War in Ukraine: what we know about Azatbek Omurbeko, suspected of being the “butcher of Boutcha”

The city ​​of Boutcha addressed the excitement of the international community after the discovery in recent days of dozens of bodies of Ukrainians lying in the streets† A “genocide”, in the words of Volodymyr Zelensky, as Vladimir Putin continues to flatly deny and provoke a “crass and cynical provocation” by the Ukrainian authorities. Following the shock, Ukraine is now looking for those responsible for this massacre. A name is spreading this Thursday in the international press, that of Azatbek Omurbeko, already nicknamed the “butcher of Boutcha”. We make an inventory.

Who is Azatbek Omurbeko?

This approximately 40-year-old Russian lieutenant colonel is suspected of the looting, rape and slaughter of hundreds of Ukrainian civilians last March in the town of Boutcha, on the outskirts of Kiev. This officer, whose face is now found in… the foreign press, leads the 64th Motorized Infantry Brigade of the Russian Army. His unit, on site in Boucha during the massacre of civilians, is said to be stationed in a city in the Russian Far East called Khabarovsk, reports the Times

“He would be in charge of a brigade of between 2,000 and 3,000 men,” said Michel Goya, a former naval officer and military historian. This unit is so small that it is not ignorant of the actions it is carrying out, especially over an area of ​​only a few kilometers.”

Azatbek Omurbeko is said to be used to armed combat. The lieutenant colonel had previously visited Ukraine in 2014, where he was reported in Crimea and Donbass. He is said to have received a medal that same year for his “exceptional services” from Dmitri Bulgakov, Russia’s deputy defense minister, according to the report. The independent. Another well-known element, the Russian soldier is said to have been blessed by the Orthodox Church in November 2021, just before he led the offensive in Ukraine. Since then, photos of him accompanied by an Orthodox priest have been circulating on social networks.

The man is said to have omitted a few words during this ceremony, to the bishop, still according to the Times: “History shows that we fight most of our battles with our weapons. But weapons are not the most important. The church is a place where we can communicate and prepare for future events. With the blessing of the Almighty, we hope to achieve what our ancestors achieved.”

How was he found?

After the shock of images of dozens of bodies lying on the ground, many Ukrainian activists are trying to document the facts and track down those responsible for this massacre. A Ukrainian group overseeing the activities of the Russian military called ” InquireNapalm So went back to Azatbek Omurbeko. These activists explain that they have been working on the basis of open access intelligence documents, Open Source Intelligence (Osint).

By consulting this data, the group managed to identify the unit that was present on the spot during the occupation of the city in March: command 51460. “By knowing the precise military unit, we can easily go back to its leader”, specifies Michel Goya, adding that “other names (commanders, captains, lieutenants) could circulate in the coming days”. Personal information about the soldier was put online on Wednesday evening, such as his photo, but also his postal address, his e-mail address and his telephone number. The activists even tried to reach the manager, without success.

Which suites?

For now, Russia, which denies any massacre, has not officially responded to information from the “InformNapalm” group. However, questions remain about Azatbek Omurbeko’s exact responsibility. “Whether he ordered these massacres to be carried out openly or whether he let his soldiers do it, Omurbeko remains responsible by virtue of his status,” Michel Goya said. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the man and his unit would have officially left Boucha on March 30 to redeploy in Belarus.

Despite the identification of this soldier, his conviction remains difficult to imagine, Michel Goya adds. “Will the Russian officials even be convicted? We can doubt it. Unless Russia brings about regime change and wants to punish the perpetrators…” For the time being, the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been investigating possible war crimes committed on the spot since 2 March 2022.