UN chief Guterres ‘horrified’ by video of beheading of Ukrainian soldier

13 April, 10:51 AM
Antonio Guterres (Photo:Maxim Shipenkov/Pool/Reuters)

Antonio Guterres (Photo:Maxim Shipenkov/Pool/Reuters)

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was "horrified" by the video of the brutal execution of a Ukrainian prisoner of war recently posted on pro-Kremlin Telegram channels, the UN chief's spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said at a briefing on April 12.

"The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine is appalled by the particularly gruesome videos posted on social media on Tuesday," Dujarric said.

One video depicts the decapitation of a person who is likely a Ukrainian prisoner of war, while the other shows the mutilated bodies of Ukrainian soldiers.

Video of day

Dujarric emphasized that these are not isolated episodes.

The UN Human Rights Mission has documented many serious violations of international humanitarian law, including those committed against prisoners of war, the spokesman said.

"The Secretary-General said he had also seen the video and was horrified by it, and he supports the call for the perpetrators to be held to account," Dujarric said.

A video was posted on April 11 on Russian Telegram channels showing the Russian military executing a Ukrainian soldier, allegedly by cutting off his head with a knife. Ukraine’s Security Service has launched an investigation into the war crime.

Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar asked not to reveal the identity of the deceased soldier until official information is available.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called on world leaders to respond to Russian atrocities.

Numerous videos and other evidence of Russian war crimes have appeared over the last year of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. On March 6, a video was posted online showing the Russian military shooting an unarmed Ukrainian prisoner. The Russians pointed the camera at the prisoner, he said "Glory to Ukraine," after which one of the Russian soldiers immediately shot him in the head and then several times in the body.

Soon it was revealed that the executed Ukrainian defender was a sniper of the 163rd battalion of the 119th Separate Brigade of Chernihiv Oblast, Oleksandr Ihorovych Matsiyevskyi.

On March 12, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy awarded Matsiyevskyi the title of Hero of Ukraine. The video of Matsievskyi's execution was preceded by other war crimes committed by Russians against Ukrainian prisoners of war that were captured on camera.

In July 2022, a video of brutal torture of a Ukrainian prisoner was posted online. In it, Russian soldiers press a Ukrainian soldier to the ground and use something that looks like a clerical knife to cut off his genitals, and then hold them up to the camera.

The largest such crime committed by Russia was the deliberate murder of Ukrainian prisoners, including Azovstal defenders, on the premises of the colony in occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, in July 2022. At the time, under the pretext of "shelling by the Ukrainian Armed Forces," the Russians set off an explosion in the room where the prisoners were held. About 50 Ukrainians were killed.

Russia never provided a complete list of the dead and did not allow either the international Red Cross mission or the Ukrainian ombudsperson to visit the site of the tragedy.

In addition, there are many cases of torture by starvation, abuse and psychological pressure against Ukrainian soldiers in Russian captivity.

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