Written by Chris Covert exclusively for SouthFront
Colonel Mikail Tolstoy, colloquially known in Donetsk by his call sign “Givi” will be tried in absentia by the Kiev government for alleged crimes committed in Slavyask, Ilovaisk and Donetsk city in 2014 and early 2015, according to Russian languages news accounts.
According to a story posted in korrespondent.net, the Ukrainian Chief Military Prosecutor was quoted saying the Tolstoy will be tried for attacking members of Ukraine’s military and for cruel treatment of prisoners of war.
Tolstoy gained fame and some popularity for his role of taking the Donetsk airport in January of 2015, but he also gained some notoriety for his treatment of prisoners taken during that operation.
A video had emerged at that time which showed Tolstoy slapping, pushing around and and threatening Ukrainian prisoners with his personal firearm. Ukrainian Colonel Oleg Mitsaka, commander of one of the formations Tolstoy was fighting is shown in the video as having been beaten, although the video did not show Tolstoy had beaten him.
Tolstoy’s rise began in the wake of the Ilovaisk defensive operation, and he had taken active part of the rebellion in Slavyansk earlier that summer. Tolstoy cut a dashing and daring figure as a commander in videos made during the fall of 2014.
Tolstoy is prior service Ukrainian military, and he has family in Georgia. He also has been remarkably free from the politics in Donetsk. He is known as a team player for the Donetsk military.
Tolstoy is not the only rebel commander facing possible charges. Tolstoy’s boss in the summer of 2014, reserve FSB Colonel Igor Girkin claimed earlier this year, he had people executed during the fighting in Slavyask. Stories emerging just a few weeks ago indicated that Girkin has been interrogated about his time in Slavyansk, but given his rank, the stories may be apocryphal.
Another militaman, retired Russian officer, Colonel Igor Bezler, has been accused of ordering executions in Gorlovka.
Fighting in Donetsk
A total of three Ukrainian soldiers were killed in operations and another 11 wounded in or around Donetsk city since Monday, according to data supplied by lb.ua news outlet.
A separate report posted in lb.ua said that one separatist was killed on Wednesday and another four were wounded. Ukrainian Colonel Andrei Lysenko, spokesman for the Ukrainian ministry of defense said that since Wednesday, no Ukrainians were wounded in the fighting.
Yet another report posted in lb.ua said that Ukrainian positions were hit with rebel 120mm mortar fire at Shirokino and Lebedinsky on Thursday, and with grenade fire at several other locations. The report also said that rebel 82mm mortar fire hit Ukrainian positions at Verhnetoretskovo after firing RPGs.
The total incidents, according to the report, numbered 12.
According to data supplied by the Donetsk Ministry of Defense, a total of 30 residences in Gorlovka were damaged by Ukrainian artillery fire overnight (June 22nd to June 23rd).
All the artillery attacks were carried out at night and included the village of Zaistevo as a target.
A separate Donetsk Ministry of Defense report said that Ukrainian forces fired more that 423 big gun shells including 152mm artillery, 82mm, 120mm mortar and 125mm tank gun. Locations hit in and around Donetsk city included the Donetsk airport, Spartak and Yasinovataya.
Ukrainian artillery fire was fired at rebel held positions in southern Donetsk at Dokuchaevsk, Kominternovo and Sahanka.
Chris Covert writes about foreign military issues for Rantburg.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org