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Relatives of Olenivka terror attack victims name three demands to international community

The return of all wounded defenders from the Olenivka attack, proper honoring of the killed heroes, and an international investigation into the terror attack remain unresolved issues.
A performance recreating the massacre of Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka. Photo:
Relatives of Olenivka terror attack victims name three demands to international community

Relatives of those killed and wounded as a result of Russia’s terror attack in Olenivka have named three demands to the Ukrainian and international community. On July 29, 2022, an explosion occurred at a prison in Olenivka, killing dozens of Ukrainian POWs.

Mariya Aleksieyevich, a representative of the NGO “Community of Olenivka Families,” told Ukrainska Pravda’s “UP. Life” about the assistance they need from the international community, the ICRC, as well as Ukrainian diplomats and authorities.

“Since the day of the terror attack in Olenivka, we have had three unresolved issues: the return of all wounded defenders from the Olenivka attack, proper honoring of the killed heroes, and an international investigation into the terror attack,” Mariya said.

She stated that they must bring home those who survived because the Russians planned a mass killing. They are victims of a Russian war crime, but there is no understanding of the logic behind the lists used to transfer their relatives to the separate barracks where over 50 people were killed.

Russia killed Ukrainian POWs in Olenivka to hide signs of torture – Ukrainian intelligence

According to Mariya, the work of international organizations remains at the same level as before, and they must constantly remind them of their direct responsibilities and ask them to do more, although any words and actions have not yielded any results so far.

The Community of Families still does not know where the wounded defenders from the attack are being held or even the exact number of people who survived and their injuries, which Mariya estimates to be around 120 people.

Maria also believes that Ukrainian embassies should work more actively to promote the issue of the Russian terror attack in Olenivka, as most have not responded to their requests for assistance more than two months ago.

Акція у Кракові

The Community has also been collaborating with international organizations. In late February, with the assistance of the Media Initiative for Human Rights, a trip to the OSCE dedicated to the Olenivka attack took place. Mariya, along with a released Azov POW who survived the attack and MIHR representatives, met with OSCE country delegations, requesting monitoring of detainee treatment, compliance with the Geneva Conventions, and assistance in freeing their relatives from captivity.

Now, along with other activists, Mariya wants to travel to Türkiye, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE and is seeking support from Ukrainian authorities, as they were promised during a January 2024 meeting with Andriy Yermak and Kyrylo Budanov that the state would assist them in such international trips.

The Community is also calling for the establishment of Days of Mourning and Remembrance for those killed in the attack, as a petition to create such a day has already garnered the required 25,000 signatures for consideration, but no response has been given yet.

Finally, the organization is seeking support from all Ukrainians in spreading information about the attack and their demands through various creative means.

What happened in Olenivka

During the war, the town of Olenivka in the Donetsk Oblast became the site of a tragic event involving Ukrainian prisoners of war (POWs). Following the surrender of the Mariupol garrison at the Azovstal steelworks, at least 250 Ukrainian servicemen were taken to Olenivka.

The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) and Main Intelligence Directorate (GUR) accused Russia of being behind the explosion. The tragedy might have occurred due to explosives stored in the colony, as none of the eyewitnesses heard any rocket flying toward the colony. The GUR also stated that the explosion was a terrorist attack organized by the Wagner PMC under the leadership of Yevgeny Prigozhin, allegedly to cover up the theft of funds allocated to the Ukrainian prisoners and to increase social tension around Ukraine.

“Welcome to hell”: UN report exposes Russia’s systematic torture, killings, and crimes against humanity in Ukraine

Furthermore, the explosion was said to have been carried out to conceal the torture and beatings of the POWs by Russia’s FSB and Wagner PMC. The interrogations of the prisoners involved physical torture and were aimed at bullying, physical humiliation, and psychological demoralization. The Ukrainian authorities and relatives of the POWs accused Russia of committing a deliberate war crime and called for Russia to be designated as a state sponsor of terrorism.

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