The international community was shocked after the video of an unarmed Ukrainian soldier being executed spread around the world earlier this week.
– This is a very clear war crime, Arne Bård Dalhaug, retired lieutenant general and former OSCE observer in Donbas, told Dagbladet.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has launched an investigation, and the condemnation of Russia after the video – which the Russian soldier is said to have posted on Telegram on Monday – has been extensive.
Already on Tuesday, the soldier who was killed was from the Ukrainian military identified as Tymofij Mykolaivych Shadura of the Ukrainian 30th Mechanized Brigade.
Sjadura fought at Bakhmut in the Donbass, and was reported missing on 3 February. His sister told BBC on Wednesday she recognized the brother in the grisly video.
– He could definitely oppose Russia like that, he said – referring to the fact that the killed soldier said “Glory to Ukraine!” just before the first shot knocked him to the ground.
Sjadura quickly earned hero status among Ukrainians, and already has its own Wikipedia article.
– Everyone was shocked and cried. I want to say that Tymofij Shadura’s actions were heroic, a resident of the warrior Mala Derevytshka’s hometown, between Kyiv and Lviv, told Guard.
But it wasn’t long before information started circulating that the wrong person had been identified as the victim. Just 24 hours after Shadura was appointed, the Ukrainian Battalion 163 came out and determined that the man in the video was 42-year-old Oleksandr Igorevich Matsijevskyj from Nizhyn, north of Kyiv.
– Trying to distract
In a long post at Facebook the Ukrainian journalist who was profiled Yuriy Butusov put forward several arguments that it was Matsijevskyj and not Shadura who appears in the video.
One of Butusov’s main pieces of evidence is a 42-year-old photo taken ten days before he was reported missing outside the neighboring town of Soledar in Bakhmut, now taken by Russia, on December 30. In the photo, Matsijevskyj has a large patch over his right eye – just like the soldier in the video.
According to an independent site Medusa confirmed a spokesperson from the Northern Regional Command of the Ukrainian Defense Forces on Thursday that Matsijevskyj was reported missing outside Soledar on the day in question.
– Recognized again by his son
The Matsijevsky Brigade further stated that the 42-year-old mother and 19-year-old son had recognized him in the video. “I saw how my father was killed!” his son, Mykhailo, is said to have.
Earlier this week, the Ukrainian military made a reservation that it must wait until the body of the slain soldier is handed over by Russia, so that his identity can be known with certainty.
But there is an important difference here: while Shadura is still missing, Matsijevskyj’s body was exchanged for that of the Russian soldier who was killed in January, and handed over to the family in February.
In his hometown of Nizhny, Matsijevskyj worked as an electrician before joining the army soon after the invasion last February, according to journalist Butusov.
Want a statue
Local people believe that the 42-year-old man is the soldier in the video, and has made pilgrimages to his grave. This week’s Guardian reporter witnessed a young man light a cigarette and place it on the headstone; the soldier in the video is about to smoke while he is being shot.
– We must erect a statue of him in the city, an old woman told an English newspaper. Nizhyn Mayor Oleksandr Kodola stands behind this, possibly naming the street after him.
It may be relevant to exhume Matsijevskyj’s body, so that forensic experts can determine whether or not he is the man in the video. The police and military have prepared documents for this.
– Of course they can come to the conclusion that the hero is not Matsijevskyj, but a completely different person. That’s why we have to wait for the High Command of the Armed Forces of Ukraine to make an official statement, Mayor Kodola told The Guardian.
Friday morning still going on a discussion on Wikipedia on whether the article “murder of Tymofij Shadura” should be amended so that Matsijevskyj is identified as the soldier who was killed.
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