This information is extremely important for military cooperation between the United States and Ukraine. On May 21, 2019, the new President of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, appointed Lieutenant General Ruslan Khomchak to the post of Chief of the General Staff – Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. I Rostyslav Shaposhnikov, witnessed a crime, as on August 29, 2014, General Ruslan Khomchak, left his army and fled from the battlefield in Ilovaisk (a city in Eastern Ukraine). As a result of Khomchak’s decisions, hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers were killed. I was captured by the Russian army. I miraculously survived and kept unique videos of the battles in Ilovaisk from August 23 to August 30, 2014. On October 24, 2014, I published my investigation about the betrayal of General Khomchak, which has already gained more than 3.2 million views. Since March 2015, I have been living in the US, because I fear persecution and murder in Ukraine for publishing my investigations. On August 30, 2018, on the tragic anniversary of the Ilovaisk battle, I published a full documentary about the battles in Ilovaisk, which has already gained more than 4.3 million views. Zelensky’s decision to appoint Ruslan Khomchak led to a scandal in Ukraine.
Brief description of the case:
On August 23, 2014, together with colleagues from the TV channel, I went to the battlefield near Ilovaisk to make a report on military engagement. On the same evening of August 23, 2014, the soldiers of the Russian army came from the rear and surrounded Ilovaisk. On the night of August 24-25, during our positions’ heavy bombardment, my personal car got blown up. During the battle, Ukrainian soldiers captured the advanced Russian T72-B3 tank and took it to the base at Mnohopillya. I recorded this tank with a video camera. I was the first journalist in the world who managed to take a video of the Russian army tank on the battlefield in Ukraine. The Russian Federation soldiers’ documents were found in the tanks. In the same village of Mnohopillya, the journalist Egor Vorobyov recorded an interview with the Russian army POW soldiers Ruslan Akhmetov and Arsenyi Ilmitov. These videos got on TV and became the clear evidence of the Russian Federation army invading Ukraine. My camera recorded destroyed Russian armored vehicles, small arms and corpses of the Russian Federation army soldiers. On August 29, 2014, we received information we could break out of encirclement along the “relief corridor”. I captured on video the military orders of General Ruslan Khomchak.
Ruslan Khomchak ordered the army to “break through the corridor with combat” without waiting for the result of negotiations between the enemy and the Ukrainian army. Also, Ruslan Khomchak previously divided the army into two groups and ordered them to move along different routes. The soldiers were not warned that it would be necessary to “break through with the battle” and therefore they were not ready for battle. Khomchak ordered the first group to “break through with the battle,” while he himself went along with the second group. It looked so that Khomchak sent the first group to certain death in order to leave safely with the second group. The first group had no chance of winning the battle against the Russian army. As a result, the first group was destroyed, almost all the soldiers were killed or captured. All this time I was moving behind the car of General Ruslan Khomchak and recorded everything on video. When Russian soldiers started shooting at the second group where Ruslan Khomchak moved, General Khomchak’s car turned in the opposite direction and disappeared into the forest plantation. In the General Khomchak’s minivan also was the commander of the battalion «Mirotvorec» Andrei Teteruk. The minivan of «Dnepr-1» battalion commander Yuriy Bereza, in which I was a passenger, followed General Khomchak’s car into the forest plantation. We left the transport and took cover in that wood plantation. All day of the battle, the General Khomchak, Battalion Commander Bereza and Teteruk stayed next to me, did not take part in the battle or take command of the troops.
When it got dark, Bereza with a thermal imaging camera, Khomchak, Teteruk and some soldiers hurried off ahead a little. They left the two journalist of TV channel, a wounded Ukrainian soldier and me in the forest plantations. We spent the night on the ground and without food and water. The next day, on August 30, we returned to the abandoned vehicles. In the General Ruslan Khomchak’s van, I found an abandoned handheld military radio. General Khomchak’s van was intact, but there were no keys. We took our minivan with shot deflated wheels. We threw all the weapons we could find out of it. After having travelled 300 meters, we ran into a Russian army soldiers’ roadblock and were taken captive. Searching our car, the Russian soldiers found the military map, left by the battalion commander Yuriy Bereza. The soldiers thought we were spies-saboteurs because of that map. The soldiers made us kneel and cocked their weapons. I tried to negotiate. I managed to convince them we were not spies but journalists. The soldiers spoke with specific Russian pronunciation , and were not aware of their position, badly taking their bearings and converted everything in Rubles. While communicating, they admitted that their command forced them to come there. They were not terrorists of “Donetsk People’s Republic”. They were the soldiers of the Russian regular army.
Before attempting to break through by the van, I put the memory cards from the camera in the shoe lining. I inserted a blank memory card into the camera and shot several videos. When the soldiers of the Russian Federation took my camera and studied the memory, they did not know I hid the most important recordings. The wounded soldier changed his uniform for civilian clothes, and we pretended he was TV channel driver. On August 31, 2014, the operator of the Espresso TV channel Taras Chkan, the wounded Ukrainian soldier and I were handed over to “The Red Cross”, and so we were released with other captured soldiers. Egor Vorobyov was forced to stay and was later handed over to the terrorists of “Donetsk People’s Republic”. Vorobyov was held captive for 39 days.
Upon my arrival in Kyiv, I published the videos. I managed to carry through 36 GB of Ilovaisk tragedy videos. These video recordings are the physical evidence of the Russian army’s invasion in Ukraine. “1+1” TV channel and German television showed some part of the video recordings in their programs. My video recordings also proved the criminal acts of the Ukrainian army command. General Khomchak made a public statement that during the battle his car was hit, and therefore he was forced to leave it. This is an absolute lie. General Khomchak deliberately deviated from the route of the group of troops and went to the forest plantation. Left without a commander, the Ukrainian soldiers were disoriented. As a result of the escape of General Ruslan Khomchak, the commanders of the battalions Yuri Bereza and Andrey Teteruk, the Ukrainian soldiers were killed or captured.
I publicly claimed that the General Ruslan Khomchak lied and hid the truth of the matter. In September 2014, “Ukraine” TV channel invited me to their talk show on the Ilovaisk tragedy. Ruslan Khomchak was present there too. I told the truth about how Khomchak fled from the battlefield, deceived and left his soldiers. The TV channel cut out my criticizing Khomchak and they did not show it in the final version of the TV talk show. Then I created a short film, showing Ruslan Khomchak’s and the battalion commander Yuriy Bereza’s criminal act. As of today, my film has gained over 3.2 million views on YouTube.
I was summoned to appear at the General Military Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, where I gave testimony against Ruslan Khomchak and Yuriy Bereza. I also handed over the video recordings, confirming my words, to an investigator. The Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios promised the investigation results on the Ilovaisk tragedy before the end of 2014. In August 2017, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, under the leadership of Yuriy Lutsenko, and the General Military Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, under the leadership of Anatoly Matios, completed the investigation of the Ilovaisk case. Ukrainian prosecutors admitted that Ukrainian generals had not committed any crimes. All these years, from 2014 to 2019, I continued to publish articles and videos about the fault of Ukrainian generals in the Ilovaisk tragedy. As of today, the battalion commander Yuriy Bereza has not even been questioned by the Chief Military Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, as publicly stated by the prosecutor Anatoly Matios. In October 2014, Yuri Bereza and Andrei Teteruk were elected members of parliament from the political party “Narodnyi Front”, headed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk and Arsen Avakov.
Zelensky’s motive to appoint Khomchak as head of the Ukrainian army:
The new president of Ukraine, Vladimir Zelensky, is associated with the Ukrainian oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. In the military operation in which Ilovaisk participated: regular units of the Ukrainian army, commanded by the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, and the battalions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, which were controlled by the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov. Oligarch Igor Kolomoisky at that time was the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region and sponsored the creation and activities of the battalions who were subordinate to the head of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine Arsen Avakov. After the Ilovaisk tragedy, it became known that the military operation in Ilovaisk was planned in the Dnipropetrovsk administration under the leadership of Igor Kolomoisky. Hennadiy Korban, who was the region governor Ihor Kolomoisky’s second hand, summoned the meeting in Dnepropetrovsk administration.
Ukrainian media published information that the meeting became known due to the commander of the «Shakhtarsk» battalion Andriy Filonenko’s testimony received by the provisional investigatory commission on Ilovaisk tragedy, working back in 2014. According to Filonenko, battalion commanders Semen Semenchenko and Andriy Biletsky, as well as journalist Yuriy Butusov, were present at the meeting with Korban. Ruslan Khomchak came there as well. According to a number of eyewitnesses, he spoke at the meeting and suggested that the main Ukrainian Armed Forces should remain at their positions to block Donetsk and hold the key points around it. He also suggested to send volunteer battalions to Ilovaisk since separatist forces were not large there (according to Filonenko, Khomchak said there were “50 terrorists maximum”) and the volunteer battalions could quickly secure the territory. Ultimately, the lieutenant general’s plan was adopted. The “Shakhtarsk”, “Azov”, and “Dnepr-1” battalions were to occupy the city. The fact that it was Khomchak who planned the operation was later confirmed by all the meeting participants. It is interesting that journalist Yuriy Butusov also took part in planning the attack on Ilovaisk along with everyone. A while later Korban explained that as follows: «Butusov accompanied me all the time. He spent months in my office in the Dnipropetrovsk administration because the main front was located there. Actually, I held that meeting in my office, and the command decided to take Ilovaisk», – Korban said.
The commander of the Battalion “Dnepr-1” Yuriy Bereza, who was sponsored by Kolomoisky, in an interview with BBC dated August 19, 2015, said that the Dnepretrovsk administration convinced him that Russia would not attack Ilovaisk. «I was convinced that Russia would never do this», – Bereza said. «Who convinced?», – BBC asked. «Commanders of volunteer battalions, people from the Dnipropetrovsk regional state administration, colleagues-military», – Bereza answered. Bereza also confirmed that when they ran away from the battlefield at night on August 29-30, they had a military thermal imager. «During the first night we walked 15-20 kilometers and reached the former point of the 51st brigade. Then the thermal imager, which was brought to me on August 23, helped us a lot», – Bereza said.
In an interview with the Ukrainian magazine «Tyzhden», dated September 1, 2017, the commander of the battalion «Mirotvorec» Andrei Teteruk stated this: «Who once gave you an order to go to Ilovaisk?», – asked magazine «Tyzhden». «In the evening of August 20, I was called by the Deputy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Volodymyr P. Hrynjak, who was an intermediary between the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the headquarters of the Anti-terrorist operation. He ordered us to prepare for a short journey to clean up Ilovaisk. After him, journalist Yuriy Butusov called twice or thrice with the words: «Andrew, where are you? You really need us here», referring to Ilovaisk. I replied that I was preparing the unit for relocation, but expressed surprise that somebody knew about the operation».
Ruslan Khomchak, Yuri Bereza and Andrei Teteruk categorically deny that they left journalists and a wounded soldier at night in the forest. They say they tried to find them. However, why didn’t they use a thermal imager? It is obvious that Khomchak, Bereza and Teteruk left journalists and the wounded soldier as an unnecessary “ballast.” The fact that we were left to die in the forest, I recorded on video.
In the Ukrainian media, was also published information that the Dnipropetrovsk administration offered cash rewards to battalion commanders and general Khomchak for taking Ilovaisk. This information needs investigation. However, such information is indirectly confirmed by the fact that General Ruslan Khomchak did not want to leave Ilovaisk until the last, although he received information that the Russian army surrounded Ilovaisk. Earlier, I published a report of the 40th Battalion of Territorial Defense, which took part in the operation in Ilovaisk. «It should be noted that the city of Ilovaisk was attacked by the military armed forces and volunteer battalions for two weeks, but it has not been taken under full control. The total number of personnel involved in the assault on the town of Ilovaisk. was over 2000 people and supported armored vehicles and heavy artillery, and commander of 40 BTRs was ordered by Lt. Gen. R. B. KHOMACHAK by the forces of a battalion without artillery and a sufficient number of armored vehicles to take control of the city of Ilovaisk. I personally consider this order as criminal. The military command did not consider the information received by our intelligence… After reports from intelligence and from block posts about the entry of troops of the Russian Federation, the commander of the battalion on August 24, 2014 made a report to the head of the sector “B” Lt. Gen. R. B. KHOMACHAK, which received the answer “the information is not reliable”, – stated in 40th Battalion of Territorial Defense report.
For the 5th year, Ukrainian society has been waiting for a full investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy. The appointment of Ruslan Khomchak can interfere with this investigation. The military operation in Ilovaisk was planned both in the General Staff of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine and in the Dnepropetrovsk administration under the leadership of Igor Kolomoisky. General Ruslan Khomchak is close to Igor Kolomoisky and apparently will try to hide the crimes of people close to Kolomoisky. The military operation in Ilovaisk was also planned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine under the leadership of Arsen Avakov. In his recent interviews, the oligarch Igor Kolomoisky repeatedly said that he is friends with Arsen Avakov and considers him a good minister. Kolomoisky said that Zelensky’s election was their common victory with Avakov. Chief Military Prosecutor Anatoly Matios is close to Arsen Avakov. For example, at the end of 2014, Anatoly Matios received from the Security Service of Ukraine videos that Avakov’s son Alexander Avakov took part in the financial fraud when the government purchased low-quality military backpacks at a high cost from the companies controlled by Avakov. After a year of complete inactivity of Anatoly Matios, at the end of 2015, these records were stolen by law enforcement officers and published on the Internet. Therefore, Anatoly Matios covered the people of Kolomoisky and Arsen Avakov in the investigation of Ilovaisk.
Immediately after Vladimir Zelensky appointed Ruslan Khomchak as head of the Ukrainian Army, an information campaign began on Ukrainian media to protect the reputation of Khomchak. The information campaign for the protection of Khomchak was organized by journalist and head of Сensor.net.ua, Yury Butusov. Yury Butusov began to lie that my testimony against General Khomchak is unreliable. On May 26, 2019, Radio Liberty published a story about the appointment of Khomchak. Radio Liberty showed video from my film about Ilovaisk and my comments that Khomchak fled from the battlefield and left his army. In this publication, Yury Butusov commented that he is a member of the investigation team for the Ilovaisk tragedy and has access to state secrets. «I am the official expert of the General Prosecutor’s Office on the Ilovaisk case and got access to state secrets and documents. I believe that the accusations that were against Khomchak, they are absolutely unfounded», – Butusov said.
In an interview with Radio Liberty, Yuriy Bereza said that the General Staff, and not General Khomchak, is responsible for the Ilovaisk tragedy. Also, Semen Semenchenko and Hennady Korban, as well as other people who took part in the planning of Ilovaisk’s operations from the Dnipropetrovsk administration or close to Arsen Avakov and Igor Kolomoisky, came out in defense of Khomchak. Journalist Yury Butusov is an interested person and has no right to participate in the investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy. The investigation should assess the actions of Butusov, because he planned the operation in Ilovaisk and called on the battalion of the Ministry of Internal Affairs «Mirotvorec» to go to war in Ilovaisk. Therefore, this investigation will be completely distorted in such a way that none of the people close to Kolomoisky will be found guilty.
Radio Liberty published my position: «The majority of people who criticize Ruslan Khomchak’s appointment as Chief of the General Staff refer to the investigation, published by Rostyslav Shaposhnikov, the Road Control journalist, in 2014. He was part of the film crew first in Ilovaisk and later disentangling in the «Dnepr-1» battalion Commander Yury Bereza’s car. According to Shaposhnikov, Khomchak led his soldiers to the slaughter while he himself fled from the battlefield. He also confirms that it was Khomchak’s actions that led to the entrapment. He sets the 40th territorial defense battalion’s testimony as an example. “There was a report to Ruslan Khomchak, including the one from the 40th battalion, that the Russian army had entered Ukraine. We were being entrapped. Ruslan Khomchak claimed the information to be not confirmed. What I mean is that Ruslan Khomchak rushed forward despite the critical situation and waited until August 29 when disentangling was not possible anymore. “We were in the complete entrapment,” Rostyslav Shaposhnikov said in one of his video messages. Now, Shaposhnikov lives in the US. He says he was persecuted after his investigations in Ukraine».
I would like Ukraine and the United States to have close military cooperation. However, I believe that such cooperation cannot be deep until Ukraine completes a full and objective investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy. Ukraine cannot cooperate with the US and the EU and at the same time cover its own military criminals. Ukraine cannot be represented by a general, who left his army and fled from the battlefield. I believe that none of the respected US generals will want to shake hands with such a leader of the Army of Ukraine. Therefore, I ask the United States to do everything possible to force Ukraine to conduct a full and honest investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy. It is very important to give a legal assessment of the military invasion of the Russian army in Ukraine. I am a journalist Rostyslav Shaposhnikov, I kept the originals of flash cards with video recordings of the chronicle of the Ilovaisk battle. I am ready to testify, provide video for expertise, etc. I am also sure that I am in danger and I receive threats that I will be killed. I ask you to protect me. I believe that it is necessary to conduct an independent investigation of the Ilovaisk tragedy with the participation of international experts from the United States, the European Union and the United Nations. We must give the public answers to all the questions that actually happened in Ilovaisk in August 2014.
Sincerely, Rostyslav Shaposhnikov
Delivered to the Pentagon at June 17, 2019:
Delivered to the CIA at June 4, 2019:
Delivered to the U.S. Department of State at June 4, 2019:
Delivered to the FBI at June 4, 2019:
Delivered to the Dep of Homeland Security at June 3, 2019: