Tuesday, 30 August ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 30 August ‘22

This week’s overview of key events and links to essential reading.

Tuesday, 30 August, 2022

The Crimes of Zaporizhzhia

While the international community seeks to negotiate an inspection of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the Office of the General Prosecutor in Ukraine has opened an investigation into war crimes at the facility.

“We have no doubt about who is attacking the plant,” said Yuriy Belousov, head of the war crimes unit in Kyiv, speaking to IWPR. “It is a protected facility, so it is a war crime.”

Belousov emphasises that there are multiple crimes related to the nuclear stations. “It is not just the threat of an environmental catastrophe, they are keeping people there illegally, depriving them of their liberty, and there are also killings,” he said.

In preventing steps to stabilise the facility, he says that blocking or delaying the international inspection teams is also a crime under investigation.

The prosecutor’s office does not have a specific unit on nuclear issues. But he notes that Zaporizhzhia is not the only nuclear site under investigation, and his office is also investigating the occupation of Chernobyl. Belousov added that, while they are receiving international expert advice, these investigations are being undertaken on a day-to-day basis by the Ukrainian prosecutorial team.

With shelling ongoing at the site, a key challenge is to determine command responsibility. The office will be seeking evidence of orders to shell or shoot around the plant, and detail and specific culpability matter.

If a general order for attacks is made at a high-level, he said, it will be charged as a crime of aggression. “If we see that an attack was coordinated for a particular civilian object by a specific commander, then we can prosecute for a war crime,” said Belousov.

ECHR Demands Russia Ensure Rights of POWs

On August 24 the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), responding to a request from Kyiv, demanded urgent measures be taken to prevent Ukrainian prisoners of war facing so-called tribunals and other show trials staged by Russia.

Ukraine submitted a list of new demands under Rule 39 of the ECHR rules regarding the right to life and the prohibition of torture, and separately appealed with a demand to compel Russia to provide information regarding the detention and medical care of prisoners of war.

The ECHR instructed the Russian Federation to immediately respect the rights enshrined in the Geneva Convention, including medical assistance. Previously, in July, the ECHR made a decision, which, among other things obliged Russia to respect the rights of all prisoners and provide them with access to the necessary medical care.

Russia Must be Held Accountable for the Crime of Aggression

On August 24, as Ukraine celebrated its 31st independence day, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy delivered a speech at the UN Security Council in which he called on participants to hold Russia accountable for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

The relevant resolution will be submitted for consideration by the 77th session of the UN General Assembly.

“In order for a sense of justice to return to international relations, we must all confirm and force Russia to recognize that the inviolability of borders and peace are unconditional values for all nations,” he said.

Ukraine Continues War Crimes’ Documentation

The Ukrainian ministry of justice announced the provision of legal assistance in the documentation of war crimes.

"Employees of centres conduct legal education activities and information campaigns among people who have moved from the combat zone, regarding the procedure for documenting war crimes,” said Nataliya Marchuk from the coordinating centre for the provision of legal aid.

At the end of the legal education workshops, those present are invited to fill out voluntary questionnaires in order to identify victims and witnesses of war crimes.

Specialists conduct interviews in order to identify victims and witnesses of war crimes, as well as providing assistance in recording and transferring data on such offences through the relevant platforms of the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine or the office of the Prosecutor General.

Challenges of the Ukrainian Human Rights Ombudsman

The Ukrainian ombudsman for human rights described the difficulties his office faces in recording violations during a time of conflict.

“The biggest challenge in human rights monitoring is physical access to the victims or the place where the violation was committed,” Dmytro Lubinets said in an interview with the Kyiv Post. “The larger the territory without effective control – it is occupied or there are active hostilities – the more difficult it is to control the observance of such rights.”

He said that his office can record violations through receiving direct appeals, from military administrations, the initiatives of public organisations or information from open sources such as the media and social networks.

“We transfer information to law enforcement agencies, form positions and appeal to international institutions,” Lubinets said.

Lubinets said that his office could also apply to the courts in the interests of a person who could not do it on his or her own.

“We have already used such powers when it came to restoring the documents of a child who was illegally deported to the Russian Federation... In fact, we have enough tools now to talk about human rights violations in armed conflict,” he said.

Five ex-Policeman from Kharkiv Suspected of Treason

The Ukrainian state bureau of investigation announced that five former law enforcement officers who cooperated with Russian forces in the occupied territories of the Kharkiv region, had been charged with treason.

One of suspect accepted a position in the so-called tax authority created by the Russian Federation in the occupied city of Izyum. Two more law enforcers began to work in the de facto police station of the occupied city of Volchansk as a district officer and duty assistant. The other two suspects were employed in the occupied city of Kupyansk and the village of Borovo.

If convicted they could life imprisonment with confiscation of property.

Security Guard Imprisoned for Espionage

Roman Karpenko, a 33-year-old security guard at the Kramatorsk thermal power plant, was sentenced to nine years in prison for passing on sensitive information to the Russian forces.

Between March and April 2022, the Kramatorsk resident transferred data on the location of the armed forces of Ukraine to representatives of the Russian Federation, according to the indictment. Karpenko used the Zello app to exchange information about troop movement and the location of equipment. 

The prosecution claimed that an employee of the Russian security service using the pseudonym Alexei Sha had been communicating with the guard.

Having admitted his guilt, Karpenko received a nine-year sentences rather than the maximum of 12 mandated for this type of crime.

This publication was prepared under the “Ukraine Voices Project" implemented with the financial support of the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).

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