- Reports of atrocities committed in Bucha, Ukraine, spiked demands for a war crimes investigation.
- A new Reuters report identifies soldiers and military units that were in Bucha before the retreat.
- One soldier was identified because his social media handle, Wolf_68, was spray-painted inside a home.
A Russian soldier in Bucha while atrocities were committed left behind a straightforward clue into his identity: his Instagram handle, spray-painted on a wall inside a Ukrainian civilian’s home.
Reporters from Reuters spent weeks in Bucha, Ukraine, after Russian forces completed their retreat from the areas around Kyiv last month. They discovered the handle “Wolf_68” inside a home that a Bucha resident said had been occupied by a group of Russian soldiers.
Kirill Kryuchkov was identified using the handle, which the outlet said he used variations of on his social media accounts. Kryuchkov, who is from Pskov, Russia, posted videos on Instagram that showed Russian soldiers in a bar drinking beer and smoking hookah on April 19.
Two people who knew Kryuchkov confirmed his military unit to Reuters and another confirmed he was in Ukraine. Kryuchkov did not respond to a message from the outlet requesting comment.
When Reuters contacted a friend of Kryuchkov, Vitaly Shcherbakov, he said: “You can write: ‘Fuck the Ukies’.”
—Aric Toler (@AricToler) May 5, 2022
Reports of atrocities and potential war crimes poured out of Bucha after the Kyiv retreat, including the killing and rape of civilians as well as mass graves. Calls for an international investigation into Russia’s war in Ukraine grew along with the alleged perpetrators.
Reuters published its report on Thursday with new details about what happened in Bucha based on interviews with nearly 100 residents, documents left behind by Russian forces, and photo and video evidence.
The outlet identified specific soldiers and military units that were in Bucha, linking some to specific acts of violence against unarmed civilians.
Russia has dismissed reports about atrocities committed in Bucha, claiming the accounts are fake.