Russia sentences over 200 Ukrainian fighters to prison

Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said on Sunday in an interview with the Russian state-owned RIA news agency that the Russian courts have issued long-term prison sentences for more than 200 members of Ukrainian armed groups for alleged crimes.

Addressing an inquiry into the alleged crimes of Ukraine, Lavrov informed the news agency that Russian law enforcement authorities are diligently documenting the alleged “atrocities” committed by Ukrainian neo-Nazis that can be traced back to as early as 2014.

He added:

The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation is conducting investigations into various violations of the Civil Code. According to the Investigative Committee’s data, more than 4,000 criminal cases have been initiated against around 900 individuals. This includes not only members of radical neo-Nazi associations, Ukrainian security services and mercenaries but also members of Ukraine’s military and political leadership…The remaining criminals will face the same fate and will be held accountable.

Russia initiated a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which has been alleged to be a violation of the UN Charter and international criminal law. The invasion triggered extensive human rights and displacement crises, as Russian authorities have allegedly forcibly transferred and deported civilians from occupied areas of Ukraine. In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Putin’s commissioner for children’s rights, for alleged war crimes involving the deportation of children. Russian authorities have denied these allegations.

A report released by the UN in October 2023 found evidence of war crimes and human rights violations committed by Russian authorities in Ukraine that includes torture, rape and deportation of children. The report also alleged the use of systematic torture in detention facilities, causing severe and long-term consequences on the mental and physical health of victims. The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine (HRMMU) reported in November 2023 that at least 10,000 civilians have lost their lives, with over 18,500 sustaining injuries since the initiation of the invasion of Ukraine. The statement also cautioned that the actual figures could surpass the reported numbers. In December 2023, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk criticized Russia for its  “extensive failure” to protect the safety and human rights of civilians in Ukraine.