What happened to the Mariupol defenders taken captive by Russia?

A month in the past, the Ukrainian Azov regiment entrenched within the Azovstal metal plant in Mariupol was ordered by Kyiv to give up to Russian forces. 

The Ukrainian authorities mentioned this was the one method to save the lives of Mariupol defenders who spent months besieged within the plant underneath fixed shelling, with no entry to primary provides. The captured combatants needed to return residence by way of prisoner change, however to this point none of them have been launched and little or no is thought about their state of affairs.

Hanna Naumenko, 25, says she hasn’t heard the voice of her accomplice because the day he left the metal plant again in May. 

The head of the Azov regiment, Denys Prokopenko, has referred to as his spouse Kateryna as soon as, for about 30 seconds, initially of his captivity. The connection was very dangerous, the couple may barely hear one another, but Kateryna describes the decision as a cheerful reminiscence. 

She discovered again then that her husband and his fellow combatants have been stored in passable situations, but it surely was not possible to know whether or not Prokopenko may categorical himself freely on the telephone. 

Right now, Azov households say that from the restricted info they obtain from the negotiators they know for a indisputable fact that the Ukrainian prisoners — protected underneath worldwide humanitarian regulation — are stored in dangerous situations, which don’t correspond to these required by the Geneva Convention on the remedy of prisoners of conflict and detainees. 

“What we know is that the isolator where PoWs are kept is overfilled, food and water needs improvement,” Kateryna Prokopenko mentioned in an announcement. 

“The stories of the war prisoners released earlier show that they endured physical and mental torture,” The Armed Forces of Ukraine added in a press launch.

Around 2,500 Ukrainian troopers and commanders have been taken from Azovstal into captivity, greater than 900 of them from the Azov regiment.

They have been transferred to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic, whose chief, Denis Pushilin, not too long ago acknowledged that “there are enough materials to hold a tribunal over the Ukrainian military,” and promised an open trial. 

Such trials, together with these the place the prosecution asks for the best penalty, have occurred within the DPR: not too long ago, three international troopers with the Ukrainian armed forces have been sentenced to demise.

The Russian Investigative Committee has mentioned it’s going to query the combatants, and rumours have circulated that a few of them have been being transferred to Russia. The Ukrainian facet couldn’t verify whether or not or not all of the Ukrainians remained in Donetsk, in territories not underneath the management of the Ukrainian authorities.

Speaking on nationwide tv, the Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, mentioned every week in the past that not solely Ukraine but in addition worldwide establishments have been concerned within the change course of. He referred to as it “a very delicate matter” that “should not be disrupted”. 

The Ukrainian facet says that the negotiation course of is extremely categorised, whereas the households of captured troopers are apprehensive that their family members shall be forgotten.

They have requested international journalists to go to the place the place the prisoners are being stored, and for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) — which has a mandate to go to Ukrainian captured servicemen — to test the situations of their detention. 

In May, the ICRC registered the combatants leaving the Azovstal plant, with a view to higher monitor those that had been captured. That was additionally completed to assist the prisoners communicate with their households, the ICRC group mentioned on the time. 

Family members have been capable of test by way of a process whether or not somebody has left the plant to be taken into captivity alive, however not rather more. 

Hanna Naumenko, in a latest dialog with Euronews, defined that there was numerous strain placed on the ICRC by the households of the captives, and by society. The name centre of the organisation has been inundated. An on-line kind for requests from the households was additionally created, and people seeking to discover out details about their family members have been inspired to make use of it.

Those formal requests from the households are crucial, she mentioned, because it permits the ICRC to ask for permission to test on a particular prisoner. 

“We are rather reassured that the organisation is working and that one day soon our loved ones will be free,” Naumenko mentioned. “Remember how it was for Taira [the Ukrainian paramedic taken captive in March and recently released]? There was no information at all regarding her situation in captivity and then suddenly she was free. We so much hope for a similar outcome,” she added. “Keeping this situation in the spotlight is crucial.”

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