Four Russian fighters are being charged by the Justice Department for committing war crimes against a U.S. National, including crimes outlawed after World War II. The four Russia-affiliated military personnel are being charged for their alleged “unlawful detainment” of a U.S. citizen in the context of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Fox News reports, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced the first ever charges under the U.S. war crimes statute for “heinous crimes against an American citizen,” including unlawful confinement, torture, and inhuman treatment.
The four defendants, Suren Seiranovich Mkrtchyan, 45, Dmitry Budnik, Valerii LNU (last name unknown), and Nazar LNU, allegedly interrogated, severely beaten, and tortured the American citizen after three of them dragged him out of his home in Mylove, a small village in southern Ukraine.
Fox News reports, the defendants “threw the victim to the ground while he was naked, tied his hands behind his back, pointed a gun to his head, and beat him with their feet, their fists and the stocks of their guns,” according to Garland’s report. “The indictment alleges that they forced him into a building that Russia-affiliated forces were using as a jail and into a closet that they were using as a jail cell where they interrogated him, tortured him and beat him again with a gun.Prosecutors say the defendants and their co-conspirators punched the U.S. national in his chest and stomach, threatened to shoot him, stripped off his clothes and took pictures. One of their conspirators allegedly threatened to sexually assault the victim.”
Garland shared in a statement that these charges are “an important step toward accountability for the Russian regime’s illegal war in Ukraine,” adding that their work, however, is far from over. Garland cited the “rule of law” as the Justice Department’s guide in holding these criminals accountable for their actions and to “deter future aggression.”
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas also spoke after Garland’s address, highlighting the work his department has done in this investigation. “Today, an investigation more than a year in the making by this Center and its federal partners bears fruit. For the first time in our nation’s history, federal agents gathered sufficient evidence to bring charges of war crimes perpetrated against an American citizen – in violation of Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 2441,” he said, praising the tireless efforts of the agents who corroborated the victim’s account and ultimately identified the four agents whose alleged war crimes will be investigated.