Ukraine accuses Russia of massacre in Bucha as 410 bodies found, Zelenskyy says corpses mined by retreating Russian forces

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Ukraine has found 410 bodies in towns near Kyiv as part of an investigation into possible war crimes by Russia, but some witnesses are so traumatised by their ordeal that they are unable to speak, the country’s top prosecutor says.

Key points:

  • Ukrainian authorities were only able to enter Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel for the first time on Sunday
  • Some bodies have been examined as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy claims civilians were tortured, killed and left on the street
  • He says some corpses were booby-trapped by retreating Russian forces

After Russia withdrew from some areas around Kyiv, the Mayor in Bucha, a liberated town 37 kilometres north-west of the capital, said that 300 residents had been killed by Russian forces while Chechen fighters controlled the area.

Taras Shapravskyi, Deputy Mayor of Bucha, said 50 of the bodies found were the victims of extra-judicial killings carried out by Russian troops.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country would conduct a probe into «war crimes» Russian troops allegedly committed against civilians.

A special justice mechanism would be created to investigate the alleged atrocities with the participation of international prosecutors and judges, he said in an address.

«The world has seen many war crimes,» Mr Zelenskyy said, adding that «the time has come to make the war crimes committed by Russian troops the last such evil on Earth.»

‘Fake attack’ was ‘staged’: Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that Ukraine’s version of what happened in the town of Bucha was a «fake attack» aimed at undermining Moscow, the TASS news agency reported.

Mr Lavrov said the dead bodies were «staged» and that images of them and what he said was Ukraine’s false version of events had been spread on social media by Western countries and Ukraine.

Earlier, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said the facts and chronology of the events in Bucha did not support Ukraine’s version of events and urged international leaders not to rush to judgement.

Mr Peskov said Russia’s diplomats would press on with their efforts to convene a UN Security Council meeting to discuss what Moscow has called «Ukrainian provocations» in Bucha, despite their first effort to arrange such a meeting being blocked.

Husband ‘mutilated, his body was cold’

Ukrainian woman Tanya Nedashkivska recounted how her husband Vasyl Ivanovych, who served in the navy, was killed by Russian soldiers in Bucha.

She said she looked for him for days after he was arrested by Russian soldiers, before finding him in a building’s basement where two bodies were lying.

Ukrainian authorities have said many of the bodies have been found with their hands bound, and with close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture.

Authorities need ‘more time’ to investigate crimes

Ukrainian prosecutors were only able to enter the towns of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel for the first time on Sunday and they need more time to work out the extent of the crimes, Prosecutor General Iryna Venedyktova said.

She said 140 of the bodies had been examined so far but that she would be asking the Health Ministry to provide as many forensic experts as possible to a field hospital in the Kyiv region.

Mr Zelenskyy said: «Hundreds of people were killed. Tortured, executed civilians. Corpses on the streets. Mined areas. Even the bodies of the dead were booby-trapped.»

Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskiy said it flirtymature was clear hundreds of civilians had been killed, but that he did not want to say exactly how big the toll was, as efforts were still underway to clear mines in the area.