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Russia and Ukraine crisis: what is happening in Bucha?

The town near Kyiv has become the centre of a war crimes investigation with more evidence suspected to be found as Russia retreats.

Oliver Povey
BUCHA, UKRAINE - APRIL 06: A dog stands amid debris on a destroyed street on April 06, 2022 in Bucha, Ukraine The Ukrainian government has accused Russian forces of committing a "deliberate massacre" as they occupied and eventually retreated from Bucha, 25km northwest of Kyiv. Hundreds of bodies have been found in the days since Ukrainian forces regained control of the town. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrathGetty

When the Russian army announced last week that they would be repositioned to the east of Ukraine, opportunities arrived for the Ukrainian army to liberate numerous towns, especially around Kyiv. What celebrations could be had were short-lived, however, as soldiers found dozens of civilians executed in the streets.

The town which appears to have taken the brunt of this is Bucha, some 23 miles northwest of Kyiv. After examination by local experts, it is now estimated that more than 300 civilians had been killed by the Russian army in the town.

Warning: The article contains content some readers may find disturbing.

What happened in Bucha?

Bucha, on the road to Kyiv, was the site of a deadly confrontation between a Russian armoured column and Ukrainian drones. Photos at the location show smashed tanks and vehicles littering the road through the city. Since its capture in the first week of the war, it has been under Russian control, until this week.

A civilian walks amid the destruction on a street in the town of Bucha.
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A civilian walks amid the destruction on a street in the town of Bucha.Anadolu AgencyGetty

As the Russians pulled out of the town, they left a gruesome discovery for the Ukrainian liberators. Bodies of civilians, some with their hands tied, were found by journalists in the town. A Ukrainian journalist who had been missing for two weeks, Maksim Levin, was found dead.

Workers load civilian dead bodies onto a truck.
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Workers load civilian dead bodies onto a truck.Anadolu AgencyGetty

“All these people were shot,” Bucha’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP, adding that 280 other bodies had been buried in mass graves in the town.

Satellite images accessed by the BBC show the bodies had been lying in the street for weeks. Images were taken by journalists inside the town that show badly burnt bodies in what can be supposed to be an effort to hide the evidence

A body of a dead man seen lying on the road not far from the city Bucha.
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A body of a dead man seen lying on the road not far from the city Bucha.SOPA ImagesGetty

What are the latest developments in Bucha?

The G7, an organisation of seven of the world’s largest economies, has released a joint statement on Thursday morning addressing the massacres in Bucha, describing the “haunting” images showing “the true face of Russia’s brutal war.” Russia was part of the group until 2014 when it was kicked out following the invasion of the Crimea.

While Russia has denied it carried out the atrocities, going so far as to say they were perpetrated by the Ukrainian army, evidence is mounting that Russia did commit the attacks. Der Spiegel, a German daily newspaper, reported that intercepted radio transmissions proved Russians were aware of the civilian killings when they happened.

“It’s true that the [German] government has indications of Russian perpetration in Bucha,” said the source. “However, these findings on Bucha refer to satellite images. The radio transmissions cannot be clearly assigned to Bucha.”

The bodies are being recorded and given a proper burial, but Ukraine expects to find more evidence of atrocities as its army retakes towns and villages.


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