It turned out that a Russian tank officer, who was taken prisoner after months of fighting in Ukraine, was shooting a home movie about the invasion on his mobile phone.
The footage, in which he tells that his comrades are being turned into “meat trimmings” and “minced meat”, reveals a strange idea of the Moscow invasion, when his gun jams, his car explodes and a raid on a Ukrainian military base goes wrong.
He was shot by Yuri Shalayev, a 23-year-old lieutenant who studied at Moscow’s Higher Military Academy and was in Chechnya before the war, contrary to the Kremlin’s order not to use personal mobile phones for security reasons.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the Interior Ministry in Kyiv, says: “It is very rare, because 95% of the occupiers do not take their phones, and if they do, very few of them have smartphones, as most of the poor regions of Russia. This is important because it shows the brutal actions and chaotic military approach of Russian forces. “
Prepared: Lieutenant Shalayev was trained at the leading military academy in Moscow
Shalayev, the commander of the motorized platoon, was captured last month after three days of staggering with two wounded comrades in the basement of the village of Donbass after an attack on their armored personnel carrier.
His video, which begins with happy family scenes when he gives his daughter a pink bicycle, and ends with a frightened officer whispering while hiding to his wounded comrades, Ukrainian journalists have placed in a documentary.
They also received his text conversations with 172 other soldiers who took part in the invasion, exposing alarm over heavy casualties, rage over poor equipment, cases of military refusal to fight and sending poorly equipped police into battle.
Three days after the start of the war, for example, one soldier says there are three trucks filled with corpses from five regiments. “It’s true,” says another rookie before adding, “Many just ran away.”
Another soldier in despair says he is the only officer to have survived in Kharkiv, the country’s second city, which was attacked at the start of the war and is gradually returning to normal after Ukraine rejected Russian forces two weeks ago. “I am in danger, I am injured,” he wrote, asking for help.
The unusual video begins a few months before the war with a film of the family holiday Shalayev, who sings patriotic pop songs and drinks whiskey with his uncle, who eventually urinates on himself and has difficulty getting into bed.
In one scene filmed at the party, smartly dressed young people sing a popular song called “Officers”, which contains lines such as “Officers, officers, your heart is on fire, for Russia and freedom to the end.”
The reality turned out to be quite different after Shalayev, who hails from a small town beyond the Arctic Circle, was taken to the Crimea by bus to southern Ukraine and then taken to the front line in the Donbas.
Twelve days after the war, a young Russian officer was filming himself in search of a weapon in an occupied Ukrainian position.
– B ****, will there be at least one gun? He asks, trying to open the safe with the words “Combat Control Documents” and removing the empty arsenal. “Damn, did they keep a f ****** defense here, or did we shoot this place for free?”
Then he swears again and laughs bitterly. A few days later, he removes two men with damaged arms in his car, and then begins to talk about taking the “dead guy” from the engineering battalion, describing him as “minced meat – just minced meat.”
He also emphasizes military uncertainty amid their elusive invasion. “They started building bridges and bombed them. Now they don’t know what to do. Regroup? Don’t regroup? ‘
As the days go by, Shalayeu repeatedly admits that he lost track of time, and then looks satisfied, boasting on March 29 that he “swam yesterday.”
In the following footage, he tells an embarrassed colleague that “I shoot video” when he shoots through a slit window as they walk before they drive past destroyed military vehicles near a wooded area.
Home movie: Footage from Yuri Shalayev’s video, which shows Russian forces in motion and, on the right, a soldier with a bandaged hand
“They blew up the armored personnel carrier,” he exclaims. ‘F ***. Here too. Are they ours or theirs? ‘
Then he swears again in a panic. “We need to get out of here, they will blow us up too. We have been under attack for three hours. They fuck us. Ahead is thick black smoke when he orders his colleagues to “shoot them”. But only a crunch is heard from the jammed pistol, which causes more swearing.
Then Shalayeu is in another village and says: “our car exploded.” He later told the Ukrainian invaders that his armored personnel carrier had been hit by a mortar or grenade, leaving him with two wounded colleagues in the basement of Donbass.
He seems relieved to see a Russian car ahead, but smoke billows from it as he removes small pieces of the human body on dirty ground. “Tea is flesh. Someone blew up. Meat trimmings. Here it is. We were in it. Fuck me, everything is ready, – he says.
The last scenes, blurred as if filmed as they approached from hiding, show Ukrainian soldiers walking beside them, kneeling. “I can’t understand what the hell he’s doing,” Shalayev whispers. “Is he planting a mine there?”
The 24-minute documentary “The Occupier” was shot by “Ukrainian Truth”, an online news publication.
A POW film about cruelty and chaos is found when a false invasion falls apart
“This is a man who came to occupy our land, and it was important for him to share it,” said the head of its investigation, Mikhail Tkach. “It shows the life of a Russian soldier – having fun, drinking with friends, drinking with his uncle – but then we see how it ends in his captivity. But he decided to come to a foreign country and commit war crimes. “
After Shalayev was captured, he and several others from his battalion were approached by a Ukrainian military brigade formed by Russians seeking to overthrow Vladimir Putin to see if they would cross. The unit claims that some prisoners of war from Chechnya-based forces have agreed to join their fight.
Shalayev’s use of a mobile phone again shows the risk of Russian troops using civilian communications after such actions reportedly led to the death of a general tracked down by Ukraine after his call was intercepted.
Many Russian soldiers took their mobile phones into battle, despite being told to rely on their military communications for security. When Ukrainian leaders realized this, they stopped working Russian numbers on their telephone network.
As a result, invasion forces began seizing phones from civilians in the occupied areas, who often informed officials so they could eavesdrop on the numbers. This led to the publication of convicted intercepted conversations by Russian troops discussing killings, rapes and torture.
First Deputy Interior Minister of Kyiv Eugene Enin said that the authorities are collecting videos of captured soldiers. “They are important because in some cases they contain direct evidence of war crimes,” he added.
Additional report by Katya Baklitskaya