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Ukraine documents alleged atrocities by withdrawing Russians

By OLEKSANDR STASHEVSKYI – Associated Press

BUCHA, Ukraine ( Associated Press) – Ukraine’s troops have found violent bodies with handcuffs, gunshot wounds to the head and signs of torture after Russian troops withdrew from the outskirts of Kiev, authorities said on Sunday, prompting new calls Called for an investigation into war crimes and sanctions against Russia.

Associated Press journalists in Bucha, a small town northwest of the capital, saw the bodies of at least nine people in civilian clothes apparently killed at close range. At least two’s hands were tied behind their backs. The Associated Press also saw two bodies wrapped in plastic, taped and thrown into a ditch.

Authorities said they were documenting evidence to add to their case for the prosecution of Russian war crimes officials. To be convicted, International Criminal Court prosecutors will have to show a pattern of atrocities committed against civilians during Russia’s invasion.

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Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said numerous civilians had been found murdered in the streets of Bucha and the Kiev suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie”.

Some people were shot in the head and their hands were tied, and some bodies showed signs of torture, rape and arson, Arestovych said. Investigators at the International Criminal Court The torture and rape reports could not be independently verified,

A day earlier, Associated Press journalists had seen Ukrainian soldiers carefully remove at least six bodies with cables from a street in Bucha in case the Russians trapped bodies with explosives before their withdrawal. Locals said the dead were civilians killed without provocation, a claim that could not be independently verified.

“What happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kiev can only be described as genocide,” Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kiev, told the German newspaper Bild. Klitschko called on other nations to end Russian gas imports immediately, saying they were financing the killings.

“Not a cent should go to Russia anymore. It’s bloody money used to slaughter people. The gas and oil embargo must come immediately, “said the mayor.

Russian troops entered Ukraine from three sides on February 24, and soldiers entering Belarus from the north tried for weeks to clear a road to Kiev. Their march came to a halt in the face of determined resistance from Ukraine’s defenders, and Moscow said this week it would concentrate the invasion forward elsewhere.

Signs of fierce fighting were everywhere in the wake of the Russian redeployment: destroyed armored vehicles of both armies lay in streets and fields along with scattered military equipment. The Ukrainian army said its troops had continued to comb areas outside the capital for mines, dead and any lingering Russian fighters.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba also called for tougher sanctions against Russia, including a full energy embargo, over the discoveries north of Kiev. Kuleba tweeted on Sunday that the “Bucha massacre was deliberate,” claiming that the “Russians are trying to eliminate as many Ukrainians as they can.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, wrote on Twitter that he was shocked by the “ghostly images of atrocities committed by the Russian army” in the capital. The EU and non-governmental organizations have helped with the attempt to preserve evidence of war crimes, according to Michel, who promised “further EU sanctions” against Russia.

The foreign ministers of France, Germany and the UK have separately condemned what is being described and said Russia will be held accountable.

“We will not allow Russia to cover up its involvement in these atrocities through cynical disinformation and will ensure that the reality of Russia’s actions is brought to light,” said British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

As Russia withdrew from the capital, other parts of the country were under siege. Russia has said it is targeting troops in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian forces for eight years.

Mariupol, a southeastern port located on the Sea of ​​Azov, remained cut off from the rest of the country while Russian ground forces fought to occupy the city. roll. About 100,000 civilians – less than a quarter of the pre-war population of 430,000 – are believed to be trapped there with little or no food, water, fuel and medicine,

The International Committee of the Red Cross said it hoped a team of nine staff members and three vehicles they sent on Saturday to help evacuate residents would reach Mariupol on Sunday, but warned: “The situation on the ground is erratic and subjective. to rapid change. “

Ukrainian authorities said Russia had agreed days ago to allow safe passage of the city, which was the site of some of the worst attacks and greatest suffering, but similar agreements have repeatedly been broken under continued protection.

A supermarket car park in the Ukrainian city of Zaporizhzhia has become the stall for tens of thousands of people fleeing Mariupol.

Peycheva Olena, who came from the besieged city, told Britain’s Sky News she was forced to leave her husband’s body unburied when he died in a shooting.

“There was shelter, and we tried to drag him away, but it was too much, we could not do it,” explains her daughter, Kristina Katrikova.

While the battlefield geography changed little for many Ukrainians on the 39th day of a war that left more than 4 million people fleeing the country as refugees and displacing millions more from their homes.

The Chernihiv mayor, who has also been under attack for weeks, said on Sunday that ruthless Russian shelters had destroyed 70% of the northern city. As in Mariupol, Chernihiv was cut off from shipments of food and other supplies.

“People are thinking how they can live until tomorrow,” said Mayor Vladyslav Atroshenko.

Russian forces on Sunday morning launched missiles at the Black Sea port of Odesa, in southern Ukraine, sending dark clouds of smoke that obscured parts of the city. The Russian military says the targets are an oil processing plant and fuel depots around Odesa, which is Ukraine’s largest port and home to its navy.

“I live in that eight-storey building. “At six o’clock in the morning, Russia launched an attack, and this piece of rock reached my house,” said Maiesienko Ilia, who lives near one of the targeted facilities.

The city council of Odesa said Ukraine’s air defense had fired several missiles before hitting the city. Vladyslav Nazarov, spokesman for the Ukrainian army, said there were no casualties from the attack.

The Kharkiv regional governor said on Sunday that Russian artillery and tanks had carried out more than 20 attacks on Ukraine’s second largest city and its suburbs in the country’s northeast.

The head of Ukraine’s delegation in talks with Russia said Moscow’s negotiators had informally agreed to most of a draft proposal discussed during face-to-face talks in Istanbul this week, but no written confirmation was provided.

Ukrainian negotiator Davyd Arakhamia told Ukrainian TV he hoped the proposal was developed enough for Zelenskyy and Russian President Vladimir Putin to meet to discuss it. But the top Russian negotiator in talks with Ukraine, Vladimir Medinksy, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying it was too early to talk about a meeting between the two leaders.

While his country’s troops recaptured territory north of the capital of the departing Russian troops, Zelenskyy called on all Ukrainians to do everything they could “to thwart the enemy’s tactics and weaken its capabilities.”

“Peace will not be the result of any decisions that the enemy makes somewhere in Moscow. It is not necessary to cherish empty hopes that they will simply leave our country. We can only have peace by fighting, “Zelenskyy said late on Saturday.

Yuras Karmanau reports from Lviv, Ukraine. Andrea Rosa in Irpin, Ukraine, and Associated Press journalists around the world contributed to this report.

Follow the Associated Press’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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