Putin Honours Soldiers Thought To Be Behind Bucha Massacre
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Russia's President Vladimir Putin has reportedly honoured a unit of his army who were allegedly involved in the massacre in Bucha.
Despite initially stating civilians would not be targeted in his 'special military operation', which first began when he sent troops across the border into Ukraine on 24 February, countless accusations of attacks on innocent people have emerged, with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy detailing incidents of murder, torture and rape.
While Russia claimed the killings in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, took place after they left, satellite images suggested otherwise.
Russia's 64th Motor Rifle Brigade, accused by Ukraine's ministry as being responsible for the Bucha massacre, has since been praised by Putin for its 'mass heroism, valour, tenacity and courage'.
Multiple bodies were captured on camera lying on the streets of Bucha, some with their hands tied behind their backs and others having been shot at close range.
On 13 April, BBC News reported more than 500 bodies had been collected so far in the aftermath of the massacre. Zelenskyy fought back tears when giving an address while visiting Bucha.
He stated: "It's very difficult to talk. It's very difficult to negotiate when you see what they did here. Every day we find people in barrels, cellars and everywhere else, some strangled, some clearly tortured.
"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."
This guy is a volunteer who helps to exhume corpses from mass graves in #Bucha. To understand the horrors of #BuchaMassacre you need to look at his face. The emotions of this young man show it... pic.twitter.com/CQf44k75TH— Inna Sovsun (@InnaSovsun) April 15, 2022
Other world leaders have similarly deemed the massacre a war crime and an example of genocide.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz accused Russia of having committed war crimes, stressing that those responsible 'must be held accountable'.
According to international law, any crimes committed by troops are attributable to the group's military commander.
The commander of the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade is Lieutenant Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov.
He has since been branded the 'Butcher of Bucha'.
Without additional weaponry, this war will become an endless bloodbath, spreading misery, suffering, and destruction. Mariupol, Bucha, Kramatorsk – the list will be continued. Nobody will stop Russia except Ukraine with Heavy Weapons. #ArmUkraineNow pic.twitter.com/miSOL5zvuA— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) April 13, 2022
It can be tricky to prove the crime of genocide as it must be shown that someone had 'specific intent' to destroy a whole collective of people.
However, Ukraine human rights official Lyudmyla Denisova told BBC News cases are being documented.
"About 25 girls and women aged 14 to 24 were systematically raped during the occupation in the basement of one house in Bucha. Nine of them are pregnant. Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point where they wouldn't want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children," she said.
While Putin has commended the troops thought to be responsible for the massacre, the AFP reports, the European Union is 'ready' to send investigators to Ukraine to 'document war crimes' and aid the local prosecutors, according to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
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Topics: News, Russia, Ukraine, Vladimir Putin, Volodymyr Zelensky