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Months after the Russian military retreated from Kyiv Oblast, a 21-year-old Russian soldier confessed to killing a civilian man in the then-occupied village of Andriivka on March 12 by order of his commander.
Speaking to a journalist from Russia-focused investigative news site iStories, Daniil Frolkin confessed to committing atrocities during his service as part of the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, stationed in Andriivka at the time.
iStories published an investigative report on Aug. 15, revealing the war crimes committed in Andriivka in detail.
Andriivka, a small village located on the road from the Belarussian border to Kyiv, was among dozens of settlements near the capital seized by Russian forces in the early stage of the full-scale invasion. Moscow’s military quickly captured Andriivka on Feb. 27, terrorizing civilians and destroying houses before soldiers eventually withdrew in early April.
Frolkin, who the investigation describes as a poorly-trained soldier, told iStories reporters he could not remember the face of the man who he shot in March because he was in shock at the time.
He also revealed the names of commanders who he blamed for the atrocities and confessed to committing other crimes, such as stealing personal belongings from the civilian population.
According to the information gathered by iStories, the young Russian most likely killed a civilian man named Ruslan Yaremchuk, who is survived by his small son and wife Oksana.
Though Frolkin couldn’t remember the exact date of his crime, his description of his commander ordering him and his fellow soldiers to look for three local men matched an incident that took place on March 12, the investigation reveals.
Local testimonies collected by iStories pointed to the murder of Yaremchuk and two other men, Vadim Ganyuk and Vitaly Kibukevich on March 12. Frolkin told iStories that he showed a photo of the murder victim to another man who was part of the group of Russian soldiers hunting for the three men. The man confirmed it was Yaremchuk that Frolkin shot.
Frolkin told iStories that he was under the impression Yaremchuk was giving away information about the Russian military to Ukrainian sources.
Read also: Uncovering the scope of the Bucha massacre
Dmytry Danilov, the only other Russian soldier of the brigade with whom iStories managed to have a conversation, said that he and his colleagues were engaged in “a constant search for people who gave out (Russian) coordinates” during the occupation of Andriivka.
But he claims he wasn’t involved in the killings of civilians in the then-occupied village and doesn’t know anything about people being shot there.
Danilov said that as far as he knows, captured civilians suspected of sharing information with Ukrainian sources were taken as prisoners and handed over to superior authorities.
Frolkin said that he left his home in Russia for a military exercise in Belarus on Jan. 11, not knowing that he would later be going into Ukraine. He is now back in Russia.
In its report, iStories has also published the names of four Russian soldiers, including Frolkin and Danilov, who are believed to have committed atrocities in Andriivka. Local testimonies suggest the soldiers were involved in looting, torturing, and murders.
The report says that what helped in finding their identities was a phone left behind by Russian soldiers at a woman’s house, which contained photos of themselves posing for “a photo shoot.” The photos show Russian soldiers posing with their weapons and wearing stolen medals on their chests.
Danilov later asked iStories to send one of the photos that he took with a fellow Russian soldier in a local resident’s house uninvited.
The report says at least 13 civilians were killed and more than 40 others are still missing in Andriivka.
After Russian troops left the oblast, evidence of summary executions, torture and systematic looting during the weeks of occupation in northwest areas of Kyiv Oblast came to light.
As of Aug. 5, a total of 1,349 civilians were killed in Kyiv Oblast after Russian forces withdrew from the region, and Kyiv Oblast Police Chief Andriy Nebytov said in July that at least 700 of them were fatally shot with small arms.