Russia preventing access to Ukrainian war prisoners, says UN

9 September, 04:12 PM
The site of the terrorist attack in Olenivka, where Russia held Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The site of the terrorist attack in Olenivka, where Russia held Ukrainian defenders of Azovstal (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

Russia is preventing access to Ukrainian prisoners of war amid the reports of torture and ill-treatment by invading Russian forces, the Reuters news agency quoted Matilda Bogner, the head of the U.N. human rights mission in Ukraine, as saying at a news briefing in Geneva on Sept. 9.

“The Russian Federation has not provided access to prisoners of war held on its territory or in territory under its occupation,” Bogner said.

“This is all the more worrying since we have documented that prisoners of war in the power of the Russian Federation and held by the Russian Federation’s armed forces or by affiliated armed groups have suffered torture and ill-treatment.”

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The Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine on Sept. 7 began investigating possible torture and murder of British volunteer Paul Urey, who was captured by invading Russian troops in Zaporizhzhya Oblast in April.

After his body had been returned to Ukraine, media reports said it showed signs of torture and that “parts of it were missing.”

The United Nations announced on Sept. 8 that their mission would visit the prison colony in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, in the coming days, a place where the Russian invaders committed the mass murder of Ukrainian POWs on July 29, according to the Ukrainian authorities.

The Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine’s parliament, on Aug. 30 passed an appeal to the international community to condemn the alleged mass murder of Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka.

The Association of the Families of the Defenders of the Azovstal Steelworks on Aug. 8 called on the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations to prevent show trials of the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol being staged by Russia.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on June 6 that more than 2,500 defenders of Mariupol from the Azovstal Steelworks were in Russian captivity. According to the Ukrainian news website Ukrainska Pravda, 2,449 defenders surrendered and left Azovstal, the majority of whom 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.

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