‘There Are Maniacs Who Enjoy Killing,’ Russian Defector Accuses Unit Of Bucha War Crimes


A former Russian soldier, who served in the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, has exposed the brutality of the ongoing war in Ukraine. Nikita Chibrin deserted the Russian military in September and fled to Europe via Belarus and Kazakhstan. In an interview with CNN from a European country where he has asked for asylum, the Russian defector recalled several incidences of crime during his tenure in the war zone.

Chibrin, who is also prepared to testify against his unit at an international criminal court, maintains he didn’t commit any crimes. The notorious Russian military unit in which Chibrin served has been accused of committing war crimes during their operations in Bucha, Borodianka, and other towns and villages north of Kyiv.

In April, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence labeled the troops from Chibrin’s brigade as war criminals after mass graves with murdered civilians and dead bodies were discovered following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region.

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Chibrin, who belongs to the city of Yakutsk, says he is now determined to speak up about the events as he composes an anti-war song. His military documents, assessed by CNN, show his commander was Azatbek Omurbekov, the officer in charge, known as the “Butcher of Bucha” is under sanctions by the European Union and the United Kingdom. The United States has sanctioned the entire brigade.

However, the Kremlin has refuted allegations of its involvement in the mass killings and said that the images of civilian bodies were fake. In a move that sparked outrage across the world, Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the unit an honorary military title and praised it for its “heroism” and “bold actions.”

Chibrin said he didn’t see any of the supposed heroism, but many of the crimes. “I didn’t see murders but I saw rapists running away, being chased (by higher-ranking members of the unit) because they committed rape,” he said.

‘Some men were capable of killing unarmed civilians’

He also revealed that the unit had a “direct command to murder” anyone sharing information about the unit’s positions, whether military or civilians. “If someone had a phone – we were allowed to shoot them,” he added, according to the CNN report. Besides, he claimed there is little doubt some of the men in the Brigade were capable of killing unarmed civilians. “There are maniacs who enjoy killing a man. Such maniacs turned up there,” he said.

Chibrin also mentioned widespread looting as Russian soldiers took computers, jewelry and anything they liked. “They didn’t hide this at all. A lot from my unit, when we left Lipovka and Andreevka in the end of March, they took cars, vehicles, they took civilian cars and sold them in Belarus,” he said.

“The mentality is, if you steal something, you are good. If nobody catches you, good! If you see something that is expensive and you steal it and don’t get caught, you are good.”

Recalling the incidence of fellow Russian soldiers who ran away after allegedly raping two Ukrainian women during their deployment the northwest of Kyiv in March, he said, “I saw them run, then I learned they were rapists. They raped a mother and a daughter.” Speaking for the unit’s commanders, he said they were well aware of the alleged rapes and murders and of the looting, but never took interest in giving justice.

Chibrin has no doubt that Russia will eventually lose its war against Ukraine, but not until many more lives are lost.