Ukrainian officials on Sunday accused Russian forces of carrying out a «deliberate massacre» in Bucha as images of what appear to be dead civilians littering the city’s streets sparked global outrage.
Evidence of the apparent atrocities came after Russian forces retreated from areas around Kyiv, including Bucha, which sits just northwest of the capital.
Agence France-Presse reported Saturday that its journalists saw «at least 20 bodies on a single street» in Bucha. All of the corpses were in civilian clothes, the agency reported, and at least one had his hands tied behind his back with a piece of white cloth.
According to Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy: «These people were not in the military. They had no weapons. They posed no threat.»
«How many more such cases are happening right now in the occupied territories?» he asked.
Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk claimed to Reuters Saturday that those left on the streets «were shot in the back of their heads. So you can imagine what kind of lawlessness they perpetrated here.»
Fedoruk also told The Washington Post the bodies of those left on the streets could not be moved until it was certain they had not been rigged with explosives, as Zelenskyy has asserted that Russian forces have been «mining the whole territory,» included corpses.
On Sunday, Fedoruk said that 118 people had been buried in mass graves.
Zelenskyy spokesperson Sergey Nikiforov told BBC‘s «Sunday Morning» that in Bucha and other areas where Russian troops have departed authorities found «mass graves filled with civilians.»
“We found people with hands and legs tied and bullet holes in the back of their heads,» he said, «and half-burned bodies as if somebody tried to hide their crimes.»
«I have to be careful with my wording,» he said, but «it looks exactly like war crimes.»
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted Sunday, «Bucha massacre was deliberate.»
In a statement, Kuleba called on the International Criminal Court to «thoroughly collect all evidence of Russian war crimes» in Bucha and other Kyiv-area towns retaken by Ukrainian forces.
Global officials also expressed condemnation Sunday over the alleged acts in Bucha.
«Shocked by haunting images of atrocities committed by Russian army in Kyiv liberated region,» tweeted European Council President Charles Michel, adding the hashtag #BuchaMassacre.
The E.U., said Michel, is also readying further sanctions targeting Russia; the U.S. is also preparing to tighten its sanctions policies targeting Russia.
Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg called the apparent killings «a brutality against civilians we haven’t seen in Europe for decades.»
U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also expressed shock about the images from Bucha. In a Sunday tweet, he called it «is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.»
Russian authorities, for their part, dismissed the reports regarding Bucha as «fake» and suggested Ukrainians created the mass grave.
By Andrea Germanos