Former Ukraine prison detainees doubt Russia’s deadly blast story

Even before the deadly blast that killed at least 53 Ukrainian soldiers on Friday, the Olenivka prison in the country’s separatist-controlled eastern Donetsk province was known to human rights groups as a lawless place where pro-Russian forces hold civilians flagged as potential enemy “collaborators” and military prisoners of war.
Located just a few miles from the war’s front line, it has served as a detention facility for several thousand people brought from Mariupol after Russia captured that southern Ukrainian port city in May following a brutal and protracted siege. Among them were hundreds of soldiers who fought back from the city’s last stronghold, the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works plant, before finally surrendering.

In March, nearly three dozen humanitarian aid workers volunteering to rescue civilians from Mariupol ended up in Olenivka because Russian officers and separatist forces considered them suspect. They were freed barely two weeks ago, and their accounts of conditions and treatment inside the prison bolster Kyiv’s accusations that the Ukrainian fighters killed were deliberately moved to an abandoned warehouse there — a location that then was destroyed.
Moscow quickly alleged that the Ukrainian military had targeted its own, hitting the building with a U.S.-supplied High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to prevent the soldiers from testifying about “crimes against humanity” committed by Ukrainian forces. To support this narrative, Russian state media later broadcast a video showing a charred structure with a large hole in its roof, crushed bunk beds and burned body parts.


By: Miss Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter

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