The Biden administration Monday issued sanctions against two officers in the Russian military for involvement in gross violations of human rights, including the alleged extrajudicial killing of unarmed Ukrainian civilians.
The sanctions target Azatbek Omurbekov, a colonel in Russia’s armed forces who the State Department said carried the dark moniker of “The Butcher of Bucha,” a reference to the Kyiv suburb that was the site of mass atrocities carried out in the first few weeks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in Feb. 2022.
Daniil Frolkin, a guard corporal in the Russian military, was also sanctioned by the State Department for his involvement in a gross violation of human rights, namely the extrajudicial killing of unarmed Ukrainian civilians in Andriivka.
“The reports that Omurbekov and Frolkin were involved in gross violations of human rights, as documented by [nongovernmental organizations] and independent investigations, are serious and credible,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
“By publicly designating Omurbekov and Frolkin, the United States reaffirms its commitment to upholding human rights, acknowledging the injustice experienced by victims and survivors, and promoting accountability for those responsible for human rights violations.”
The State Department issued visa bans against Omurbekov and Frolkin, preventing them and their immediate families from ever entering the U.S. The measure is viewed as a tactic of naming and shaming violators of human rights amid efforts to secure further justice for alleged crimes.
The State Department said Omurbekov was the commanding officer of Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, and that in Bucha he “killed, beat, dismembered, burned, and conducted mock executions of civilians.”
Omurbekov also commanded the brigade during its occupation of the Ukrainian town of Andriivka and carried out the extrajudicial killings of unarmed Ukrainian civilians.
“After accounts of the brigade’s brutality emerged, the Kremlin responded by issuing a statement indicating that Russian Federation [President Vladimir Putin] had conferred honors upon the 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade, and Russia’s Ministry of Defense promoted Omurbekov and praised his leadership,” Blinken said in his statement.
“The United States stands committed to promoting accountability for Russia’s abuses and atrocities against the people of Ukraine,” Blinken continued. “We will continue to use all appropriate avenues to pursue justice for Ukraine.”