Amnesty International has said that Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol must not be ill-treated and should get immediate access to the International Red Cross.
“Ukraine’s soldiers deployed in Mariupol area have been dehumanized by Russian media and portrayed in Putin’s propaganda as ‘neo-Nazis’ throughout Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine," said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty’s deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
"This characterization raises serious concerns over their fate as prisoners of war," he said. “Prisoners of war must not be subjected to any form of torture or ill-treatment, and should be given immediate access to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The relevant authorities must fully respect the rights of prisoners of war in accordance with the Geneva conventions.”
Amnesty had documented summary killings of captives by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine as well as extra-judicial executions of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces, Krivosheev said.
“The soldiers who surrendered today must not meet the same fate," Amnesty said.
The Russian foreign ministry spokesperson said, "no one should doubt" that the fighters will be treated in accordance with international law.
Humanitarian laws "are sacred for the Russian side," Maria Zakharova said at a Foreign Ministry briefing underway in Moscow.
Russian personnel are providing medical help to the injured Ukrainian soldiers, Zakharova said, adding "this is not for show" and will continue.