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Russia declares Ukrainian military unit terrorist group


Russia’s Supreme Court has declared the Ukrainian Azov Regiment a banned terrorist organization in Russia, a designation that could expose Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Moscow to terrorism charges

Russia’s Supreme Court on Tuesday declared the Ukrainian Azov Regiment a banned terrorist organization in Russia, a designation that could expose Ukrainian prisoners of war held by Moscow to terrorism charges.

Azov, which played a key role in defending the city of Mariupol in southeastern Ukraine, has been repeatedly described by Russian officials and state media as a Nazi formation that allegedly committed atrocities against Ukrainian civilians. No evidence has emerged to support these claims.

The Azov Regiment is a unit of the National Guard of Ukraine. It grew out of a group called the Azov Battalion, formed in 2014 as one of many volunteer brigades that rose up to bolster Ukraine’s underfunded and questionably led military in the fight against separatists backed by Russia in eastern Ukraine.

The Azov Battalion drew its earliest fighters from far-right circles and drew criticism for some of its tactics. Its current members have rejected accusations of nationalism and radicalism.

Russia’s prosecutor general’s office filed a petition to designate the regiment as a terrorist organization in May.

Dozens of Azov fighters are held captive by Moscow. Russian authorities have opened multiple criminal charges against them, accusing them of killing civilians.

Last week, dozens of Ukrainian prisoners of war were killed in an explosion at a barracks in a penal colony in Olenivka, an eastern town controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Moscow and Kyiv have traded blame for the strike, with Kyiv claiming Russia blew up the barracks to cover up torture against prisoners of war.

ABC News

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