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Zelenskyy: Red Cross is not a "club with privileges" but an organisation with responsibilities

Thursday, 13 October 2022, 22:49
Zelenskyy: Red Cross is not a club with privileges but an organisation with responsibilities

KATERYNA TYSHCHENKO – THURSDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2022, 22:49

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy believes that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has responsibilities – first and foremost, moral responsibilities – and that its duty is to visit the prison camp in Olenivka, on the Russian-occupied territory of Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners of war are held.

Source: President Zelenskyy’s video address

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Details: President Zelenskyy reiterated that an online meeting took place on Thursday, 13 October, between the Ukrainian officials responsible for freeing Ukrainian prisoners of war and the representatives of the ICRC and other international organisations involved in issues around the treatment and release of prisoners of war. Zelenskyy said that "very important things" were said during those meetings.

Quote from Zelenskyy: "I believe that the International Committee of the Red Cross is not a club with privileges where they get paid and enjoy life. The Red Cross has obligations, primarily of a moral nature. The mandate of the Red Cross must be fulfilled. It is necessary to immediately do what is completely logical for the Red Cross.

There is Olenivka [which is,] [i]n fact, a concentration camp where our prisoners are kept. Access to them is required, as it was stipulated. The Red Cross can make it happen. But you have to try to make it happen. Ukraine is ready to facilitate this."

More details: Zelenskyy said that the ICRC mission could be modelled on the International Atomic Energy Agency mission [at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant - ed.].

"But this requires leadership. Conscientiousness is required. It is necessary to understand who created such an institution as the Red Cross and for what purpose," he said.

Previously: Andrii Yermak, the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross send a mission to the prison camp in the Russian-occupied town Olenivka, where Ukrainian prisoners are held, within three days.

Background:

  • On 29 July, the Russian media reported that the prison camp in Olenivka, Donetsk Oblast, where Ukrainian prisoners were held, was shelled. Russian propagandists claimed that at least 53 Ukrainian prisoners were killed.  
  • The General Staff Of the Armed Forces of Ukraine denied the accusations of the Russian Federation that the attack was carried out by the Ukrainian Armed Forces. According to the General Staff, the Russians carried out the attack themselves in order to hide the torture and murder of Ukrainian prisoners.
  • Ukraine’s Intelligence believes that the killing of Ukrainian prisoners in Olenivka was organised by the Wagner Group [a Russian private military company - ed.] on the personal order of Yevgeny Prigozhin [the founder of the Wagner Group and Vladimir’s Putin close ally - ed.], without input from the leadership of the Russian Ministry of Defence.
  • The Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) has intercepted telephone conversations in which the Russians confirm that Russian forces were responsible for the explosion in the Olenivka prison camp. Andrii Kostin, Prosecutor General of Ukraine, stated that preliminary data from international experts indicates that Ukrainian prisoners could have been killed using thermobaric weapons.
  • At the beginning of September, the UN stated that Russia has failed to grant access to Ukrainian prisoners of war [to international observers]. In early October, the UN stated that their mission cannot visit the Olenivka prison camp due to the lack of security guarantees.

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