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Russia reportedly kills two Ukrainian teenagers in occupied Berdiansk, Ukraine launches investigation

by Asami Terajima June 25, 2023 5:23 PM 2 min read
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Russian-controlled proxies said Russian troops killed two teenagers in occupied Berdiansk. Ukraine is attempting to confirm this information.

On the evening of June 24, Vladimir Rogov, a Russian proxy in Russian-held territories of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, said that a small arms fire could be heard in the southern part of the city.

A day later, Rogov said the Russian troops killed “two pro-Ukrainian terrorists,” naming one of them as 16-year-old Tihran Ohannisian. He did not name the other victim.

Russian troops killed two 16-year-olds, Tihran Ohannisian and Mykyta Khanhanov, in a shootout in the occupied southeastern city of Berdiansk, Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on June 25.

His office later informed the Kyiv Independent that they are trying to confirm the information spread by Russian-controlled proxies concerning the killings.

Lubinets attached Ohannisian’s self-filmed video with a rifle in his hand, where he is saying, “(The plan is to kill) two (people) for certain. That’s it, it’s death, guys. Goodbye! Glory to Ukraine!”

Much remains unclear about the killing of two teenagers as it happened in Russian-occupied territory.

Russian proxies have long persecuted the two boys and their families, according to the Ombudsman's office.

In September 2022, Russian troops abducted Ohannisian for five days, beating and torturing him to elicit a confession that he was preparing to sabotage a railway to disrupt the Russian military’s logistics.

The proxies also suspected Khanhanov, but the boy managed to avoid an arrest.

On May 24, 2023, Russia's Investigative Committee charged the minors for allegedly planning sabotage, in which they would have face up to 20 years of imprisonment.

The European Parliament reacted by adopting a resolution on the case calling on Russia to “end grave violations against children affected by armed conflict.”

The Parliament proposed to transfer the teenagers to Ukrainian-held territory, and Ukraine tried “different ways to bring the boys home,” according to Ombudsman Lubinets.

“The whole world must understand that human rights are violated every day in the occupied territories,” Lubinets said. “And until Ukraine returns its territories, it will continue and continue!”

Olha Reshetylova, who leads the Media Initiative for Human Rights (MIHR), a human rights organization that was in touch with the families of the two teenagers since last fall, said that the relatives have not seen the bodies yet.

According to Reshetylova, Ohannisian talked with his mother half an hour before Russian forces called her to inform the death of her son.

In the conversation, the boy told his mother that he was talking with his classmate Khanhanov about how they will celebrate Khanhanov’s 17th birthday on June 25, according to Reshetylova.

The activist said that Ukrainian law enforcement begun criminal proceedings following the alleged murder of the children.

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