A former MMA fighter became the first Russian soldier suspected of killing civilians in the town of Bucha, Ukraine, during weeks of occupation.
Sergei Kolotsei, a commander of a unit of Russia’s National Guard, was accused of torturing and murdering civilians by the Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova.
“Prosecutors of Bucha have established that this very military serviceman killed four unarmed men in Bucha on March 18,” Venediktova wrote on Facebook along with a photo identifying the suspect. “He also tortured another civilian on March 29, forcing him to confess to saboteur activities against Russian troops.”
Venediktova claimed that Kolotsei was also responsible for kidnapping a Ukrainian civilian, trapping him inside a basement, and torturing him with an assault rifle and a knife handle. He also put the victim through a “mock execution” and forced him to “to sniff a dead human body.”
Kolotsei, 35, was informed by the Prosecutor-General that he is a suspect, though he has since denied any involvement in the killings.
“Before accusing someone of something, establish all the details, otherwise you will be accused of threatening and slandering civilians of other countries,” Kolotsei said, adding that the allegations amounted to “slander.”
Prior to serving in the Russian army, Kolotsei was an active amateur and professional MMA fighter who amassed an 0-2 pro record. He most notably competed at an M-1 Global event in Belarus in 2010, where he lost via unanimous decision.
The accused soldier was not the only officer named by Venediktova. Last week, 10 soldiers with the 64th Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Russian armed forces were suspected of committing various war crimes against the citizens of Bucha.
The extent of the war crimes was made clear following the retreat of Russian forces from the town in April, which revealed evidence of mass graves, extrajudicial killings, rape, and torture. Photo evidence also showed corpses of civilians lined up with their hands bound behind their backs and shot at point-blank range.
To date, more than 400 bodies have been uncovered in the aftermath of the Bucha massacre.
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