Under the threat of encirclement, Russian troops retreated from devastated suburbs of capital Kyiv. The town of Bucha was one of the key points on the way of the Russian forces in their failed attempt to capture Kyiv. Shortly after the Russian retreat, the Ukrainian troops entered the city full of mines and booby traps.
The first photographs and videos from liberated Bucha showed not only destroyed houses, but also dozens of bodies of killed civilians scattered in the streets of the once sleepy town. Some of the dead had their hands tied up behind their backs, which is a sign of deliberate execution.
On 2 April, Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, told AFP by phone that they “have already buried 280 people in mass graves” since the Ukrainian army retook the town.
The Ukrainian Ministry of Defense shared this video filmed by the Ukrainian soldiers driving through Bucha along a street strewn with dead bodies of civilians:
Serhii Kaplychnyi, who was organising the recovery of the bodies in Bucha, showed AFP a long slit trench where the bodies lay and said it was a mass grave for 57 people.
In this video Bucha resident Antonina Pomazanenko shows the body of her daughter, whom the Russian troops killed on the first day of the occupation when she went out as the Russian convoy was passing by:
Human Rights Watch has already documented several cases of laws-of-war violations against civilians by Russian forces in Ukraine. One of the cases includes an execution of a man by Russian forces in Bucha on 4 March in front of some 40 civilians forced to the town’s square from their homes.
“On March 4, Russian forces in Bucha, about 30 kilometers northwest of Kyiv, rounded up five men and summarily executed one of them. A witness told Human Rights Watch that soldiers forced the five men to kneel on the side of the road, pulled their T-shirts over their heads, and shot one of the men in the back of the head. ‘He fell [over],’ the witness said, ‘and the women [present at the scene] screamed’.”
According to the witness, a local teacher, then the commander of the Russians said to the rest of the people at the square,
“Don’t worry. You are all normal – and this is dirt. We are here to cleanse you from the dirt.”
The witness said she managed to leave the town on 9 March and the young man’s body was still lying where he had been shot.
This following video shows a basement in an apartment building in Bucha, where four men were killed in the similar manner as the one mention in the HRW’s witness account. It is yet unknown if these cases are related.
Horrifying and unthinkable footage from #Bucha, Ukraine. In one of the apartments, the #Russian invaders set up a HQ with two rooms: the first one was a torture chamber, in the second, civilians were shot in the back of the head while tied up. pic.twitter.com/vZI03HVb0E
— Giorgi Revishvili (@revishvilig) April 3, 2022
Ukraine’s Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security citing special services reported that Russia’s 64th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade from Khabarovsk Krai was stationed in Bucha. Additionally, the mayor of Bucha mentioned that Kadyrov’s fighters were also in Bucha during the Russian occupation.
Ukrainian FM calls on ICC to gather evidence in Bucha
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called on the mission of the International Criminal Court to come to Bucha for gathering evidence:
“I call on the International Criminal Court and international organizations to send their missions to Bucha and other liberated towns and villages of Kyiv Oblast to collect all evidence of Russian war crimes as closely as possible in cooperation with Ukrainian law enforcement agencies,” he said, according to Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Bucha massacre was deliberate. Russians aim to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can. We must stop them and kick them out. I demand new devastating G7 sanctions NOW:
-Oil, gas, coal embargo
-Close all ports to Russian vessels and goods
-Disconnect all Russian banks from SWIFT pic.twitter.com/oZkCAETCQp
— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 3, 2022
Oleksandr Merezhko, the Chair of the Ukrainian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs and Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, called on Western politicians to recognize the Russian crimes in Ukraine as a genocide:
“After the crimes of Russia in Mariupol, Bucha, Irpen, and Hostomel, Western politicians can no longer ignore the obvious acts of genocide against the Ukrainian nation. Unfortunately, some Western politicians are still afraid to acknowledge this 21st century genocide and even use the word ‘genocide’…
Russia’s policy of genocide against the Ukrainian people requires concrete action by all countries to stop the genocide. Silence and inaction are now becoming complicit in Russia’s crimes.”
One of Ukrainian negotiators in Russia-Ukraine talks, official of the President’s Office Mykhailo Podoliak, accused Russia of “a planned genocide.”
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy shared photos from Bucha on Telegram with the following comment:
“Bucharest, NATO Summit Declaration. April 3, 14 years ago. There was a chance to prevent, so that Russia didn’t come. Bucha, Kyiv region. Now. Russia has come.
Mothers of Russian soldiers should see that. See what bastards you’ve raised. Murderers, looters, butchers.”
In its statement released of 3 April, Russia’s Defense Ministry called photos and videos of dead civilians in Bucha “yet another provocation” by Kyiv. The Ministry stated that the Russian military units had left the city on 30 March.
On 1 April, two days after the alleged withdrawal date mentioned by the Ministry, however, the Russian Defense Ministry’s TV channel Zvezda reported in its TV segment that Russian airborne troops and marines “successfully restrained the actions of the enemy forces in the direction of Gostomel – Bucha – Ozera for five days” and one of marine unit commanders told Zvezda that “settlements were being mopped up” to gaining a foothold in them.
UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss wrote on Twitter that she is “appalled” by atrocities in Bucha and other Ukrainian towns:
Appalled by atrocities in Bucha and other towns in Ukraine. Reports of Russian forces targeting innocent civilians are abhorrent.
The UK is working with others to collect evidence and support @IntlCrimCourt war crimes investigation. Those responsible will be held to account.
— Liz Truss (@trussliz) April 2, 2022
President of the European Council Charles Michel wrote that he was shocked by the images of Bucha massacre and promised more EU sanctions against Russia:
Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region #BuchaMassacre
EU is assisting #Ukraine & NGO’s in gathering of necessary evidence for pursuit in international courts.
Further EU sanctions & support are on their way.
— Charles Michel (@eucopresident) April 3, 2022
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said the West will impose new sanctions on Russia in the next few days over Bucha.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that Russian authorities “must answer for crimes” committed in Ukraine’s Bucha,
Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky said he was shocked by photos from Bucha and added that the killing of civilians was a “war crime.”
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