UKRAINE, Apr 9 — The Office of the Prosecutor General has opened 27 criminal proceedings into the execution of 54 Ukrainian prisoners of war by the Russian military, announced Yurii Bielousov, the Head of the Department for Combating Crimes Committed during the Armed Conflict at the Office of the Prosecutor General, during a telethon.

According to him, there is information that the video of the execution of Ukrainian prisoners, posted on April 7, was filmed near the village of Krynky in the Kherson region, but details are still being verified.

“We are also working on this fact and the previous ones, as well as on the command that is responsible for these actions — not only unit commanders but also the highest military and political leadership of the Russian Federation, because it shows their policy,” he said.

Cases of executions of Ukrainian prisoners of war have been documented since March 2022, Bielousov said. The court has already handed down the first sentence to a Russian soldier for the execution of a Ukrainian military man in the Chernihiv region. The lack of access to crime sites complicates the investigation.

“But this work [to investigate the crimes] is underway. Ukraine has experience in documenting crimes even without access to the territories. We cooperate with The Hague, the UN, intelligence, and non-governmental organizations. Our task is to record the truth. Criminals will be brought to justice,” Belousov said.

The report of the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine provided new evidence that Russian authorities have committed violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law in areas that “came under their control” in Ukraine.

In most cases investigated, Russian armed forces confined large groups of Ukrainian prisoners of war as they seized control of various Ukrainian settlements. They transferred and detained them for periods spanning from 9 to 15.5 months in up to seven different locations in the Russian Federation and Ukraine.

In the Russian Federation, members of the Special Designation Forces (“Spetsnaz”) of the Russian Federation’s Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) and regular personnel of that service, referred to as prison guards, tortured prisoners of war. The victims stated that interrogations were led, in addition, by members of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation.

The UN Commission on Human Rights in Ukraine has documented Russia’s crimes against Ukrainian prisoners of war. In the reporting period, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) interviewed 60 Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) who had been recently released from Russian captivity during POW exchanges between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. 

The POWs provided credible and detailed accounts consistent with previous OHCHR conclusions that torture and ill-treatment of Ukrainian POWs in Russian internment is widespread and routine and that POWs are held in conditions that are not in line with International Humanitarian Law (IHL) requirements.

The Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, drew particular attention to the following points in the report:

  • From the beginning of December 2023 to the end of February 2024, the extrajudicial executions of at least 32 Ukrainian prisoners of war were documented in 12 separate cases, which is significantly more than in any previous period. In three of these cases, the observers received independent confirmation, including witness testimony;
  • Ukrainian soldiers are tortured both immediately after capture and in places of permanent detention. This includes brutal beatings, electric shocks, psychological violence, threats of execution or imitation of execution, and sexual violence;
  • Most of the prisoners of war said that they were not allowed to communicate with their relatives, were restricted in food, deprived of sleep, and did not receive medical care;
  • The observers documented one case of the death of a prisoner of war due to torture.

UN observers also emphasized the continuing practice of violence by the Russian occupiers against TOT residents, including killings, arbitrary detentions, and constant pressure.

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  • The Kharkiv Regional Prosecutor’s Office has approved and sent to court an indictment against three Russian servicemen for violation of the laws and customs of war and premeditated murder by a group of persons