Videos surfaced online to show Ukrainian soldiers beheaded
Europe and Human Rights Researcher,
Global Human Rights Defence
Last week, two videos of Ukrainian prisoners of war beheaded by Russian forces circulated in the social media app Telegram. One of the videos released showed the atrocity being carried out by Russian soldiers. Ukrainian President Zelensky called on the world to act and that these actions should not be ignored or forgotten by the wider international community. Currently, the Ukrainian Security Services (SBU) are conducting an investigation into the incident as a war crime (Robinson, Sardarizdaeh & Robinson, 2023).
Since the war began, footage of the atrocities committed against both soldiers and civilians has been widespread across the internet. Last month, a video surfaced of Ukrainian POW Oleksandr Matsievskiy being executed by Russian soldiers after he shouted “Glory to Ukraine” (Murphy, 2023). Last year, a video showed a former Wagner soldier being allegedly executed by sledgehammer for treason (Faulconbridge, 2022)
Monitoring by the United Nations has reported the mistreatment and killings of POWs by both sides in the conflict but found that violence against Ukrainian POWs was more likely than against Russia (Ritter & Keaten, 2023).
War crimes are not limited to the battlefield or to the soldiers who fight. There was concern in the UN report of violence against civilians who are accused of collaborating with the enemy (Ritter & Keaten, 2023). As was found at the beginning of the war, the massacre in Bucha targeted the civilian population and when Ukrainian forces liberated the city of Kherson, they found torture chambers that had been used against the civilian populace (Kinetz, Stashevskyi & Sepanenko, 2022; Human Rights Watch, 2023).
Sources and Further Reading:
Faulconbridge, G. (2022, November 13). Video shows sledgehammer execution of Russian
mercenary. Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/sledgehammer-execution-russian-mercenary-who-defected-ukraine-shown-video-2022-11-13/
Human Rights Watch. (2023, April 13). Ukraine: Russian Torture Center in Kherson. Human Rights Watch. Retrieved from https://www.hrw.org/news/2023/04/13/ukraine-russian-torture-center-kherson
Kinetz, E., Stashevskyi, O. & Sepanenko, V. (2022, November 3). How Russian soldiers ran a ‘cleaning’ operation in Bucha. AP News. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/bucha-ukraine-war-cleansing-investigation-43e5a9538e9ba68a035756b05028b8b4
Murphy, M. (2023, March 13). Ukraine war: Zelensky honours unarmed solider filmed being
shot. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-64938934
Ritter, K. & Keaten, J. (2023, March 24). UN decries torture, killing of Ukrainian and Russian POWs. AP News. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/article/ukraine-pow-russia-war-united-nations-29bc27d06d6bad359c957fdb0aa9f929
Robinson, O., Sardarizadeh, S. & Robinson, A. (2023, April 13). Ukraine war: President Zelensky condemns beheading video. BBC News. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-65251204