Russia War Crimes Diary – Ukraine edition 21

08 iun., 2023

The massive Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro river in southern Ukraine collapsed on Tuesday, leaving emergency service workers scrambling to evacuate residents as thousands flee from major floods. 

While Kyiv blamed Russia for blowing up the 30-metre-high dam, Moscow said Ukraine was behind the breach, which occurred in territory that has been held by Russia for more than a year.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing a war crime in the collapse of the dam, and warned of both catastrophic ecological and humanitarian consequences, as well as risks to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant. Russia, however, denies those charges and said Ukraine caused the breach in an effort to distract from what it described as a failing counteroffensive. 

According to the Geneva Convention, civilian infrastructure such as dams and energy facilities cannot be targeted, even if military bases are located there. 

While the Institute for the Study of War called Moscow’s claims of the dam collapse “implausible,” it also said it was „unable to offer an independent assessment of responsibility” as of Tuesday. However, the ISW noted that breaching the dam might favour Russia’s interests more.

As the war drags into its sixteenth month, Ukraine’s western partners continue to support Kyiv with military and humanitarian aid. International organizations, law enforcement agencies, and journalists continue to play an important role in documenting war crimes, seeking justice for the future.

Russian paratrooper suspected of war crimes, witness in slaying of family 

Context has previously reported on the investigation of the shooting of the Chikmarev family from the town of Bucha in the Kyiv region, which amounts to a war crime.

Ukrainian law enforcement agencies have conducted an investigation with Russian soldier Andriy Medvediv, a paratrooper from the Pskov region who witnessed the attack on the family’s vehicles. Four people were killed in that attack, including two children. One man who survived also lost a leg.

In this case, Medvediv is a witness, but he is also suspected of committing war crimes that include physical violence, interrogation and imitation of shooting of civilians. A court is investigating the case.  

Colleagues from the media platform published the investigation and spoke to the now detained Russian soldier.

  • For more information about the investigative experiment, check out this link

Shooting of civilians on the roads leading to the capital of Ukraine 

The Eyes on Russia investigative project has reviewed evidence using open sources and collated a number of cases of civilian deaths during Russia’s occupation of the Kyiv region.

By comparing timestamped photos and videos against Russian troops’ control of some cities in the Kyiv region, The Eyes on Russia team was able to map out the Russian military presence with civilian casualties. 

The researchers drew the conclusion that Russian troops were most likely involved in the shooting of civilians there.

  • More details of the report can be found, here

A journey into enemy territory to save her child from the Russians

The illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Russian territory remains one of the thorniest issues of the war. Journalists from the BBC spoke to mothers whose children have been illegally transferred to Russia, or detained there. 

The women were forced to travel to the enemy country to reunite with their children, to protect them from being adopted by Russian families.

“I was afraid that if Sasha was taken to Russia, I would never find him,” Tatiana, the mother of one of the boys, told the BBC. “I was afraid that he would be given to a foster family.”

During the childrens’ stay on the territory of Russia, they were forced to study in Russian, sing Russia’s national anthem and wear military uniforms emblazoned with the enemy symbol – Z.

  • Read more about the children’s liberation, here

“Animals don’t scream like that”: torture in Kherson

Journalists from spoke to victims of torture in Kherson. One victims, Danylo remains anonymous for the safety of his family, but shares in detail his treatment during his illegal detention by Russian forces. 

“I’ve never heard a person scream like that in real life,” he said. “Even animals probably don’t scream like that.”

The victims, he said, were stripped naked, electrocuted for prolonged periods, and cigarettes stubbed out on their bare skin. Detainees were also subjected to psychological torture, he said: from being forced to listen to Russia’s national anthem to threats of rape. He said that the abusers were in their early 20s and appeared to enjoy the process. 

The journalists managed to identify the names of the Russian torturers, who allegedly abused more than 200 civilians in the Kherson region.

  • You can read more about this story, here

Indiscriminate attack with cluster munitions in Kherson

After losing control of southern Kherson, Russian forces continued to shell the city. Human Rights Watch documented the aftermath of a suspected cluster munition attack in Kherson last November. 

They alleged that Russia used cluster munition in a residential street in the town which struck three people. Cluster munitions typically explode in midair and send dozens, even hundreds of small submunitions over an area the size of a football pitch. 

The HRW researchers interviewed witnesses of the attack, and one man recalls seeing a woman, her leg blown off, lying on the sidewalk in a pool of blood. A man caught in the strike also lost his legs, and was seen dragging himself along the street.

“These attacks are carried out with no apparent regard for civilians,” a HRW researcher said. “They are a direct rebuke to Russia’s claims that it only targets the military.”

  • Read more about this case, here

Edited by Stephen McGrath
Photo Credit: Denys Krasylnikov

Despre autor: Yana Skoryna

Avatar of Yana Skoryna
Yana Skoryna are o experiență de 10 ani în jurnalismul TV din Ucraina, unde a lucrat de la proiecte de anvergură la emisiuni de divertisment pentru diverse canale TV și a fost, de asemenea, editor pe platou. De când s-a mutat în România, Yana scrie la CONTEXT un jurnal al crimelor de război, documentând atrocitățile comise de ruși în Ucraina. Ea face interviuri și scrie poveștile victimelor pentru ca acestea să nu fie uitate și criminalii să fie pedepsiți într-o bună zi. Yana spune că produsele media de calitate sunt create din detalii.

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