A former Chechen commander wanted by Ukraine for alleged war crimes committed last year is leading the Russian earthquake relief effort in Turkey.
Daniil Martynov was in several locations in Ukraine last year in the early weeks of the Russian invasion. He is thought to be close to the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and has been featured in several videos on Kadyrov’s official Telegram channel.
In recent days, he has given interviews to Russian media outlets from the earthquake zone in Turkey, after being appointed last year as an adviser in Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry.
Authorities have been racing against the clock to free survivors from the wreckage of a 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck early on Monday morning, causing buildings to collapse and killing thousands in Turkey and Syria. Dozens of countries have sent aid to help with rescue efforts.
Last August, the Ukrainian security service, the SBU, alleged that Martynov had committed a series of war crimes in the town of Borodianka, north of Kyiv.
The SBU alleged that Martinov managed the occupation of the Borodianka psychiatric hospital in March. It said that on his orders “almost 500 people were taken hostage (patients, staff and local residents), including more than a hundred bed-ridden patients.”
The SBU alleged that the hospital had been “turned into a firing position of the occupiers” and said that Martynov was accused of “violation of the laws and customs of war, and abuse of prisoners of war or civilians.”
CNN reported on the occupation of the hospital last March.
he director of the psychiatric hospital, Maryna Hanitska, told the independent Russian outlet Meduza last year that the Russians had “laid mines all around us. We watched as they dug trenches” in the first week of March.
Meduza quotes Hanitska as saying: “A soldier stood in front of me and he introduced himself. He said he was Daniil Martynov, a Russian army colonel. He said that if we behaved ourselves, then we would live — they wouldn’t kill us, wouldn’t hurt us.”
Hanitska told Meduza that Martynov told her: “Now we’ll record a short video, you’ll thank us and you’ll be free, you’ll be under the protection of Russian President Vladimir Putin.”