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Eyewitness shares horror of Azov neo-Nazis gunning down defenseless fleeing civilian in Mariupol

Ukraine’s neo-Nazi fighting force, the Azov Regiment, gunned down in cold blood a resident of Mariupol in front of other civilians attempting to flee the city, a woman who survived the terrifying ordeal, tells Sputnik.

“…We saw an old man walking…in the direction of Sartana … They killed him before our eyes… There are corpses just lying out there… strewn along the road,” said the woman, a Mariupol resident who said her name was Elena.

As she shared the horror of that day, the woman described how the militants that Russia has initiated a criminal case against [them] opened fire at the car in which she, her husband and two children were trying to leave the city.

“They started firing from both sides… Azov… We had written on our car that there were ‘children inside’… attached white rags… But they opened fire…My husband fell to the floor, opened the door and shouted:

“Don’t shoot, please! The children have been wounded!” continued Elena.

The woman described how the militants got out some huge weapon, she didn’t know what it was, and aimed it at the car.

“ … But I grabbed my children and led them out onto the road, screaming, ‘Please don’t shoot, children!’” continued the eyewitness to the shocking incident.

She added that the militants called them over, asked where they were going, and then said,

“Have you come here to die? We can just gun you and your wife down and take the children!”

As the youngsters sobbed, “Don’t shoot!” the militants finally pointed the family in the direction of Sartana and told then to run for their lives.

“And we went and ran,” the shaken woman said.

The Azov regiment, based in Mariupol, the southeastern Ukrainian coastal city currently surrounded by Russian and Donetsk People’s Republic forces, has been indiscriminately targeting civilian areas and resorting to use of local residents as “human shields” during their retreat.

Earlier, the Russian defence ministry accused the Azov detachment of using heavy Grad artillery to strike residential areas and a school on the outskirts of Mariupol, killing multiple civilians.

Lugansk People’s Republic head Leonid Pasechnik has also stated that retreating Ukrainian nationalist forces destroy destroy everything in their path.

“The armed formations of the Ukro-fascists, realizing the hopelessness of their resistance, in their impotent hatred are destroying everything in their path during their retreat. They open fire on residential buildings, mine the area, destroy objects of civilian infrastructure. This criminal regime has showed its true face,” Pasechnik told Russian media on Sunday.

Originally a group of neo-Nazi volunteer paramilitaries, formed in late 2014, taking part in hostilities in Donbass, Azov has since evolved into a regiment boasting over 2,500 troopers and has been integrated into the Ukrainian National Guard.

It openly flaunts the rune logo that echoes the Wolfsangel, one of the symbols used by the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich, and has a UN-documented history of crimes.

In 2016, a report by the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OCHA) accused the Azov regiment of violating international humanitarian law, detailing incidents over a period from November 2015-February 2016 where Azov fighters embedded their weapons in used civilian buildings.

The report also accused the battalion of raping and torturing detainees in the Donbass region.

On 24 February, Moscow began a military operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine after weeks of escalating shelling, sabotage and sniper attacks by Ukrainian forces against the Donbass republics, whose predominantly Russian-speaking population has been subjected to “abuse, genocide… for eight years.”

Established in the spring of 2014 in response to the Western-backed coup in Kiev, the Lugansk and Donetsk People’s Republics (LPR, DPR) refused to accept the overthrow of the country’s legitimate government and its replacement by ultranationalist and pro-western forces.

Russia formally recognised the DPR and LPR ahead of its special military operation, which began in response to an official request for assistance from the authorities of the Donbass republics.

The Russian government has repeatedly stated that the goal of the current operation was to neutralise Ukraine’s military capacity and not harm the civilian population of the country.