Russian prisoners of war are presented to the press by Ukrainian Secret Services at the Interfax press agency in Kyiv.—AFP
Russian prisoners of war are presented to the press by Ukrainian Secret Services at the Interfax press agency in Kyiv.—AFP

KYIV: The Ukrainian military has paraded captured Russian soldiers before the media and made them recite repentances for their invasion, prompting the Red Cross to warn prisoners must not be mistreated.

Eyes red, faces gaunt and in some cases scratched, 10 young Russians in green fatigues were lined up before the press and cameras at an event attended by AFP on March 4.

Some of them stared at their boots and avoided looking at the cameras, while others appeared more at ease.

It was the second such act in a week organised by Ukraine’s SBU intelligence service.

The Ukrainian defence ministry and the SBU did not respond to questions from AFP about their methods.

Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich called in an online video for “humane treatment of prisoners”. He reminded viewers that Ukraine’s western partners were watchful on the subject.

Blindfolded with tape, the soldiers were pushed along on single file, holding one another by the shoulders to keep from falling.

They were then groomed and taken into a room where they were shown videos of Russian bombardments, while a Ukrainian officer named the cities being bombed.

“Look what your army is doing,” the officer said. “They would tell your parents that you died on manoeuvres, not that you were here.” Each soldier then faced the cameras and stated his name, his unit and how he had entered Ukraine.

Each said that he was voluntarily stepping up to condemn Russia’s invasion — using the same phrases as the other soldiers.

Each soldier said he was being well treated and ended by calling on Russians not to believe their President Vladimir Putin’s “lies”.

Russia has not reacted specifically to these appearances, but more generally its defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov on February 27 said Russian prisoners of war were facing “torture”. He compared them to victims of “the German Nazis and their henchmen”.

Published in Dawn, March 8th, 2022

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