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Friday, March 24, 2023

Ukraine calls for investigation of Russia over execution video

A brutal execution video purporting to show the death of an unarmed Ukrainian soldier moments after uttering the words “Glory to Ukraine” should be investigated as a potential Russian war crime, the country’s foreign minister says.

The video, which began circulating on social media networks on Monday, shows a man in military uniform, smoking a cigarette and standing in a shallow dugout. Looking in the direction of the unseen and unidentified individual holding the camera, the man exhales, defiantly voices loyalty to Ukraine before being cut down by a violent hail of gunfire.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, wrote on Twitter that the “horrific video” was “another proof that this war is genocidal.” He called for the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, to open an investigation into what he termed “this heinous war crime.”

“Perpetrators must face justice,” Kuleba wrote.

The 1949 Geneva Conventions, which govern the treatment of prisoners of war, prohibit the mistreatment and killing of captured combatants.

“Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited and will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention,” reads Article 13, which deals with the humane treatment of prisoners.

The International Criminal Court opened an investigation into war crimes and crimes against humanity that have been committed in the Ukrainian conflict last March, following a preliminary examination.

The Ukrainian Security Service, the SBU, has opened an investigation into the video of the killing, and Dmitro Lubinets, the Ukrainian parliament’s Human Rights Ombudsman, said he had transmitted the video to other countries to draw their attention to “yet another Russian war crime.”

“This is a manifestation of baseness and meanness,” Lubinets wrote on Telegram. “It is very painful to watch what the occupiers are doing to our people. The goal of Ukraine, like that of the entire democratic world, is to bring the Russian Federation to justice.”

On pro-Russian Telegram channels, some suggested that the video was in fact a Ukrainian propaganda stunt, and that a captured Russian soldier had been dressed in a Ukrainian uniform and killed for propaganda purposes.

There was no proof to support this notion, but the Ukrainians were as quick to honour another dead defender as to denounce the Russian invaders.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a three sentence salute to the dead soldier, and to all the others trying to reclaim their country.

“Glory to the Hero. Glory to the Heroes. Glory to Ukraine,” he wrote, in a message that spread quickly throughout the besieged country and around the world.

Allan Woods is a Montreal-based staff reporter for the Star. He covers global and national affairs. Follow him on Twitter: @WoodsAllan


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