A 28-year-old man who fought alongside Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine was on September 16 found dead with seven gunshot wounds on a stairwell inside a residential building in the Donetsk region city of Mariupol.
Local police confirmed Roman Dzhumayev’s death to RFE/RL and the UNIAN news agency said homicide detectives are investigating it as premeditated murder.
When the armed conflict started in Ukraine’s easternmost Luhansk and Donetsk regions in April 2014, Dzhumayev was employed in Kyiv as a programmer.
He joined the Kremlin-backed separatists that summer and took part in fighting for the Donetsk airport and the battle of Debaltseve in early 2015.
Afterward he moved to Belarus where he gave an interview to RFE/RL in March 2016.
The reason he went to fight was because “my great-grandfather fought [in World War II] and passed through all of Ukraine…we were always for Russia,” Dzhumayev said. “And now…I took the Donetsk region’s side because I’m from Mariupol.”
He moved to Russia before returning to Ukraine in autumn 2017.
Authorities arrested him when he crossed into government-controlled territory and charged him with terrorism and “participating in illegallyarmed groups.”
In May 2018, Dzhumayev was released under house arrest and had to be home at nights. While living with his mother, he opened a small pizzeria and was arrested again in December 2018 after pepper-spraying the face of a police officer.
In that case, he was released under house arrest on August 5.
The war in eastern Ukraine has claimed more than 13,000 lives and displaced nearly 2 million people.