The New York Times War Crimes Investigation

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IThere are journalistic works that should be read, welcomed and, above all, shared with as many people as possible. All the more so in times of war, when the confrontation also takes place in the field of communication. The large format of New York Times dedicated to the Boutcha massacre is one of them.

In a long article, written by Carlotta Gall and enriched with photos by Daniel Berehulak, the American daily documents the crimes that were committed in this city located northwest of kyiv, where very many bodies of civilians were found after the withdrawal of Russian troops at the beginning of April. “We went to Boutcha, documented dozens of civilian killings, interviewed numerous witnesses and followed investigators there to take stock of the atrocities committed by the Russians”announces the newspaper, under three photos, in full width, of corpses, blown up buildings and mass grave.

“Boutcha is a landscape of horrors”further warns the article, whose authors also report the crimes on a map of Boutcha, showing that these were perpetrated throughout the city. “Evidence shows that the Russians killed recklessly and sometimes sadistically, partly out of revenge. »

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“They shot my son. I wish it was me”

The American daily reveals in particular the presence, in addition to armed soldiers, bombs and tanks firing on sight, of snipers everywhere in Boutcha. According to the newspaper, the Russian forces had set up a base in a residence behind the city’s main high school. “On March 5, a Russian sniper started shooting at anything that moved south of this high school”Write the New York Times.

Like Ivan’s son. “They shot my son. I was next to him. I wish it was me”says this resident, who had gone out for a walk with his son in Yablonska Street (“Apple Street”). After a night of agony, he died early the next morning, leaving behind an 8-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. His family buried him in the garden: “It is very difficult to bury your child. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy. »

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This Yablonska street, in which Ivan’s son was shot, quickly became the most deadly road for passers-by, notes the New York Times. A man riding a bicycle was also killed there, as shown a video filmed by a drone and shared by the international group of investigators Bellingcat. As of March 11, there were at least eleven corpses strewn across this street and its sidewalks.

” A case [de sévices sexuels] among others “

Boutcha police identify a dead person near a corner of Ivana-Franka Street on April 7, 2022.

After Russian troops withdrew from the kyiv region and northern Ukraine, 66-year-old Volodymyr Shepitko, who had taken refuge with his family in a cellar, found his house ransacked. Soldiers had occupied it – the latter had forced the inhabitants to flee to take possession of the dwellings located near their bases – and had transformed it into a huge garbage can, rubbish and empty beer bottles strewn on the ground.

And in a cellar under the garden shed, his nephew found the body of a woman, reports the American newspaper. “On the floor, legs apart, she was wearing a fur coat and nothing else. » She was shot in the head. Torn condom wrappers, as well as a used condom, were found by the police. ” A case [de sévices sexuels] among many others “replied to the newspaper the commissioner for human rights of the Ukrainian assembly, Lyudmyla Denisova.

According to many residents interviewed by the daily, “The more the war progressed, the more the mood and the behavior of the Russian troops became awful”. Still according to the accounts of witnesses encountered in Boutcha, certain acts of violence took on a cynical dimension, they were made to terrorize. Russian forces were also particularly suspicious of men of military age, accusing them of being members of the Ukrainian Defense Forces. Natalya Oleksandrova’s nephew was a victim. Taken for forty-eight hours of interrogation, according to the statements of the soldiers who kidnapped him, he never returned and was found dead, after the departure of the Russians, in a basement.

Very large majority of civilians among those killed

Originally from Moldova and living in Ukraine for ten years, Marta Kirmichi, spoke to her husband for the last time in mid-March. He had left the family home, near Chernihiv, a month earlier to join his place of work, a construction site for a new housing complex in Boutcha. During the month of March, he had managed to reach his wife twice to tell her that he was still alive. Then nothing.

Oleg, 56, mourns his mother Inna, 86, who was killed in Boutcha, on the outskirts of kyiv, on April 10, 2022.

In early April, she discovers, along with the rest of the world, the first photos of the slain men, strewn on Yablonska Street, near pallets and building materials, some with their hands tied. Mme Kirmichi recognized him immediately. Her husband was lying face down. She found some hope after noticing later, in another photo, that he was no longer lying alongside the other bodies. She wants to believe that, injured, he was transported to the hospital, but she still had no news of him in mid-April.

According to New York Times, some 360 ​​people were found dead in a single weekend, in Boutcha and its immediate surroundings. Among them, more than 250 had been killed by bullets or shrapnel, and were being investigated for war crimes, according to the city prosecutor, Ruslan Kravchenko.

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Many others died of starvation – like at least six elderly people in an abandoned hospice, the American newspaper noted -, of cold or lack of medicine and doctors. The dead were overwhelmingly civilians: only two members of the Ukrainian army were among the victims in Boutcha, said an official at the city’s cemetery. The authorities have collected several thousand photos and videos of these crimes, posted on a Ukrainian government site created for the occasion, Warcrimes.gov.ua.

Read the survey New York Times (in English) : “Bucha’s Month of Terror”

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