Mass murder of prisoners of war in Olenovka

Article

August 20, 2022

The massacre of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Olenivka (Yelenovka) is an alleged war crime during the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 29 July 2022, which resulted in the death of at least 50 people and the injury of at least 73 people (according to pro-Russian forces). It happened in a prisoner of war camp on the territory of the former penal colony No. 120 in Olenovka, Volnovakhsky district, which is under the control of the self-proclaimed DPR. The authorities of the Russian Federation and the DPR stated that the incident was the result of a strike by HIMARS systems from Ukraine, and the Ukrainian authorities believe that the Russian military deliberately placed some of the prisoners of war from Azovstal in a separate barracks in the industrial zone of the colony, and then blew up the building to hide the facts of torture and extrajudicial executions.

Background

Prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, penal colony No. 120 in Olenivka was mothballed and abandoned. After the occupation of the Volnovakha district of the Donetsk region, the Russian military turned it into a filtration camp. In May 2022, after the surrender of the military from Azovstal, 211 people, including employees of the Azov regiment, were sent to Olenovka. The Ukrainian General Staff then reported on the planned return of servicemen home through the prisoner exchange procedure, the pro-Russian forces - on the planned tribunal. According to the Russian Ministry of Defense, at the time of the events, 193 Ukrainian prisoners of war were kept in the colony. Humanitarian workers and former prisoners of Yelenovka told CNN that "beatings and torture were common in the colony, and the conditions there are appalling."

Circumstances

On July 29, 2022, as a result of an explosion, buildings in the industrial zone of the colony were destroyed, which were not previously used to hold prisoners, and the main camp buildings were not damaged. Several sources indicated that some of the Ukrainian prisoners of war were transferred to the colony's industrial zone just a few days before the events. The BBC noted that the detention of prisoners of war in Olenivka violated the Geneva Convention on the Treatment of Prisoners of War. According to the convention, prisoners of war must be placed in special camps, away from the combat zone and under strictly regulated conditions, directly