the other has a chevron with a Russian flag on his arm.

Screenshot from the video

It is known that after the beginning of the invasion, the Russian military and those mobilized in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine repeatedly used red armbands, including on their legs, as their identification marks (1, 2, 3). 

Red armbands are one of the distinguishing marks of the Russian military

At the same time, one of the persons in the video, the one with the red armband, is wearing civilian clothes and shoes, the second person in the video is wearing a camouflage uniform. Camouflage uniforms of a similar color range are used by both Ukrainian and Russian military personnel. The Russians used such camouflage, including during the rehearsal of the parade in St. Petersburg in 2020 (1, 2), similar camouflage was also used by separatist illegal armed groups in Donbas (1, 2). The shape and location of the chevron / sleeve insignia correspond to those established in the Russian army in accordance with the order of Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation from October 2020. 

Screenshot from the video (left), sketch from the order of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (right)

In addition, the same order stipulates that the sleeve insignia on the jackets of the set field uniforms must be of a protective color, the sign of exactly this color can be seen in the video. Due to the low quality of the video, it was not possible to establish the specific unit to which the person in the camouflage uniform belongs, but the general characteristics of the chevron are similar to the chevrons of the Russian army, the manufacture of which is offered to order by Russian companies (1, 2, 3).

Examples of camouflage chevrons

At the same time, the authors of the channel, as well as Zhorin, noted that they cannot publish the full version of the video, as it has been handed over to the investigation (1, 2). As of October 11, no separate official reports have been found regarding the discovery of mass graves in Kupyansk with so many civilians buried in them.

Conclusions: the Russian military continues the genocide of the Ukrainian people

According to the evidence presented in the investigation, we can draw the following conclusions: 

  • it is impossible to establish the real date of creation of the video because the original video file was divided into several parts, after which each of them received a new "date of creation";
  • the video was most likely recorded at the very beginning of September, during the occupation of Kupyansk by Russian troops;
  • external signs (shape, chevrons, colors of identification marks), as well as the brutality of the crime (mass burials similar to Bucha, Izyum, Liman and other de-occupied cities of Ukraine), it can be argued that the Russian military is behind the killing and burial of civilians.

The Molfar team believes in the Armed Forces of Ukraine. We believe that the war criminals will be punished: most likely, they were eliminated during the liberation of Kupyansk, but even if they survived, they will be punished. We have patience, we believe in our soldiers. 

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