Russia’s embassy in the UK tweeted a quote from an alleged “resident of Mariupol” effectively supporting a breach of the Geneva conventions on July 29, provoking an outraged response from other users – but not from Twitter management.
The Russian embassy tweet said that the soldiers of the Ukrainian Azov Regiment “deserve execution by hanging.”
“The fighters of Azov deserve to be executed, not by firing squad, but by hanging, because they aren’t real soldiers. They deserve a humiliating death,” the Russian Embassy said in its tweet.
It said that this was a quote from an interview with a "married couple from Mariupol", in which they said that they had been "fired upon by Ukrainian soldiers from Azovstal."
The claim that Azov Regiment soldiers are “not real soldiers” is false – the unit is part of the armed forces of Ukraine.
Around 2,500 Ukrainian soldiers, Azov Regiment members among them, were taken prisoner by invading Russian forces in Mariupol after the Ukrainian defenders of the city surrendered on May 16. The siege of the city by Russian forces lasted almost three months.
As prisoners of war, the Azov Regiment soldiers and soldiers from other Ukrainian units are protected by international law under the Geneva Conventions.
Numerous Twitter users “quote tweeted” the Russian embassy tweet, calling on Twitter to ban the embassy’s account, and urging their followers to report the tweet as a clear infringement of Twitters own rules.
Twitter later placed a restriction on the tweet, but did not delete it or take any action against the embassy’s account. In place for the tweet Twitter inserted the message “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about hateful conduct. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”
Twitter gives the public the option to view the tweet by clicking a button.
Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, Andrii Yermak made a statement regarding the tweet.
“Russia is a terrorist state,” said Yermak. “In the 21st century, only savages and terrorists can say on the diplomatic level that people deserve to be hanged for no reason. Russia is a state sponsor of terrorism. What more proof do you need?”
Meanwhile, UK Ambassador to Kyiv Melinda Simmons reacted to the murder of the Ukrainian prisoners of war in Russian-occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast. She stated on Twitter that the attack on the prison needed to be investigated.
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” at Olenivka, and called for Russia to be declared a terrorist state.
According to Ukrainian Intelligence, the explosions took place on the territory of the industrial zone in a newly built barracks, which was supposed to be specially equipped for prisoners of war from the Azovstal plant. Some of the defenders of Ukraine were transferred there two days prior to the attack.
Ukraine’s SBU security service has published an intercept call that appears to confirm that the Russians committed a massacre of Ukrainian prisoners of war in a colony in Olenivka. They added that video published on social networks shows that windows in some rooms of the prison were completely intact – which may indicate that the epicenter of the explosion was inside the destroyed building.
According to a preliminary analysis of the video by Ukrainian security services, marks on the walls could probably have been left by the "internal source" of the explosion.
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 Ukrayinska Pravda, 2,449 defenders left the territory of Azovstal, and were being held in Russian-occupied Olenivka.