CNN – Russian paratroopers executed at least eight Ukrainian men in the town of Bucha on March 4, in what appears to be a potential war crime, according to a New York Times investigation published Thursday.
Based on eyewitness testimony and three videos obtained and analyzed by The Times, the investigation details the alleged execution of eight Ukrainian men by Russian paratroopers occupying Bucha in early March.
The timeline of the incident is established by two videos analyzed by the newspaper, which appear to capture Russian paratroopers leading a group of Ukrainian men at gunpoint towards a Russian-held office building, where their bodies would be found later.
Several eyewitnesses the Times spoke to – including one of the men involved in the incident who was shot but managed to survive – claim an execution-style killing took place in the moments that followed. .
Drone video filmed a day after the alleged incident appears to corroborate the events, as it shows two Russian soldiers guarding multiple corpses outside the same office building, according to NYT analysis.
“I was shot and fell. The bullet hit my side,” said Ivan Skyba, whom The Times identifies as a 43-year-old bricklayer.
“I fell down and pretended to be dead,” he said.
“I didn’t move and I didn’t breathe,” he told The Times.
The Times identified the soldiers involved as paratroopers based on an analysis of their equipment from CCTV footage captured in early March, when Russian forces were still occupying Bucha, as well as evidence left in the office building held by the Russians where the shootings took place.
Based on translated text messages, interviews with local authorities, family members and witnesses, the Times investigation identified eight of the men who were executed in the March 4 incident.
According to the investigation, all of them had joined local paramilitary groups in Bucha in the days before their assassination.
None of the videos in the report have been reviewed or verified by CNN, and the identities of the victims have not been corroborated.
Evidence of mass graves and civilian executions in the towns of Bucha and Borodianka has continued to emerge since early April, following the withdrawal of Russian forces from the Kyiv region.
Images of bodies littering the streets of Bucha have sparked international condemnation and fueled calls for an investigation into possible Russian war crimes.
CNN visited the scene of mass graves in Bucha in April after Russian forces withdrew, revealing to the world the horrors of their occupation. Correspondent Fred Pleitgen was among the first to reach a mass grave that locals dug while the place was under Russian occupation because so many residents had been killed and longer funeral ceremonies would have been too dangerous amid the shooting and shelling.
During a visit to Bucha and Borodianka in mid-April, the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, said there were “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC” were committed in both cities.
But Khan also warned that it would be “difficult” to ensure justice would be served in Ukraine, given Russia’s decision to withdraw its signature from the ICC statute, which gives the court jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression. Russia also does not extradite its citizens to other countries.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the massacres of civilians in Ukraine, while reiterating baseless claims that images of bodies on the streets of Bucha are “fake”. The New York Times reported that Russia’s foreign and defense ministries did not respond to their request for comment. CNN also contacted these departments.
Khan responded directly to Russia’s disinformation allegations.
“Those bodies that are in those bags on screen are not fake. I saw them. I stood next to them. The question is how did they die, who is responsible and under what circumstances ?” Khan said, adding that the world was watching to see how effective “the rule of law would be” regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
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