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Prosecutors: Russia’s 76th Airborne Division likely linked to execution of Ukrainian POWs in Zaporizhzhia Oblast

by Dinara Khalilova and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 28, 2023 1:47 PM 2 min read
Photo for illustrative purposes. Two soldiers walk among destroyed trees in the morning fog, as the 10th Mountain Assault Brigade 'Edelveys' operate at the zero frontline with infantry holding fire at positions 100 meters below Russian positions, on Oct. 25, 2023 in the Bakhmut district of Ukraine. (Kostya Liberov/Libkos via Getty Images)
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Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office has verified the video showing a recent execution of Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs) in Zaporizhzhia Oblast and believes that Russia’s 76th Airborne Division may be involved in the killings.

“This division is already known for war crimes committed in Ukraine, particularly in Kyiv Oblast,” Yurii Bielousov, an official within the Prosecutor General’s Office, told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) on Dec. 28.

A video emerged online a day before, which appeared to show Russian soldiers shooting three Ukrainian servicemen. Later in the footage, one Russian soldier shoots an already dead Ukrainian soldier again at close range.

The Prosecutor General’s Office received this footage on Dec. 16 and launched an investigation into the incident on the same day, Bielousov said. According to the investigation, the Ukrainian soldiers shown in the video had been captured by Russian forces east of Robotyne and killed an hour later.

The names of the killed Ukrainian POWs are currently being verified and will be announced later, with other details of the suspected war crime, Bielousov told the RFE/RL. He also declined to comment on the whereabouts of the bodies of fallen soldiers.

‘I never planned to fight against Ukraine:’ Forcibly conscripted by Russia, Ukrainians await fate in POW camp
Editor’s note: The location of the prisoner of the war camp the Kyiv Independent visited is undisclosed for security reasons. The Kyiv Independent got vocal recorded agreement from the prisoners of the war to be interviewed and identified in the story. When Yevhen Kalashnikov found an opening to su…

This is not the first time Ukrainian officials have come across evidence of Russian servicemen torturing or executing Ukrainian POWs in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

In early December, the DeepState monitoring project released a video with a group of soldiers shooting two other servicemen coming out of a dugout, one of whom had his hands behind his head.

According to DeepState, the incident happened near Stepove in Donetsk Oblast when Russian troops entered the positions of Ukraine’s 45th Separate Rifle Battalion. Later, Ukraine’s military confirmed that what happened in the footage was the execution of Ukrainian POWs by Russian soldiers.

According to Ukrainian officials, Russian forces also used Ukrainian POWs as human shields during combat near Robotyne.

“This indicates the systematic nature of the practices and the fact that this is not an isolated case. The Russian command, whose subordinates commit these crimes, certainly knows about this,” Bielousov said.

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