UN mission provides no evidence of Russian POWs’ executions, journalist's opinion
The head of the UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine Matilda Bogner, who announced the execution of 25 Russian prisoners of war (Photo:Моніторингова місія ООН з прав людини / UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission / Facebook)
UN human rights monitors have provided no evidence that up to 25 Russian prisoners of war were executed in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zolkin, from the "Look for Your Own" project to identify captured or killed Russian soldiers in Ukraine, said on Radio NV on March 31.
UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine head Matilda Bogner said during a March 24 press conference, that "we are deeply concerned about the summary execution of up to 25 Russian POWs and persons hors de combat by Ukrainian armed forces which we have documented."
There is nothing in the report to substantiate these words, Zolkin said, noting that the report says Ukraine is investigating some of the cases.
The UN mission interviewed Russian POWs while in detention centers in Ukraine; they only had access to Ukrainian POWs after their release from detention, as Russia does not allow the UN mission on its territory, he added.
“When the UN mission says that they are not allowed to see our prisoners of war, I have one question: how many times has the UN mission at expressed concern, at least, let alone deep concern, that they are not allowed to see our POWs? I can't find anything like that," Zolkin said.
There was some information in the UN report about the conditions of detention of Ukrainian POWs in Russia. However, it was gained indirectly as Russia, unlike Ukraine, doesn't give the mission access to official internment sites.
"In relation to the treatment of Ukrainian prisoners of war, we are also deeply concerned by the summary execution of 15 Ukrainian prisoners of war shortly after being captured by Russian armed forces. The Wagner Group military and security contractors perpetrated 11 of these executions," Bogner said.
"Conditions for many Ukrainian prisoners of war were shocking," Bogner said, and added that the mission documented five cases of Ukrainian POW who died in custody due to a lack of medical attention.
The UN mission findings confirmed mass Russian war crimes in Ukraine, the violation of human rights, and the flouting of international humanitarian law, said Ukrainian Ombudsperson Dmytro Lubinets.
On the other hand, Ukraine adheres to the Geneva Conventions, international law, and is open to cooperation with international organizations, the ombudsperson said.
"I'm surprised that during repeated personal meetings with the head of the mission, Matilda Bogner, and the UN Resident Coordinator in Ukraine, Denise Brown, they have never raised the issue of the treatment of Russian POWs. Moreover, I would like to hear indisputable facts and arguments on which the mission based its findings about alleged violations by the Ukrainian side," Lubinets said.
He called on the UN and the international community to put pressure on the aggressor country and demand access to Ukrainian POW detention sites.
"It is Russia that has criminally invaded our land, killed and abducted Ukrainians, and is still blocking access to our POWs. It conceals the scale of inhuman treatment and torture," the Ombudsman said.
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