UN announces team to investigate deadly attack on colony with POWs in occupied Olenivka

23 August, 11:38 AM
On July 29, Russia executed Mariupol defenders it had taken prisoner at a penal colony in occupied Olenivka (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

On July 29, Russia executed Mariupol defenders it had taken prisoner at a penal colony in occupied Olenivka (Photo:REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko)

The United Nations has prepared a team to investigate the mass killing of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in the Russian-occupied village of Olenivka in Donetsk Oblast, CNN reported on Aug. 23, with reference to UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

“The United Nations has a fact finding team ready to investigate the Ukraine prison attack in Olenivka – but for now – it’s going nowhere,” the report says.

According to Dujarric, despite Russia and Ukraine requesting an independent probe, the UN believes the situation around the prison is not safe for access without proper assurances.

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The UN spokesman also gave some information about the members of the team, which includes a veteran retired police Lieutenant-General from Brazil, a diplomat from Iceland, and a police official from Niger.

The panel would establish facts and report back to the UN Secretary-General.

The General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on July 29 that Russia had struck the prison colony in Olenivka in order to accuse Ukraine of committing war crimes, as well as to cover up the torture of prisoners and executions, which it said were carried out on the orders of the occupation administration and commanders in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast.

Russian invasion forces were holding prisoners of war, in particular ones captured in Mariupol, and including Ukrainian soldiers from the Azov Regiment.

Following these soldiers’ surrender in Mariupol in May, the UN and the Red Cross were supposed to have guaranteed the prisoners’ safety.

Russian propaganda media claimed that at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war had been killed on July 29. The next day, Russia’s Ministry of Defense published a list with the names of 42 dead Ukrainian prisoners. Ukrainian officials stated that they had not yet been provided with this data. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office, about 40 people died and 130 were injured as a result of the explosion at the prison camp.

Earlier, Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin stated that, according to international experts, thermobaric weapons were the cause of the explosion in the prison colony in Russian-occupied Olenivka.

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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