30 July, 05:13 PM

Ukraine attempting to recover bodies of its dead prisoners of war from Olenivka

Ukraine is preparing to return the bodies of Ukrainian prisoners of war massacred in Russian-controlled in Olenivka, but hasn’t yet received a list of the names of the soldiers killed, Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said on national TV on July 29.

“I requested this information, but we have not yet received the lists,” said the ombudsman.

“I know that the Russian side has them, but we haven’t received them yet. Also, at the moment, I’m not ready to answer the questions regarding the arrangements for the return of the bodies, when to expect them and how many will be delivered.”

Lubinets on July 29 officially appealed to the leaders of the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to allow him, as a human rights representative of the Verkhovna Rada, to visit the scene of the crime.

He also appealed to his Russian counterpart Tatyana Moskalkova to go there as well.

The Ukrainian authorities are currently analyzing a widely circulated video from the crime scene showing the positions of burned beds, the bodies of the dead, etc. Preliminary results indicated that the explosion occurred inside the building, according to Ukrainian officials.

Lubinets also said that the barracks where the attack took place had been built separately from the others, which is “an indication that this military operation (the killing of the prisoners of war) had been prepared for in advance."

“In addition, pro-Russian Telegram channels started talking about this back in June, when they discussed that the Armed Forces of Ukraine were ‘considering hitting Olenivka,” said Lubinets.

“That was the informational basis for their lie (that Ukraine had attacked the prison camp).”

According to the Ombudsman, the conditions of detention of the people in the prison colony violated the Geneva Convention.

“Firstly, this facility wasn’t designed for so many people – there were thousands of them,” stated Lubinets.

“We have repeatedly raised the issue with the Red Cross so that they could have access there and record the violation of the conditions of detention, the number of detainees, the lack of food, water, medical supplies. And the most important thing – the facility is located near the contact line."

He also added that the International Committee of the Red Cross will provide information about each dead Ukrainian prisoner of war to their relatives.

“They can give me general numbers, like, how many were in that place, what was the number of dead, what was the number of wounded,” he said.

“We already understand the approximate numbers. As for identities of those who specifically were there, the International Committee of the Red Cross will provide this information only to the relatives of those servicemen.”

The Commissioner for Human Rights also emphasized that there are arrangements between Ukraine and Russia for the exchange of prisoners of war, but after the events in Olenivka, a decision needs to be made on how to proceed with them.

Ukraine’s General Staff said that Russia had attacked the prison in Olenivka in order to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes, while covering up the torture and executions of prisoners committed at the site on the orders of the occupation administration and the command of the Russian invading forces in occupied parts of Donetsk Oblast.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia had committed a “petrifying war crime” and called Russia to be declared a terrorist state.

The adviser to the head of the Presidential Office, Mykhailo Podolyak, said Ukraine demands a response from the United Nations and international organizations to “the Russian war crime.”

  President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on June 6 that more than 2,500 defenders of Mariupol from the Azovstal plant were in Russian captivity. According to Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, 2,449 defenders surrendered and left Azovstal, and they were being held in Russian-occupied Olenivka.

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