Televisions, electric scooters, car batteries, fishing equipment… On the video images it is a veritable ballet of stolen objects, sometimes unusual. The organization is well established. The soldiers report to post offices in the town of Mazyr, in southern Belarus, about 30 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. They then send the looted goods packed to their regions of origin in Russia. In one day, more than two tons of items stolen by Russian troops in Ukraine were transported through a small post office on their way to Russia. These impressive images from the afternoon of April 2 were found and published on social networks by activists of the project †Belarusian Hajun††
During three hours of video, which now has more than a million views, the Russian soldiers follow one another. Some carry the weapon of the 56th Air Assault Regiment of the Russian Armed Forces. In the background, boxes and bags pile up in the room. One by one, the military personnel check into the office so that their names and addresses and the types of items being shipped can be heard. The packages, which range from 40 to 450 kilograms, will be shipped to Russia via the Russian express service SDEK, which serves 36,000 locations in the country. The majority go to the Altai regions of Southern Siberia, where most of the soldiers in the video come from.
In recent weeks, Belarus seems to have become the center of objects looted in Ukraine, both from civilian apartments and shops. However, looting is prohibited by international law and is considered a war crime† Bottles of alcohol, electronic equipment, jewelry… even children’s toys, all goods can attract desire. Testimonials are pouring in in the Ukrainian media and on social networks. Like the journalist’s Anastasia Lapatinawho recounts the sack of his childhood home:They took Mom’s computer, all her shoes, her camera – a gift from Dad, who died in 2017. God knows what else they brought with them. Imagine a place where you grew up and where your best moments were wasted in this way.†
After Ukrainian intelligence intercepted conversations of Russian soldiers who told their relatives about the loot looted in Ukraine by telephone, Ukrainian intelligence had assured in early April that markets were developing in Belarusian cities so the soldiers could sell the stolen goods. could sell. don’t want to send home. In the small town of Mazyr, Russian military trucks were observed by Ukrainian intelligence services. They would regularly go back and forth between Ukraine and Belarus so that the soldiers unload the looted items.
“We’ll Never Forgive”
As for the soldiers present in the images of April 2, they could be identified thanks to facial recognition tools such as the Russian software SearchClone† Their personal details were later revealed by intelligence agencies and activists. Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Mykhaïlo Fedorov has made digital tools his hobbyhorse pressure on Russia. He has declared on Facebook † “Technology makes it possible to find everyone. We will never forgive. They robbed and killed civilians, then they sent all the loot to their families.”
But the presence of Russian soldiers in Mazyr may just be the tip of the iceberg of looting in Ukraine. Other regions where the Russians are active, such as the south of the country, could also be affected. At present, it is difficult to certify the exact provenance of the artifacts and the fact that these war crimes may be the result of an organized system that goes beyond individual practices.