Russian occupation authorities are erecting holding cells on the stage of Mariupol’s Philharmonic concert hall, in order to stage show trials for the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, the Mariupol city council said in a Facebook post on Aug. 6.
“Russian occupiers are building holding cells on the stage of Mariupol Philharmonic,” the message said.
“This sham ‘trial’ of Ukrainian defenders is slated for September.”
Occupying Russian forces in the city continue to disregard all internationally-accepted norms of warfare, engaging in rampant war crimes and atrocities against Ukrainian POWs and civilians, city mayor Vadym Boychenko said.
Boychenko once again urged the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to intervene and ensure that Ukrainian POWs are treated in accordance with international law.
“We have to do everything we can to ensure our fighters get back to Ukraine alive, and avoid another Olenivka (atrocity),” the mayor said.
Russian media claimed on July 29 that Ukraine shelled the penitentiary colony in Olenivka, where Ukrainian POWs – including service members from the Azov Battalion – were being held. According to Moscow, the alleged attack was carried out with U.S.-supplies HIMARS rocket artillery.
At least 53 Ukrainians were killed in the explosion, according to the Kremlin. Ukrainian law enforcement estimates the casualties to be around 40 dead and 130 wounded.
Ukraine’s General Staff denied Ukrainian responsibility for the “attack,” suggesting instead that Russia staged a false flag operation in order to conceal torture and executions of POWs at the facility.
Ukrainian military intelligence said that Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner Group was behind the atrocity, acting on direct orders from its owner Yevgeny Prigozhin – a close ally of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. According to the report, the explosions occurred at the recently-erected building, two days after Ukrainian POWs from Mariupol were transferred there.
Based on satellite imagery of the Olenivka detention facility, U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has concluded that the deadly explosion originated inside the building – coinciding with findings by the InformNapalm media collective, which theorized that a Russian thermobaric explosive was used to murder the POWs.