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‘An emphatically provocative crime’ Videos which appear to show the killing of Russian prisoners of war circulate online

Source: Meduza

Video clips which appear to show Ukrainian soldiers killing Russian prisoners began to circulate online on November 18. It’s unclear when or where the clips were filmed, and their authenticity is still unconfirmed. Russia has sent the clips to the UN and other human rights organizations.

Update: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna has promised to investigate the footage from Makiivka.

During the night of November 18, videos allegedly showing Ukrainian soldiers killing Russian prisoners circulated on Internet channels. The clips first appeared on Ukrainian Telegram channels, and then pro-Russian users started to actively share them.

The authenticity of videos posted by independent sources has not been confirmed by independent sources. It’s not clear when they were made. Ukrainian opposition blogger Anatoly Shariy, who takes Russia’s side in the conflict, claims that he posted one of the videos on his private channel “a few days ago.”

In one of the videos, a group of soldiers, apparently in Russian Armed Forces uniforms, is taken prisoner in the courtyard of a home. An armed man then appears in the clip, there are audible gunshots, and the video cuts off abruptly.

A second clip, probably shot by a drone flying over the same courtyard, shows the bodies of 12 soldiers in the same uniform as in the first clip. It is unclear what happened in the time between when the two clips were filmed.

Russian pro-war Telegram channels claim that the videos were filmed in the town of Makiivka, outside of Svatove in the Luhansk region. They also claim that the Ukrainians in the clip are graduates of the Kharkiv National University of International Affairs and, allegedly, former contestants on the humor TV competition KVN.

Valery Fadeev, head of the Russian Presidential Council for Human Rights, called the incident “an emphatically provocative crime” and announced that he would inform the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, human rights organizations, and others – “2,000 addresses” in total. 

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The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation opened a case under the criminal code articles on murder of two or more people in connection with carrying out official duties, and mistreatment of prisoners of war.

Maria Zakharova, official spokesperson for Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanded that international organizations “condemn this appalling crime and investigate it thoroughly.”

The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reports that it is already studying the video, says RIA Novosti. Ukrainian representatives have not yet commented on the material.

The Russian Ministry of Defense said the footage “confirms the sadistic nature of the current Kyiv regime” and that such killings are “widespread practice among Ukrainian Armed Forces.” The Ministry also claims that “Ukrainian service members who surrendered this week are being held in accordance with all requirements of the Geneva Convention.”

On November 15, the UN Office of the the High Commissioner for Human Rights reported that Ukrainian soldiers in Russian captivity are subject to widespread abuse and torture. The report cited 159 Ukrainians who were taken prisoner and who spoke to the staff of the UN OHCHR. The vast majority of them reported mistreatment. The report also mentions mistreatment of Russian soldiers and isolated cases of torture by Ukrainian soldiers.

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