A court in Russia's northwestern region of Pskov has ruled that the mass killings of Soviet citizens in the area during World War II were an act of genocide.
According to the court ruling on August 27, 75,000 civilians and 377,000 military personnel were killed during the war in the Pskov region, which at the time was divided between the Leningrad and Tver regions.
The court also said that the region's more than 192,000 residents were forcibly taken to Germany and the Baltic states.
The probe into the killings was launched after a mass grave was found a year ago near the village of Moglino, where a Nazi camp for Soviet prisoners of war was located.
Similar investigations into events that occurred in wartime more than 75 years ago have taken place in other parts of Russia as well in what officials have cast as part of an effort to establish facts and pursue justice.
But some critics say the probes are part of a continuing push by President Vladimir Putin's government to enshrine a positive narrative of the country's history, and counter what it claims are efforts abroad to equate the Soviet Union's wartime role with that of Nazi Germany.
In October 2020, a court in another Russian region, Novgorod, recognized the mass killings of Soviet citizens in the village of Zhestyanaya Gorka as an act of genocide.
The Soviet Union's death toll in World War II was the highest among all countries involved in the war.
According to official data, the Soviet Union lost some 27 million people between 1941-1945. However, some experts and historians say that the total number is actually higher.