War in Ukraine: Unauthenticated video showing beheading of Ukrainian soldier circulated on social media

"Pack it up!" (…) And send it to the commander

War in Ukraine: Unauthenticated video showing beheading of Ukrainian soldier circulated on social media

"Pack it up!" (…) And send it to the commander. The footage - excruciating - shows a man, in camouflage with no visible insignia and wearing a strip of white cloth on his leg - a symbol commonly associated with the Russian military and pro-Russian fighters - beheading another man , lying on the ground, with a knife. The immediate surroundings of the scene - vegetation, sunlight - seem to indicate that the video could have been shot several months ago.

Since Tuesday, April 11, pro-Russian Telegram accounts have been broadcasting images of this scene, which appears to be the execution of a Ukrainian soldier. The origin and authenticity of the images could not yet be verified.

In a message on Telegram accompanied by a video, Volodymyr Zelensky denounced, Wednesday, April 12, "the execution of a Ukrainian prisoner" in reference to these images. The Ukrainian president criticized, presumably speaking of Russian soldiers, "the ease with which these beasts kill", before continuing: "We are not going to forget anything. We are also not going to forgive the murderers. »

The UN Human Rights Mission in Ukraine said it was "horrified" by the video. She also refers to a second video showing "the mutilated bodies, apparently of Ukrainian prisoners of war", and therefore calls for "these incidents to be the subject of a real investigation and that the perpetrators be held accountable".

For Moscow, "these are of course horrible images"

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's Foreign Minister, posted a comment on Twitter: "It is absurd that Russia, which is worse than ISIS, is chairing the UN Security Council. The Security Service of Ukraine, the SBU, announced the opening of an investigation after the release of this video. “We will find those monsters. (…) They will be punished”, hammered the head of the SBU, Vassyl Maliouk, in a press release. The European Union will hold "all perpetrators and accomplices of war crimes to account" in Ukraine, a spokeswoman for the head of European diplomacy said on Wednesday.

According to independent online media The Insider, the video appeared on the Telegram channel of Vladislav Pozdnyakov, leader of a Russian far-right party.

Oleh Tsarev, the Ukrainian separatist leader of Novorossia ("New Russia") condemned the video: "Cutting off a prisoner's head is a crime. Filming it is stupid. And for those posting all of this on the Net, I can't find any definition. »

Yevgueni Prigojine, leader of the Wagner Group, also condemned this video, via the group's official account: "Cutting people's heads is wrong. He clarifies that there is no evidence that it was filmed "in Bakhmout" or that "members of Wagner were involved".

The Kremlin called to verify the video. "These are, of course, horrifying images," Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. "In the world of 'fake news' we live in, we have to make sure the authenticity of this video," he added.

Cases of beheadings reported since summer 2022

On Monday, the Institute for the Study of War reported in its daily report that several cases of beheadings perpetrated by "Wagner's forces" targeting "Ukrainian soldiers" had been reported since. summer 2022 in the vicinity of Bakhmout and Popasna.

According to CNN, another video posted on pro-Russian social accounts on April 8 and attributed to Wagner Group mercenaries showed the decapitated bodies of two Ukrainian fighters near destroyed vehicles. The next day, it was the photo of a skull planted on a pike and presented as taken in Bakhmout that had emerged on the Russian social network VKontakte, according to The Insider.

In early April, another video, authenticated by The New York Times, showed the execution of a Russian prisoner by Ukrainian soldiers. In November, Russia accused Ukraine of executing more than 10 of its military personnel who had laid down their arms as a "war crime" based on videos uploaded to social media. Charges that kyiv had rejected.

In late March, the UN accused Ukrainian and Russian forces of committing summary executions of prisoners of war.