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Ukraine probes alleged beheading of captured soldier by Russian forces

Kyiv launched a contemporary conflict crimes investigation in opposition to Russian forces and known as for co-ordinated worldwide motion after movies shared on social media appeared to indicate the beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of conflict.

“This video, the execution of a Ukrainian captive . . . The world should see it. This can be a video of Russia as it’s,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated in a video tackle dubbed into English.

“This isn’t an episode . . . this was the case in Bucha. Hundreds of instances,” Zelenskyy stated on Wednesday, referring to alleged mass executions and atrocities in opposition to civilians within the Kyiv suburb Bucha and different areas since Russian president Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine greater than a yr in the past.

Worldwide leaders “should react” to assist Ukraine full “the defeat of terror”, Zelenskyy added. In a put up on Twitter overseas minister Dmytro Kuleba described the video as “horrific” and stated “it’s absurd that Russia . . . is presiding over the UN Safety Council. Russian terrorists have to be kicked out of Ukraine and the UN.”

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Wednesday instructed the beheading movies may very well be fakes.

“We dwell on the earth of fakes, so it’s mandatory to verify the authenticity of this horrific footage. After which it will probably change into a cause to research the place it passed off and by whom,” Peskov stated.

The video first appeared on the Telegram messaging app. Within the minute-and-half lengthy video, a Russian fighter in camouflage cuts a Ukrainian soldier’s neck with a knife. One other man talking in Russian is heard off-camera encouraging his colleague. A flak jacket adorned with Ukrainian army patches lies close by. The video ends with the Russian fighter lifting the Ukrainian’s head in the direction of the digicam. Foliage within the video suggests it may need been filmed final summer time or early autumn. The precise time and site in Ukraine are unknown.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Zelenskyy, shared a blurred model of the video on Twitter.

“I’m sure that this isn’t the final video of one of many [conflict] events killing a prisoner of conflict,” stated a put up on the Gray Zone Telegram channel which is intently linked to the Wagner paramilitary group combating in Ukraine. Wagner is run by Putin’s shut affiliate Yevgeny Prigozhin.

“In conflict the enemies’ heads, ears and different organs are lower off . . . That is unhealthy, however that is the value of conflict,” it added.

A number of Russian far-right and neo-Nazi teams with channels on Telegram, together with the extremist Rusich army group, promoted the video throughout their networks.

“You may be shocked what number of of those movies will regularly pop up,” stated a Rusich channel which shared the video, including a smiley face emoji.

Earlier than Zelenskyy’s tackle, Vasyl Malyuk, head of Ukraine’s SBU state safety service, stated in an announcement {that a} pre-trial investigation had been launched into the alleged beheading, whereas pledging to carry these responsible accountable.

Ukrainian and worldwide authorities are investigating scores of conflict crimes allegedly dedicated by Russia in opposition to Ukrainian civilians and troops, together with the execution of Oleksandr Matsievskyi, a prisoner of conflict, earlier this yr for chanting “Glory to Ukraine”. Zelenskyy posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine to Matsievskyi, a sniper with a territorial defence brigade working in Chernihiv north of Kyiv.

A video shared final November confirmed Russian fighters from Wagner killing a deserter with a sledgehammer.

The Worldwide Legal Courtroom final month issued an arrest warrant for Putin and one other prime Russian official for deporting Ukrainian kids to Russia. The incidents occurred largely in jap and southern areas the place Russian forces proceed to occupy some 18 per cent of Ukrainian territory.

Zelenskyy in his tackle moved to mobilise Ukrainians because the nation’s armed forces proceed to obtain contemporary shipments of Nato-grade weaponry from western backers forward of an anticipated spring counteroffensive.

“We in Ukraine should concentrate on the frontline as a lot as attainable. Expel the occupier from our land,” Zelenskyy stated, including that the principle objectives have been “defeat of the occupier, sentences to the murders; [a war crimes] tribunal for the evil state”.

Further reporting by Polina Ivanova and Anastasia Stognei