A man’s hands are tied behind his back with a piece of white cloth. Another man is lying alone, tangled in a bicycle near a grassy embankment. A third man lies in the middle of the road, near the charred remains of a burnt-out car.
Bucha City endured five weeks of near-constant firefights. Now officials and rights groups are blaming civilian deaths on dead Russian forces.
“Corpses of executed people still line Yabluska Street in Bucha. Their hands are tied behind their backs with white ‘civilian’ rags, they were shot in the back of the neck. So you can imagine what kind of anarchy they perpetrated here,” Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk told Reuters on Saturday.
The alleged atrocities have sparked international outrage, with Western leaders calling for war crimes investigations and new sanctions against Russia.
Ukrainian presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said on Sunday that reports from towns in the Kyiv region revealed a “post-apocalyptic picture” of life under Russian occupation.
“This is a special appeal to draw the world’s attention to these war crimes, crimes against humanity, which were committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel,” Arestovitch said. “It’s liberated cities, a horror movie image, a post-apocalyptic image.”
“Victims of these war crimes have already been found, including women raped whom they attempted to burn, local government officials killed, children killed, elderly people killed, men killed, many of whom had the bound hands, traces of torture and a bullet in the back of the head. Thefts, attempts to take gold, valuables, carpets, washing machines. This will of course be taken into account by the Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, law enforcement and international criminal courts.
CNN was unable to independently confirm details of the men’s deaths. CNN has requested comment from the Russian Defense Ministry regarding allegations of civilian executions in the Kyiv region and other parts of Ukraine.
Evidence of apparent atrocities in Bucha came when Human Rights Watch (HRW) announced that it had documented allegations of war crimes in occupied areas of Kyiv, Chernihiv and Kharkiv regions.
The rights group said Sunday that the allegations include “a case of repeated rape; two cases of summary execution, one of six men, the other of one man; and other instances of unlawful violence and threats against civilians between February 27 and March 14, 2022.”
In Bucha, Russian forces “rounded up five men and summarily executed one of them” on March 4, HRW wrote. A witness told the rights group that soldiers forced the men to kneel in the road and pulled their shirts over their heads, before shooting one of the men in the back of the head.
HRW also alleges that on February 27, six men were arrested in the village of Staryi Bykiv in the Chernihiv region and then executed.
In Malaya Rohan, a village in the Kharkiv region, a Russian soldier repeatedly raped a woman at a school where she had taken refuge with her family on March 13, the victim told HRW. “She said he beat her and cut her face, neck and hair with a knife,” HRW wrote. The woman fled to Kharkiv the following day, “where she was able to receive medical treatment and other services”.
And in the village of Vorzel, 50 km northwest of kyiv, Russian soldiers “threw a smoke grenade into a basement, then shot a woman and a 14-year-old child as they came out of the basement. -soil, where they had taken refuge”. said HRW.
“The cases we have documented represent unspeakable and deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians,” Hugh Williamson, HRW’s Europe and Central Asia director said in the statement. “Rapes, murders and other acts of violence against persons detained by Russian forces must be investigated as war crimes.”
CNN has not independently verified the details of HRW’s report and has requested comment from the Russian Defense Ministry.
The stories and images have accelerated calls for war crimes investigations.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday that the State Department would help document all atrocities committed by the Russian military against Ukrainian civilians.
“You can’t help but see these images as a punch in the stomach,” Blinken told CNN’s Dana Bash during “State of the Union” on Sunday.
“Since the aggression, we have come out and said that we believe that Russian forces committed war crimes, and we have worked to document this, to provide the information we have to the competent instructions and organizations who will put all this together. And there must be a responsibility for that.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement on Sunday that “the indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilians during Russia’s unlawful and unjustified invasion of Ukraine must be investigated in as war crimes”.
European Union Council President Charles Michel pledged new sanctions against Russia, saying he was “shocked by the haunting images of atrocities committed by the Russian military in the liberated region of kyiv #BuchaMassacre”, in a message on Twitter.
CNN’s Tara John and Nathan Hodge reported and wrote from Lviv. Jonny Hallam reported from Atlanta. Amy Cassidy in London and James Frater reported from Brussels. Niamh Kennedy reported from London.