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At least 50 Ukrainians were burned to death in Russia’s bombing of Mariupol hospitals

Halya Coynash

A father running with his son after the bombing of the children’s and maternity hospital on 9 March Photo Evgeniy Maloletka, AP

On 6 April, Russian military shelled at least two queues in Donbas where Ukrainians were waiting for humanitarian aid.  Donetsk Regional Governor, Pavlo Kyrylenko reported in the evening that the number of dead from the Russians’ shelling of civilians in Vuhledar had reached four, with four others injured.  Another civilian had been killed in a separate attack on the Ocheretyne Hromada, with the invaders shelling a kindergarten, as well as at least six residential buildings.  Another hromada was also hit, with damage and injuries, but no deaths.  The Luhansk regional police reported that a humanitarian queue in Severodonetsk had also come under attack, with five residents injured.

It is quite possible that the Russians did not deliberately target people forced by Russia’s invasion to seek humanitarian aid, even at the risk of their lives.  They were, however, undoubtedly aware that they were shelling civilian targets.

It is precisely Russia’s criminal targeting of civilians that prompted calls on 6 April for all of those living in Donbas to evacuate now, and not await the anticipated Russian advance. 

Russia is effectively blocking the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from reaching Mariupol which has been besieged by the Russian invaders for over a month.  ICRC were able to escort around one thousand civilians to Zaporizhzhia on 6 April, but only after the people had managed to make their own way to Berdiansk (in terrifyingly dangerous journeys by private car).   

Even before the world witnessed the atrocities committed by the Russians in Bucha, Borodianka and other towns in the Kyiv oblast, Mariupol’s Mayor Vadim Boichenko suggested that the siege of Mariupol was so that Russia could hide its crimes.

Boichenko reported on Wednesday that over five thousand civilians have been killed in Mariupol so far, including 210 children.  The final death toll is likely to be much higher even if Russia lifts its effective siege, which it shows no intention of doing.  

Over 90% of the city’s infrastructure has been devastated, with at least 40% totally destroyed.

The most heinous crimes, however, are those against human life.  Boichenko pointed out that over the last month, the “Russian terrorist forces dropped extremely powerful bombs on a children’s hospital; they destroyed one of the blocks of the City Hospital No. 1.  Almost 50 people were burned alive.  They bombed the Drama Theatre when over 900 people were hiding there from the shelling.  These are just some of the examples of the deliberate killing of the civilian population of Mariupol.”

Boichenko has also posted a harrowing video showing what Russia did to the Drama Theatre, the destruction and carnage it caused, despite the fact that the Russian bomber could see the word ‘CHILDREN’ in Russian in front of and behind the building.

Russia is currently staging various propaganda stunts aimed at denying its responsibility both for the bombing of the Mariupol children’s and maternity hospital on 9 March and of the Drama Theatre on 16 March.  It has already used Ukrainians, almost certainly taken against their will from Mariupol to Russia and likely threatened with prosecution if they did not cooperate to try, without any credibility, to blame the attacks on Ukrainian soldiers..  Ukraine’s Ombudsperson, Lyudmila Denisova reported on 6 April that the Russian invaders are also abducting civilians and then using them for propaganda in which they are claimed to be captured prisoners of war.  She notes that a person on one of these videos (who may well have been tortured into taking part) has been recognized by his family.

Denisova also reported that Russian media have claimed that 93 so-called ‘Ukrainian deserters’ from Mariupol had been killed as they allegedly fled in civilian clothes.  She points out that this may well indicate the mass execution of Ukrainian civilians.

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