Putin Awards Hero Medal to Soldier Accused of Holding Ukrainians Hostage

Written by Camilla Jessen

May.31 - 2024 8:37 AM CET

Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Vladimir Putin awarded the Hero of Russia Star to several participants of the war in Ukraine.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin awarded the Hero of Russia Star to several participants in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, including Senior Lieutenant Chalym Chuldum-ool.

The division led by Chuldum-ool is accused of holding over 350 residents of the Ukrainian village of Yagodnoye hostage in a school basement for nearly a month.

Humanitarian Crisis in Yagodnoye

According to TASS, Chuldum-ool served in the 55th Guards Brigade during the war in Ukraine. In March 2022, this brigade was active in the Ukrainian village of Yagodnoye, located in the Chernihiv region.

As reported by Ukraine's Prosecutor General, Irina Venediktova, the brigade took more than 300 villagers hostage, forcing them into the cramped basement of a rural school.

The occupiers used the educational facility as a military headquarters, and the civilian hostages became their "human shields." Among the captives were 77 children, the youngest being only 1.5 months old.

Venediktova stated that ten civilians died in the basement between March 9 and March 28, and an additional 17 people were killed by Russian forces in Yagodnoye during this period.

Survivors recounted to The New York Times that they were confined in the basement for 28 days, from March 3 to March 31, and were only freed after the Russian forces withdrew from Yagodnoye. The conditions in the basement were likened to those of a concentration camp.

Putin's Commendation

Despite these serious allegations, Chuldum-ool was honored with Russia’s highest military distinction.

Chuldum-ool was visibly present during the Victory Day parade on May 9, standing on the podium behind Putin. His promotion and commendation have been noted by several sources, including the head of Tuva, Vladislav Khovalyg.

Chuldum-ool also participated in the United Russia primaries in Tuva, securing a modest win with 2,800 votes. He is set to run in the upcoming elections for the Supreme Khural (parliament) of Tuva in September.

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