Case against Russian charged with being mercenary referred to court

The Department for investigation of crimes connected with the use of prohibited means and ways of warfare of the Investigative Committee’s Head Office has finished criminal proceedings against citizen of Russia Artyom Shirobokov charged in absentia with participation of a mercenary in an armed conflict or military actions under part 3 of Article 359 of the RF Penal Code.

According to investigators, Shirobokov left for Ukraine in early 2014. Being of radical nationalistic views he joined the Right Sector (banned in the Russian Federation) and took active part in antigovernment and nationalistic campaigns run in Kiev, Kharkiv and other Ukrainian cities until May 2014.

Later, Shirobokov voluntarily joined Azov battalion and took a special training course learning how to handle firearms, explosives and getting necessary knowledge about military strategies and tactics. In 2014 and 2015, the Russian together with other soldiers of the battalion took part in military actions in southeastern Ukraine against soldiers of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic. Following orders of his commanders, Shirobokov fired a gun at Donetsk soldiers and civilian population. He got money for battling as a mercenary.

Shirobokov is still in Ukraine, hiding from Russian law enforcers. At the same time the Investigative Committee have enough evidence to accuse him of the crime. At present, the case with the signed indictment has been referred to court. The current laws allow a court decision to be passed in absentia.

This is the first criminal case related to mercenary activities that the Investigative Committee has referred to court in absentia. The investigators continue to identify other Russian citizens, who as Shirobokov decided to go to war for money in another state believing that nobody would ever know about their “feats”. It is possible that the country, for which they went to fight, may also recognize such actions as a crime. This is why, we urge our citizens to think rationally and to refuse to make ill-considered steps.

Acting Head of Media Relations                                                                                                              S.L. Petrenko