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Russia's defence ministry has claimed photos from the 'massacre' in Bucha are fake.
On the 39th day of Vladimir Putin's 'special military operation' in Ukraine, which has taken thousands of lives, harrowing images emerged from Bucha, a town north-west of Kyiv, as Russian troops retreated.
The shocking photos, showing dead bodies along the streets beside scenes of destruction and devastation, have been described as evidence of war crimes committed by Russian soldiers.
Bucha’s mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP: "All these people were shot... These are the consequences of Russian occupation," adding that 280 bodies had been buried in mass graves as a result of the invasion.
Upon Russian troops withdrawing from the town, Ukrainian soldiers removed the bodies from streets over fears they may have been booby-trapped, a tactic condemned by Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
In a statement posted to the Russian defence ministry's Telegram channel, it acknowledged the withdrawal of troops but branded the reports of atrocities in Bucha as 'fake'.
It described the 'fake' version of events as: "The Russian military left Bucha, having previously left huge casualties among the civilian population."
The statement then cites the 'truth', reading: "Notes about Bucha appeared in several foreign publications at once - it looks like a planned media campaign. Given that the troops left the city on March 30, where were these footage for four days? Their absence only confirms the fake."
The defence ministry said the photos and footage 'allegedly testifying to the crimes of Russian servicemen' in Bucha were a 'provocation', also alleging the use of 'staged shots' to appeal to Western support.
We must hold to account those responsible for the appalling acts committed by Russian troops in Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere in Ukraine.— Liz Truss (@trussliz) April 3, 2022
Putin’s regime will not be allowed to cover up their involvement in these atrocities.https://t.co/fB2C4jz5M9
Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, called on other countries to 'pay attention to those war crimes, crimes against humanity that were conducted by the Russian military in Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel,' as per Sky News. "These cities that have been liberated represent scenes from horror movies, post-apocalyptic scenes."
Les images qui nous parviennent de Boutcha, ville libérée près de Kiev, sont insoutenables. Dans les rues, des centaines de civils lâchement assassinés. Ma compassion pour les victimes, ma solidarité avec les Ukrainiens. Les autorités russes devront répondre de ces crimes.— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) April 3, 2022
The scenes in Bucha have been met with international condemnation, with figures from the UK, US and France accusing Russia of committing war crimes.
France's President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: "The images coming from Bucha, a liberated city near Kyiv, are unbearable.
"In the streets, hundreds of civilians cowardly murdered. My sympathy for the victims, my solidarity with the Ukrainians. The Russian authorities will have to answer for these crimes."
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
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