On Friday, Russian and Ukrainian authorities traded accusations over an alleged attack on a prison in separatist-held eastern Ukraine that Russia said killed dozens of prisoners.
CNN was unable to immediately verify the allegations. Brief videos broadcast on Russian networks and social media channels in Donetsk show extensive destruction of a building and several bodies.
CNN analyzed videos and social media footage from pro-Russia broadcasters of the strike in Olinevka and was able to geolocate it in an industrial area 3 kilometers (about 1.8 miles) outside the city.
Olinivka prison near Donetsk was used to house several Ukrainian soldiers who surrendered at the Azovstal plant in Mariupol several months ago.
What does Russia say: “The Kyiv regime deliberately made a bloody provocation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“The pre-trial detention center in the area of the settlement of Yelinovka (Olenivka), which houses Ukrainian prisoners of war, including militants of the Azov formation, was attacked by a missile launcher from the American HIMARS missile launch system . ”
The Russian Defense Ministry reiterated allegations made earlier by the authorities in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic, a separatist-controlled region in eastern Ukraine.
It was a direct hit to the prisoners’ barracks. The result so far: 40 dead and 130 wounded. They are still removing the rubble. The DRC’s deputy information minister, Daniel Beznosov, said on his Telegram channel that the numbers could increase.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that “this blatant provocation was aimed at intimidating Ukrainian soldiers and preventing them from capturing them.”
Later on Friday, the deputy commander of the Democratic Republic of the Congo militia, Edward Basurin, said the death toll had risen to 53, with at least 71 injured.
At the moment, it is known for certain that 53 dead and 71 wounded. “The numbers may change,” Basurin said.
The chief surgeon on duty at the Central City Medical Hospital in Donetsk No. 16, Mikhail Yurenko, said that seven survivors were taken to his facility for treatment in critical condition.
“Seven prisoners of war of the Ukrainian army with various injuries were delivered in different places by ambulances. All patients received joint surgical care,” Yuryenko said in a press conference broadcast on social media. “The patients are currently in the intensive care unit.”
What Ukraine says: The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine accused the Russian forces of carrying out a “guided artillery shelling of a correctional institution in the settlement of Olenivka, Donetsk region, where Ukrainian prisoners were also held.”
“The Russian occupiers sought to achieve their criminal goals – accusing Ukraine of ‘war crimes’, as well as concealing the torture of prisoners and executions,” the General Staff said.
“The alleged bombing of civilian infrastructure and population by the armed forces of Ukraine are outright lies and provocations, for which Russia bears responsibility.”
The statement of the General Staff added: “According to the commander of the missile and artillery forces of the Ground Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the Ukrainian armed forces did not launch missile and artillery strikes in the area of the settlement of Olenivka.”
“The missile and artillery forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, thanks to the high-precision weapons received from partner countries, deliver extremely accurate strikes only on Russian military targets.”
The General Staff said the armed forces “have never conducted or bombed civilian infrastructure, particularly places where combat colleagues are likely to remain prisoners of war.”
Russia committed another horrific war crime by bombing a correctional facility in occupied Olinivka where it held Ukrainian POWs. I call on all partners to condemn this brutal violation of international humanitarian law and recognize Russia as a terrorist state,” tweeted Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
A group working on behalf of Ukrainian soldiers held as prisoners of war published on Friday that “with great sadness we had to confirm the information regarding the attack on the punishment colony in Olenivka, where soldiers of the” Azov Regiment” are held “as a prisoner of war”.
The group – known as the Angels of Azov – said on its Telegram channel: “We are finding out the names of the dead and wounded through our own channels. The International Committee of the Red Cross has also gone to the place.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross, whose representatives have visited prisoners before, did not comment.
Kostan Nechyporenko contributed reporting for this post.