Russian soldier suspected of castrating Ukrainian captive is named as he admits being questioned over the case by Putin's FSB secret service
- Russian outlet The Insider named alleged perpetrator as Ochur-Suge Mongush
- Mongush denied the accusation when confronted by The Insider on the phone
- Sickening video emerged on July 28 showing a soldier castrating a prisoner
- Admitted to being detained by FSB but they say the 'castrator' was a Ukrainian
- Investigative outlets identified him by trademark cowboy hat and bracelet
The Russian soldier suspected of castrating a Ukrainian captive in a sickening video has been named after a detailed investigation by independent Russian journalists.
Respected independent Russian media The Insider named the alleged perpetrator as Ochur-Suge Mongush, born in 1993.
Although Mongush denied the accusation when confronted by The Insider, they claim he 'gave himself away by getting confused in his own testimony.'
Sickening video of the war crime emerged on July 28 showing a soldier using a box-cutting knife to remove the victim's genitals then holding them up to the camera. The victim is later shot in the head.
The footage was geo-located to having taken place in the Pryvillya Sanatorium in the Luhansk region of eastern Ukraine, which fell under Russian control in early July.
Mongush told investigators from British open source unit Bellingcat, who also tracked him down, that the FSB had detained him for two days while they studied the videos but concluded that they were fakes.
Respected independent Russian media The Insider named the alleged perpetrator of the castration of a Ukrainian prisoner of war as Ochur-Suge Mongush, born in 1993
Mongush claimed he had never held a gun in his hands, but on his Vkontakte page (now deleted) he posted photos with weapons
The Insider said 'sadist' Mongush was fighting with the Akhmat battalion of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov - something he denied even though he is present in the photos with the 'Akhmat' fighters, including those taken in Chechnya
He was identified from his trademark cowboy hat and a distinctive bracelet that he wore in the offending video and also in other clips that clearly show his face, to which he admitted was him
'When I was with them on the second day, they realised that it was not me, and explained that Ukrainian soldiers did this themselves because the person who was being mutilated raped a ten-year-old girl,' Mongush explained by telephone.
'They found him, punished him, and then somebody found this [spliced-together] video and led to all of this nonsense. (…) The FSB officers suddenly understood everything and let me go after two days.'
At the same time, he told The Insider - which was forced into exile by Putin's government at the outset of the war - that he hadn't tortured anyone and had never held a gun in his hands but was simply accompanying Russian journalists.
However, both respected investigative outlets claim to have conclusively proven that Mongush is the individual who carried out the castration.
He was identified from his trademark cowboy hat and a distinctive bracelet that he wore in the offending video and also in other clips that clearly show his face, which he has admitted was him.
The Insider also said the man was identified by use of video analysis and modern facial recognition technology which had eliminated all last doubts about his identity.
The 'castrator' in Russian military uniform is from the remote Republic of Tuva on the border with Outer Mongolia, the same region of Siberia as Putin's defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
He also served in the Russian emergencies ministry, once headed by Shoigu, who has overall responsibility for Russian forces.
The Insider said 'sadist' Mongush was fighting with the Akhmat battalion of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov - something he denied even though he is present in the photos with the 'Akhmat' fighters, including those taken in Chechnya.
He claimed he had never held a gun in his hands, but on his Vkontakte page (now deleted) he posted photos with weapons.
Mongush admitted being this man in the cowboy hat. The Insider also said the man was identified by use of video analysis and modern facial recognition technology which had eliminated all last doubts about his identity
Several other names of pro-Putin fighters had been identified earlier by Ukrainian sources - but were incorrect, say both The Insider and Bellingcat.
'The sadist who tortured the Ukrainian prisoner of war turned out to be a mercenary from the Akhmat battalion, Ochur-Suge Mongush,' said The Insider in a detailed report.
The grotesque footage - which shows no signs of tampering - was initially posted approvingly by pro-Kremlin groups.
Later, as scandal swirled over the scene, Russian groups dismissed them as fake, but it now appears that the castration was real.
Image recognition led to researchers finding social media accounts and phone numbers for Mongush.
The suspect told Bellingcat that he had returned from the war 'more than a month ago' after serving with Kadyrov's forces in Ukraine.
Russian journalists he had met in Ukraine had sent him the violent castration videos shortly after they were widely published.
They told him: 'Look at the crap that's been filmed about you.'
They urged him to make a statement to Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), which he did. The FSB appears to have then given him a cover story.
Officers told him the violent incident from the videos involved Ukrainian and not Russian soldiers and were filmed after he had left Ukraine.
Photos from the Azot plant used by researchers 'are 100 per cent me, but the others are not…
'I'm not prepared to do that kind of nonsense, I didn't even fire a single shot from the weapons they gave me', he said.
The 'castrator' in Russian military uniform is from the remote Republic of Tuva on the border with Outer Mongolia, the same region of Siberia as Putin's defence minister Sergei Shoigu (pictured)
Bellingcat said: 'If it was Ukrainian soldiers in the video, as he states the FSB told him, he did not offer any explanation as to how these soldiers came to be wearing a strikingly similar hat, bracelet, ribbon and uniform as he was seen wearing in other videos.
'He also claimed that he never saw, and that Akhmat did not use, a white car such as that filmed in the execution footage, despite the fact that he is standing directly next to it in [one] video.'
The Insider also said Mongush's denial was not credible.
'If you believe Mongush, it turns out that the AFU [Ukrainian] fighters found some video where a certain rapist mocks a Ukrainian soldier, and then for some reason mounted it so that the rapist looked like Mongush, and with all the small details, including patterns on the hat and bracelets.'
It was not plausible that the Ukrainians 'really wanted to defame an unknown Tuvan for some reason'.
Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun who tweeted the sickening footage said the war crime must be punished.
'Russia has to pay for it,' she said.
'Give Ukraine the weapons we need to stop this nightmare once and for all. The world can't pretend like this isn't happening.'