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Top Russian-backed separatists say Azov trial begins this summer

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OLENIVKA — The head of the Russian-backed separatist regime in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk region said Wednesday that the trial of captured personnel from Ukraine's Azov regiment will likely take place in the city of Mariupol by the end of the summer. .

The Azov Regiment, a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard of far-right, ultranationalist descent, gained international attention for resisting the Russian siege of Mariupol's sprawling steelworks. rice field.

After weeks of fighting in bunkers and tunnels beneath the steelworks, hundreds of Azov fighters surrendered to Russian-backed forces in his May.

Although the Azov prisoners have not yet been formally charged, on 2 August the Russian Supreme Court ruled that the regiment was a terrorist organization, and they were held captive. It paved the way for combatants to be so prosecuted.

Ukraine has tried and convicted a series of Russian soldiers for war crimes against civilians, saying that Azov prisoners of war were prisoners of war and deserved protection under the Geneva Conventions. Says.

"The first court will probably be held in Mariupol and will be organized by the end of the summer," Denis Pushrin, the self-proclaimed head of the Donetsk People's Republic, said during a tour sponsored by the Russian government. told reporters. Department of Defense.

Pushrin spoke at the Olenivka prison in the Donetsk region. There, on 29 July, 53 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including Azov fighters, were killed in artillery fire that both sides blamed on each other.

Pushirin said the trial in Mariupol would be open to media and international representatives.

Russia regularly cites Azov to support Russia's claim that Ukraine is ruled by "fascists." Russian state media have compared Azov fighters to World War II-era Nazis, whose defeat by the Soviet Union remains a core part of Russia's national identity.

Kyiv says the Azov regiment has been reformed away from its radical origins and has nothing to do with politics. The regiment itself has also distanced itself from the views of its nationalist founders.

The regiment denies allegations of fascism, Nazism and racism, and says Russia is spreading disinformation about the regiment. (Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Guy Falconbridge and John Boyle)