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Russian occupiers kill two Ukrainian teens accused of being partisans in occupied Berdiansk

Berdiansk teenagers Russian occupation killed
Tyhran Ohanesian and Mykyta Khanhanov, two Ukrainian teenagers that Russian occupiers killed in Berdiansk. Photo via Media Initiative for Human Rights
The occupation authorities of Berdiansk earlier tortured 16-year old Tihran to extract a “confession” that he allegedly damaged a railway bringing supplies to the Russian occupation troops. Now they claim he and his classmate were killed after shooting the Russian soldiers, but human rights defenders have doubts.

Vladislav Rogov, a collaborator with the Russian occupiers in the captured part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast, claimed that two pro-Ukrainian “terrorists” were “eliminated” in Russian-occupied Berdiansk. One of them was identified as Tihran Ohannisian, a 16-year-old teenager of Armenian origin who was held captive by the Russians.

Rogov claimed that around 19:00, when the population was relaxing with their families on the city’s embankment, “two militants opened fire with automatic weapons.” Russian occupiers then cornered and shot the insurgents. “It is now known that one of them was Tihran Ohannisian, who was previously detained for anti-Russian activity,” Rogov noted.

The last video recorded by Tihran has been published online. In the video, the boy, wearing tactical gloves and holding a gun, nervously says (in Russian), “…Two for sure. That’s it, it’s death, guys. Goodbye. Glory to Ukraine.” The recording ends abruptly.

Tihran Ohannisian and another teenager, his classmate Mykyta Khanhanov, had earlier been abducted by the occupiers in September 2022. They were accused of terrorism, facing a potential 20-year imprisonment. The European Parliament passed a resolution in June 2023 condemning the actions of Russian structures that applied torture and violated criminal proceedings against the two Ukrainian teenagers.

The case gained public attention at the end of May, thanks to the human rights defenders from the Media Initiative for Human Rights. According to their data, Tihran Ohanissian was brutally interrogated, beaten, and tortured with electric current for five days. They demanded that the teenager confess to preparing sabotage on the Melitopol railway.

“My son was tortured with electric shock. They took him out to a field and carried out a mock execution. Russians asked him, “So, are you going to become a guerrilla?!” And they ordered him to get prepared to die,” his grandmother said.

After the boys were suddenly released, the occupiers regularly interrogated Tihran and Mykyta and searched their homes. The children were obliged to report to the police station every day.

Tihran’s mother, who had managed to leave abroad in the early days of the Russian occupation with her youngest children, described an unsuccessful attempt to evacuate her teenage son from occupied Berdiansk, where he had lived with this grandmother. They were turned back by Russian police, who said they received a report about “dangerous criminals trying to escape” and taken back to Berdiansk. Ultimately, Tihran’s mother was allowed to leave the occupied city with her youngest children, but Tihran was not; at the checkpoints, Russian militaries searched for a 16-year-old boy.

Human rights defenders are now trying to understand what really happened on June 24. According to their data, the Russian occupation authorities decided to bring the teenagers’ cases to court. Investigators pressured the boys and their relatives. The investigator claims that at the beginning of September 2022, the boys conspired to support the Armed Forces of Ukraine. According to the investigator, they jointly damaged the railway tracks to disrupt the provision of resources to the Russian Army.

Olha Reshetylova, the coordinator of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, shared on social media that a few days ago, an investigator arrived with an armed convoy for the boys, but they managed to escape.

On the day before the murder, the boys reported to the occupation police. Half an hour before the investigator called the parents to inform them that the boys were killed, Tihran’s mother spoke with him. The teenager was calm, saying that he was walking with Mykyta and they were thinking about how to celebrate Mykyta’s birthday. Mykyta was supposed to turn 17 on June 25.

The coordinator emphasizes that there are many discrepancies in the facts, time, and clothing. “The parents have not seen the boys’ bodies yet. Instead, relatives have been interrogated and searched since yesterday evening (June 24). This gives reason to doubt the main version of the Russian Federation investigator about the attack on the police. At least the parents of Tihran and Mykyta believe that all this shootout, the death video – it’s a setup to kill the boys,” writes Reshetylova.

 

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