Russian soldiers are now being accused of torturing animals in Ukraine, including a rare hamster species protected by Ukrainian law.
Several animals were found hanging in areas abandoned by the Russian army. Among the tortured animals was a gray dwarf hamster, which is listed in the Red Book of Ukraine, as per the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
“Killing is entertainment for them. When the occupiers are unable to torture&kill civilians, they do it to animals,” the defense ministry wrote in a tweet. “At one position abandoned by Russians, animals were found executed by hanging. Among them, a rare gray dwarf hamster that is listed in the Red Book of Ukraine.”
The Red Book is a document that lists rare and endangered species of animals, plants and fungi protected by Ukrainian law. Ukraine is currently developing practical and scientific measures to protect and restore endangered species.
The defense ministry’s post comes just one day after The Washington Post reported that seven raccoons, two female wolves, peacocks, a llama and a donkey were stolen from the Kherson Zoo by the Russian military.
The outlet also noted that Oleg Zubkov, owner of the private zoo Taigan Lion Park in the occupied Crimean Peninsula, was recorded grabbing raccoons with bare hands and dumping them into cages. The now-deleted video also showed Zubkov “manhandling a llama into a dilapidated, windowless van.”
A separate video uploaded on YouTube on Sunday also showed two wolves from Kherson Zoo in a cage. Both wolves appeared frightened as they were being filmed by television channels and unloaded at the Crimean Zoo.
In comments to Russian media on Youtube, Zubkov said they were on a “humanitarian mission” to temporarily evacuate the animals. He added that the stolen animals would be sent back to Kherson after Russia reoccupies the city.
The Russians abandoned Kherson last week, allowing the Ukrainian army to liberate the city. The retaking of Kherson was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes since the war began in February.