Russian Duma considering a law to prevent prisoner exchanges with Ukraine

Associated Press
Donetsk People Republic Emergency Situations Ministry employees clear rubble at the side of the damaged Mariupol theater building during heavy fighting in Mariupol, in territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic, eastern Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.

Russia’s parliament discussed a proposed law on Tuesday that would ban prisoner exchanges in the invasion of Ukraine after more than 200 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered to Russian forces in Mariupol. 

The Azov Regiment that was holding out in a steel plant in Mariupol recently surrendered to Russian forces, as dozens of soldiers were wounded and needed medical attention with no escape. 

One member of Russian parliament, in a translated video, described the group as a “Nazi” militia and denounced a prisoner swap with the soldiers. 

“It is clear that the exchange of at least one of these criminals will be announced by the collective West as a victory for Ukraine,” the member said, adding there should be a law against exchanging the prisoners. 

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the State Duma, agreed, saying that “Nazi criminals” should not be exchanged and adding that the legislative body will work to create the law. 

“They are war criminals and we must do everything to bring them to justice,” he added to the applause of the Duma. 

The discussion came hours after Russia claimed more than 250 Ukrainian soldiers surrendered in Mariupol, according to Reuters

If the law were to go in place, it is unclear what would happen to the soldiers, with some in the parliament suggesting they should be killed.

“They do not deserve to live after the monstrous crimes against humanity that they have committed and that are committed continuously against our prisoners,” Leonid Slutsky, chairman of the international affairs committee and negotiator in talks with Ukraine, said, according to Reuters. 

Russia and Ukraine have conducted multiple prisoner swaps since the invasion began in February, with both sides getting dozens of their people back in the exchanges. 

Matilda Bogner, the head of the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, previously attested to “credible information” that both Ukraine and Russian are mistreating prisoners of war.

“We have received credible information of torture, ill-treatment and incommunicado detention by Ukrainian Armed Forces of prisoners of war belonging to the Russian armed forces and affiliated armed groups,” Bogner said, adding soldiers are “being coerced to make statements, apologies and confessions, and other forms of humiliation.”

Bogner said both sides must “investigate all allegations of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners of war” and control their troops.

Tags Mariupol prisoners of war Russia-Ukraine war State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin

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