top of page

For crimes against civilians in the Kherson region, in particular, against The Reckoning Project journalist Oleh Baturin, two Ukrainian citizens-collaborators were convicted in absentia

Oleh Baturin in front of the courthouse. Photo by Maksym Savchenko

12 years behind bars was the sentence of the Suvorivsky Court of Odesa in the case of the so-called “head of the administration” of Nova Kakhovka, occupied by the Russian Federation (up until fall 2022), and the “adviser to the chairman of the unrecognized Donetsk People's Republic”. By court decision, Valentyn Motuzenko and Volodymyr Leontiev were found guilty of crimes against civilians in the territories seized during military aggression, violation of the laws and customs of war, and international humanitarian law.

Among the victims in the criminal case was a researcher The Reckoning Project journalist Oleh Baturin. He testified in the courtroom during the trial.

The case concerns the events of the spring of 2022. During the Russian occupation of the Kherson region, Oleh Baturin, as well as the Mayor of the city of Tavriysk Mykola Rizak and Nova Kakhovka City Council Secretary Dmytro Vasyliev were forcibly abducted, held captive, and later subjected to physical violence. They were severely beaten, and then the prisoners were chained for a long time, as well as handcuffed without the ability to move, deprived of water and food, and psychologically oppressed. Dmytro Vasyliev died 9 months after his release from captivity, but his testimony given to law enforcement officers was announced in court.

The court recognized the participation of the accused in the crimes as proven: they were accused of giving orders, hence they were the direct organizers of systematic repressions against citizens of Ukraine — residents of the occupied Kherson region. Valentyn Motuzenko and Volodymyr Leontiev were not present in the courtroom during the court session, and the verdict was given in absentia.

Oleh Baturin, a researcher of The Reckoning Project, said in a comment for the Public Interest Journalism Lab that he hopes that in the future Ukrainian justice will be able to establish and bring to justice not only the organizers but also all perpetrators of crimes.

"In my opinion, the term of the sentence is too short and does not reflect all the crimes committed by Motuzenko and Leontiev. But I am sure that this is only the first verdict, and that makes me happy. Leontiev is also charged with other crimes, which means that new sentences are not far off. For me personally, it is quite important that the Russians themselves must have already, in fact, punished Motuzenko. He was "on the run" since the summer of 2022, and in the spring of 2023, he was thrown "into the basement" and, judging by everything I heard about this case, he will not get out of there. This is the "Russian world" that he so longed for. I am sure that sooner or later, Leontiev will be written off from this world by his Russian curators," said Oleh Baturin.

See the report about Oleh Baturin, made by France 24 in collaboration with The Reckoning Project.


bottom of page