satellite images and field observations point to responsibility of Russian soldiers

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A massacre has indeed been committed in Boutcha (Ukraine), a city ravaged by a month of war. the New York Times released satellite images (article in English) from Maxar Technologies on Monday, April 4, which undermines Russian claims that the bodies of people in civilian clothes were placed there after Russian troops evacuated the area. But ten bodies litter Yablonska Street in this photo dated March 19, when the Russian army had been in town for at least two weeks.

Previously, the Russian Ministry of Defense had claimed that these bodies had been deposited there after the departure of its troops on March 30. Which is therefore a lie. In addition, another satellite image shows that there were no bodies on February 28, the date of the start of the war: their presence is due to the Russian occupation. Those “high-resolution images (…) corroborate recent videos and photos on social media revealing the presence of bodies lying in the streets [de Boutcha] and abandoned for several weeks”estimates Maxar Technologies in a press release.

This massacre still needed to be documented. France Télévisions therefore verified the presence of these bodies in Boutcha in two ways. Thanks to the Révélateurs team, first of all, who analyzed several documents posted online on April 1 and 2 in particular. Thanks to the work carried out in the field by a team from France 2, then, which was able to provide location data and images from Boutcha. At the end of this work, France Télévisions is able to confirm the location of the ten bodies spotted on the satellite image as well as four additional ones. This count is not exhaustive, and our journalist unfortunately noted the presence of other victims.

At least three of them were elderly men and one was carrying a satchel containing a bar of chocolate and medicine, according to our observations on the spot. Among the victims on Yablonska Street identified by satellite, only one had her hands tied. The circumstances of the death of these people are still unknown. In addition, France Télévisions noted an impact on a sidewalk, which seems to correspond to a mortar fire. Another video, shot in early March, also shows a Russian tank opening fire on a cyclist at the intersection of rue Yablonska and rue de la gare. These images leave little doubt about the violence committed against civilians.


At least 320 civilians were killed during the occupation of this city which had 30,000 inhabitants before the start of the conflict, according to the mayor, Anatolyi Fedorouk, interviewed by the BBC. They were sometimes buried in gardens, sometimes in a mass grave dug by the Ukrainians themselves near St. Andrew’s Church, as evidenced by Maxar satellite images dated March 10.

Despite the evidence, Russian President Vladimir Putin called Wednesday a “gross and cynical provocation” of the Ukrainian authorities the discovery of corpses of civilians in the city of Boutcha after the withdrawal of forces from Moscow. The German government, in view in particular of the satellite images, declares that this position is not “unsustainable”.

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