Ukrainian prisoners held by pro-Russian forces face execution

A pro-Russian official in Ukraine’s breakaway Donetsk region announced Monday that Azov Brigade fighters who surrendered in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol will be tried and could face death sentences.

“All prisoners of war are in the territory of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic,” Yury Serovatko, Minister of Justice of the breakaway Donetsk region in northern Ukraine, announced on Russian television.

“We have in particularly about 2,300 prisoners of war from the Azovstal factory … The Azov battalion is classified as a terrorist organization and its members will be subject to a criminal investigation “before being sent back to trial, Serovatko explained.

He concluded that “similar crimes are punishable by death in our lands”.

And between May 16 and May 20, the last defenders of the Azovstal industrial complex in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol surrendered to Russian forces after three months of bitter battles.

The Russian authorities consider those who belong to the Azov Brigade, founded by Ukrainian nationalists, neo-Nazis, and treat them as war criminals rather than prisoners.

On Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz had asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the Azov fighters.

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