Relatives of the Ukrainian soldiers captured by Russia at the Azovstal steel plant gathered in Kyiv on August 4 at a dramatic vigil to protest the deaths of at least 53 prisoners of war in a rocket attack on the Olenivka detention camp.
Sandra Krotevich, one of the attendees of the event, said that it had been 75 days since she heard from her brother, a defender of the Azovstal plant, which was captured by Russian forces after an extended standoff. Those who defended the plant surrendered, under orders from Ukrainian officials, and were taken to a detention camp in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region of Ukraine.
The Olenivka prison camp was attacked on July 29. Both Russia and Ukraine blamed the other for the attack, which killed at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war and injured at least 130.
The Association of Families of Defenders of Azovstal called on the Red Cross and the United Nations to take action to gain access to the detention camp and investigate the scene.
“The inaction of these organizations has already led to the death of fighters, and the world must do everything to prevent the tragedy from happening again,” said the association in a statement following the protest on Thursday.
The dramatic reenactment sought to depict the moment that prisoners died in agony using smoke bombs and bunk beds set up in Kyiv’s central Sofia Square.
“To this day I don’t know if he is alive,” said Krotevich, who added that the Red Cross needed to be responsible for providing more information about the attack.
Dozens of attendees held signs that read "Russia is a terrorist state and “Geneva Convention doesn’t work” as they stood around the protest art piece.
According to the Kyiv Post, the acting commander of the Azov regiment, Mykyta Nadtochiy, said: “We consider the attack on Olenivka as an act of public execution that Russia has carried out with all impunity. Russians are used to the fact that no one will hold them accountable even for openly violating the laws, customs, and rules of warfare."
The Kyiv Post quoted Nadtochiy as saying the names and personal data of those involved in the killings of Ukrainian prisoners of war were currently being ascertained. Credit: Suspilne News via Storyful