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Prosecutor General's Office: Explosion at Olenivka prison caused by thermobaric munition

by Martin Fornusek and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 28, 2023 6:51 PM 2 min read
Farewell ceremony for Ukrainian soldier Serhii Pavlichenko, who died as a result of an attack in a prison for prisoners of war in the town of Olenivka, Donetsk region in July 2022, in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 25, 2023. (Photo credit: Oleksii Chumachenko/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
This audio is created with AI assistance

The explosion that killed over 50 Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Russia in the Olenivka prison last year was caused by a thermobaric munition, the Prosecutor General's Office told Ukrinform on July 28.

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), which carries out the pre-trial investigation of the case, has examined the circumstances of the attack and concluded that the explosion was caused by a thermobaric grenade launcher, the prosecutors said.

As part of their examination, the investigators interviewed 13 released soldiers who were previously held in the Olenivka, Ukrinform reported.

Between July 28 and 29, 2022, an explosion in Russian-occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast killed over 50 Ukrainian prisoners and injured 75 more. Kyiv called this a deliberate Russian war crime.

Ukrainian authorities said that days before the attack the Russians had moved Ukrainian members of the Azov Regiment, who were captured in Mariupol and were awaiting a prisoner exchange, to a separate part of the prison building – the one that was destroyed.

Russia has accused Ukraine of attacking the prison with HIMARS, a high-precision rocket system. Although the Russian authorities did not provide secure access to the U.N. mission to investigate the incident, High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said that, according to available information, the prison was not hit by a HIMARS missile.

On Jan. 12, the Ukrainian authorities said that they had retrieved the bodies of 54 prisoners killed in the Olenivka massacre in a transfer mediated by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

According to the Prosecutor General's Office, 33 bodies of the victims have been identified so far.

Head of Russian jail charged over abuse of Olenivka prisoners
The head of the Russian prison in the occupied village of Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, and one of his subordinates have been charged over physical, sexual, and psychological abuse of Ukrainian soldiers imprisoned there, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office reported on July 28.
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