14:33 04.07.2019

Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office asks Zelensky to explain his press secretary's statement re attacks on Donbas civilians

3 min read
Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office asks Zelensky to explain his press secretary's statement re attacks on Donbas civilians

The Ukrainian Prosecutor General's Office (PGO) has asked President Volodymyr Zelensky's Office to either confirm or deny public comments of his press secretary Yulia Mendel, who said that the Ukrainian army sometimes attacks Donbas civilians.

"An investigator has made an enquiry with the Ukrainian president's office concerning the criminal proceeding of September 29, 2014. He asked to either confirm or deny public statements of the presidential press secretary, who said that Ukrainian army servicemen sometimes shelled civilian facilities in eastern Ukraine," the Prosecutor General's Office said in a statement.

According to the office, Mendel said in a live program of the TV channel 1+1 on June 6 that the Ukrainian army sometimes shelled civilian facilities in retaliation against Russia-led forces' operations and that civilians had been killed as a result.

"This speech was immediately disseminated in the media and pro-Russia Internet publications with the statement that the Armed Forces of Ukraine are shelling civilians of Donbas and such facts, as the authors of the relevant reports allege, were admitted by the Office of the President of Ukraine," the prosecutor's office said.

The PGO considers the words of Zelensky's press secretary to be such that Russian representatives are likely to file with the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court as evidence of alleged violations of the laws and customs of war by the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

In addition, the Prosecutor General's Office established that the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation is now investigating over 230 criminal cases against persons who participated in the Anti-Terrorist Operation in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

"As part of a pretrial probe into these cases, about 70 Ukrainian servicemen of senior ranks were unlawfully charged in absentia for alleged crimes committed with shelling of civilian infrastructure," the ministry said.

Meanwhile, materials proving the Ukrainian servicemen are not guilty were collected and transferred by the PGO to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.

The Prosecutor General's Office summoned Mendel on July 1 to be interviewed as a witness to explain the nature of her statements.

"She refused to testify and name the source of her information and said that the interview was politicized and could be used against her, although the questions asked by the investigator did not concern her personal life but aimed to explain her actions as the person authorized to convey the official stance of the head of state," the agency said.

Criminal proceedings based on Mendel's statements have yet to begin, it said, and the request itself was sent as part of the case opened on September 29, 2014.

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