The Bucha massacre that saw the mass and summary executions of Ukrainian civilians last April was one of the worst human rights violations recorded during the 3-month-old war. Russian forces had been accused of torture by tying the hands of victims to their backs and blindfolding them before being shot in the back of the head. Just a few days ago, a Russian soldier who was deployed to Bucha was tracked down and identified. How do we know he served in Bucha? He spray-painted his Instagram username on the walls of a home in Bucha.
Not that we know anything about crime and how to commit it, but we’re pretty sure that writing your personal information on a large wall while committing war crimes is not the best move to make, especially when your country denies any participation in these killings.
A Russian soldier named Kirill Kryuchkov, allegedly from the 234th Air Assault Regiment of the 76th Air Assault Division (paratrooper division), thought it was a good idea to spray-paint his social media information on a wall while he was on duty in Bucha. Reuters reported a potential username written on the walls of a house, “Wolf_68,” was seen when the killings were happening in the city.
They then tracked this back to Kryuchkov through searches on social media platforms. The Instagram account contained various photos and videos of his fellow soldiers drinking and smoking at an unidentified bar. They were determined to be from the 76th Air Assault Division due to the letter “V” found on their patch and reports from people on the ground as journalists interviewed 90 residents and reviewed videos, photographs, and documents.
Apparently, the number “68” is only given to the Tambov region of Southern Moscow, which helped journalists pinpoint the location. To further strengthen the evidence against the Russian soldier, Reuters found two people who knew Kryuchkov. Upon further searches on the Russian social media site VKontakte, Reuters found a friend of Kryuchkov named Vitaly Shcherbakov. Their team found multiple photos of them wearing their military uniforms. He did not want to comment on his friendship with Kryuchkov. However, he did throw a derogatory insult toward the Ukrainians, saying, “F*ck the Ukies.”
While no actual kill was determined to be linked to Kryuchkov, it does not bring any doubt that his name will be tied to the atrocities committed in Bucha. Multiple independent media outlets have analyzed satellite images and have proven that it was the Russians who were responsible for the brutal murders. During the last week of April, 600 bodies were found in mass graves in Bucha. However, this number may be far larger. This only leads to one conclusion: The Russians had conducted a widespread, citywide shooting spree in Bucha. Of all the streets in Bucha where killings had been done, the most reported were those committed in Yablonska Street, where a number of bodies were found decaying for the entirety of the street. Another place in Bucha, Vokzalna, had also been the subject of massive killings.
During the time of the investigations, it was also found that Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s second cousin Ilya Navalny was killed in Bucha. His body was found in one of the mass graves. This also shows the familial connections between Ukraine and Russia, which SOFREP pointed out earlier to be one of the factors why Russians were hesitant to kill Ukrainians. However, in this case, familial connections do not seem to be playing a huge factor.
Further eyewitness accounts of the atrocities committed in Yablonska St. dig a deeper hole for the Russians. Around 90 residents were said to be taken from a building at 144 Yablonska St. All of those taken were men of military age. They were then killed as some were volunteers of the Territorial Defense Force. This was done in order to cut down the numbers of the Ukrainian forces, but this has only seemed to motivate them further to fight.
Chechen Forces Killing Russian Soldiers in Bucha
Six days ago, we reported on the Chechen “Kadyrovtsky” unit, which was operating in Bucha with the Russian forces. SOFREP wrote about these Chechen fights slaughtering wounded Russian troops in a surprising turn of events. Eyewitness accounts claim that the group had been executing these Russian troops, who were heavily wounded. These Chechens were also partly responsible for the mass killings in Bucha.
We recently found out that the Vityaz, an elite security force that is part of the Rosgvardiya, was also in Bucha at the same time as the Chechen. Apparently, the Vitayaz was deployed against the Chechen hostage-taking in 2002 at Moscow’s Nord Ost Theater. The Russians smoked them out of the theater with gas and took the lives of 100 people in the process.
This can be the reason why the Chechen had killed wounded Russian soldiers, possibly as retaliation for the Russian’s actions in the past. But of course, the far larger reason is possibly also frustration from the lack of significant achievements during the first portion of the invasion and deeply rooted anger for the Russians due to the first and second Chechen wars.
The Bucha Massacre will forever be remembered in Ukraine’s history as one of the bloodiest widescale murders of civilians by the Russian forces, should they be deemed guilty in a court of law. Regardless, the media continues to monitor the situation over in Donbas, where the majority of the fighting had been taking place amid slow pushes by the Russians.