Ekaterina Fomina, an independent journalist who investigated the killing of civilians in Ukraine’s Kyiv Region in 2022, is now the subject of a criminal case over the spreading of “false information” about the Russian army, according to a report by the Russian state-owned news agency TASS. Fomina is a former correspondent of the independent investigative publication Important Stories (IStories).
The case concerns the video version of Fomina's investigation, titled Executions, looting and criminal orders. The firsthand truth about the war, published on YouTube. The piece describes how soldiers of the 64th Motorised Rifle Brigade of Russia’s Armed Forces executed residents of the village of Andriivka in the Kyiv Region. One of the soldiers, Guard Corporal Daniil Frolkin, personally confessed to killing civilian Ruslan Yaremchuk in a conversation with Fomina.
Fomina told IStories’ editorial board that she still has no information about the initiation of the case. Previous reports had mentioned sources close to the government confirming that Fomina was under investigation.
If convicted, Fomina could face up to 10 years in prison if she returns to Russia.
TASS claims that Frolkin allegedly gave Fomina “an interview with inaccurate information about the actions of the Russian Armed Forces” in exchange for not revealing some compromising information about him. As per IStories, this is not the case.
Fomina herself says that she could not have had any compromising information about Frolkin, as she only learned about him in the course of her work and only had information from open sources.
“In the interview, Frolkin himself told me where he was in March 2022 and what his duties were, and also told me about the looting [carried out by] his commanders. After the interview, he himself wrote to me, offering 'more information' and insisted that we call each other with a recording and video. It was then that he confessed to the murder,” says Fomina.
The Khabarovsk Garrison Military Court later sentenced Frolkin to a 5.5-years suspended sentence under the article on “forging military documents.” The database of this court also contains no information about a possible case against Fomina.
Photograph of Daniil Frolkin
Source: Screenshot of Important Stories' investigation, released on YouTube on August 15, 2022
Daniil Frolkin and Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov — Frolkin’s commander — were sanctioned by the U.S. in November 2023 for their “gross violations of human rights.”
Their unit, the 64th Separate Motorised Rifle Brigade, was honored by President Vladimir Putin in April 2022 — around the same time as Ukrainian officials linked the brigade to alleged crimes in Bucha and the town of Andriivka.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a press release that the State Department had imposed a travel ban on Omurbekov, also known as the “Butcher of Bucha,” because of his involvement in “gross human rights abuses” — namely multiple extrajudicial killings of unarmed Ukrainian civilians from Andriivka.
Multiple others, such as Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen, media manager Ilya Krasilshchik, opposition politician Ilya Yashin, are currently being prosecuted or have been convicted of “spreading false information” for their coverage of the Russian army's war crimes.
Cover photo: Screenshot of Important Stories' video investigation, released on YouTube on August 15, 2022