Conflicts & War

Human Rights Watch documents apparent war crimes by Russian troops in Ukraine

Krakow, Poland, Apr 3 (EFE).- Human Rights Watch on Sunday said it had documented possible war crimes committed by the Russian military in occupied areas of Ukraine, including cases of repeated rape, summary executions and looting.

The report from the human rights organization comes as Ukrainian authorities claimed the military had regained full control of the Kyiv region, including the formerly occupied cities and towns of Irpin, Bucha and Hostomel.

Local media entering these areas in the Kyiv region reported mass graves and civilian bodies strewn across streets.

HRW interviewed 10 local residents from areas under Russian occupation between February 27 to March 14 to compile its documentation of apparent war crimes that took place in the regions of Kyiv, the capital, Chernihiv, in northern Ukraine and Kharkiv, northeastern Ukraine.

“The cases we documented amount to unspeakable, deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” Hugh Williamson, HRW Europe and Central Asia director, said.

“Rape, murder, and other violent acts against people in the Russian forces’ custody should be investigated as war crimes.”

Reports of summary executions emerged from Bucha, in the Kyiv region, and the village of Staryi Bykiv in the Chernihiv region.

The alleged atrocity in Bucha took place on March 4 when Russian troops rounded up five men, made them kneel on the side of the road and pulled their t-shirts over their heads before shooting one of them in the back of the head, a witness told the organization.

In Staryi Bykiv, on February 27, just days after Russia’s invasion began, Moscow troops rounded up six men and summarily executed them, according to a witness from an adjacent village who spoke to relatives of the victims.

“They took six men from three different families. One mother had both of her sons taken [and shot]. Another young man was in his early 20s, his name was Bohdan, I know his mother well, she told me that the soldiers told her to wait near her house while they took her son (…) to question him.

“They said the same thing to other families. Instead, they led these six men away, took them to the far end of the village, and shot them,” Tetiana told HRW.

A 31-year-old woman going by the name of Olha, which was changed for her safety, gave an account to HRW of how she was repeatedly raped and beaten by a Russian soldier at a makeshift shelter in a local school.

HRW said it has received three other accounts of rape from Chernihiv and Mariupol but could not independently verify them.

The organization also collected reports of Russian soldiers threatening to kill local residents as well as looting of civilian property. EFE


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