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Zelensky Condemns Video Allegedly Showing Ukrainian Soldier’s Beheading

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top Ukrainian officials have demanded that Russia be held responsible and its soldiers punished over a video that purportedly shows a Ukrainian prisoner of war being beheaded.

Yahoo News has viewed the gruesome clip, which began circulating in pro-Russian Telegram groups over the past few days, and can confirm it shows what appears to be a Russian soldier pinning down a Ukrainian soldier before decapitating him with a knife.

In the video, a soldier wearing a yellow recognition tape, and wearing a Ukrainian military trident patch identifying him as a soldier in the Ukrainian military, could be heard screaming, “It hurts,” while another voice can be heard saying in Russian: “Break his spine. Haven’t you cut heads off before? Finish the job.”

In contrast to the yellow tape worn by their victim, the apparent perpetrator and others in the video can be seen wearing white recognition tape, commonly used by fighters on the Russian side.

The video is believed to have been filmed last summer, and while it is impossible to confirm a specific date from the footage, the verdant green foliage in the background of the video supports this theory. The video has not so far been geolocated — due to the lack of identifiable landscape features or buildings in the background — but speculation online has suggested it was filmed around the city of Kreminna in eastern Ukraine.

“There is something that no one in the world can ignore: How easily these beasts kill,” Zelensky said in a video message on Tuesday night. “There will be legal responsibility for everything. The defeat of terror is necessary.”

Just hours after the clip went viral on Tuesday, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, called for the removal of Russia from the United Nations and compared the video to the brutality of the Islamic State.

“It’s absurd that Russia, which is worse than ISIS, is presiding over the [U.N. Security Council],” he said in a Twitter post. “Russian terrorists must be kicked out of Ukraine and the UN and be held accountable for their crimes.”

In response to the accusations of beheading, the Kremlin stated that the authenticity of the footage would need to be checked. “We live in a world of fakes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday. However, he added that the footage was “awful.”

Despite the Kremlin’s denials, a number of pro-Russian social media channels have been sharing the videos with a gleeful delight in their savage nature. The Telegram channel of the neo-Nazi Russian “Rusich” group posted a still from the video, adding, “You will be surprised how many of these videos will gradually pop up,” followed by a “grinning” emoji. Thousands of their followers reacted to the video with approval.

A second video, purportedly filmed by members of the Russian Wagner Group of mercenaries, showed the bodies of two beheaded Ukrainian soldiers beside a damaged Ukrainian M-113 military vehicle. The video also appeared on social media this week, and was heavily shared on Russian social media channels. “They killed them,” a voice behind the camera said. “Someone came up to them. They came up to them and cut their heads off.”

Neither video has been independently verified by Yahoo News. However, the Ukrainian state security service, the SBU, has opened up an investigation into both clips and is treating them as authentic.

Promising to find those responsible, SBU Head Vasyl Malyuk promised an unrelenting pursuit of the perpetrators. “If necessary, we will get them everywhere, wherever they are: from underground or from the other world. But they will definitely be punished for what they have done,” Malyuk said in a statement.

These videos are the latest in a series of films showing the torture and murder of Ukrainian captives by Russian forces. In July 2022, an unnamed Ukrainian soldier was filmed being castrated by a Russian soldier serving with the Chechen Akhmat Special Operations Regiment, before being shot in the head.

Just last month, Zelensky awarded the “Hero of Ukraine” to Oleskandr Matsievskiy, an unarmed Ukrainian captive filmed being shot and killed by Russian soldiers after shouting “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Ukraine!). Matsievskiy’s defiance in the face of his captors has made him a folk hero in Ukraine.

The videos come less than a month after the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for alleged war crimes committed in Ukraine. It is the first time the ICC has ever issued a warrant for a leader of one of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council.

Source : Yahoo!

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