Rights groups report summary executions in eastern Ukraine

2015-04-09 Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) A  human rights group says it has evidence that pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine summarily killed four Ukrainian soldiers in their captivity. Meanwhile in Lithuania, a Russian television channel was taken off-air over pro-Kremlin propaganda.

Listen to Stefan Bos’ report

Rights activists say they have been told by witnesses that at least one Ukrainian government soldier was shot at point-blank range by a pro-Russian separatist commander in Ukraine's war torn east.

They also claim to have obtained videos of three others shown alive in captivity, then dead in a morgue with bullet wounds to their heads and upper bodies.

The alleged war crimes come amid wider concerns over reported abuses in the conflict between government forces and pro-Russian seperatists that has killed more than 6,000 people.

KILLING SOLDIERS

One separatist commander told the Ukrainian newspaper Kyiv Post he personally killed 15 soldiers captured from Ukrainian forces.

Earlier rebels said they carried out executions in one separatist-held area to in their words "prevent chaos".

Rights activists demand an investigation and fair trial against suspects.   

News of the abuses come while Lithuania has become the first European Union nation to take a Russian state-owned television channel off air for violating a law prohibiting “war propaganda, hatred and inciting discord”, despite several warnings.

The chairman of Litnuania's broadcasting regulator, Edmundas Vaitiekunas, says the ban will come into effect April 13. 

FIRST TIME

He says "It is the first time in the history of the European Union that a regulatory body has taken the decision to take the whole channel completely off-air. Maybe someone will argue over case, but we think that we addressed all the legal criteria.”

The Baltic countries are among nations in the region expressing concern over Russia's alleged attempt to increase its influence by targeting Russian-speaking minorities.

But Moscow has condemned restrictions as violating press freedom.

(from Vatican Radio)