Christmas in a colony for Russian prisoners: truth or fake?
Photos and videos capturing Christmas festivities organized by Ukrainian authorities for russian prisoners of war have ignited strong reactions from Ukrainian social media users. The public outcry comes from the contrast between this festive scene and the reality faced by Ukrainian prisoners of war, who endure torture, starvation, and death at the hands of the russians.
Our readers suspected that the images may have been staged. We investigated and can confirm their authenticity.
So, what’s causing this uproar?
In recent days, the Ukrainian information space has been inundated with furious comments beneath posts showcasing Christmas celebrations in a penal colony for russian prisoners of war.
The caption reads, “The holiday comes to everyone, even to russian prisoners of war.” (translation — Behind the News).
Ukrainians are denouncing this gesture as a blatant mockery of their own defenders, currently held in inhumane conditions. They maintain that those who sought to destroy Ukrainian homes and kill its people do not deserve to attend festive concerts.
“These monsters are eating their bellies off at the expense of Ukrainian taxpayers, while our prisoners in russian prisons are starving to death and eating mice to survive! Give these bastards stale bread and rotten water!”
“Excuse me, but how the hell do these rats have the right to such conditions of detention? Our guys are rotting alive, catching mice in their cells, dying during interrogations…”
“While our guys are being starved and electrocuted, raped, blown up in Olenivka, tortured, denied basic medical care, these f*ckers are treated to sweets, mandarins, concerts, greetings...”
Some people suggested that it was a fake, that it could be a penal colony in the russian “deep state”, and that the voiceover was added later.
We found the original source of these photos and videos; they were first published by the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War, on the social media pages of their “Khochu Zhyt” (I Want to Live) project (their Facebook and Instagram pages).
“Show these photos to those who tell stories about the ‘horrors of Ukrainian captivity’ and ask them to show similar ones from russian captivity. Ukraine adheres not only to international humanitarian law but also to basic humanity. We also demand the same treatment for Ukrainian military and civilian hostages in russian captivity,” assert the publications.
The number of comments and shares — in the tens of thousands — beneath angry posts about this event reflects a sentiment among many Ukrainians — that an overly loyal approach toward russian prisoners of war is deemed unacceptable. Many Ukrainians feel hurt by the realization that russians have perpetrated numerous crimes against Ukrainians, yet Ukraine finds itself responsible for their well-being and daily sustenance, and even arranging concerts.
However, we should remember that we are not like them. Adhering strictly to international rules outlined in the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Ukraine guarantees their lives and the prospect of eventual exchange, ensuring their return home.
This agreement not only prohibits physical abuse but also extends to preventing any form of insult or humiliation directed at prisoners of war. In essence, by failing to treat Ukrainian prisoners of war with due respect, the russians commit crimes. This is unacceptable in democratic nations.
Khochu Zhyty (I Want to Live)
Take a good look at the target audience of the “I Want to Live” initiative, a project strategically conducted in russian. This project is designed to encourage russian and belarusian soldiers to surrender, employing a specially designed chatbot for this purpose.
This endeavor is important for us on two fronts. Firstly, it saves the lives of Ukrainians, who might otherwise be killed by these soldiers. Secondly, it serves as an exchange fund for the repatriation of Ukrainian prisoners of war.
Of course, Ukrainians are justified in hating all russians without exception in light of their actions in Ukraine — destruction, devastation, rape, and murder. However, our mission is twofold — to liberate our land from occupying forces and demonstrate that we will never stoop to their level. Moreover, our hatred should not cloud our conscience, but should rather serve as a formidable force helping us to defeat our enemy
Prepared by our author in Vinnytsia, Tetiana Shcherbatiuk.