‘Crimes Won't Go Unpunished’: Azovstal Fighters Who Engaged in War Crimes Will Be Prosecuted: Moscow
12:06 GMT 25.05.2022 (Updated: 12:57 GMT 25.05.2022)
The territory of Azovstal - a massive Soviet-built metal and steelworks in the Azov Sea coastal city of Mariupol, was completely cleared of Ukrainian Army troops, neo-Nazi battalion fighters, and foreign mercenaries at the end of last week, with its remaining defenders surrendering to Russian and Donbass militia forces.
Fighters from the Azovstal plant who are proven to have engaged in war crimes will face legal consequences for their actions, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has indicated.
"Crimes will not go unpunished. The leadership of the Donetsk People's Republic plans to create an international tribunal on the territory of the republic to try nationalists from Azovstal. Its charter is currently being worked on. We welcome this initiative", Zakharova said in a briefing Wednesday.
On Tuesday, DPR head Denis Pushilin said that Donetsk's "main task for the tribunal" was for it "to be held with maximum publicity, for it to be as transparent as possible. It is very important that as many people as possible are made aware of the unacceptable war crimes of the neo-Nazis".
Pushilin indicated that the tribunal's charter was being created by relevant government departments, including the DPR prosecutor general's office, and that Russian officials were providing assistance in the matter.
The Russian military announced last Friday that the territory of Azovstal had been completely liberated, and that some 2,439 fighters from the Ukrainian Army and the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment surrendered over the preceding four days, on top of hundreds more who laid down their arms in the days and weeks prior.
Thousands of fighters, including crack troops from Ukraine's elite 35th Marine Brigade, the Azov Regiment, and foreign mercenaries, were trapped in Mariupol in early March as Russian and DPR forces encircled the city in dual offensives from the east and southwest. In late April, after weeks of bitter house-to-house fighting which left much of the city in ruins, Ukrainian forces retreated into Azovstal, a massive 11 square km steel complex, where neo-Nazi commanders promised to make a dramatic last stand.
The authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk People's Republics and their counterparts in Russia have spent reams of paper and gallons of ink recording suspected war crimes by the Ukrainian military and neo-Nazi militias, not just since the start of Russia's military operation earlier this year, but going back to early 2014, when Ukraine kicked off its "anti-terrorist operation" against Donbass in the aftermath of the February 2014 Western-backed coup in Kiev. The alleged war crimes include everything from the deliberate shelling
of civilian areas to the operation of undisclosed prisons where Donbass civilians and militia fighters were systematically abused