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24.08.2014

Shameful march of prisoners in Kremlin’s dirty war

   

As feared, the Kremlin-backed militants demonstrated their contempt for human dignity and international law on Ukraine’s Independence Day by forcing around 50 captured soldiers to walk through a corridor of armed militants.  According to a Reuters correspondent, bottles and other things were thrown at them and there were shouts of “on your knees” and “fascist”.  Street-cleaning machines were then brought in as though the streets had been ‘sullied’ by the prisoners.

All of this corresponded to the stunt announced earlier on social networks and was intended to imitate an event in Moscow in July 1944 when thousands of German prisoners of war were marched through the streets, unwashed and many in only their underwear.   

The difference was not only in the numbers.  The Ukrainian soldiers were taken prisoner while defending their country from militants of whom a large number are Russian nationals and all of whom are heavily armed by Moscow.  It is the war that is dirty, and those using proxies to wage it, not soldiers serving their country. 

The militants could have increased the number of captives they marched through the centre very easily since they are holding large numbers of innocent civilians hostage.  Many of those finally released have given harrowing stories of the torture they were subjected to.  The same militants from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic are known to have committed many murders, including those of four members of an evangelical church, 19-year-old Yury Popravko, 25-year-old Yury Diakovsky and Horlivka deputy Volodymyr Rybak.  In the last few days it was reported that Lithuania’s Honorary Consul for the Luhansk oblast Mykola Zelenets was abducted and murdered. 

The militants presumably thought that a display of captured soldiers would go down better. It certainly got them publicity with the papers full of photos and Russian media euphorically broadcasting video footage.  

Such treatment of prisoners is in flagrant violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention on treatment of prisoners of war.  The whole performance demonstrated the depths to which those made drunk with illusions of power from Kremlin-provided arms and ammunition have fallen.

No photos - only shame and disgust

 

Halya Coynash

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