Russian prosecutors have opened an investigation into video of the alleged beheading of a Ukrainian prisoner of war. The video was forwarded to investigative authorities to “authenticity of the content” and a “to be able to draw an appropriate conclusion”., announced the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday in the online service Telegram. The preliminary investigation may lead to a formal investigation, but this is not inevitable.
The announcement by Russia is unusual. The government usually rejects all allegations of war crimes in Ukraine. The head of the Russian Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, had on Thursday rejected the accusation by a Russian non-governmental organization (NGO) and a Wagner deserter that his soldiers had beheaded the prisoner of war. That was “complete nonsense,” said Prigozhin.
The one-minute, 40-second video has been circulating online networks since Tuesday, sparking outrage in Ukraine and abroad. It shows a man in battle gear with a masked face beheading a surviving man lying on the ground with a knife. The camera also picks up the man’s military uniform with the badge of Ukraine.