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Emotional President Zelenskyy Fights Back Tears During Visit To Sites Of Russian 'Rape And Murder'

Emotional President Zelenskyy Fights Back Tears During Visit To Sites Of Russian 'Rape And Murder'

The Ukrainian president looked a broken man and said it was 'very difficult to talk' after finding 'clearly tortured' bodies

President Zelenskyy had to fight back tears as he visited the site of alleged atrocities in Ukraine.

Zelenskyy was assessing the damage in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, following the withdrawal of Russian troops and seemed visibly haunted by what he'd witnessed.

In Bucha, Associated Press (AP) journalists saw 21 bodies, including a group of nine in civilian clothes who appeared to have been shot at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs.

Zelenskyy said it was hard for him to talk.

Ukrainian officials said the bodies of 410 civilians were found in towns around the capital that were recaptured from Russian forces in recent days.

Addressing reporters at the site of the alleged war crimes, Zelenskyy said thousands of civilians had been raped, tortured and murdered.

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"It's very difficult to talk. It's very difficult to negotiate when you see what they did here," he said.

"Every day we find people in barrels, cellars and everywhere else, some strangled, some clearly tortured."

He continued: "These are war crimes and will be recognised by the world as genocide. You are here today and can see what happened.

"We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with severed limbs, raped women, murdered children. I think it is more than ... this is a genocide."

He said Russian troops were carrying out a genocide.

The images of battered corpses lying in the streets or hastily dug graves unleashed a wave of outrage that could signal a turning point in the nearly six-week-old war.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union 'is ready' to send investigators to Ukraine to help the local prosecutor general 'document war crimes'.

Sanctions have thus far failed to halt the offensive, and rising energy prices along with tight controls on the Russian currency market have blunted their impact, with the rouble rebounding strongly after initially crashing.

Western and Ukrainian leaders have accused Russia of war crimes before, and the International Criminal Court's prosecutor has opened a probe to investigate the conflict.

But the latest reports ratcheted up the condemnation even further, with Zelenskyy and others going so far as to accuse Russia of genocide.

The crime of genocide is difficult to prove because prosecutors would have to show that the killers or their commanders had a 'specific intent' to partially or wholly destroy a group of people — but the use of the word has clear emotional resonance and could serve to draw even more attention to the conflict.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov rejected the allegations, describing the scenes outside Kyiv as a 'stage-managed anti-Russian provocation'.

If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information 

Featured Image Credit: BBC

Topics: Russia, Ukraine