Kyiv Reveals Identity of Smoking Soldier Executed in Viral Video

Ukraine's military on Tuesday identified the soldier allegedly brutally executed by Russian soldiers in a viral video.

Video emerged online Monday that appears to show Russian soldiers execute a Ukrainian soldier being held as a prisoner of war by gunfire after the soldier said, "Glory to Ukraine." Newsweek has not independently verified the video, which sparked widespread outrage among Ukrainian officials who argued the video was the latest instance of Russian war crimes.

Russia has faced numerous accusations of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes throughout the Ukraine war, which Vladimir Putin launched more than one year prior in February 2022. Moscow's military is facing several investigations into these alleged war crimes.

On Tuesday, the slain soldier was identified as a member of Ukraine's 30th Prince Konstanty Ostrogski Mechanized Brigade named Timofiy Mykolajovich Shadura, the unit wrote in a Facebook post.

Kyiv identifies soldier executed in viral video
Above, an image showing Ukrainian soldiers are seen March 04, 2023, near Bakhmut, Ukraine alongside an inset of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Hours after Zelensky vowed to find the executioners of a Ukrainian soldier shot in a video posted to social media, that soldier was identified as Timofiy Mykolajovich Shadura, a soldier who went missing from Bakhmut in February. John Moore/Getty Images; JULIEN DE ROSA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

This unit has been engaged in the tense battle for control of Bakhmut, a city in Ukraine's Donetsk region that has seen some of the most intense fighting in recent months of the war.

Shadura first went missing on February 3 amid combat in Bakhmut, the unit wrote. His body remains in the "temporarily occupied territory," and final confirmation about his identity will be made once his body is returned to Ukraine."

"The command of the 30th separate mehanízovaní ким brigade and the hero's brothers express sincere condolences to his family and loved ones. Revenge will be irreversible," the post reads. "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!"

Russia has not publicly commented on or confirmed the video. Amid accusations of war crimes, the Kremlin has accused Ukraine of their own violations. In November, for instance, Russia claimed that Ukraine executed more than 10 prisoners of war, according to Reuters.

Hannah R. Garry, a clinical professor of law and founding director of University of Southern California's Gould's International Human Rights Clinic, told Newsweek that the video appears to show a violation of the soldier's rights as a prisoner of war, which are guaranteed under the Third Geneva Convention.

"If a combatant from the other side has been captured and is no longer shooting, they are to be treated as a prisoner of war. And a prisoner of war has certain protections and rights under the 1949 Geneva Convention. And one of those is not to be killed extrajudicially," she said.

If indeed this is an instance of vengeance being taken on a prisoner of war, "absolutely justice must be done," Garry said.

Perpetrators could potentially be prosecuted in Ukraine, the International Criminal Court or by other countries with universal jurisdiction. However, war crime prosecutors could face challenges in verifying the video, as well as identifying the individuals who pulled the trigger, Garry said.

"This just really emphasizes how tricky and difficult it is to verify exactly what's happened on the ground, and how important it is to do so," Garry said. "Otherwise these types of incidents could potentially be used for propaganda."

Ukraine's announcement comes just hours after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky vowed to find the soldier's alleged killers during his nightly televised address.

"Today, a video has emerged of the occupiers brutally killing a warrior who bravely said to their faces: 'Glory to Ukraine!" he continued. "I want us all to respond to his words together, in unity: 'Glory to the Hero! Glory to the Heroes! Glory to Ukraine! And we will find the murderers."

The graphic video appeared to show the soldier standing in a trench while smoking a cigarette. An apparent Russian soldier can be heard telling another person to film when he said, "Glory to Ukraine." Almost immediately after the remark, the Russian soldier says, "you b****" while gunfire is directed at Shadura.

Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmytro Kuleba described the video as proof of Russia's "genocidal war."

"Horrific video of an unarmed Ukrainian POW executed by Russian forces merely for saying 'Glory to Ukraine,' Kuleba tweeted. "Another proof this war is genocidal. It is imperative that @KarimKhanQC launches an immediate ICC investigation into this heinous war crime. Perpetrators must face justice."

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Defense Ministry, International Criminal Court and United Nations by email for comment.

Update 03/07/2023 2:10 p.m. ET: This story was updated with comment from Hannah Garry.