Executions Ukraine War crimes

Ukrainian Military Administration says death-lists of civilian “collaborators” have been drawn up.

The Head of the Kherson Military Administration has said that a list of collaborators has been drawn up for when Ukraine retakes control of Kherson City, with those on the list facing mandatory summary execution, a clear war crime which puts those aiding the Ukrainian war effort in legal jeopardy for aiding and abetting war crimes.

The Head of the Kherson Military Administration, Galina Lugova, in an interview published on 18 October with Oleg Baturin of the Center For Investigative Journalism, talking about the role of collaborators, including teachers who continue to teach in Kherson’s 171 educatonal institutions, stated:

They hide and are very afraid. I think they should be afraid, because the list for their disposal is drawn up. Everyone will have a turn. They will all soon join the great, powerful singing and dancing orchestra of Kobzon. It will be mandatory.

The article is linked to directly from the Kherson City Council Telegram page as well as the Kherson City Council Facebook page.

So what does Galina Lugova mean by joining the “orchestra of Kobzon?” The Wikipedia entry on Joseph Kobzon provides the answer:

The “Kobzon Concert” meme arose after the murder of Alexander Zakharchenko, the leader of the self-proclaimed DPR, which took place on August 31, 2018. At that time, jokes were spread in Ukrainian social networks that Zakharchenko went to the “Kobzon concert”, who died the day before – on August 30.

After the 24 February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, the phrase in Ukrainian sent to a Kobzon concert (Ukrainian: «відправили на концерт Кобзона») grew in popularity to denote that a pro Russia combatant who was “going to a Kobzon concert” had met a quick death.

The meaning is therefore clear – a list of “collaborators” has been drawn up for “disposal” and this disposal will come in the form of a quick death.

So is the execution of alleged collaborators a war crime?

This matter was taken up by the United Nations Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict which found that 21 summary executions of suspected Palestinian collaborators amounted to a war crime: because of their link to the armed conflict, the extrajudicial executions constitute a violation of article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which, in relation to

persons taking no active part in the hostilities […] and those placed “hors de combat” by […] detention, prohibits (a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture […]; (d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples” and amount to a war crime. Whoever is responsible for the killings, whether the Al Qassam Brigades, other Palestinian armed groups, or the local authorities, must be brought to justice.

Western supporters of Ukraine have been happy to provide weapons and finances to Ukraine’s state and military structures. Without this help they would not be in a position to draw up lists of teachers and other civilians for execution, let alone put these plans into practice.

On the matter of aiding and abetting war crimes the Appeals Chamber of the ICTY stated:

Most of these crimes do not result from the criminal propensity of single individuals but constitute manifestations of collective criminality: the crimes are often carried out by groups of individuals acting in pursuance of a common criminal design. Although some members of the group may physically perpetrate the criminal act (murder …), the participation and contribution of the other members of the group is often vital in facilitating the commission of the offence in question. It follows that the moral gravity of such participation is often no less – or indeed no different – from that of those actually carrying out the acts in question

ICTY Prosecutor v Dusko Tadic, Appeals Chamber Judgment (it- 94- 1-a) 191

Given Lugova’s revelation it behoves human rights investigators to investigate earlier deaths in territories reclaimed by Ukraine as possible executions by Ukrainian military authorities.

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