A total of five bodies can be seen in the two photographs. They are all hanging with ropes around their necks and bags over their heads. The alleged victims have their hands tied behind their backs and their shoes have no laces.
“The Russians executed civilians in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. Publicly and demonstratively for the whole world to see. I don’t understand why Ukraine isn’t getting new tanks and missiles to punish this absolute evil. Russian evil,” reads the original post on Twitter.
Investigative journalist Christo Grozev shared the photos. Although he is more careful with his interpretation, he also offers a scenario pointing to the war atrocities of the Russians. “These photos of allegedly hanged collaborators with Ukraine were first published by Russian Telegram channels, and there seem to be no retractions or rebuttals on the Russian side, but in fact a lot of proudly supportive comments,” Grozev wrote.
Russians executed civilians in Luhansk region, Ukraine. Publicly and demonstratively, for the whole world to see.
I don’t understand why Ukraine isn’t given new tanks and missiles to punish this absolute evil. Russian evil. https://t.co/39q9e7MFkP
December 4, 2022 at 8:48 am, post archived: December 4, 2022 at 3:23 pm
On the chests of the allegedly executed victims hang signs with the inscriptions “traitor to the Luhansk people” and “passed information to the enemy Smerša”. (Smérš was the name of a special unit of the Soviet Army whose task was, among other things, to detect collaborators of the Red Army, editor’s note.)
Ukrainian ruse or Russian war atrocities?
According to Grozev, photos of hanged “collaborators with Ukraine” first appeared on Russian Telegram channels. The pro-Kremlin channel Pozdnyakov 3.0 was one of the first. But the images were also spread by channels connected to the Rusič nationalist banner, whose members are known for their right-wing extremist thinking.
One of these channels said that the photo was taken by the Ukrainian side and speculates about possible bluffing by the Ukrainians. “Either the Ukrainians did it, or the Ukrainians did it. Either it’s another scam by those stupid pigs, or it really is the hangman. But I want to believe more in the first option,” the author writes in the post on Telegram.
According to him, these “hangmen” can be Russian prisoners or civilians. In both cases, according to the pro-Russian channel, it is a provocation. “And yes, do they know that Smérš no longer exists?” adds the author to the post.
However, some Russian Telegram users are posting comments expressing joy at the fact that Russia has gotten rid of more traitors. “Finally,” one of them comments curtly. “I hope it’s true. All Russians are waiting for the traitors of the Russian people to hang around,” writes another.
Orientation in information, as well as published video footage and photographs, is difficult during the war and many of them cannot be independently verified. Propaganda is rampant on both sides of the conflict. Russians usually brag about incredible stories from battles, Ukrainians are often silent about military losses. For the time being, not one of the parties to the war conflict has officially claimed the said photos.