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The mayor of Ukraine shows a dead body in the middle of the city of Bucha full of battle scars According to Reuters


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© Reuters. Image of Ukrainian soldiers on their tanks as they drive on the street, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Bucha, in the Kyiv region, Ukraine April 2, 2022. REUTERS / Zohra Bensemra

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By Simon Gardner

BUCHA, Ukraine (Reuters) – The mayor of a liberated Ukrainian city on Sunday accused the Russian military of intentionally killing civilians during their month-long occupation of the town, allegations which the Russian Defense Ministry denies.

The mayor of Bucha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed Reuters two corpses with white cloths tied around their hands and which he said were what residents were forced to wear by fighters from Chechnya, an area in southern Russia. deployed troops to Ukraine to assist the Russians. forces.

A corpse had its hands tied with white cloth and appeared to have been shot in the mouth.

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday issued a statement saying that all the photos and videos released by the Ukrainian authorities alleging “crimes” by the Russian military in Bucha were a “provocation”.

Bucha is located 37 kilometers (23 miles) northwest of Kyiv, and this weekend when journalists visited and authorities began to bring allegations of atrocities, it was a scene of courthouses. Ruined houses and streets littered with dead bodies.

Fedoruk said: “In any war there is some regulation about the participation of civilians. The Russians have proven that they consciously kill civilians.”

Fedoruk said on Saturday that more than 300 residents of the town had been killed.

Reuters news agency, which was brought to the scene by Ukrainian authorities, could not immediately verify the mayor’s allegations.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of Putin, said in a statement on February 26 that Chechen forces would fight in Ukraine within the framework of Russia’s two-day special military operation. before.

Reuters was unable to determine if it operated in Bucha. A spokesman for Kadyrov did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In its statement, the Russian Defense Ministry added that “During the time the Russian armed forces controlled this settlement, not a single local resident was subjected to any acts of violence.” It added that before the Russian troops withdrew on March 30, they delivered 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians around the Kyiv area.

“During the time the city was under the control of the Russian armed forces and then, to this day, in Bucha, local residents are free to move around the city and use it,” the ministry said. use mobile communications”.

On Saturday, Ukraine said its forces had recaptured all areas around Kyiv and that it now had full control of the capital area for the first time since the Russian invasion began on July 1. February 24.

AFTERMATH

Bucha is located in a cluster of strategically important towns on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv, close to Irpin and the Hostomel military airport. It was captured in the days immediately following the invasion by Russian forces swarming south toward the capital.

Bucha and the northern suburbs of Irpin were the point where the main force of Russian troops and armor advancing from the northwest was halted after encountering unexpected fierce resistance from Ukrainian forces.

The region saw some of the bloodiest fighting for the capital, until Russia withdrew its forces from northern Kyiv saying it planned to focus on eastern Ukraine.

On Saturday, Reuters journalists saw bodies dressed in civilian clothes lying on the streets of Bucha or half-buried in the ground, Ukrainian soldiers taking pictures of each other next to armored vehicles that had been destroyed. burning of Russia.

Hands and other body parts can be seen sticking out of the ground, while bodies in the street lie next to bicycles people were riding when they were killed.

Alexander Syrsky, the Ukrainian general in charge of the Kyiv guard, told reporters that the prosecutor’s office, police and other agencies were working to clear landmines in areas where the Russians had retreated. to identify and “identify those who committed these crimes”.

Speaking at the newly recaptured Hostomel airport, Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said on Sunday: “These are inhumane people who simply committed crimes against civilians, raping, killing, shooting them at them. the back of the head. The whole world needs to know about this.”

Reuters could not immediately verify his allegations.

The Kremlin denies it invaded Ukraine, saying it is carrying out a “special military operation” aimed at weakening Ukraine’s armed forces and that it is targeting military installations rather than actual actions. carry out attacks on civilian areas.

Investigate war crimes

On Sunday, the New York-based advocacy group Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a statement saying it had discovered “several instances of Russian military force violations of the laws of war” in the country. Russian-controlled regions such as Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kyiv – citing Bucha as a site.

The Russian Defense Ministry did not immediately respond to questions about specific allegations in HRW’s statement.

On March 1, when asked about separate charges of war crimes related to attacks on civilians, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed in a meeting with reporters that the government denied this. He denied the previous day’s accusations by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States of Russia hitting civilian targets and using cluster bombs and vacuum bombs that were fake.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, said last month that he had opened an investigation into possible war crimes in Ukraine but said it presented “a multitude of challenges, fundamental society and difficulties”. Some legal experts say prosecuting President Vladimir Putin or other Russian leaders will face a major setback and could take years.



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