Woman found dead in Ukraine with swastika carved into body
A criminal investigation has been launched after the body of a brutally murdered woman was discovered by pro-Russian forces at a Ukrainian military compound. A swastika had been carved into her stomach.
“According to available information, Ukrainian nationalists with the Azov Battalion abused a woman from Mariupol for a long time, causing her bodily harm,” Russia’s Investigative Committee said in a statement on Monday.
“Her body, which showed signs of torture and had a swastika carved into the stomach, was found in the basement of one of the city’s schools, where the nationalists’ base was located,” the statement reads.
Over the past few weeks, the city, claimed by the breakaway Donetsk People’s Republic as its territory, has become the arena of fierce urban fighting between the allied forces of Russia and Donetsk and those of Ukraine.
The gruesome find was first publicized on Sunday by Patrick Lancaster, an American who has long covered the conflict in Ukraine’s east. The body of the woman was found by advancing Donetsk forces in the basement of Mariupol’s School No. 25. Now used as a forward base by Ukrainian units, it is littered with left-behind uniforms, weapons, and other military equipment.
The Donetsk servicemen who spoke to Lancaster allegedly said they assumed the woman was a civilian who had either tried to escape the fighting or had unwarily expressed joy over the gains made by the Russian and Donetsk forces, invoking the fury of Ukrainian nationalists.
Footage from the scene suggests the woman had endured brutal torture before her death, her body being marked with multiple bruises and a torn plastic bag visible around her head. She had also had a large swastika carved into her stomach, painted with what appeared to be her own blood.
The launch of an investigation into her death comes a day after Moscow announced it was seeking the source of graphic videos purporting to show Ukrainians torturing and executing captured Russian soldiers. The videos, which emerged over the weekend, apparently show militants beating and shooting their prisoners in their legs at point-blank range, with the captured soldiers dying amid their ‘interrogation.’
Moscow attacked its neighbor Ukraine last month, following a seven-year standoff over Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, and Russia’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols had been designed to regularize the status of those regions within the Ukrainian state.
Russia has now demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military alliance. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the Donbass by force.