A man’s hands are tied behind his back with a piece of white cloth. Another man is lying alone, tangled in a bicycle near a grassy embankment. A third man lies in the middle of the road, near the charred remains of a burnt-out car.
Bucha City endured five weeks of near-constant firefights. Today, officials and human rights groups blame the civilian deaths on the dead Russian forces.
“Corpses of executed people still line Yabluska Street in Bucha. Their hands are tied behind their backs with white ‘civilian’ rags, they were shot in the back of the neck. So you can imagine what kind of anarchy they perpetrated here,” Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk told Reuters on Saturday.
In a video address on Sunday after Bucha’s reporting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for an end to Russian “war crimes”.
“The world has already seen many war crimes. At different times. On different continents. But it is time to do everything in our power to make Russian military war crimes the latest manifestation of a such evil on earth,” he said.
Zelensky called on Russian leaders to be held accountable for the actions of the national army.
“I want all the leaders of the Russian Federation to see how their orders are carried out. Such orders. Such fulfillment. And a common responsibility. the streets This is how the Russian state will now be perceived. This is your image,” Zelensky said.
CNN was unable to independently confirm details of the men’s deaths.
In his address, Zelensky announced that a “justice mechanism” would be set up to investigate crimes committed by Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory. The mechanism would be supported by the foreign ministry, the attorney general’s office, the national police, the security service, the intelligence service and other branches of government, he said.
“This mechanism will help Ukraine and the world to bring to justice those who have started or participated in any way in this terrible war against the Ukrainian people and crimes against our people,” he said.
Zelensky said he would provide more information on the state of Ukrainian territory occupied by Russian forces.
“All partners of Ukraine will be informed in detail about what happened in the temporarily occupied territory of our state. War crimes in Bucha and other cities during the Russian occupation will also be considered by the (United Nations) Security Council on Tuesday,” he added. noted.
He also noted that efforts are underway to restore electricity and water to Bucha, as well as to restore medical institutions and infrastructure.
Zelensky again invoked the need for stronger sanctions against Russia.
“There will certainly be a new sanctions package against Russia. But I’m sure it’s not enough. Further conclusions are needed. Not only on Russia, but also on the political behavior that allowed this wrong to come to our land,” he added. he said.
Asked during an earlier Sunday appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation” if Russia was committing genocide in his country, Zelensky replied, “Indeed. It is genocide.”
“The elimination of the whole nation and the people. We are the citizens of Ukraine. We have more than 100 nationalities. It is about the destruction and extermination of all these nationalities”, he said. he declares.
The Russian Defense Ministry claimed that the many images of Bucha were “fake”, saying that “not a single local resident suffered any violent actions” during Russia’s occupation of the city. “In the settlements of the Kyiv region, Russian military personnel delivered and distributed 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians,” he said in a statement.
A separate statement claimed the footage was staged. “Stories about Bucha have appeared in several foreign media at once, which looks like a planned media campaign,” the statement said. “Taking into account that the troops left the city on March 30, where were the images for four days? Their absence only confirms the fake.”
The Russian government has always responded to allegations of civilian casualties inflicted by Russian forces with blanket denials. After the Russian Air Force bombed a maternity ward on March 9, Russian officials tried to cast doubt on numerous media reports, with a Russian diplomat blaming a victim of the bombing — a woman who s escaped the attack, bloody and still pregnant — to be an actor and not a real victim.
The toll of the Russian invasion was evident in a mass grave at Bucha. People wept as they tried to locate the bodies of lost loved ones at a grave in the grounds of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints Church on Sunday, according to a CNN crew at the scene.
Bucha residents told CNN the bodies were first buried in the grave during the early days of the war. They believe 150 people are buried at the site, many of whom were civilians killed in the fighting around Bucha.
CNN saw at least a dozen bodies in body bags stacked inside the grave. Some were already partially covered.
The mayor of Bucha said in public remarks on Saturday that up to 300 victims could be buried at the site.
CNN has not been able to independently verify these numbers or the identities and nationalities of those buried in the tomb.
The earth on the church grounds appears to have been recently moved, so it is possible that more bodies are buried there.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday that reports from towns in the Kyiv region revealed a “post-apocalyptic picture” of life under Russian occupation.
“This is a special appeal to draw the world’s attention to these war crimes, crimes against humanity, which were committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel,” Arestovitch said. “It’s liberated cities, a horror movie image, a post-apocalyptic image.”
“Victims of these war crimes have already been found, including women raped whom they attempted to burn, local government officials killed, children killed, elderly people killed, men killed, many of whom had the bound hands, traces of torture and a bullet in the back of the head. Thefts, attempts to take gold, valuables, carpets, washing machines. This will of course be taken into account by the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, law enforcement and international criminal courts.
Evidence of apparent atrocities in Bucha came when Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it had documented allegations of war crimes in occupied areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkiv regions.
HRW said Sunday that the allegations include “a case of repeated rapes; two cases of summary executions, one of six men, the other of one man; and other instances of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022.”
In Bucha, Russian forces “rounded up five men and summarily executed one of them” on March 4, HRW wrote. A witness told the group that the soldiers forced the men to kneel in the road and pulled their shirts over their heads, before shooting one of the men in the back of the head.
HRW also alleges that on February 27, six men were arrested in the village of Staryi Bykiv, in the Chernihiv region, and then executed.
In Malaya Rohan, a village in the Kharkiv region, a Russian soldier repeatedly raped a woman at a school where she had taken refuge with her family on March 13, the victim told HRW. “She said he beat her and cut her face, neck and hair with a knife,” HRW wrote. The woman fled to Kharkiv the following day, “where she was able to receive medical treatment and other services”.
And in the village of Vorzel, 50 km northwest of kyiv, Russian soldiers “threw a smoke grenade into a basement, then shot a woman and a 14-year-old child as they came out of the basement. -soil, where they had taken refuge”. said HRW.
“The cases we have documented represent unspeakable and deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia director, said in the statement. “Rapes, murders and other acts of violence against persons detained by Russian forces must be investigated as war crimes.”
CNN has not independently verified the details of HRW’s report and has asked the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Sunday’s developments in Ukraine accelerated calls for war crimes investigations.
Blinken said the State Department would help document all atrocities committed by the Russian military against Ukrainian civilians.
“Since the aggression, we have stated that we believe that Russian forces have committed war crimes, and we have worked to document this, to provide the information we have to the competent institutions and organizations who will put all this together. And there must be a responsibility for it.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement on Sunday that “the indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians during Russia’s unlawful and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated in as war crimes”.
European Union Council President Charles Michel has promised new sanctions against Russia, while United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has said an “independent investigation” into the civilians killed in Bucha is needed. “essential”.
CNN’s Fred Pleitgen, Vasco Cotovio, Daria Markina and Byron Blunt reported from Bucha. Tara John and Nathan Hodge reported and wrote from Lviv. Jonny Hallam and Mitchell McClusky reported from Atlanta. Amy Cassidy in London and James Frater reported from Brussels. Niamh Kennedy reported from London.