Ukrainian civilians tell of brutal torture and mock executions by Putin’s troops

A shock UN report has detailed a grim catalogue of atrocities committed by Russian troops in occupied regions of Ukraine.

Rape and torture are being used “systematically, exhaustingly,” according to Andriy Kovalenko, the Kherson region’s chief war crimes prosecutor. As part of a campaign to intimidate Ukrainian civilians into submitting to Russian rule.

One victim, 44-year old Oksana Minenko, told how Russian soldiers in occupied Kherson had plunged her hands into boiling water, torn out her fingernails and hit her so hard in the face with the butts of their rifles that she later required plastic surgery

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She described how her husband had been killed in the earliest stages of the Russian invasion. Russian soldiers then turned up at his funeral and forced her to kneel at his graveside while they fired their guns over her head, in a cruel mock execution.

Another particularly grim account from within a Russian torture chamber in Ukraine reveals how Russian troops argued about who would get their victims’ socks after they were killed.

Ukrainian builder Hryhorii Osmakov was arrested by Russian troops while he was fixing a window that had been damaged in an artillery strike, and accused of spying.

He claims to have witnessed horrifying scenes while he was being held captive in a school basement that had been converted into an improvised torture chamber by the invaders.

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At one point the torturers – two Russian soldiers wearing identity-concealing ski masks – decided to cut their captives’ fingers off.

However, the bayonet they had wasn’t sharp enough for the task. “So, everything paused while they sent another Russian soldier upstairs to the school kitchen to find a sharper knife,” Hryhorii said.

A few minutes later, Hryhorii said, “The guy came back with a meat knife and then they continued.”

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A UN report detailed “atrocious violations of human rights across the territory of Ukraine,” and insisted that “all the perpetrators must be held accountable”.

Some of the prosecutions could be launched from within the UK.

More than 20,000 Ukrainians have so far been granted asylum in Scotland. Keith Brown, the justice secretary there, has said: “Atrocities have been committed in Ukraine and perpetrators of war crimes must be brought to trial.

He added: “We will always stand with Ukraine and we support the work of our independent justice system as part of international efforts against crimes in Ukraine.”

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The international criminal court has already started investigating war crimes in Ukraine, but President Zelenskyy has argued that the scope for prosecution is limited.

While the court can try individuals charged with war crimes, it cannot prosecute the Kremlin leadership because Russia never signed up to the appropriate international treaty.

On November 14 last year, the UN general assembly voted by 94 to 14, with 73 abstaining, to back the principle of Russia paying reparations for war crimes committed on Ukrainian soil.

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Chilling radio intercepts released by the Ukrainian armed forces in April revealed a Russian commander ordering his men to massacre unarmed civilians in Mariupol, where over 5,000 non-combatants are thought to have died at the hands of Russian invaders.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says that Vladimir Putin’s invasion force was sent on a “deliberate campaign” of rape, murder, terror and torture in Bucha.

Kremlin propaganda chiefs are denying any war crimes, instead blaming atrocities on Ukrainians, and are trying to drum up more support for the war at home by claiming that the entire country will be punished by western powers if Russia is defeated in Ukraine.

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