American President Joe Biden joined leaders around the world Monday in calling for a war crimes trial against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The appeal for justice followed the publication of pictures taken in towns around Kyiv that Russia had attacked. They included many images of dead civilians.
“You saw what happened in Bucha,” Biden told reporters on Monday. He called Putin “a war criminal,” adding, “we have to gather all the detail so this can be an actual -- have a war crimes trial.”
Several independent news organizations reported and showed images of civilian deaths over the weekend. Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around Kiyv after its forces recaptured the area from the Russian military.
In the town of Bucha
About 300 bodies have been discovered in Bucha, about 40 kilometers northwest of Kyiv.
A resident told The Associated Press (AP) that Russian troops went building to building and took people out of their hiding places. He said the soldiers seized and searched phones from the captured. Then the man said the troops would either shoot the civilian or remove them.
The resident refused to give his name out of fear for his safety.
Another resident, Hanna Herega, said she saw Russian troops kill her neighbor. She said they shot him when he went out to gather wood for heating fuel.
“They hit him a bit above the heel, crushing the bone, and he fell down,” she said. “Then they shot off his left leg completely, with the boot. Then they shot him all over.”
The AP said its reporters saw the bodies of at least 21 people in several places around Bucha. A group of nine people in civilian clothes appeared to have been killed at close range. Their bodies were around an area that residents said Russian troops had used as a base. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs, one was shot in the head, and another’s legs were tied.
Taras Shapravskyi is the town’s deputy mayor. He told Reuters that an examination of the bodies shows at least 50 civilians had been executed.
In Motyzhyn, about 50 kilometers west of Kyiv, residents told the AP that Russian troops killed the town’s mayor, her husband and her son and threw their bodies into a hole.
An AP worker reporting from the site of the hole said there were four bodies inside. The reporter said it appeared all had been shot from a very short distance. The hands of one man had been tied behind his back and a plastic tie covered his eyes.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called the Russian actions “genocide” after he visited the area.
Russia has denied all accusations of wrongdoing in its war against Ukraine. The defense ministry said Sunday “not a single local resident suffered from any violent actions” when its forces were in control of the Kyiv area.
The ministry said Russian troops provided 452 tons of humanitarian aid to civilians around Kyiv before their withdrawal on March 30. Russia has called its invasion of Ukraine a “special military operation.”
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied the Ukrainian accusation on Monday. He said that photo and video materials from the area were “manipulations.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov claimed that they were “staged” to bring anti-Russian feelings. A Russian law enforcement agency added that it is investigating “false information” about Russian forces. Russia has also called for a meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss the issue.
The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said Monday she is “horrified by the images of civilians lying dead on the streets and in improvised graves.” She said that reports from Ukraine raised questions about “possible war crimes,” and “serious violations of international human rights law.”
Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said, “Russia must be held accountable,” for what he described as the “Bucha Massacre.” He said the images showed a situation similar to that which his own people faced in war against Serbian forces 23 years ago.
Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki of neighboring Poland condemned the Russian action in Ukraine. “This is genocide, and this crime must be tried as the crime of genocide,” he said.
From Paris, French President Emmanuel Macron said, “There is clear evidence of war crimes. It was the Russian army that was in Bucha.” He added that France will also work with partners, especially Germany, to bring more economic pressures against Russia.
I'm Jonathan Evans.
Hai Do wrote this story for Learning English based on reporting from The Associated Press, Reuters and VOANews.
Words in This Story
resident - n. someone who live in a particular place
manipulation - n. changing or controlling something for a particular purpose
stage - v. to arrange something for a purpose
improvise - v. to make or create something by using whatever is available
grave - n. a hole in the ground for burying body