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War in Ukraine: Human Rights Watch denounces possible “war crimes” against Russian prisoners

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Human Rights Watch on Thursday (March 31) called on Ukrainian authorities to investigate an unauthenticated video that appears to show Ukrainian soldiers shooting Russian prisoners in the legs. Acts that could constitute “war crimes” as well as a “serious violation of international humanitarian law”.

According to information from Agence France-Presse (AFP), the scene takes place in the town of Mala Rogan, east of Kharkiv, Ukraine. On the images of this video released on March 27, we can see three men in fatigues, their hands tied behind their backs, thrown to the ground from a van by other armed men, who shoot them in the legs.

AFP journalists who were able to travel to Mala Rogan on March 28 were able to observe the bodies of two Russian soldiers, a bag over their heads, lying in one of the alleys of the village, largely destroyed by the fighting. , while at least two other bodies were thrown into a well.

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In total, AFP counted the bodies of more than a dozen Russian soldiers among the many corpses scattered in the fields and near the houses of the village.

Human Rights Watch urges Ukraine to respond

“Beating and shooting captured combatants in the legs would constitute a war crime. Ukraine must demonstrate that it is able and willing to prevent and punish serious violations of international humanitarian law,” Human Rights Watch said in a statement released Thursday, March 31.

On the Ukrainian side, an adviser to the presidency, Olekseiï Arestovitch, acknowledged on Telegram that the abuse of prisoners constitutes a “war crime” and that such acts must be “punished”.

“We will treat prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention, regardless of your personal emotional motivations,” he said, addressing the military.

Russia launches investigation

The abuses allegedly took place when the city, which was used as a base for Russian troops to bombard Kharkiv, was recaptured by Ukrainian forces in a pincer attack that took the Russians by surprise. Many of these soldiers found themselves trapped in houses, left to fend for themselves.

Russia, through its director of the Investigative Committee, the body responsible for the main criminal investigations in the country, has ordered to launch an investigation into these alleged abuses.

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