Amnesty International: Russia must be punished for 'horrific' war crimes in Ukraine

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

May 6 (UPI) -- Following an extensive investigation, Amnesty International said on Friday that Russian officials must be held accountable for war crimes committed recently near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, which include executions and torture.

Amnesty said that its report, titled "He's Not Coming Back: War Crimes in Northwest Areas of Kyiv Oblast", includes details of the organization's investigation that was based on witness interviews and a comprehensive review of material evidence.


The human rights group noted a number of potential war crimes, including killing and torturing civilians in the Kyiv area and shelling civilian residences there after Moscow began its invasion on Feb. 24.

"We have met families whose loved ones were killed in horrific attacks and whose lives have changed forever because of the Russian invasion," Amnesty said in the report.

"We support their demands for justice and call on the Ukrainian authorities, the International Criminal Court and others to ensure evidence is preserved that could support future war crime prosecutions. It is vital that all those responsible, including up the chain of command, are brought to justice."


Last week, Ukrainian prosecutors filed their first war crimes charges against 10 Russian soldiers for torturing "peaceful civilians."

"The pattern of crimes committed by Russian forces that we have documented includes both unlawful attacks and willful killings of civilians," Amnesty Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said in a statement.

Yryna Chebotok embraces her grandmother at the grave of her grandfather -- who was shot dead by a Russian soldier when he stepped out of his home -- at a cemetery in Bucha, Ukraine, on April 21. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI

Moscow's spate of war crimes, Amnesty says, includes unlawful airstrikes, extrajudicial and arbitrary executions, torture and indiscriminate attacks on Ukrainian civilians.

The Amnesty report details the story of one Ukrainian civilian, Vadim Zahrebelny, who lost several relatives in Russian attacks on residential buildings in Borodyanka. It noted, for example, that almost two dozen people died in a March 2 strike on one particular building in the Kyiv suburb.

"I left my apartment to go do some work in the garage, as my wife was about to take a couple of older neighbors down to the basement," Zahrebelny told investigators. "When I reached the garage, about 150 meters from the building, there was a huge explosion. I ducked behind the garage. When I looked, I saw a large gap in the building.


"My wife Halina was among those killed. I still see her by the door of our apartment, the home where we lived for 40 years."

Another resident, Tatiana Petrashenko, told investigators that Russian troops shot her husband Yevhen in the couple's Bucha apartment. Images of some of the atrocities in Bucha shortly after the war began spurred shock and outrage worldwide against Moscow's war.

"Yevhen was lying dead in the kitchen. He had been shot in the back," she told Amnesty. "His body remained in the apartment until March 10, when we were able to bury him in a shallow grave in the courtyard."

The organization said its investigators questioned people for almost two weeks in Bucha, Borodyanka, Novyi Korohod, Andriivka, Zdvyzhivka, Vorzel, Makariv and Dmytrivka, and personally visited the sites of several killings.

"All those responsible for war crimes should be held criminally responsible for their actions," the group said. "Under the doctrine of command responsibility, hierarchal superiors ... who knew or had reason to know about war crimes committed by their forces, but did not attempt to stop them or punish those responsible, should also be held criminally responsible.

"The rights of victims must be at the forefront of investigating and prosecuting international crimes, and all justice mechanisms should adopt a survivor-centered approach."


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