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Russia says it is ready to hand over bodies of those killed in IL-76 crash to Ukraine

Friday, 1 March 2024, 09:35
Russia says it is ready to hand over bodies of those killed in IL-76 crash to Ukraine
The wreckage of the IL-76 that crashed in Belgorod Oblast of Russia. Photo: RIA Novosti

Russian Human Rights Ombudsman Tatyana Moskalkova has said that Russia is ready to return to Ukraine the bodies of the prisoners of war it says were killed in the 24 January crash of an Il-76 cargo plane in Belgorod Oblast.

Source: Russian propaganda outlet RIA Novosti; The Moscow Times

Quote from Moskalkova: "We have everything we need legally speaking.... The bodies can be handed over according to the existing procedures."

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Details: She added that she is in contact with Ukrainian representatives working on the case of the downing of the Il-76 and that "the Ukrainian side was interested in seeing the bodies returned".

Moskalkova clarified that she was discussing this issue with Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner, to whom she had allegedly replied "to questions about the incident".

"Regarding the bodies, I immediately informed [the Ukrainian side] that we have DNA evidence, which, with the help of experts, allows us to identify the people," Moskalkova said. 

Update: Andrii Yusov, representative of Ukraine's Defence Intelligence, told Ukrainska Pravda that Ukraine has repeatedly addressed Russia on the issue of handing over the bodies of Ukrainian prisoners of war supposedly killed on board the IL-76.

"Work in this regard is ongoing, as is the investigation into the circumstances of what actually happened to the IL-76 and who was really on board. We have some connections [that can help resolve – ed.] this issue. As soon as we can disclose the results, we will announce them," Yusov said.

Ukrainska Pravda has reached out to Ukrainian Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets for comment.

Background:

  • On 24 January, a Russian Il-76 aircraft crashed in Russia's Belgorod Oblast. Sources in the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine stated the plane was carrying S-300 anti-aircraft missiles.
  • The Russian Defence Ministry said the plane was carrying Ukrainian prisoners of war to Belgorod for a swap. According to the Russian Ministry of Defence, two Ukrainian missiles were "fired", killing 74 people, including 65 Ukrainian POWs. Defence Intelligence of Ukraine confirmed that the swap was scheduled for 24 January.
  • A few hours after information about the crash appeared, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine issued a statement in which it hinted that the plane was a military target and was transporting ammunition for the Russian army.
  • Ukraine’s Parliamentary Human Rights Commissioner Dmytro Lubinets noted Ukraine had seen no evidence indicating that a large number of prisoners of war were onboard the Il-76 military transport aircraft that crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, contrary to statements made by the Russian Ministry of Defence and other representatives of the aggressor country.
  • Kyrylo Budanov, Head of Ukraine’s Defence Intelligence, has said that neither Russia nor Ukraine could lay to rest the question of what happened when the Il-76 aircraft crashed in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, because the Russians haven’t shown the bodies.
  • None of the POWs who returned to Ukraine as a result of the swap on 31 January were on Russia’s list of those supposedly aboard the downed flight.

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