Russian War Crimes Diary: Ukraine edition 7

18 nov., 2022

As Russia’s war in Ukraine drags into its ninth month, Moscow’s forces have this week been bombarding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in the hope to leave the war-torn nation in the cold and dark as winter begins to grip. The Kremlin’s massive countrywide strikes this week – which also hit residential buildings – is a response to its recent shocking losses on the battlefield, notably Ukraine’s liberation of its southern city of Kherson, on 11 November.

That key victory for Ukraine saw many displaced people return jubilantly home, and mass flag-waving celebrations grip the embattled country.

This week’s attacks, however, came just days after Kherson’s liberation, when Russian forces fired about 90 missiles at Ukraine – the biggest attack since the beginning of the full-scale war.

In this war, every front is important, but especially the information front, which is being helped by courageous journalists from all over the world, who are tirelessly documenting and recording, and fighting to reveal the truth about Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch: Forced relocation to Russia could constitute “crime against humanity”

When the war broke out, Ukrainians could leave occupied territories in several ways: if they had a car and enough money for a transfer, but it was risky due to Russian shelling. The other, less desirable way, was to go to Russia, passing through the controversial “filtration” camps. But forced filtration has also been reported by various prominent news organizations and humanitarian bodies. 

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental organization, said in their September report that Russian and Russian-affiliated officials have “forcibly transferred Ukrainian civilians, including those fleeing hostilities, to areas of Ukraine occupied by Russia or to the Russian Federation,” which it says is a “serious violation of the laws of war amounting to a war crime and a potential crime against humanity.”

HRW’s report on the forced displacement of civilians focussed on the Mariupol and Kharkiv regions, which turned out some powerful intimate stories.

  • You can read the report here

Victims of torture by Russian forces

By the time they came to get me the next day, I just wanted them to kill me, to put an end to it,” said one survivor of torture by Russian forces in a series of 15 testimonies collated by Human Right Watch. 

Over a six-month period, people who were regularly tortured in Izium, electrocuted, severely beaten, subject to stress positions for long periods of time, had their breath stopped by plastic bags, and in some cases – were raped. HRW researchers visited several detention locations where civilians were held. 

  • You can read about the grim experiences of the Ukrainians, in the report at this link

Ukrainian woman revisits site where she endured unspeakable horrors

Journalists at the Washington Post spoke with a Ukrainian woman, 52-year-old Alla, from Izium, who survived sexual torture at the hands of Russian soldiers. In the room were Alla was detained in inhumane conditions for 10 days, where she was electrocuted and forced to perform sexual acts, she heartbreakingly etched her name into the wall. 

“I thought if my son would look for me, he could find these writings and understand that I was there and died there,” she told the WP.

After Russia’s retreat from Izium, WP journalists, with Alla, revisited the basement where she was held and where war crimes were committed. 

  • You can read the WP article here

Disfigured faces, and other signs of Russian torture

In Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region, evidence shows that Russian soldiers tortured two civilian Ukrainian men. The grim findings of two bodies by law enforcement officers, after Russia’s retreats, including disfigured faces, slashed ears, and extremities with no nails. Journalists at Bihus.info managed to establish what happened in the village during the occupation. 

One thing they certainly established was that, in just a few weeks, the occupying Russian forces turned the lives of the locals into a living hell. 

  • You can read the full article here

Adopted into Russian families 

An extensive investigation conducted by journalists from The Associated Press revealed the adoption of Ukrainian children by Russian families. The AP, which interviewed Ukrainian and Russian officials, parents, and children, said that officials have “deported Ukrainian children to Russia or Russian-held territories without consent, lied to them that they weren’t wanted by their parents, used them for propaganda, and given them Russian families and citizenship.”

“Whether or not they have parents, raising the children of war in another country or culture can be a marker of genocide,” the AP writes. “An attempt to erase the very identity of an enemy nation.”

This investigation tells the story of a family from war-torn Mariupol, who became separated. Olga’s six adopted children were transported to Russia, and endured a great deal of stress during their ordeal. 

  • The AP’s investigation can be read in full, here

Edited by Stephen McGrath
Photo: 11.11.2022, in front of the administration building of liberated Kherson (source: Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine)

Despre autor: Yana Skoryna

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