Vladimir Putin and Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu (L) (Maxim Shemetov/Reuters)

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Thursday’s Coverage: Russia Missiles Strike Zaporizhzhia City as Ukrainians Continue Advance in South and East

Source: Institute for the Study of War


The bodies of 534 civilians, including 19 children, have been found in recently-liberated areaa of the Kharkiv region in northeast Ukraine.

Serhiy Bolvinov of the National Police said 447 of the bodies were found in Izyum. He said investigators had found evidence of 22 “torture rooms” set up by the Russian occupiers.


The death toll from Thursday’s Russian missile strikes on Zaporizhzhia city in southern Ukraine has risen to 11.

Governor Oleksandr Starukh said Russia also used Iranian-made Shahed-136 drones to damage two infrastructure facilities, in the city.


The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to the detained Belarusian human rights activist Ales Bialiatski, the Russian human rights organization Memorial, and the Ukrainian human rights organization Center for Civil Liberties.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, the chair of the Norwegian Nobel committee. said, “The Peace Prize laureates represent civil society in their home countries. They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens.”

She called on Belarus to free Bialiatski from prison, allowing him to attend the award ceremony in Oslo on December 10.

The head of the Belarus rights group Viasna, Bialiatski was imprisoned last July after mass demonstrations against the rule of Alexander Lukashenko.

In Ukraine, the Center for Civil Liberties thanked “the international community for their support” which “[is] very important to us”.

The Center, established in 2007, has documented Russian war crimes during the invasion that was launched on February 24.

The Russia Memorial group was shut down by the Kremlin last year. It was founded in the late 1980s to document political repressions carried out in the Soviet Union, and built a database of victims of the Great Terror and gulag camps.

A court in Moscow is currently considering whether to seize the group’s assets.

Andersen said of Vladimir Putin, who is 70 today, “This prize is not addressing President Putin, not for his birthday, or in any other sense — except that his government, as the government in Belarus, is representing an authoritarian government that is suppressing human rights activists.”

The head of the Center for Civil Liberties, Oleksandra Matviychuk said Putin, Belarus’s Lukashenko, and other “war criminals” should face an international tribunal to “give the hundreds of thousands of victims of war crimes a chance to see justice”.

Matviychuk called for Russia to be excluded from the UN Security Council “for systematic violations of the UN Charter”.


Two Russian men fleeing Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization” have claimed asylum in the US after arriving by boat in Alaska.

Having crossed the Bering Strait, the men were found near an Alaskan city about 40 miles from the Russian coast.

Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy confirmed the men are being questioned. A spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security said, “The individuals were transported to Anchorage for inspection, which includes a screening and vetting process, and then subsequently processed in accordance with applicable US immigration laws.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington said it plans to have a phone conversation with its citizens soon.


The death toll from Thursday’s Russian missile strikes on Zaporizhzhia city in southern Ukraine has risen to seven.

At least five people are missing.

ORIGINAL ENTRY: Facing setbacks and possible defeat of his Ukraine invasion, Vladimir Putin may be preparing to scapegoat Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu.

Putin has already replaced a series of commanders. However, with this month’s advance of Ukrainian counter-offensives in the northeast, east, and south — and the domestic turmoil over his “partial mobilization” — the Russian leader may need to sacrifice a long-time political ally.

Announcing “corrections” of his mobilization on Wednesday, Putin blamed the Defense Ministry: “[It] did not make timely changes to the legal framework on the list of those who are not subject to mobilization, [so] adjustments have to be made.”

The chair of the Defense Committee of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, went farther. Col. Gen. (Ret.) Andrey Kartapolov said of the Defense Ministry:

They need to stop lying. Our people aren’t stupid, far from it, and they see that they are not being taken seriously. It’s not being considered necessary to tell them even part of the truth, let alone all of it.

On Wednesday, Russian proxy official Kirill Stremousov suggested that Shoygu consider killing himself. The deputy head of the Russian-occupied part of the Kherson region, where Ukraine has broken through Russia’s frontlines, said:

Many say: if they were a Defense Minister who had allowed such a state of affairs, they could, as officers, have shot themselves. But you know the word “officer” is an incomprehensible word for many.

Shoygu has also been assailed by Putin’s long-time fixer, Yevgeny Prigozhin, and his acolyte Ramzan Kadyrov, the Governor of Chechnya. The Russian leader appears to be promoting both men as alternatives to Shoygu: Prigozhin, the financier of the mercenary Wagner Group, has been prominent in the recruitment of prisoners to go to the frontlines, and Kadyrov said this week that Putin awarded him the rank of Colonel-General.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Wednesday that Prigozhin “makes a great contribution within his capabilities”, while declining to answer questions about Prigozhin’s criticism of government officials.

The Wagner Group announced the creation of its Telegram channel on Thursday to share “uncensored materials from the front”. It declared, “We arrived from Hell. We are WAGNER — our business is death, and business is going well.”

Kadyrov already has a Telegram channel for his self-promotion. As Ukrainian forces liberated the key town of Lyman in the east last Saturday, he raved about “a lack of elementary military logistics”. He said Col.-Gen. Alexander Lapin, commander of the Russian forces in Lyman, should be demoted to private and stripped of his medals.

The Chechen governor then offered his advice on reversing the setbacks: “In my personal opinion, more drastic measures should be taken, right up to the declaration of martial law in the border areas and the use of low-yield nuclear weapons.”