CNN has obtained surveillance video of what is now being investigated as a war crime by Ukrainian prosecutors.
Both civilians died after the heartless shooting that goes against the so-called rules of war that outlaw the targeting of civilians. CNN has identified the victims. One was the owner of the vehicle dealership that was looted, whose family does not want to be named. The other was Leonid Oleksiyovych Plyats, a 68-year-old grandfather who worked as a guard there.
His daughter, Yulia, cannot bear to watch the video of the day her father died, but she is saving it to one day show her children, so they don’t forget how savage the invaders were.
“They are executioners,” she told CNN. “It’s awful because my father was a civilian, he was 68, a peaceful unarmed man.”
Killing caught from multiple angles
The images from security cameras capture the initial Russian attempt to take Kyiv in March. On the main road to the capital, the fighting was fierce as Ukrainian forces battled Russian troops and tankers to stop the advance.
But what happened outside the car dealership on March 16 was not a battle between soldiers or even soldiers and armed civilians.
The video has been verified by CNN. It is compiled from a number of cameras around the property and, while it has no sound, its pictures are clear. It was a cowardly, cold-blooded killing of two unarmed men.
Five Russian soldiers arrive and try to break into the businesses — firing at locks and smashing glass.
As the owner approaches with hands raised, they stop him and appear to search him for weapons. Plyats then arrives and is also frisked. There seems to be some conversation before the soldiers turn away and the two civilians begin to walk back to their guard post.
Then at least two of the soldiers come up behind the men and open fire. Both civilians drop to the ground.
CNN has requested comment from Russia’s defense ministry but has not had a response.
A top Ukraine prosecutor says the incident is being investigated as a war crime after viewing the video CNN obtained.
In addition to the killing, the video shows plenty more unprofessional behavior by the group of five soldiers, identified as members of the invading force by their uniforms, analysis of who controlled what area at the time and witness statements.