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Ukraine war: 'He put his hands up, they shot him' — Bucha locals allege Russian atrocities

Konstyantyn, 70, smokes a cigarette amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022.
Konstyantyn, 70, smokes a cigarette amid destroyed Russian tanks in Bucha, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. Copyright AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
Copyright AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd
By AP
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Ukrainian authorities accused Putin's forces of committing war crimes and leaving behind a “scene from a horror movie” as they withdrew from the town near Kyiv.

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Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture lay scattered in a city on the outskirts of Kyiv after Russian soldiers withdrew from the area.

Ukrainian authorities accused the departing forces on Sunday of committing war crimes and leaving behind a “scene from a horror movie.”

Russia’s Defence Ministry has rejected the videos and images emerging from Bucha as “provocation”, asking for a meeting of the UN Security Council on Monday.

Associated Press journalists saw the bodies of at least 21 people in various spots around Bucha, northwest of the capital.

One group of nine, all in civilian clothes, were scattered around a site that residents said Russian troops used as a base. They appeared to have been killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs, one was shot in the head, and another's legs were bound.

One resident, who refused to give his name out of fear for his safety, said that Russian troops went building to building and took people out of the basements where they were hiding, checking their phones for any evidence of anti-Russian activity before taking them away or shooting them.

Hanna Herega, another resident, said Russian troops started shooting at a neighbour who had gone out to gather wood for heating.

“They hit him a bit above the heel, crushing the bone, and he fell down,” Herega said. “Then they shot off his left leg completely, with the boot. Then they shot him all over.”

The AP also saw two bodies, that of a man and a woman, wrapped in plastic that residents said they had covered and placed in a shaft until a proper funeral could be arranged.

“He put his hands up, and they shot him,” said the resident who refused to be identified.

Ukrainian officials laid the blame for the killings squarely at the feet of Russian troops, with President Zelenskyy calling them evidence of genocide.

Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Zelenskyy, described bodies lying in suburban streets as a “scene from a horror movie.” He claimed some of the women had been raped before being killed and the Russians then burned the bodies.

The discoveries followed the Russian retreat from the area after Moscow said it was focusing its offensive on the country’s east. Russian troops had rolled into Bucha in the early days of the invasion and stayed up until March 30.

In Motyzhyn, some 50 kilometres west of Kyiv, residents told AP that Russian troops killed the town’s mayor, her husband and her son and threw their bodies into a pit in a pine forest behind houses where Russian forces had slept.

Inside the pit, AP journalists saw four bodies of people who appeared to have been shot at close range. The mayor’s husband had his hands behind his back, with a piece of rope nearby, and a piece of plastic wrapped around his eyes like a blindfold.

Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk confirmed that the mayor was killed while being held by Russian forces.

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

Some European leaders said the killings in the Kyiv area amounted to war crimes.

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Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his government would take steps to create a special justice mechanism to investigate every crime committed by the Russian forces in Ukraine.

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