The military commandant of the Ukrainian city of Balakliya during the occupation by the Russian army was 46-year-old lieutenant colonel of the military police of the Russian Ministry of Defense Valery Buslov, Reuters reports . More than 200 civilians were illegally detained on his orders.
In October 2022, Reuters conducted an investigation, during which it learned that the locals knew the military commander of the city solely by his call sign "Granite". Now it was possible to find out his identity, which was confirmed both by the SBU and by two colleagues of Buslov, one of whom worked with him in Balakliya.
Reuters also showed Buslov's photo to local businessman Ruslan Volobuev, who identified the city's former military commandant. During the occupation of the settlement, Volobuev was detained by representatives of the occupation administration, after which he was interrogated and beaten. At a certain moment, a man came into the room where this was happening and greeted those who were conducting the interrogation. It was him that Volobuev identified in the photo.
According to documents that were found in the Russian headquarters, located on the outskirts of Balakliya, there was a unit of Russian troops from the Kaliningrad region in the city. In one of the documents, Valery Sergeevich Buslov was listed as the military commandant of the settlement.
Reuters managed to get through to a Kaliningrader with the same last name, first name and patronymic. He admitted that he really was a military commander. At the same time, he denied that he was in Balakliya and responded to the call sign "Granite". When asked about how his name ended up in the documents from the Ukrainian city, he replied that “it means nothing” to him.
The agency cannot confirm directly that Buslov himself took part in torturing civilians. However, Reuters cites the testimony of a resident of Balakliya named Alexander, who said that people were brought into the house where Granit was quartered in handcuffs and with bags on their heads. According to Alexander, his brother was also arrested by the occupiers and his whereabouts have not yet been established.
In response to a Reuters inquiry, the SBU reported that Buslov signed numerous orders and instructions that allowed the Russian military and members of illegal military groups to interrogate civilians.
The Russian army entered Balakleya, a city in the Kharkiv region, in early March 2022 and was driven out of it by the Ukrainian Armed Forces in September.
Prior to this, Human Rights Watch published new evidence of torture of civilians in Kherson, previously occupied by the Russians. The reason for the detention could be suspicion of volunteering, expressing support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as well as participation in the battles in the Donbass in 2014.