Human Rights Watch accuses Russian forces of ‘clear war crimes’ in Ukraine According to Reuters

© Reuters. Local residents ride bicycles past civilian vehicles that were flattened as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continued, on a street in the town of Bucha, Kyiv region, Ukraine April 1, 2022. REUTERS / Oleksandr Ratushniak

By Stephen Farrell

LVIV, Ukraine (Reuters) – A leading human rights group said on Sunday it had documented “clear war crimes” by Russian military forces against civilians in Ukraine.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement saying it had detected “several instances of Russian military forces violating the law of war” in Russian-controlled regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv.

The statement published in Warsaw came a day after dead civilians were found scattered across the streets of the Ukrainian town of Bucha near Kyiv, three days after Russian troops withdrew from the occupation. close for a month.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday denied that its forces had killed civilians in Bucha. It said in a statement that all Russian units had left the town on March 30, and that the videos and photos of the corpses were “another act of provocation”.

The department did not immediately respond to specific allegations in HRW’s statement.

The Kremlin says its “special military operation” is aimed at weakening Ukraine’s armed forces and targeting military facilities, not civilians.

When asked about the separate war crimes allegations on March 1, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a meeting with reporters: “We categorically deny this.” He denied accusations of Russian airstrikes on civilian targets and the use of fake bombs and vacuum bombs.

New York-based HRW mentioned Bucha in its statement, in which it said it interviewed 10 people including witnesses, victims and local residents, either in person or by phone. It said some were too scared to give them their full names.

Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Regional Director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “The cases we have documented are intentional cruelty and unspeakable violence against Ukrainian civilians.

“Rape, murder and other acts of violence against persons detained by Russian forces should be investigated as war crimes.”

These, it said, included a case of repeated rape; two summary executions – one in six men – and other cases of unlawful violence and intimidation against civilians between February 27 and March 14.

The report said: “Soldiers are also involved in the looting of civilian property, including food, clothing and firewood. Those who commit these abuses are held accountable for war crimes “.

Reuters was unable to verify the HRW evidence immediately.

HRW said that on March 4, Russian forces in Bucha “rounded five men and executed one of them”.

Reuters journalists visited Bucha on Saturday and Sunday, after being approached by Ukrainian forces, who had recaptured the area, and saw unarmed bodies littered the streets.

On Sunday, Bucha mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk showed Reuters two corpses with white cloths tied around their hands, which the mayor said residents had been forced to wear during the month that Russian forces occupied the city.

The report said that, northeast of Kyiv in the Chernihiv region, Russian forces in Staryi Bykiv rounded up at least six men on February 27, then executed them. It quoted the mother of one of the men, who said she was nearby when her son was arrested and who later saw the bodies of all six men.

HRW said all parties to the armed conflict in Ukraine have an obligation to abide by international law and the law of war.

“Russia has an international legal obligation to objectively investigate alleged war crimes committed by its troops,” Williamson said.

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