War in Ukraine

Russian Soldiers Have Repeatedly Filmed Torture and Executions of Ukrainian Prisoners of War

Russian Soldiers Have Repeatedly Filmed Torture and Executions of Ukrainian Prisoners of War

To many fighting in this war, hell is being on the Russian side. This notion runs true for those who both serve in the Russian armed forces and those captured by them.

There’s ample documentation of Russians abusing Ukrainian Prisoners of War (POWs)—not least because the Russians themselves are known for filming their abuse and executions. This makes work easier for the various war crimes investigators compiling evidence and submitting their cases to international courts like the ICC.

In any case, the Ukrainian army is up against a country known for its disregard for international norms and its soldiers who seem to bear no regard for human life.

We highlight some of the most egregious violations of the Geneva Convention by the Russian Army captured on video. This paints a clear picture of the consequences of capture that Ukrainian defenders face every day by a fascist invading force.

Video of abuse and mock execution of Ukrainian POWs in Kharkiv

Over the weekend, a video began circulating on social media showing a Russian soldier proudly recording himself and his unit as they marched a group of blindfolded Ukrainian POWs. In this video, it seems the Russians were attempting to amuse themselves while returning to their positions. One soldier in the background tells the Ukrainians to sing the anthem of the Soviet Union. The soldier recording gleefully smiles and cheers his friends on. 

One of the Ukrainian POWs does not sing, for which he is punched in the abdomen. In the video, he collapses on the floor. Russian soldiers crowd around him and command him to get up; the Ukrainian soldier rives in pain—he does not get up. A Russian soldier cocks his rifle right next to the POW’s head and says:

“Maybe we should just kill him?”

The Ukrainian soldier does not get up again. The Russian soldier fires a round from his assault rifle next to the Ukrainian’s head—a mock execution. The man recording the video shows his face and shows a mocking frown.

Torture through castration of Ukrainian POW, filmed

On July 28th, 2022, a video of individuals in a Russian army uniform castrating a person in a Ukrainian army uniform—with a box cutter—appeared online. It first surfaced on Russian telegram channels and was shared by horrified Ukrainian users, demanding action across the internet. Many expressed their outrage, from civil society groups to the Office of the President of Ukraine—calling it a “most obvious example of a war crime.”

 A day later, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office opened a criminal case regarding this case. 

Filmed execution of Oleksandr Matsievskyi saying “Glory to Ukraine”

In March of 2023, a video surfaced on the internet of Ukrainian soldier Oleksandr Matsievskyi.

smoking as he stood in a shallow grave. It quickly went viral across different social media platforms—horrifying users. In the video, he was asked if he had any last words before being executed by a firing squad. His last words were, “Glory to Ukraine”. Furious Russian soldiers shoot him multiple times with assault rifles yelling “die bitch”—while filming his execution.

Matsievskyi became a martyr and a symbol of Ukrainian resilience. Many across the world saw the video and were outraged by the act of pure violence. His body has still yet to be recovered.

Decapitation of Ukrainian soldier by Wagner, filmed

On April 11, 2023, a video emerged showing Russian mercenaries beheading a Ukrainian soldier with a knife while he was still alive. The soldier could be identified by his uniform and the yellow tape wrapped around his arms. In the background, men are heard cheering on the executioner in Russian. One could be heard saying, “What? You’ve never cut off some heads?”.

According to Budanov, chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, the person involved in the decapitation of the Ukrainian soldier was identified.

Documenting war crimes

With technology and social media so prevalent today, the multiple videos that have surfaced online can serve as strong tools for prosecuting many of the crimes identified in this story. Though many war crimes have gone undocumented and may only be unearthed after the end of the war, those that have been compiled will serve as powerful evidence in Russia’s eventual criminal tribunal.

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