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Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial council urges ICC to condemn Putin’s genocide claims

Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial calls Putin’s assertions ‘a lie,’ noting they were meant to justify Russia’s invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a ceremony at the monument to Jewish victims of Nazi massacres in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, on September 29, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attends a ceremony at the monument to Jewish victims of Nazi massacres in Ukraine's capital Kyiv, on September 29, 2021. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)

KYIV, Ukraine — The leadership of Ukraine’s main Holocaust memorial on Tuesday asked the International Criminal Court to speak out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claims of genocide in separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.

In a letter to ICC prosecutor Karim Khan, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial’s academic council said Putin’s claims that Ukraine committed genocide “is a lie.” Putin has sought to justify his invasion of Ukraine by claiming he is protecting residents in the Donbas region, where separatists have fought Ukrainian forces.

The letter asks Khan to make a “legal statement about this so-called genocide.”

“If President Putin wants to denounce genocide, he should reach out to those in the system of international justice, not begin a war against the people of Ukraine under false pretenses,” it says.

Babyn Yar, a ravine in the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, is where nearly 34,000 Jews were killed within 48 hours in 1941 when the city was under Nazi occupation. The killing was carried out by SS troops along with local collaborators.

The memorial was inaugurated at a ceremony last October attended by the leaders of Ukraine, Israel and Germany. One of the leading donors to the project is Mikhail Fridman, a Ukrainian-born Russian oligarch. Fridman has spoken out against the invasion of Ukraine.

A strike on a Kyiv TV tower Tuesday afternoon also damaged the memorial. The extent of the damage was not immediately clear.

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