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Journalists identify man allegedly involved in abuse of deported children as former Ukrainian special ops commander

Source: The Insider

The investigative outlet The Insider reported Monday that it has identified one of the people involved in physically abusing children from Ukraine’s Kherson region who were forcibly deported to Russian-occupied territory as Valery Astakhov, a former member of Ukraine’s now-dissolved Berkut special ops police division.

On March 23, a Ukrainian charity organization facilitated the return of 17 Ukrainian children who had been taken from the Kherson and Kharkiv regions and relocated to Russian and occupied territories. One of the children, a 16-year-old named Vitaly, described the conditions at a camp in Crimea as abusive, saying that he and others were underfed and that those who expressed support for Ukraine were beaten with metal pipes. He said that one of the adults involved in the beatings had the last name Astakhov.

Tatyana Popova, a journalist from The Insider, showed Vitaly a photo of Valery Astakhov, and he confirmed that it was the same person.

The Insider reported that Astakhov participated in the “events on the Maidan on the side of [former Ukrainian President Viktor] Yanukovich’s security forces.” According to Myrotvorets, a Ukrainian site that contains information about people accused of colluding with Russia or participating in separatist movements, Astakhov used to serve in Ukraine’s Interior Ministry in Crimea, but after Russia annexed the peninsula in 2014, he became a Russian citizen and began working for the Russian authorities.

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