PoliticsWhat is known about the abominations of Bucha

What is known about the abominations of Bucha

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Mass graves, shot civilians, traces of torture. The Russian army is said to have committed war crimes in Bucha. What is known so far.


The government in Kyiv and Western countries accused Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. First of all, the photos from the devastated city of Bucha shocked the world public opinion. What is known so far about the alleged actions of the Russian army there.

Butscha: Four weeks under occupation

Before the war, Bucha was a family-friendly suburb of Kiev with a population of about 37,000. According to the human rights organization Human Rights Watch, the first Russian soldiers arrived in the city on February 27 and took control of the city on March 5.

At that time, an estimated 4,000 people were still there. On March 31, the Russian army withdrew from Bucha.

First signs of brutality

AFP journalists found 20 bodies in plain clothes scattered a few hundred meters from Jablunska Street on 2 April. They looked like they had been there for at least a few days.

One man had fallen off his bike and the others had their hands tied behind their backs. At least two of them were found to have head injuries.




  • About 400 dead, according to Ukraine

    According to Bucha police chief Vitaly Lobass, around 400 bodies were found, including two mass graves, after the soldiers had withdrawn. Most were hit, about a quarter of them undetected.

    Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister, Olha Stefanishyna, said that more than 1,000 dead civilians were found in the area.

    war crimes investigations

    Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his visit to Bucha on April 4:

    These are war crimes and will be recognized by the world as genocide.

    Volodymyr Zelensky

    Karim Khan, chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, went there on April 13 and described all of Ukraine as a “crime scene”. Khan announced that a team of investigators from Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine will need to gather evidence on the spot and will be supported by the EU judicial authority Eurojust.

    Human Rights Watch conducted its own investigations and said it found evidence of war crimes, including torture, extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearance. Investigators from the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights documented the deaths of 50 civilians, including extrajudicial killings, in Bucha on 9 April.

    Moscow denies crimes

    A few hours after the first footage of the bodies on Jablunska Street was released, the Russian military claimed the scene was staged because two of the dead were moving in the video. Analysis of the video by AFP and the agency’s own footage disproved this.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Kiev of “incompetent and cynical provocations”, while the Foreign Ministry accused Ukraine of killing civilians or putting bodies there.

    Comparing satellite images from the US company Maxar Technologies with AFP images shows that many of the bodies have been outdoors for at least three weeks.

    The magazine “Der Spiegel” relayed radio messages in which they talked about atrocities among Russian soldiers captured by the Federal Intelligence Agency (BND). In a speech, one soldier told another that he and his colleagues had killed a man on a bicycle.

    Cases against the alleged perpetrators continue

    Kyiv blames the Russian 64th Motor Rifle Brigade for the crimes. Troops are stationed in Bucha. Ukraine’s prosecutor’s office said on Thursday they have launched war crimes investigations against ten members of the brigade. On April 18, Putin signed a decree praising the brigade for its “heroism and courage”.

    An eyewitness told AFP that at the beginning of the occupation, mostly young Russian soldiers were present in the city. Later, the “brutal” elders rose. “The massacres started at this time,” the woman said.

    Russian mercenaries from the notorious Wagner Group may also have been involved, according to messages intercepted by the BND.

    You can always find the latest news about the Russian attack on Ukraine on our live blog:

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