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Kyiv forces accused of killing 40 in rebel-controlled jail

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KYIV: Russia has accused Kyiv forces of striking a jail in Olenivka in the separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, where Russian defence ministry said 40 Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded.

Russia said the jail in Donetsk had been targeted overnight with US-made HIMARS rocket systems.

The Russian army on Friday accused Kyiv forces of striking a jail holding Ukrainian prisoners of war in separatist-controlled eastern Ukraine, saying 40 people died and scores were wounded.

The Russian defence ministry said that the jail in Olenivka in the separatist-held region of Donetsk had been targeted overnight with US-made HIMARS rocket systems. “Forty Ukrai­nian prisoners of war were killed and 75 wounded,” the defence ministry said in a statement, adding that eight employees of the detention centre were also injured.

Zelensky oversees grain being loaded for export onto a Turkish ship

The Russian defence ministry said that the Ukrainian prisoners of war included members of the Azov battalion, who defended the Azovstal plant in the port city of Mariupol.

Russian television showed what appeared to be destroyed barracks and tangled metal beds but no casualties could be seen. Moscow claimed that the “bloody provocation of the Kyiv regime” was designed to discourage Ukra­inian troops from laying down their arms and surrendering.

“This egregious provocation was carried out to intimidate Ukrainian servicemen,” the defence ministry said.

Bus stop hit in south

Russian strikes on the heavily bombed Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv near the southern frontline killed five people and wounded seven more on Friday, the regional governor said. “Today, they shot at another area near a public transport stop,” Vitaliy Kim said in a statement.

He initially announced a death toll of four, but later said five people had been killed in the strike and seven were wounded, with rescue services working on the scene.

Mykolaiv, near the Black Sea, has seen roughly half of its estimated pre-war population of nearly 500,000 people leave and the city has been shelled daily for weeks.

It is the largest Ukrainian-controlled urban hub near the frontlines in the Kherson region, where Kyiv’s army has launched a counter-offensive to regain control of the economically and strategically important coastal territory.

Grain export

The presidency said the export of grain will begin with several ships that were already loaded when Russia invaded in February but unable to set sail due to the start of the war. The deal to lift Russia’s blockade — the first significant accord involving the two warring sides since the assault began — is aimed at helping mitigate a global food crisis that has seen prices soar in some of the world’s poorest nations. Ukraine — one of the world’s top grain exporters before the war — says it aims to export some 20 million tonnes of produce, worth some $10 billion, under the plan. “It is important for us that Ukraine remains the guarantor of global food security,” Zelensky, who was escorted by ambassador from the G7 nations, said in the statement.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited a port in southern Ukraine to oversee grain being loaded for export onto a Turkish ship, the presidency said on Fri­day, following a deal with Russia brokered by the UN and Turkey.

“The first vessel, the first ship is being loaded since the beginning of the war. This is a Turkish vessel,” Zelensky said, according to a statement from the presidency. Footage from the Chorno­morsk port released by the presidency showed him in front of a ship, called Polarnet. Exports could start in “the coming days” under the plan, the statement added.

Russian soldier’s term reduced

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian court reduced to 15 years a life sentence handed to a Russian soldier in May for pre-meditated murder in the country’s first war crimes trial.

“According to the result of the appellate review, the appeal filed by the defence was partially satisfied,” a statement on the Kyiv court of appeals’ website said, adding that Russian soldier “Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced to 15 years of imprisonment.”

Shishimarin, who was 21 at the time of the ruling in May, was found guilty of war crimes for killing an unarmed civilian and handed a life sentence, in the first verdict of its kind of Russia’s invasion. The sergeant from Siberia had admitted to killing a 62-year-old civilian, Oleksandr Shelipov, as he was riding his bike in the village of Chupakhivka in northeast Ukraine.

Shishimarin claimed he shot Shelipov under pressure from another soldier as they tried to retreat and escape back into Russia in a stolen car on February 28. His lawyer Viktor Ovsyan­nikov had vowed to appeal the verdict, arguing that “societal pressure” weighed on the decision.

“Our side is fully prepared. We sent all the signals to our partners — the UN and Turkey, and our military guarantees the security situation. The minister of infrastructure is in direct contact with the Turkish side and the UN. We are waiting for a signal from them that we can start,” Zelensky was quoted as saying.

Published in Dawn, July 30th, 2022

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