A Human Rights Watch report documents summary executions and rape of civilians by Russian soldiers

“The unspeakable and deliberate cruelty and violence against Ukrainian civilians.” Human Rights Watch reported abuses by Russian soldiers against Ukrainian civilians, in a report published on Sunday, April 3. (Link in English). Facts considered by the NGO “Obvious war crimes”.

It took place between February 27 and March 14 in occupied territories in the Chernihiv, Kharkiv and Kiev regions. Human Rights Watch, which interviewed ten witnesses or survivors, reported one case of repeated rape, robbery, several summary executions, and death threats. These discoveries are in line, in recent days, with the discovery of mass graves and several hundred civilian bodies in the Kyiv region. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General, Irina Venediktova, 410 civilian bodies were found in areas recovered from Russian forces.

Several summary executions

To obtain this information, Human Rights Watch conducted Detailed interviews with eyewitnesses, survivors and secondary witnesses, FranceInfo Rachel Dunbar, deputy director of the NGO’s Europe and Central Asia division, says.

Among these documented crimes, the organization described two summary executions that killed seven Ukrainian civilians. The first was in the village of Stary Bekev, Chernihiv region, on February 27. Three days after the start of Moscow’s attack on Ukraine, Russian soldiers arrested and then executed six men from three different families, according to testimonies collected by Human Rights Watch. The NGO interviewed Victoria, mother and wife of two of the victims: “The soldiers told us not to worry, because they would scare them a bit and then release them. We walked 50 meters…and we heard gunshots,” She trusts. You will find their bodies the next day.

“They were lying there. They had gunshot wounds to their heads. Their hands were tied behind their backs. I looked at my son’s body, his pockets were empty.”

Victoria, mother of a victim

In Human Rights Watch

Less than a week later, on March 4 in Bucha, northwest of Kyiv, Russian forces arrested five men and summarily executed one of them. Human Rights Watch reports, based on the testimony of a teacher who saw the execution. This witness was forcibly taken by Russian soldiers to the town square with 40 other residents. These civilians waited several hours, then the soldiers arrived, with five men, and ordered them to kneel.

“The Russian soldiers took off these men’s shirts. They shot one of them in the back of the neck. The man fell and the women were screaming, and the other four men remained on their knees.”

A woman who saw a summary execution

In Human Rights Watch

According to this master, the civilians who were forcibly taken to this square remained for several more hours before the Russian soldiers escorted them to their homes. five days later, “The body of the young man was still at the place where he was killed,” The witness said.

Human Rights Watch adds that a Ukrainian man and his son were threatened with execution on March 4 in their village of Zabochya, on the outskirts of Irbin, after Russian soldiers found a hunting rifle and a bottle of petrol in their garden. Two days later, Ross soldiers shot a woman and a 14-year-old girl in Forzel as they were emerging from the basement where they had taken refuge, according to a man present at the scene. “The Russian soldiers broke into the same basement and threw a smoke grenade inside. Several people panicked and fled outside, where the Russian soldiers shot them.” Organization reports.

A woman victim of repeated rape

During its research, Human Rights Watch was able to collect the words of Olha (first name changed), a 31-year-old Ukrainian woman who claims she was repeatedly raped and beaten by a Russian soldier in the village of Malaya Rohan, in the Kharkov region. The facts occurred on March 13, according to his testimony.

The young woman had taken refuge in the basement of the school with her 5-year-old daughter, mother, sister and brother when a Russian soldier stormed his way into the institution. The soldier took her to a classroom on the second floor where he pointed a gun at her, ordered her to undress and then have oral sex with him. The NGO mentions several forced relationships. According to the victim’s statement, the soldier put a knife under her throat, then wound her with this weapon at the level of her neck and one of her cheeks. She said she hit her with a book and slapped her several times.

“While I was getting dressed, the soldier told me he was Russian and that he was 20. He said I reminded him of a girl he went to school with.”

Ukrainian woman accuses Russian soldier of rape

In Human Rights Watch

The Russian soldier left the school the next morning. The NGO was able to reference photos that support Olaha’s words, which show his injuries to the face and neck.

Cases under review

According to Human Rights Watch, “Many Ukrainian civilians” also said “The Russian forces were confiscating food, firewood, clothes, and other things like saws, axes, and gasoline.” in the areas they occupied.

The organization continues its investigative work in Ukraine. “We received information and accusations about other executions and sexual violence,” Confirms Fred Abrahams, deputy director of the Office of Programs at Human Rights Watch. Three accusations of sexual violence against Russian soldiers in the Chernihiv region and in Mariupol were verified. The NGO is also trying to recover the facts in Boutcha. A researcher from the NGO went there on Monday.

What will be the size “Obvious war crimes” That Human Rights Watch started documenting in Ukraine? “Our report only documents a small number of crimes. We fear there may be more.“, Refers to Rachel Dunbar. His colleague Hugh Williamson, director of Europe and Central Asia, refers to the case of the confirmed summary execution in Bucha on March 4. “A month later, we see these horrific images of hundreds of dead bodies. We don’t yet know how these people died, but we are concerned that the tactics outlined in this case on March 4 may have continued for weeks.”

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