Ukraine: Shot In The Back


By Iryna Domashchenko

A Russian soldier has been accused of a double murder in which two unarmed civilians were shot in the back by a roadside in the Kyiv region.

On March 19, 2022, five soldiers of the Russian Federation in a car marked with the letter V and the inscription “Tank special forces of RUS” arrived at a Ukrainian-owned company next to the Kyiv-Chop highway near the village of Mriya in the Buchansky district.

Two unarmed civilians – the owner of the enterprise and the security guard – went out to the Russian military. According to the investigation, after making sure that the civilian men did not pose any threat to them, the Russian military gave them the opportunity to leave. But as soon as they moved a few metres away, one of the soldiers, together with an unidentified accomplice, opened fire with automatic weapons. 

Shot in the back, the men suffered at least 12 gunshot wounds. The 61-year-old owner of the enterprise died on the spot, and the guard made his way back to his office, where he soon died of blood loss. According to the experts’ conclusion in the special pre-trial investigation, the victims were found to have penetrating gunshot wounds to the chest, pelvis and stomach.

The Russian soldiers then entered the company’s territory and stole valuables, loading them into a car. This was recorded by the enterprise’s surveillance cameras.

Investigators were able to identify one of the suspects in the shooting: 27-year-old Nikolay Sokovikov, senior lieutenant of the 5th Separate Guards Tank of the Tatsin Red Banner Order of Suvorov, 2nd degree of the brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. He is a native of Omsk, and his military unit #46108 is located in Buryatia, in the city of Ulan-Ude.

In August 2022, police investigators informed Sokovikov of the suspicion of violation of the laws and customs of war in combination with intentional murder based on a prior conspiracy by a group of persons (Part 2 of Article 28, Part 2 of Article 438 of the criminal code of Ukraine). The penalty is imprisonment from ten to 15 years or life. 

Sokovikov will be tried in absentia. In accordance with Ukrainian legislation, the suspect was summoned on the official website of the office of the prosecutor general and in the Government Courier newspaper.  The court granted permission for a pre-trial investigation, and the Russian man was declared wanted. 

Sokovikov’s case was opened in May 2022. Since it involves a particularly serious crime, the investigation required time to conduct procedural and investigative actions, establish the actual circumstances of the offence and draw up an indictment. 

Therefore, at the request of police investigators, the court extended the term of the pre-trial investigation for six months until February 24, 2023. Investigators analysed mobile phone data and needed to consider the conclusions of a forensic examination, including of bullets from the corpse of the deceased owner of the enterprise and shell casings from the crime scene.

Also, as stated in the case materials, in November 2022 law enforcement officers received information about possible captured servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces. The investigators assumed these men could provide information about the suspect’s time in the territory of the Buchansky district of Kyiv region. Investigators needed at least two months to identify and interrogate these persons.

According to the data from the court register, the investigators substantiated the suspicion against Sokovikov with evidence including the interrogation protocols of the relatives of the deceased. There is also a protocol of the interrogation of a soldier of a volunteer formation, who was an eyewitness to the presence of Russian soldiers at the enterprise, as well as to the evacuation of the corpses of two civilian men from the territory of the company. This witness confirmed the given testimony in detail. 

In addition, an expert opinion is based on the results of a complex forensic photo-technical and portrait examination, which confirmed that the person dressed in a black uniform who took part in the shooting of civilians and was recorded on fragments of video recordings is the suspect.

At the time of the pre-trial investigation, the whereabouts of the suspect were not known. According to available information, the wanted man had not crossed the state border of Ukraine and the demarcation line with the occupied Donetsk and Luhansk regions or the Republic of Crimea. This gave investigators reason to believe that the man was hiding in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Ukrainian investigators and prosecutors are now investigating the proceedings against the accomplices of the crime. The materials are allocated to a separate criminal proceeding.

This publication was published by IWPR and prepared under the “Ukraine Voices Project” implemented with the financial support of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).


The Institute for War & Peace Reporting is headquartered in London with coordinating offices in Washington, DC and The Hague, IWPR works in over 30 countries worldwide. It is registered as a charity in the UK, as an organisation with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) in the United States, and as a charitable foundation in The Netherlands. The articles are originally produced by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.

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