Relatives of the fighters who defended Azovstal plant in Mariupol along with activists called on the global community to declare Russia a state sponsor of terrorism at a demonstration on Sofiyska Square in Kyiv on July 30, news agency Interfax-Ukraine reported.
The event was a reaction to the attack carried out in the Olenivka prisoner colony, in which dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed.
Several dozen people gathered on the square on July 30, lined up near the monument to Bohdan Khmelnytskyi. They held the flags of the Azov Regiment and placards reading: "Russia is a terrorist state", "Free the defenders of Azovstal", "Geneva Conventions do not apply", and "Russia killed our heroes.”
The event was organized by the initiative group Vyriy, with the support of the Association of Families of Azovstal Defenders.
Kateryna, the wife of the commander of the Azov Regiment, Denys Prokopenko, pointed out that when the defenders of Azovstal laid down their arms, the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross assured that nothing would threaten their lives and health.
The demonstrators called on the organization to respond to the crimes of Russia, which violated the previously concluded agreements and to bring it to justice.
In their appeal, published the day before, the relatives of the Azov fighters urged that representatives of the ICRC and the UN be sent to the colony in Olenivka to discover the circumstances of the tragedy, the state of health of the wounded and other prisoners of war.
Similar demonstrations are also announced on July 30-31 in a number of cities and countries around the world, including Berlin (Germany), Krakow and Warsaw (Poland), Istanbul (Turkey), Montreal (Canada), Frankfurt (Germany), and London (United Kingdom). The full list is available here.
The New Voice of Ukraine has collected together photos from the event in Kyiv.
Earlier, Russians published a list of dead prisoners of war in Olenivka. Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets denied receiving this data. According to him, Ukraine has started the process of returning the bodies of the dead, and he himself demands access to the scene of the crime.
Ukraine’s General Staff said on July 29 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 invasion forces in occupied parts of Donetsk Oblast.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said that Russia had committed a “petrifying war crime” and called for 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.”
Ukraine’s Main Intelligence Directorate reported that the order to murder the Azov Regiment prisoners of war was given by the nominal owner of the Wagner mercenary company, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is known as “Putin’s chef” because his companies used to organize banquets for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, the explosions took place on the territory of the industrial zone in a recently constructed building that was supposed to be specially equipped for prisoners of war from Azovstal. Some of the captured defenders of Ukraine were transferred there just two days ago.
Ukraine’s SBU security service published an intercepted conversation that it said confirms that it was the Russians who committed the mass murder in the colony in Olenivka. The SBU noted that judging by video clips from social media, the windows in some buildings of the colony were completely intact — this may indicate that the epicenter of the explosion was inside the destroyed building.
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 the Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, 2,449 defenders surrendered and left Azovstal, and they were being held in Russian-occupied Olenivka.
Ukraine and Russia held a large-scale exchange of prisoners on June 29, during which 144 Ukrainian defenders were returned home. Among them were 95 defenders of the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, including 43 servicemen of the Azov Regiment.