Russia War Crimes Diary – Ukraine edition 19
As Russia’s bloody war against Ukraine grinds on, Kyiv is preparing to launch a much-anticipated counteroffensive against Moscow’s invading forces.
How effective Ukraine’s spring offensive will be in curbing Russian aggression, however, may depend on whether promises from Kyiv’s Western partners have been fulfilled in supplying enough weapons and other military hardware to the war-torn country.
Earlier in April, the two warring nations agreed to a prisoner swap of more than 200 soldiers in total, signalling rare cooperation between Kyiv and Moscow. Since the war started, Ukraine has returned home more than 2,200 of its soldiers from Russian captivity.
Meanwhile, atrocities are still being carried out, and those committing human rights violations, including forced displacement, physical abuse, and other crimes against civilians must be held accountable.
This is where international organizations, law enforcement agencies, volunteers, and journalists are stepping up, as they continue to collect evidence of war crimes to bring those responsible to justice.
Survivors, witnesses of Mariupol theatre bomb recall that deadly day
In mid-March last year, just weeks after Russian forces rolled into Ukraine, Moscow’s forces dropped a bomb on the large drama theatre in the eastern city of Mariupol, where hundreds of citizens had taken shelter in an attempt to escape Russia’s attacks. At the time, the theatre was the largest such shelter in the besieged city for civilians, when the aviation bombardment unleashed a deadly fire, collapsing the structure’s roof. At least 300 people were killed in the brutal attack, according to Ukrainian authorities.
“There was a woman there, I understand her son was under the rubble. She was just tearing her hair out,” Maria, who says she witnessed the bombing, told reporters at Suspilne.News. Russia denied that it intentionally bombed the theatre.
Journalists at the Suspilne.News spoke to people who took shelter in the theater that day, on March 16 last year.
- You can read more stories of witnesses here.
Russian accused of war crime for serial raping of Ukrainian woman
During the Russian occupation of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, a Russian soldier moved into the house of a Ukrainian woman, and for four months – between April to August last year – he repeatedly raped her and threatened to kill her young son, according to Ukrainian prosecutors.
The accused Russian soldier, whose charges amount to war crimes, also threatened to bring other Russian military personnel to her village to abuse her. Using social media, journalists at Slidstvo.info journalists say they identified the suspect. You can read more about this case, here.
Investigation: Russian air strikes in Mykolaiv a “war crime”
Researchers at Truth Hounds have conducted an investigation alongside Ukrainian authorities that looked into Russian airstrikes on two civilian buildings – a hotel and a psychiatric hospital in the city of Mykolaiv.
The joint investigation into the aerial bombs dropped in March last year in Mykolaiv, was conducted alongside Ukraine’s National Police and the Regional Prosecutor’s Office. Using information collected at the scene and open-source data, they determined “that this attack featured all of the characteristics of a war crime,” and claim to have identified the perpetrators.
Experts analyzed a series of images, examined the scene of the incident, and identified the type of ammunition and military equipment that was likely used in the aerial strike.
- You can read the full investigation, here.
Russian terror, war crime committed in small Ukrainian village
Journalists have published an investigation into an alleged war crime committed by Russian soldiers in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, where six civilian men were reportedly executed and a young girl subsequently died as the perpetrators tried to cover up their crime.
The bodies of the men, who were aged between 22 and 47, were discovered by locals in the small village of Pravdyne with their hands and feet bound, and their eyes blindfolded. Bullet wounds were also discovered on the victims after their bodies were exhumed from a house.
The Center for Journalistic Investigations reports that after the Russians killed the six men, who all worked as security guards at a local agricultural business, they tried to cover their crime by blowing up a house where the bodies were kept. But a young girl died as a result.
- You can read their full report, here.
Systematic abuse carried out by Russian forces occupying Ukraine
Journalists at The Atlantic, a U.S. publication, wrote a lengthy article that highlights how Russian forces in the southern Ukrainian village of Stara Zburyivka committed widespread, systematic abuse and violence against the residents there.
The article, which is based on accounts compiled by The Reckoning Project, which is researching and collecting evidence of Russia’s war crimes in Ukraine, uses stories from the project to shine a light on the grim treatment Ukrainians are being subjected to.
Viktor Maruniak, the mayor of the southern town, was captured by Russians who subjected him to various forms of torture. As well as choking him unconscious, his captives also wired his fingers to electricity, and threatened him to harm him while he languished in a torture chamber.
Maruniak’s treatment, however, is not unique. Such ill-treatment is part of a larger pattern of systemic mistreatment and abuse towards Ukrainian civilians. The Reckoning Project has interviewed many people who have suffered under Russia’s occupation, many of whom are afraid to give their names because they worry about repercussions.
- You can read the stories of Ukrainians under occupation here.
Edited by Stephen McGrath
source: National Police of Ukraine (Sloviansk, Donetsk region)
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