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Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Investigative Stories from Ukraine: OSINT group identifies Russian military unit alleged of striking Dnipro, killing 45

by Anna MyroniukJanuary 17, 2023 5:40 pm
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Investigative Stories from Ukraine: OSINT group identifies Russian military unit alleged of striking Dnipro, killing 45

Welcome to Investigative Stories from Ukraine, the Kyiv Independent's newsletter that walks you through the most prominent Ukraine-focused journalist investigations of the past week. 

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Top investigative stories

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OSINT group identifies Russian military unit allegedly behind missile strike on apartment block in Dnipro

Ukrainian OSINT group Molfar identified 44 servicemen of the 52nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment allegedly responsible for launching a missile at an apartment building in Dnipro on Jan. 14.

The Russian attack killed 45 people and left 79 injured. The death toll could rise as dozens of people are still missing, and the rescue mission continues.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said on Jan. 15 that only Russia’s 52nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment could launch the Kh-22 cruise missiles that hit the building in Dnipro.

This is the very same military unit that hit a shopping mall in Kremenchuk on June 27, according to Molfar and The Guardian.

Among the servicemen, Molfar identified, are Colonel Oleg Timoshyn, the commander of the 52nd Guards Bomber Aviation Regiment, Captain Denis Gabitov, and Andrey Samoylov, an acting commander of a military unit, and a commander of a Tu-22 M3 plane crew – the type of plane used to launch Kh-22 missiles.

Find the full list of the servicemen of the Russian military unit suspected of being behind the attack in Dnipro, as identified by Molfar.

RFE/RL: Ukrainian judge’s affection for Russia-occupied Crimea

A Ukrainian judge Yaroslav Vasylenko has visited Crimea 25 times since Russia occupied the peninsula in 2014, according to a report by Schemes, a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) investigative project.

Vasylenko used to enter Crimea from Ukraine, through the Armyansk crossing checkpoint, according to data from the Russian border service that journalists obtained.

Journalists found a 2014 picture of Vasylenko posing at Karantynna Bay in Sevastopol, the base of Russia’s 41st Black Sea Fleet missile boats brigade, which is now participating in the full-scale war against Ukraine.

Moreover, Vasylenko's wife Olena (Elena) illegally bought an apartment in occupied Sevastopol in 2020, according to the Russian real estate registry. Buying and selling property in Crimea within Russian law is viewed as a recognition of Russia’s right to the peninsula.

Vasylenko's wife and daughter hold Russian citizenship, according to the documents seen by RFE/RL. The two own apartments in Sevastopol and Moscow, which Vasylenko didn’t include in his online asset declaration, which is illegal.

Vasylenko is a judge at the Sixth Administrative Court of Appeal in Kyiv.

Find the full story in Ukrainian here.

Russian media: Sberbank CEO supports Putin but funnels millions of dollars abroad

Herman Gref, head of Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned financial institution, allegedly moved millions of dollars abroad, hiding them offshore, independent Russian investigative media Proekt revealed.

Gref’s family allegedly owns a Luxembourg investment fund Altera Capital through offshore firms, according to previously unpublished documents of the Pandora Papers leak reviewed by Proekt.

Altera Capital is worth $500 million and, also through a chain of offshore entities, owns stakes in the Russian automotive conglomerate GAZ Group, software company Group IB, and Danilovsky Market in Moscow, among other assets.

Read the full story in English via the link.

Russian media uncover Western assets of Russian lawmakers under sanctions

Five lawmakers of the Russian State Duma have real estate and business in the European Union and the United States despite being under sanctions there, Russian media outlet iStories wrote. This story is a part of the project mapping Russian politicians’ assets abroad.

Lawmaker Roman Lyabikhov, under the EU and the U.S. sanctions, reportedly owns two apartments in Germany together with his wife. She owns two more flats there.

The Munich prosecutor’s office reportedly investigates the couple for breaching the sanctions, which prohibit economic activities, by renting out their three apartments for 3,500 euros a month.

Law enforcement arrested the bank account where the rent money was paid in, and initiated the confiscation of the apartments.

Another Russian lawmaker, Vladimir Pavlov, has an apartment in Spain. Family members of lawmakers Alexey Ezubov, Lev Kovpak, and Alexey Tkachev own businesses and real estate abroad.

To learn about the Western assets of five Russian lawmakers, read the full story in Russian via the link.

Impact

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Lawmaker charged with failing to declare money, villa in Spain

Ukrainian lawmaker Artur Herasymov is charged with reporting false information in his online asset declaration in 2020, according to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU).

NABU doesn’t mention the lawmaker by name, but the case description fits that of Herasymov.

NABU has been investigating Herasymov since April 2021, after journalists from Schemes, an investigative project of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, revealed that the lawmaker has a house in Spain, which he never mentioned in his online asset declaration. The lawmaker also allegedly failed to declare $1,600 in his bank accounts.

If found guilty, Herasymov could be facing either a fine of up to Hr 85,000 ($2,300) or imprisonment for up to two years, as well as a ban on holding certain public offices for three years.

Herasymov represents ex-President Petro Poroshenko's European Solidarity faction, which consists of 27 members in the 450-member parliament.

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Anna Myroniuk
Anna Myroniuk
Head of investigations

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize, and the finalist of the 2022 National Investigative Journalism Award of Ukraine.

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