Russia is committing “widespread torture and ill-treatment” against civilians and prisoners of war in Ukraine, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
The UN said Wednesday that Moscow was responsible for nearly 10,000 civilian deaths and had committed “widespread human rights violations” since its invasion of Ukraine almost 20 months ago. A report released the same day by the UN Human Rights Monitor summarizes the “serious and widespread harm caused to civilians” and alleged atrocities from February 1 to July 31, 2023.
“The report’s findings show the war’s deadly toll on Ukrainian civilians, with nearly six people killed and 20 injured on average every day,” said Danielle Bell, head of Ukraine’s human rights monitoring mission. the UN in Ukraine, in a press release. “In just six months covered by this report, more than a thousand civilians have died and nearly four thousand have been injured.”
“The war has wreaked havoc on the lives of millions of Ukrainians, including children who will have to live with a terrible legacy of human loss, physical destruction, environmental damage, particularly contamination from explosive remnants of war , for many years to come,” added Cloche.
The UN has described Russia’s alleged imposition of “appalling conditions of detention” on Ukrainian prisoners, while highlighting “severe beatings, electrocutions, mock executions, sexual violence and degrading treatment” .
Although Russia reportedly refused to allow direct observation of the treatment of its prisoners, the UN said Ukraine “continues to grant human rights observers unrestricted access to interned prisoners of war.” .
News week contacted the Russian Defense Ministry by email Wednesday evening for comment.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry noted that the UN report details “six more cases of extrajudicial executions of Ukrainian prisoners of war” by Russian forces.
Among these deaths, it is believed that two Ukrainian prisoners were killed while carrying out forced labor in the Donetsk region and two Ukrainian soldiers were shot dead after being captured in the Chernihiv region.
The UN said there were “reasonable grounds” to declare two online videos purporting to show the brutal deaths of two other Ukrainian soldiers to be authentic. One of the videos shows a Ukrainian soldier beheaded and the other shows a soldier shot to death after shouting “Glory to Ukraine!”
The alleged kidnapping of Ukrainian children by Russian authorities has also been reported. The UN shared “its concern about the fate of Ukrainian children” who were “transferred from their usual place of residence to other places in areas occupied by Russia or deported to Russia”.
Russia is not the only one accused of war crimes. The human rights monitor said it had “documented the summary execution or torture to death of 25 Russian prisoners of war and 21 Ukrainian prisoners of war (all men).”