russian crimes

Truth Hounds investigates Russia’s military and special services behind the murder of a Ukrainian writer


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Russian military personnel and special services are likely implicated in the illegal detention and murder of the Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko, with the actual perpetrators of the murder being members of the terrorist group “LNR” (Luhansk People’s Republic). The investigation results were presented at the PEN Ukraine venue on April 11, 2024.

According to the official version of the Ukrainian investigation, the suspects in the murder are two militants from the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic with call signs “Lev” and “Udod,” identified as Vladyslav Neskorydyev and Serhiy Udodenko, respectively. Both are natives of Luhansk, previously convicted of theft and drug-related crimes.


As reported on March 24, 2022, Volodymyr Vakulenko was kidnapped by the Russians in the village of Kapytolivka near Izum, Kharkiv region. The village was occupied by Russia at the time. After the liberation of the Kharkiv region, his body was found in grave No. 319 at the site of a mass burial near Izyum. Investigators determined that “Lev” gave the order for the murder, while “Udod” carried it out. Both of them have been charged in absentia with murder and cruel treatment of civilians.


During the investigation, Truth Hounds uncovered a connection between Russian armed formations and the death of the writer Volodymyr Vakulenko. The totality of established facts suggests that Russian military personnel and/or intelligence operatives were likely involved in the illegal detention and murder of Volodymyr Vakulenko, with the militants acting under orders or with the support of the Russian military.


Testimonies from residents of Kapytolivka indicate that the high-ranking representatives of the Russian armed forces and intelligence services took interest in Volodymyr Vakulenko. Russian military personnel were searching for him, particularly because he participated in the Euromaidan protests (2013-2014).


Before he was killed, Volodymyr Vakulenko buried his diary in his parents’ garden, fully aware that the occupiers would come after him. The diary was found by Victoria Amelina, who was documenting the Russian war crimes for the Truth Hounds. The diary was published in Ukraine (Vivat Publishing House, 2023), and in Quebec, Canada – in French (Hashtag Publishing House, 2024).


The investigation publication “Afterword. Investigation into the Involvement of Russian Military Personnel in the Murder of Writer Volodymyr Vakulenko” can be found on the Truth Hounds website (in Ukrainian).


RELATED: “A path that leads you to a different light.” Things we’ve learned from Volodymyr Vakulenko-K


Volodymyr Vakulenko (also known as Volodymyr Vakulenko-K) was a public figure, a participant in the Revolution of Dignity, and the author of 13 books. He was a laureate of the international Oles Ulyanenko Literary Award, the Les Martovych competition, and the Koronatsiya Slova International Award. He received the Silver Trident honor for literary achievements dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s Independence. Volodymyr prepared and published the almanac Izіumska Gora (2007) and was the editor-in-chief of the translation magazine DzeRkaLo. His works were translated into Crimean Tatar, Belarusian, German, English, Esperanto, and Russian.


Truth Hounds is a human rights organization. Since 2014, it has been documenting and investigating international crimes and other serious human rights violations committed during the armed conflicts in Ukraine and other regions of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. 


Photo (fragment): In the mirror of a ruined house in Izium, Kharkiv region, Victoria Amelina is visible, photographing the aftermath of the occupation during a documentation mission. Source: Truth Hounds, Victoria Amelina, September 2022