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UN says Russia abuses prisoners in Ukraine

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Russian forces and their armed affiliates have subjected Ukrainian prisoners to extrajudicial executions, sexual violence and other abuses, the UN human rights office said in a report on Tuesday.

The report, issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), found some rights violations by both sides in the conflict but expressed particular concern about the ill treatment of civilians and prisoners of war by Russian forces and affiliated armed groups.

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Russia and Ukraine did not immediately comment on the report, compiled between Feb. 1 and July 31 and based on work by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU). Both countries have denied allegations of human rights abuses.

“The ongoing armed attack by the Russian Federation against Ukraine and associated hostilities have resulted in a dire human rights situation across the country. The armed conflict has led to a wide range of human rights violations affecting both civilians and combatants,” the report said.

Matilda Bogner, the head of the HRMMU, said Ukrainian prisoners of war faced serious risks to their health and safety from Russian and pro-Russian captors.

“They have been subject to cruel and degrading treatment by Russian security forces and those of the affiliated armed groups which appeared to be systematic,” she said, introducing the report at a news conference in Kyiv.

Unlawful killings

The OHCHR released its report days after the head of a UN-mandated investigation body said Russia had committed war crimes including rape, torture, executions, and confinement of children in areas it occupied in Ukraine.

The OHCHR said it was continuing to document and verify allegations of unlawful killings of hundreds of civilians by Russian armed forces in the Kyiv, Sumy and Kharkiv regions, areas occupied earlier by Russian forces and now back under Ukrainian control.

It said rights violations against Ukrainian servicemen included extrajudicial executions, sexual violence, denial of a fair trial and a lack of food, water and medical assistance.

“Some of these violations may amount to war crimes,” the report said.

The OHCHR also said it had documented at least six killings of civilians perceived as traitors for alleged collaboration with Russia in occupied areas.

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