Half a year since atrocity in Olenivka, still no international outcry – Ukrainian human rights Ombudsman

29 January, 11:54 PM
Consequences of the Russian terrorist attack in the colony in the occupied Olenivka (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Consequences of the Russian terrorist attack in the colony in the occupied Olenivka (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Six months after an alleged Russian atrocity at a prison colony in Russian-occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, in which dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed, there has still only been a muted international reaction, Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets told Radio NV on Jan. 29.

Ukraine did not receive the reaction it expected from the international community in the wake of the Russian atrocity, but will continue to investigate the crime, Lubinets told NV.

The Ukrainian military’s General Staff reported on July 29, 2022 that Russia had struck a prison in occupied Olenivka with a thermobaric bomb, in a “false flag” attack on one of its own prisoner of war camps.

Video of day

The General Staff said Russia had carried out the attack in order to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes, as well as to cover up the torture of prisoners, and extra-judicial executions that were carried out on the orders of the occupation administration and command in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast.

Lubinets said Russia’s involvement in the incident had been confirmed by the conclusions of experts – in particular that an explosion had taken place inside one of the prison buildings, and that the attack was caused by a thermobaric weapon.

“On the other hand, Ukraine has not received the expected reaction from the international community — no progress has been made in the investigation, and no one has even managed to gain access to the scene of the tragedy,” the Ombudsman said.

“I have repeatedly publicly emphasized that I am ready to go to the scene of the tragedy so that we all learn the truth. The truth, which we already know,” said Lubinets.

He said that the International Committee of the Red Cross had failed to react properly to the incident, and the position of the United Nations still “remains unclear.”

At first, UN Secretary General António Guterres organized a separate mission to Olenivka, but five months later it was disbanded without any criticism of Russia.

According to Lubinets, the members of the mission did not make any effort either to meet with the Ukrainian side or to study the documents related to the alleged Russian terrorist attack. And, during this time, the Russian side did not grant access to either the representatives of the mission or Kyiv, “basically disrupting the investigation.”

The Ombudsman said that “five months is a long time to cover the traces of a crime, but it is a short time to forget about it. (…)”

“Ukraine will investigate the massacre of our servicemen in Olenivka. I am sure that this will be another separate case for the special tribunal,” he said.

The invaders used the colony in Olenivka, in particular to keep defenders of Mariupol, including members of the Azov Regiment, who had defended the Ukrainian costal city in Donetsk Oblast for more than three months, tying up a significant number of troops from Russia’s invasion forces.

Russian propaganda media claimed that at least 53 Ukrainian captured servicemen were killed in the incident in the prison camp. Later, the Russian Ministry of Defense published a list of 42 confirmed dead.

Traumatic video from the scene that started to circulate on social media shortly after the incident showed rescuers removing charred bodies from a destroyed building at the camp, and a sleeping area that appeared to have been completely destroyed by fire.

According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, about 40 people died and 130 were injured as a result of the Russian terrorist attack. Discrepancies were found in the lists published by Russia, Ukrainian prosecutors said.

Prosecutor General of Ukraine Andriy Kostin stated that, according to international experts, the cause of the explosion in the colony was a thermobaric weapon.

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