Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Every crime has a face, says Ukrainian journalist hunting war criminals

Before the Russian invasion, Ukrainian journalist Dmitry Riplanchuk spent his days tracing corruption, often among judges and law enforcement.

Now the Kyiv-based journalist who works for the independent media website Slidstvo.Info, uses his investigative reporting skills to uncover war crimes and atrocities.

Every crime has a face, Riplanchuk told VOA.

“The war criminals who killed civilians in Bucha, the pilots who dropped bombs on Mariupol and other Ukrainian cities, the artillerymen who shelled Kharkiv: they are typical people,” he said. “And my job is to reveal these to people.”

With the trial of the first Russian soldier for war crimes this week, and journalists interviewing residents of the cities besieged or captured for weeks, Ukraine’s media has played a key role in documenting and gathering evidence.

In recognition of their efforts, the US Pulitzer Board in May awarded Ukrainian journalists a special citation for their “courage, endurance and commitment to truthful reporting” in covering the war.

For the country’s journalists, they have one objective: to make sure the world knows the names of all those involved in the atrocities in Ukraine.

Using open source intelligence or OSINT methods, searching satellite images and social media, and interviewing witnesses, journalists have been able to identify the specific soldiers who killed and tortured civilians in Buka, and Mariupol. Throw light on what’s going on.

Dmitry Riplanchuk Of Investigative News Outlet Slidstvo.info Is Seen In This Undated Screenshot.
Dmitry Riplanchuk of investigative news outlet Slidstvo.Info is seen in this undated screenshot.

Riplanchuk, whose outlet is part of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Network, uses open data to conduct investigations.

Together with his colleagues, the journalist analyzes lists of Russian units published by Ukrainian intelligence and searches Russian social networks Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki for military profiles.

Some soldiers, especially the younger ones, are also active on TikTok. In some cases, Riplanchuk said, soldiers bragged about torturing civilians.

“No one needs to be questioned. They publish those things themselves. They claim it in their social media,” Riplanchuk said.

After analyzing hundreds of such profiles, he came to another conclusion.

“Based on what I see, the vast majority of Russia supports the war against Ukraine and calls for it to continue. This is certainly not just Putin’s war against Ukraine, it is Russia and the Russian people. There is war,” he said.

Surveys from the Leveda Center in independent Russia show support among Russians for their troops in Ukraine, but that support is declining. Most of those surveyed believe that the US and NATO are responsible for civilian casualties.

Journalist Valeria Yehoshna of Schmi-or Schemes, an investigative news project run by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), says that since the start of the invasion, she has mastered new skills for working with data Is.

Both RFE/RL and VOA are independent networks under the Congress-funded US Agency for Global Media.

Schemi Or Schemes Journalist Valeria Yehoshna Is Seen In This Undated Screenshot.
Schemi or Schemes journalist Valeria Yehoshna is seen in this undated screenshot.

“We’ve got access to services that help with satellite imagery. This is a fairly new area for us, but I believe we’re working quite successfully,” Yehoshna said. “For example, we The Russians are able to show the redistribution of equipment.”

The imagery also helped his team find mass graves in the villages of Mangush and Vynohardne near Mariupol.

The tomb at Mangush was 300 meters (over 980 feet) long, Yegoshina says. The one in Buka was 14 meters (about 46 ft) long and contained 70 bodies.

But the most shocking discovery was an intercepted telephone conversation between two Russians. The recording, a call between a woman and a man, was released by the Security Service of Ukraine.

In it, a woman is heard telling her partner in Russian that he can rape Ukrainian women unless he tells her the details and uses contraceptives.

The recording shocked Yehoshna.

“The woman on that audio not only allowed her husband to rape Ukrainian women, but she also encouraged him to do so,” she said.

Along with her colleagues, Yehoshna traces people on the call.

“From our sources in law enforcement, we were able to obtain two Russian telephone numbers that took part in that conversation,” Yehoshna said. “Then with the help of our partners from the Russian service of Radio Free Europe, we found the accounts on the Russian social network Vkontakte to which those numbers were linked. So we found their pages, their relatives, their friends. Also, we Called them, and the sounds in the audio matched perfectly.”

Yehoshna said identifying members of the Russian military also helps with official investigations. Before the war, Ukrainian law enforcement was occasionally the subject of investigations by journalists. Today, they find ways to collaborate.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office has named suspects who are believed to have committed crimes in Buka. Information gathered by the Slidstvo.Info team was used to identify one of them.

“We find victims and witnesses, and we work with them to establish the identities and details of specific Russian occupants who were either killed or involved in torturing or taking civilians hostage,” Riplanchuk said.

Together with his associates, he managed to identify several Russian soldiers, gathering evidence like a riddle, based on the testimony of witnesses.

“Someone remembers the name. Someone remembers the military rank, someone remembers something else,” said Riplanchuk.

From there the team goes to work, recording the evidence and searching open data and social media to identify people.

For Yehoshna and many journalists in Ukraine, this war is different from the others.

“In this war, we can capture almost everything that happens,” Yehoshna said.

“Satellite imagery, social media, intercepted calls, it all helps us. Even in temporarily occupied cities people take videos and pictures and then publish them. there has never been so much war [digital] Proof, I’m sure.”

Investigative journalists expect the testimony and work to serve two purposes: to serve as evidence and a record for an international tribunal, so that no one can falsify history.

This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
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