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Russia to probe claims of suspicious activity by Red Cross

The Russian Investigative Committee said on Sunday it will look into allegations the Ukrainian Red Cross Society was involved in shady activities, including keeping records of children with “healthy organs” in the city of Mariupol.

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The claim came from Vladimir Taranenko, the head of the Donetsk-based civic organization called ‘Peoples Retinue,’ a volunteer movement that states as one of its goals assisting law enforcement in the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR).

The activist posted a video of what he called a search of the Red Cross office in Mariupol on his social media and claimed some of the evidence found there casts the Ukrainian national society in a very suspicious light.

He claimed the office had medical records for over 1,000 children, but they marked their “healthy organs” instead of any medical conditions or procedures.

Taranenko also claimed that some of the reading materials discovered at the office were instructions on “how to use weapons, including in a format intended for children.”

The video showed at least one military-related manual. It was a printout of “Practical Military Ordnance Identification” by Thomas Gersbeck, a retired US Marines Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technician. The book is a field manual on how to identify unexploded munitions and handle them in a safe manner.

Taranenko has said that DPR investigators will “shed light” on the activities of the society. The Russian committee said it will add the video to a list of evidence it already has regarding suspected crimes by Kiev.

Mariupol is a major port city in what the DPR claims as its sovereign territory. It was captured by Russian and DPR forces during the ongoing military campaign against Ukraine.

Neither the Ukrainian society nor the International Committee of the Red Cross would immediately comment on the allegations.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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