A SENIOR rebel in eastern Ukraine has admitted extra-judicial killings have taken place in what he claimed was a bid to “prevent chaos”.
Igor Druz – an adviser to rebel commander Igor Strelkov – said the “executions” “sent a message” to the rest of the separatist forces.
He also claimed Ukraine’s government was a “terrorist” organisation whose forces were committing war crimes against civilians.
More than 1,500 people are believed to have been killed during the conflict which erupted after rebels in eastern Ukraine declared independence from the new government in Kiev in April.
Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea in March, has been accused of arming rebels and has faced United States and European Union sanctions as a result. Russia denies the accusations.
Druz, also a senior spokesman for rebel-held Donetsk, is in charge of ideology for the separatist movement.
In an interview yesterday he outlined his vision of a state of “Novorossia” he hopes to build in Donetsk.
He claimed to support Orthodox Christian family values, and opposed homosexuality.
Druz also stated he hopes to legalise the death penalty.
Speaking in Donetsk, he said: “On several occasions, in a state of emergency, we have carried out executions by shooting to prevent chaos.
“As a result, our troops, the ones who have pulled out of Slovyansk, are highly disciplined.”
Slovyansk had been a key stronghold for the rebels before Kiev forces recaptured it last month. Druz said that the rebels want to establish a socially responsible state upholding Christian values.
He also claimed the Ukrainian government was “totally illegitimate”.
“These people have come to power by committing murders and staging an armed coup. Now they are committing war crimes. They are bombing our cities. They shell cities and then blame it on our fighters. This is nonsense. Why would we shell cities which are under our control?” he asked.
Refugees, who are fleeing from the fighting in the east of Ukraine, said they believe the Ukrainian government is shelling residential areas, and that they were given no warning and had little time to escape.
On Friday, US President Barack Obama expressed “deep concern” over the fighting in Ukraine in a telephone call conversation with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Speaking after the call, Obama said: “I think that we have done everything that we can to support the Ukrainian government and to deter Russia from moving further into Ukraine.
“But short of going to war, there are going to be some constraints in terms of what we can do if president Putin and Russia are ignoring what should be their long-term interests.”
Obama’s administration announced to Congress on Friday that it intended to spend $19 million (£11m) training the Ukrainian national guard.
Putin on Friday condemned the fresh sanctions ordered by both the US and the EU.
He said that they were “counter-productive, causing serious damage to bilateral co-operation and international stability overall”.
Russia also accused the EU of double standards stating that it had lifted a ban on supplying Ukraine with military technology and equipment “on the quiet” while imposing yet more sanctions on Moscow’s defence sector.
A statement on the Russian foreign ministry website said: “During a recent meeting of the Council of Europe in Brussels, leaders of the EU member states agreed ‘on the quiet’ to remove restrictions on exports to Kiev of equipment that could be used for internal repression.
“Exports of military technologies and equipment were also allowed.”