When Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin announced the commencement of a Special Military Operation against Ukraine on Feb. 23, the democratic western world was unanimously up in arms.
While #StandWithUkraine and emojis of the Ukrainian flag trended on Twitter as mankind denounced the apparition of an oppresive and backwards “murderous dictator” crushing its peace loving, modernized, and sophisticated neighbor in the name of hatred and conquest, five weeks into the conflict, Ukraine’s sacrosanct veneer, a narrative which Mint Press News reported on March 22 has all all the hallmarks of a well crafted western PR campaign, is showing more than peeling.
First came a litany of videos collected from Ukrainian-language Telegram accounts published to Twitter by the user @YouBlackSoul showing scores of Ukrainian citizens being taped and plastic wrapped to public street lamps.
While it may sound as innocuous as a college hazing ritual on the surface, two frightening characteristics defined many of the scenes.
The first is that several victims, both men and women, were humiliated with their pants down and their genitals exposed for public view.
The second is the usage of varying forms of public corporal punishment, ranging from the caning of bare buttocks, to hair cutting and public denouncement analogous to what was seen during former Chinese Communist Party leader and mass murderer Mao Zedong’s “Great Cultural Revolution.”
Causation is simple to determine. When Russia initiated its war, the Zelensky administration immediately unveiled a bundle of internal measures. One was to prohibit any males aged 18 to 60 from fleeing the country, another was to declare martial law, and a third was to distribute arms to citizens under a so-called “general mobilization.”
One of the earliest documentations of the results in the English language was Canadian independent media outlet True North on Feb. 27. The outlet spoke with a senior citizen in Kiev who stated, “People are more scared of the armed citizens than the Russian military.”
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The individual told the outlet that many were “more scared of looters with guns right now” and provided photos of a family that were murdered next to a civilian all-terrain SUV they were driving after being “mistaken for a military vehicle.”
Telegram videos from the same source showed vigilantism had descended on the capital, revealing that “armed citizens [are] now just questioning and in one case shooting people they deem suspicious.”
@YouBlackSoul was unsurprisingly banned, but set up a Telegram channel in order to continue to present evidence collected from Ukrainian-language sources to the English language community.
Unfortunately, much of the footage is much more heinous than corporal punishment.
In a particularly egregious example recently broadcast, what appears to be a uniformed member of the Ukrainian Armed Forces executes a man claimed to be accused of colluding with Russia.
In a venue that looks to be the staircase of a residential building, the uniformed man uses a combat knife to repeatedly pierce and slash at the man’s face and neck.
Other instances involve targeting Ukraine’s Russian-speaking population. Reports state that individuals are asked to say a Ukrainian word that is difficult to pronounce with Russian cadence.
If the target fails the test, they will be captured and bound and have their face painted green to signify being a “Russian orc,” a common Ukrainian denigration, and subjected to various forms of public humiliation.
In one shocking clip circulating online, a young girl is stripped naked in public, forced to paint her own face green, and has her hair burned with a lighter by assailants.
The most notable case of misconduct circulating so far is that of a group of several captured Russian prisoners of war. The soldiers have their hands bound and are found laying on the ground, most have their lower bodies soaked in blood, and many no longer move at all.
At the end of a multi-minute video, reportedly originally posted to Ukrainian Telegram channels, what appear to be disarmed and bound Russian POWs are seen being unloaded from a van before immediately being shot in the lower body and left without medical attention.
In one shooting, a soldier directly aims his rifle point blank at the back of a captured combatant’s knee before pulling the trigger.
Moreover, some of the injured men filmed in the video appear to be bleeding profusely from the groin area.
While many keyboard-bound pundits have claimed the veracity of the footage is in doubt, “authoritative source” CNN reported on March 27 that in “the almost six-minute-long video, the Ukrainian soldiers are heard saying they have captured a Russian reconnaissance group operating from Olkhovka, a settlement in Kharkiv roughly 20 miles from the Russian border.”
CNN further quoted a senior advisor to President Zelensky, Oleksiy Arestovych, as conceding, “The government is taking this very seriously, and there will be an immediate investigation. We are a European army, and we do not mock our prisoners. If this turns out to be real, this is absolutely unacceptable behavior.”
He added, “We treat prisoners in accordance with the Geneva Convention, whatever your personal emotional motives.”
According to the Washington Examiner, however, a close Zelensky advisor and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Valerii Zaluzhnyi urged the public to “take into account the realities of the information and psychological war and trust only official sources.”
“The enemy produces and shares with the inhuman treatment of alleged ‘Russian prisoners’ by ‘Ukrainian soldiers’ in order to discredit Ukrainian Defence Forces,” he claimed.
RT, a Russian state-run broadcaster, reported that the head of the Federation’s Investigative Committee, Alexander Bastrykin, had ordered “investigators to establish all the circumstances of the incident, collect and record evidence and identify all the persons involved in it to subsequently bring them to justice.”
In another instance, a video purports to show a Ukrainian soldier utilizing the phone of a dead Russian soldier to video chat with the deceased’s mother and rub in that her son had been blown to pieces by artillery fire.
However, this particular video may be nothing but pure propaganda meant to incite hatred and fear.
In late February, Russian officials stated that a circulating Internet meme that purported to be a picture of a dead Russian soldier’s text message conversation to his mother saying troops were deliberately attacking civilians was an obvious fake because soldiers are not permitted to carry or use personal cell phones during combat.