Chernihiv mayor urges Zelenskiy not to swap captured Russian pilots for Ukrainian PoWs

Vladyslav Atroshenko makes demand after broadcast of interview with Alexander Krasnoyartsev, shot down three weeks ago

The mayor of the city of Chernihiv, where more than 400 civilians have been killed by Russian bombs, has appealed to Volodymyr Zelenskiy for captured Russian pilots to be imprisoned rather than swapped for Ukrainian prisoners of war.

Vladyslav Atroshenko made his emotional demand in response to the broadcast of an interview with Alexander Krasnoyartsev, a major in the Russian air force, who was shot down three weeks ago during a bombing sortie over the northern Ukrainian city.

Krasnoyartsev, whose navigator, Konstantin Krivolapa, was killed when the plane was downed, claimed to Ukrainian interrogators in an hour-long interview posted on social media that he had not known he was bombing residential areas of the city.

Atroshenko said in his televised appeal that the pilot was lying and that the citizens of Chernihiv would be opposed to any clemency being shown towards those involved in the bombing of his city.

He said: “I am addressing President Volodymyr Zelenskiy from all possible TV channels: Volodymyr Oleksandrovych, I am speaking on behalf of all Chernihiv residents.

“Please, do not rush to exchange military pilots, those scumbags. They lie when they say that they are given coordinates and that they do not see what they are bombing.

“They were destroying the civilian population, they were destroying Chernihiv residents in broad daylight, at low altitudes. Therefore it is not necessary to hurry [to exchange] these scum, these bastards. It is not necessary to hurry.”

Chernihiv is without water, gas or electricity after sustained bombing by artillery and Russian jets. Among a series of attacks on civilian targets, 10 people were killed two weeks ago while queueing for bread.

There have been a number of prisoner swaps arranged by Moscow and Kyiv since the start of the month.

Atroshenko, in reference to a video in which Krasnoyartsev was seen talking to his wife and mother on the telephone, said: “I do understand that the situation may require it [such trade], but we must bargain. There is a captured [pilot] Krasnoyartsev, I heard the interview he gave. I tell you honestly on behalf of all Chernihiv residents who died – he is lying.

“What a piece of shit. He is lying, he knew exactly where he was dropping 500kg of bombs. Let him stay here in a Ukrainian prison … He calls his children on the phone and asks how are they doing. Can you imagine? To his children in Moscow or wherever he’s calling. Why doesn’t he ask how are Chernihiv residents are doing?”

Krasnoyartsev, who was also involved in bombing missions in Syria, landed on the roof of a private house after parachuting out of his downed jet on 5 March. Once on the ground, he had hid in a barn but was discovered by an unarmed farmer on whom he repeatedly fired with his pistol, and killed.

He told his interrogator: “A man ran after me, tried to chase me. I don’t know, perhaps with a pitchfork or something else. I used weapons. Those actions, that you need to shoot back, run and hide are automatic. Such kind of a condition. Later, I reproached myself repeatedly – I used weapons.”

In the footage of the interrogations shared on social media, Krasnoyartsev is questioned by soldiers and in one film by Volodymyr Zolkin, a journalist and blogger who has conducted a number of interviews for broadcast with Russian prisoners.

During his call with his family, Krasnoyartsev asked after the health of his son, who had chickenpox, and repeatedly questioned his mother over whether he was on an official prisoner of war list.

Ukrainian interrogators questioned him over the name of his school and details about his childhood. When Krasnoyartsev asked why they were asking, the interrogators responded that Moscow was claiming that he was a Ukrainian actor playing the role of a downed pilot.


Daniel Boffey in Lviv

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Ukrainian flag arrives in Snake Island after Russian retreat
Ukraine officials clarify initial confusion as to whether the flag has been raised, saying it is there but will be hoisted only once troops arrive

Lorenzo Tondo in Vylkove

05, Jul, 2022 @12:30 AM

Article image
Russian invasion is ‘Covid-22’ and arms are a vaccine, says Volodymyr Zelenskiy
Ukrainian president pleads for more outside help in speech at gala to honour Time’s most influential people

Dan Sabbagh in Kyiv

09, Jun, 2022 @5:31 PM

Article image
Russia bombards Chernihiv hours after pledging to halt shelling
Mayor of northern Ukrainian city says there is no evidence of any withdrawal of Russian forces

Daniel Boffey in Lviv and Shaun Walker in Kyiv

30, Mar, 2022 @8:19 AM

Article image
Zelenskiy accuses Russia of plotting to blow up Ukrainian dam
President says destruction of Nova Kakhovka dam would mean large-scale disaster for towns and cities

Dan Sabbagh and Artem Mazhulin in Kyiv

21, Oct, 2022 @3:54 PM

Article image
Volodymyr Zelenskiy appoints new spy chief after Russian infiltration
Ukrainian president names senior security official as acting head amid rumours of splits in inner circle

Peter Beaumont in Kyiv

18, Jul, 2022 @1:00 PM

Article image
Zelenskiy urges world leaders to act over PoW beheading video
Footage appears to show Russian soldiers beheading Ukrainian prisoner of war, with another showing two beheaded servicemen

Luke Harding in Kyiv

12, Apr, 2023 @11:24 AM

Article image
Red Cross frustrated by lack of access to PoWs in Russian-occupied Donetsk
ICRC responds to criticism from Zelenskiy, saying it is being refused entry to Olenivka prison

Daniel Boffey in Kyiv

14, Oct, 2022 @1:47 PM

Article image
Zelenskiy vows to liberate all of Ukraine as Russian ‘vote’ continues
Reports suggest local population in occupied areas has overwhelmingly boycotted Kremlin’s referendum

Luke Harding in Kharkiv

25, Sep, 2022 @4:36 PM

Article image
Zelenskiy condemns Russian ‘terrorism’ as Vinnytsia attack kills more than 20
Three children among dead and dozens of people injured after missiles hit civilian buildings in Ukrainian city

Peter Beaumont in Kyiv

15, Jul, 2022 @12:53 AM

Article image
‘Victory inevitable’: Zelenskiy addresses defiant Ukraine on war’s first anniversary
President says start of Russian invasion was ‘longest day of our lives’ and urges allies to ‘respect promises’

Peter Beaumont and Luke Harding in Kyiv, and Isobel Koshiw in Dnipro

24, Feb, 2023 @5:42 PM