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Russian media: Russian Red Cross may be involved in abuse of Ukrainians

Russians visited colonies in the occupied territory, where they called prisoners pigs and forced them to sing Soviet songs. 

Russian media: Russian Red Cross may be involved in abuse of Ukrainians
Photo: Russian media

Employees of the Russian Red Cross may be involved in the abuse of Ukrainian prisoners of war in colonies, including in the occupied territory. This is stated in an investigation by the Russian publication Medusa, created as part of an international journalism project (excerpts from it are cited by the Ukrainian bureau of Radio Liberty). The journalists found that Moscow separately funds the Russian Red Cross from the federal budget.

One of the Ukrainian prisoners, Orest Hrytsyuk, who was held captive in a colony in Horlivka, Donetsk Region, until April 2023, told about visits from people who were called Russian representatives of the Red Cross. There were two of them, and they were present when the prisoners were being fed.

The Ukrainians were given very hot food and forced to eat it very quickly. One of the Red Cross representatives called the prisoners 'Ukrainian pigs'. After the meal, the prisoners were taken to the parade ground and forced to sing Soviet military songs in a chorus, Hrytsyuk recalls.

"The man who called us pigs in the dining room took out his phone, filmed the marching prisoners of war, approached them, shouted something in their ear and shook his fist above their heads, slapped them on the back and shoulders so that they were swaying. He would direct the camera at himself and demonstrate a gesture of victory, just enjoying himself, it was a performance for him... These two had complete carte blanche to walk around the dining room, stay on the parade ground, order songs... they felt comfortable there, high," said the former prisoner of war.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) believes that Orest Hrytsyuk incorrectly identified the persons he mentioned as representatives of the Red Cross. The ICRC representative in Ukraine, Ashil Despres, said that the ICRC had never said that the colony with Ukrainian prisoners was visited by employees of the Russian Red Cross.

He added that he had "no reason to believe that the Russian Red Cross was involved".

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is the world's largest humanitarian aid organisation. It includes the International Committee of the Red Cross and national societies in 192 countries.

In 2023, the Russian Red Cross received five million Swiss francs (210 million hryvnyas) from the International Committee of the Red Cross. At the same time, the Russian Red Cross also receives money from the Russian budget and almost openly supports the aggression against Ukraine. 

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