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UN report officially rejects Russian claim that HIMARS caused Olenivka prison explosions

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk October 4, 2023 10:02 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)
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The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) categorically dismissed Russia's claim that the Olenivka prison massacre was caused by a Ukrainian HIMARS rocket in a new report released on Oct. 4.

Between July 28 and 29, 2022, an explosion at a prison in Russian-occupied Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast killed over 50 Ukrainian prisoners and injured 75 more.

Ukrainian authorities said that days before the attack, Russians singled out 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.

According to Kyiv, Russia either hit the prison with artillery or blew it up from inside. Ukraine's Prosecutor General's Office said that Russia likely used a thermobaric munition at the Olenivka prison.

Russia accused Ukraine of attacking the prison with HIMARS, a U.S.-made high-precision rocket system first delivered to Kyiv a month before the massacre.

The OHCHR's report definitively concluded that was not the case. "The degree of damages to the walls, ceiling, roof and windows of the barracks, the condition of the bunk beds inside, the size of the residual crater, and the impact radius are not characteristic of impacts by HIMARS ammunition," the OHCHR wrote in the report. The direction of the blast was also not consistent with the direction of the front lines at the time.

According to the report, Russia has not provided the UN with access to the site or other parts of occupied Ukraine.

Ex-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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