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TikToker Arrested for Disclosing Location of Ukrainian Military Units Online Resulting in Deadly Attack

Published: March 22, 2022
A view of the aftermath of the Retroville shopping mall following a Russian shelling attack which killed Eight people on March 21, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. The destruction of the mall and the subsequent loss of lives is being blamed on a TikToker who posted a video online depicting Ukrainian military units near the mall. (Image: Andriy Dubchak / dia images via Getty Images)

A Ukrainian TikToker was arrested after posting a video depicting the location of a Ukrainian military unit parked near the Retroville shopping mall in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv that the Russian military then attacked and destroyed. 

On Sunday, Russian forces attacked the shopping mall on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv that resulted in the deaths of at least eight people, Reuters reported. 

The Security Service of Ukraine said, “A TikToker recently posted on the internet about the location of the Ukrainian military in Kyiv. Later the shopping center, where our defenders were, was subjected to a powerful missile strike by the Russian occupiers.”

“Knowingly or unknowingly, this man worked as a corrector for the enemy — an investigation will be established,” The Ukrainian Security Service said. 

Following the attack, the Security Service posted a video to Facebook of the TikToker apologizing for disclosing the location of the military unit.

Under the video the post in part reads, “The video shows a tiktoker, who for days has been posting on the Internet materials about the deployment of Ukrainian soldiers in Kyiv … It is better to work in reverse: give us information about the location of the warrior [Russians], and the Ukrainian troops will ensure its reduction!”

In the video the man identified himself as Artemev Pavel Alexandrevich and said he was a citizen of Kyiv while urging people to “not put stuff on TikTok.”

It remains unclear when exactly Alexandrevich posted the video however Russian news outlet Pravada reported that he had posted it on February 24, the first day of Russia’s invasion. 

Ukrainian officials have been telling citizens not to post footage or pictures online of Ukrainian military movements in case it assists the Russian forces with identifying targets.

Russia’s defense ministry justified the attack saying on Monday that it had targeted the “nonfunctioning” shopping mall because they believed it was a “store of ammunition” and rockets by Ukrainian forces, Sky News reported. 

It remains to be confirmed whether or not the shopping mall was indeed being used to store military equipment. 

However, Kyiv citizens told The Guardian that Ukrainian forces were using the entire area as a base because it was located a short distance from Russian occupied Irpin. 

Retroville shopping centre attack

The attack destroyed large parts of the newly constructed Retroville shopping centre in Kyiv and was most probably a missile strike. It destroyed the southern section of the vast mall at around 10:45pm. Locals said the attack shook the entire city.

The mall, which opened in early 2020, just prior to the beginning of the pandemic, contained 250 shops sporting western brands and also had a multiplex cinema and 3,000 parking stalls.

A local man, who identified himself only as Vladimir, told The Guardian, “I was just minding my business at home. My apartment shook with the force of the blast. I thought the building would collapse.”

“Around the shattered shopping centre, hardly a single window has survived the blast. Shards of broken glass litter the paving stones at the foot of the 20-storey tenement blocks,” The Guardian reported. 

One local said while pointing to the devastation, “That was where the shopping centre offices were. Luckily there was no one in there at the time.”

Another local, identified only as Constantin, said he was there when the attack occurred. 

“It blew everything sky high. I don’t know if it was a missile or a massive rocket. It landed right on the gym club,” he said.

Six bodies that were recovered from the scene were dressed in military fatigues.