Ukraine official tells U.S. Congress of 80,000 war crimes cases against Russia

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin wipes his eyes during his testimony Wednesday before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
1 of 8 | Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin wipes his eyes during his testimony Wednesday before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Russia's war crimes in Ukraine. Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI | License Photo

April 19 (UPI) -- Ukraine's prosecutor general told a congressional committee Wednesday that Russian forces have committed 80,000 cases of war crimes, including summary executions, mass graves, torture and crimes against humanity.

Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin testified before the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with two Ukrainian victims of alleged Russian war crimes.


Kostin echoed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Russia has committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine -- not randomly or spontaneously, but as part of the Kremlin's widespread and systematic attacks against Ukraine's civilian population.

"We have observed brutal and deliberate attacks by Russia on residential areas," Kostin said. "Hospitals, schools, kindergartens and even theaters in different cities and towns of Ukraine."

In the Kherson region alone, Kostin said, 13,000 cases have been launched. The crimes include everything from summary executions to rape, torture and forced dislocation.


Kostin said about 20 Russian torture chambers have been discovered and over 1,000 survivors have submitted evidence of their torture.

The torture included beatings with sticks and rubber batons, use of electric shocks, waterboarding, stripping victims naked and threats of death or mutilation.

"Their objective is to sow fear and terror," Kostin said.

Victims were also forced to shout pro-Russian slogans and listen to the Russian national anthem while hearing screams of people being beaten. Kostin said Ukraine has found financial records that link the torture chambers with Russian security agencies.

Separately, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Russia will be held accountable for war crimes in Ukraine.

"We cannot -- we will not -- let war criminals escape accountability for the aggression and atrocities they have committed," Monaco said, according to her prepared remarks. "The Justice Department has a clear message for those who have committed these crimes and who think they can get away with it: You will face justice."

Victims' testimony

Two victims of Russian war crimes also spoke to the House committee.

Testifying with her back to the camera during the live-streamed hearing, a 57-year-old woman introduced herself as "Lubo" to protect her security. She said she lived under Russian occupation for almost a year.


There were times she had no food, no electricity and no communication.

"Russian military are abusing Ukrainians," Lubo said. "Just for being Ukrainian. They kidnapped people, kept them locked up and tortured them."

In January she said, they came for her, saying they were looking for weapons. They took her to a torture chamber and kept her for five days.

"They forced me to undress, cutting my body with a knife and threatening to rape and kill me," Lubo said. "I also was taken out in a field and they beat me again and they were putting a handgun next to my head and shooting as if executing me."

They forced her to "dig my own grave" and she witnessed the torture of others. They robbed her house, as well.

She said she was able to flee and got into Ukrainian-controlled territory after traveling through Crimea, Latvia and Poland.

The committee also heard the testimony of a minor child victim of Russian war crimes through a Ukrainian attorney. Katrina Babroska said the boy, a 16-year-old called Roman, was an orphan attending school in the Donetsk oblast.

Babroska said a Russian armored vehicle pointed its gun at the schoolchildren and Roman decided to walk home -- 37 miles away in winter.


Roman was taken to a hospital in Donetsk, where he was told he would have a different family, even though he told the occupation authorities he wanted his sibling to become his guardian.

Roman was given a new birth certificate and was sent to Russia with other kids for "vacation." They were then told they would soon be adopted, but Roman and some others said they wanted to return to Ukraine.

A new family was found for Roman and tried to "reshape his mind" by forcing him to watch propaganda and restricting his communication. They also used him for propaganda on TV, and he was forced to get a Russian Federation passport, which was immediately taken away from him.

Roman was able to get help to escape and get back to Ukraine.

President Joe Biden has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin has committed war crimes in Ukraine and that Putin's criminal indictment by the International Criminal Court is justified.

Scenes from Ukraine: Destruction, atrocities and mourning

Priest Andrii Gavalin presides over the funeral of Eugene Bogdanov, 35, in Bucha, Ukraine, on May 10. Bogdanov went missing two months ago. His wife, Natalia Bogdanova, was searching for him throughout the Kyiv and Bucha regions when his body was found at a morgue in Belaya Tserkov on May 9. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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