Azovstal defenders who surrendered face the death penalty

MOSCOW – Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steelworks in the city of Mariupol face the death penalty, a pro-Moscow separatist official said on Monday.
“The court will decide on them,” Yuri Sirovatko, justice minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying.
“For such crimes we have the highest form of punishment in the DNR – the death penalty.
“All POWs are on DNR territory,” he said, adding that there were about 2,300 Azovstal soldiers among them.
Hundreds of Ukrainian defenders of the strategic port of Mariupol on the southeastern Sea of ​​Azov coast surrendered this month after resisting for weeks in the steelworks’ underground tunnels from Azovstal.
Kyiv said it wanted to swap the soldiers in a prisoner swap, while Moscow said they would be tried first.
Among the Ukrainian fighters who surrendered were members of the Azov regiment, a former paramilitary unit integrated into the Ukrainian armed forces.
Russia describes the unit, which has previous ties to far-right groups, as a neo-Nazi organization.
In a phone call with Vladimir Putin on Saturday, French and German leaders urged the Russian president to release Ukrainian fighters from Azovstal.

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