Ukrainian officials say they expect the Russians to begin trials for Ukrainian prisoners of war later this month, with the first tribunals taking place in Mariupol.
Vadym Boichenko, the mayor of Mariupol, said Friday at a media briefing that the “Russians plan to hold a trial of Ukrainian prisoners of war in Mariupol on the Independence Day of Ukraine, August 24.”
“The occupiers are turning the Mariupol Philharmonic Hall, the pearl of the city, where only festive events took place, into a place of trial for our prisoners of war and civilians,” he said.
Boichenko said, “There are different dates, but they are preparing. In this way, the invaders try to create ‘victories’ for their consumers, since they have no real victories at the front.”
Officials of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, which is supported by Russia, have also indicated that trials will begin soon.
“The timing of the tribunal for the Ukrainian military and militants will be determined after the completion of the comprehensive work of the investigators,” Denis Pushilin, the head of the DPR, said on Russian television earlier this week.
“Comprehensive preparations for the tribunal are under way … I won’t say for sure about the timing, because it still depends on the investigators. As soon as the investigators give the go-ahead,” Pushilin said.
He also said that an air defense group has been strengthened in the area of the isolation blocks where Ukrainian prisoners of war are kept.
A correspondent with the Russian Defense Ministry’s channel Zvezda reported from outside the Philharmonic Hall in Mariupol this week, noting that a “huge metal frame is being built next to the Philharmonic. This is a future hangar, where prison wagons with Azov prisoners of war will presumably come by.”