Zachistka, cleaning. It is the word that Russian soldiers use in telephone conversations intercepted by Ukrainian forces to describe what happened in Bucha immediately after the occupation of the territories outside kyiv, at the beginning of March, when the Kremlin was still counting on arriving in short time to the capital of Ukraine. a new investigation of the Associated Press agency and the program front line of the American chain PBS shows, through the recordings of the security cameras, how the Russian troops took the civilians to number 144 of the Yablonska street, where some were executed. Yablonska Street, the artery that practically divides Bucha from neighboring Irpin, became the scene of horror when, after the withdrawal of Russian troops in early April, it appeared strewn with dozens of corpses.
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“When all the bodies were found scattered through the streets and dumped in hastily dug graves, it might have been easy to think that the carnage would have been random. Residents asking how this happened would be told not to fret, because there are some questions that just don’t have answers. But, there was a method to the violence,” reads the AP investigation. The images show how the Russian soldiers take the men to number 144 Yablunska Street, to which women and children will also later arrive, “a complex of buildings that the Russians turned into a headquarters and nerve center of acts of violence that would shock to the world”.
.“The Russians hunted down people who appeared on lists prepared by their intelligence services and went door to door to identify potential threats. Those who did not pass this filter, including volunteer fighters and civilians suspected of aiding Ukrainian soldiers, were tortured and executed, surveillance videos, audio intercepts and interviews show,” the AP investigation reads. In the images appear nine men who were part of the volunteers of the territorial defense captured by the soldiers. They were saved in two. One, fearing for his life, confessed that he had been in charge of a checkpoint but was later hunted down by Ukrainians and investigated for treason. The other is taxi driver Ivan Skyba who, when Russian soldiers opened fire, was shot in the abdomen but survived by pretending to be dead among the corpses of the others. Now, he is one of the witnesses to the massacre, which is at the top of the list of investigations for war crimes by the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office. Only in Bucha, where ElDiario.es collected the testimony of several victims and where after the withdrawal of the Russian troops 450 bodies were found in the streets and in mass graves, there are 3,500 open cases.
Taras Semkiv, the Ukrainian prosecutor in charge of the case at 144 Yablunska Street, told the AP already front line that it is unusual to see war crimes unfold on video, and that CCTV footage from security cameras and witness accounts from March 4 are now key elements of the judicial process. “The results of the evidence we have collected so far reveal that these were not just isolated incidents of military personnel making a mistake, but a systematic policy directed against the Ukrainian people,” Semkiv says.
a family destroyed
One of those arrested in the first hours after the arrival of Russian troops in Bucha was Dmytro Chaplyhin, a 20-year-old shop clerk whom everyone called Dima. The soldiers went to his house, just off Yablunska Street, and found pictures of Russian tanks on his phone. It was enough to accuse him of aiding the Ukrainian armed forces.
His grandmother, Natalia Vlasenko, pleaded with the soldiers on her knees. “God, I begged them not to touch it,” Vlasenko told AP reporters. She “pointed a gun at me and said, ‘If you don’t deliver it the easy way, then we’ll deliver it the hard way.'” Dima came out with the soldiers and told her, “Grandma, don’t worry. I’m coming back”. It was the last time she saw him. Shortly after, Russian soldiers would also kill her husband, Pavlo Vlasenko.