Amnesty warns against Donbass court
The organization slammed the impending trial as a ‘sham’ by Russia and Donbass
Amnesty International opposes Ukrainian prisoners of war being tried for alleged war crimes, insisting that Russia and Donbass are unable to do so.
Describing the people’s republics of Donetsk and Lugansk as « Armed groups supported by Russia », the organization called the next courts « illegal and abusive ». The organization also slammed the decision to hold the trials in the town of Mariupol, captured by Russian and Donbass forces during the ongoing conflict, saying it was « a new act of cruelty against a city. »
« Any attempt by Russian authorities to try Ukrainian prisoners of war before so-called ‘international tribunals’ set up by armed groups under effective Russian control in Mariupol is illegal and unacceptable, » he added. . Amnesty International’s director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Marie Struthers, said in a statement on Friday.
The remarks echoed those made recently by senior Ukrainian officials, including Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, who threatened to end any potential negotiations with Russia if Ukrainian prisoners of war, mainly fighters from the notorious neo-Nazi Azov regiment, were placed on a « show trial ».
“If this despicable show trial takes place… This will be the line beyond which any negotiation is impossible. Russia will cut itself off from all negotiations,” Zelensky said in a video address Monday.
Zelensky’s call, however, was quickly snubbed by senior Russian and Donbas officials, with DPR leader Denis Pushilin saying such threats would have « no effect » on court plans.
« Data on 80 counts of crimes committed by the Azovs have been collected, 23 people have been arrested and are in custody, » he added. Pushilin said.
Russian Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin issued a more somber warning in response to Zelensky’s threats, suggesting that public hearings will expose kyiv’s crimes, which is why the Ukrainian president rightly fears them.
“He and the kyiv regime have reason to be afraid,” Volodin said. “He and his entourage ordered the bombing, shooting and killing of peaceful citizens: old people, women, children. That’s why Zelensky is doing everything to prevent the court.
Russia sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, citing kyiv’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, intended to give the Donetsk and Lugansk regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that kyiv’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to save time and « to create powerful armed forces. »
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbas republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. kyiv insists the Russian offensive was unprovoked.