“Assassination” in Bautista, Ukraine: Zhelensky’s accusations, Russia’s reaction

Ukraine on Sunday accused Russia of “genocide” the day after the withdrawal of troops from Moscow, the day after the bodies of a large number of civilians were found in the town of Bautcha, near Q, which provoked outrage in Europe and the United States.

Ruined city

Boutza, a city of about 37,000 people (before the war) about 30 km from the capital, was the scene of some fierce fighting since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. . The city has been occupied by the Russian army since February 27 and has been inaccessible for more than a month. The shelling stopped on Thursday and Ukrainian forces were able to fully infiltrate just a few days ago.

AFP journalists went to the scene on Saturday and found bombs in apartment buildings, several wrecked cars and debris in the streets or fallen power lines. The people who were staying in the area, caught in the incessant gunfire, were left without water and electricity due to the extremely low temperatures. Witnesses interviewed by the AFP said they had seen Chechen fighters among Russian soldiers.

Twenty bodies were scattered

AFP found the bodies of at least 22 people in civilian clothes on the streets of Boutcha on Saturday. One was lying next to the bicycle and the other had shopping bags near them. The hands of a corpse were tied behind their backs and most of the bodies were scattered over several hundred meters on a street. Another was under the blanket, near the station.

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The cause of death of these individuals could not be immediately determined, but at least two of them had major head injuries. The skin on the face looked like wax, suggesting that the corpses may have been there for at least several days. According to Bautista Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk, these people were killed by Russian soldiers with a “bullet in the back of the neck”.

Mass graves

The bodies of 57 people were found in a mass grave, local relief chief Sergei Kaplichny told AFP on Sunday. A dozen corpses were found behind a church in the city center, with only part of it buried. Many of them were in black body bags and those in sight were wearing civilian clothes.

On Saturday, Mr. Fedoruk said that “280 people” were buried in “mass graves” because they could not be buried in the tombs of Potsdam, within the Russian fire range during the fighting. “We saw mass graves. We saw people with their arms and legs tied (…) at the back of the head, with a bullet wound in the back of the head,” a spokesman for the Ukrainian president, Sergei Nikiforo, told the BBC: “They are clear civilians.”

The exact number of victims is not yet known, kyiv mayor Vitaly Klitschko, who visited Boutcha on Sunday, told AFP: “We believe more than 300 civilians have died.”

Shouting abroad

Bautza’s pictures and information caused international opposition. Anthony Blingen, the head of US diplomacy, responded that they were “a punch in the stomach”. NATO ruled that these were “horrific” and “completely unacceptable” acts.

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Britain has called for a “war crimes inquiry” and European Council President Charles Michael has announced that the EU will help Ukraine and NGOs gather the necessary evidence for an international inquiry. “Further EU sanctions and assistance are forthcoming,” he added.

According to Russia, “a stage”

On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zhelensky accused Ukraine of committing “genocide” to oust its “entire country.”

Russia, for its part, has denied killing civilians in Putza, promising that “not a single one of its civilians was affected by the violence during the period when the area was under Russian military control.”

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