Russian soldiers ‘discuss killing civilians’ in Ukraine during radio intercepts | Ukraine

Radio transmissions in which Russian soldiers appear to be talking to each other about premeditated killings of civilians in Ukraine have been intercepted by German foreign intelligence, a source familiar with the findings said.

The evidence was presented by officials from the foreign intelligence service, the BND, to parliamentarians on Wednesday.

Reports of the radio communications first appeared in German news magazine Spiegel, which said the communications were linked to atrocities in Bucha, north of Kyiv.

Several of them can be directly associated with places and objects shown in photos that document the aftermath of the murders, the magazine reported.

Workers review documentation of civil bodies. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

A mass grave was discovered in Bucha over the weekend along with dozens of civilian corpses lying on the ground, after the withdrawal of the Russian army. The hands of some of the dead were tied, while other corpses showed signs of torture. Many women and children were reportedly among the victims.

The Russian government has vehemently denied allegations that its soldiers carried out the killings, which world leaders including Joe Biden and Germany’s Olaf Scholz have called war crimes. Russia has repeatedly claimed the killings were staged. Yet a growing number of testimonials have added to the veracity of the reports. The United Nations General Assembly on Thursday suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council over reports of ‘gross and systematic violations and abuses of human rights’ by invading troops Russians in Ukraine.

In radio communications, Russian soldiers reportedly explained how they interrogated Ukrainian soldiers as well as civilians before shooting them.

According to Spiegel, who was indirectly referring to people who had been present at the meeting at which BND officers delivered the new evidence to a select group of deputies, the tapes “entirely invalidate Russia’s denials.”

Serhii Lahovskyi cries next to the grave of his friend Ihor Lytvynenko
Serhii Lahovskyi cries beside the grave of his friend Ihor Lytvynenko. Photograph: Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

In one of the radio conversations, a Russian voice tells someone how he and another soldier shot a person who was on a bicycle. One of the many images of atrocities to have circled the world in recent days was of a dead body next to a bicycle.

In another communication, a man was heard saying, “You interrogate the soldier first, then you shoot him. The impression given was that the soldiers spoke neutrally about the killings as if discussing day-to-day activities, the deputies said, according to Spiegel.

Intelligence material is also said to lend credence to reports that the Russian mercenary group Wagner played a central role in the killings. The group was previously active in the war in Syria where the vicious nature of its activities was notorious.

Speaking on Thursday, Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk said the number of bodies found in the town was increasing every day, with 320 civilians identified so far. Crime scene officers had recovered bodies from private estates, parks and squares, he said, as well as from temporary graves. “Nearly 90% were killed by bullets, not by shrapnel,” he added.

The BND tapes heightened suspicions that these killings were neither random nor perpetrated by soldiers who may have acted autonomously as previously suggested.

Other radio recordings are being analyzed, according to Spiegel. However, their precise localization seems more difficult. They would report similar activities in other parts of Ukraine, in and around the port city of Mariupol which was largely destroyed by Russian bombardment.

A family mourns a missing relative in front of a mass grave in the town of Bucha
A family mourns a missing relative in front of a mass grave in the town of Bucha. Photography: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the expertise of forensic specialists in Europe was urgently sought, with independent experts needing to be ready to gather as much evidence as quickly as possible as soon as atrocities occur. suspected would be revealed. , which the source said were expected to be many more.

A massacre in Mali last week in which 300 people died and in which Russian fighters were allegedly involved had “all the hallmarks of the Russian military’s modus operandi”, the source said, adding that it was similar to the attacks of the Army. been involved in Syria. This had raised hopes that expert capacity to collect forensic evidence would be increasingly needed, the source added.

In Ukraine on Thursday, as humanitarian relief teams and volunteers ventured further into territory around kyiv recaptured from Russian troops, evidence of new atrocities against Ukrainian civilians by the occupying force continued to emerge. emerge.

Residents walk past destroyed Russian military machinery
Residents walk past destroyed Russian military machinery. Photography: Roman Pilipey/EPA

As roads were cleared and the wreckage of tanks and civilian cars set on fire, residents returned home to find their homes looted or destroyed, neighbors missing, bodies rotting in basements and graves dug out. haste in the gardens. The violence and death in the towns and villages surrounding Kyiv stand even by the appalling standards of other conflict zones.

Also Thursday, Amnesty International released a report detailing apparent war crimes in the Kyiv region, based on interviews with 20 people who witnessed or had first-hand knowledge of horrific violence.

A woman from a village east of the capital told Amnesty investigators that on March 9, two Russian soldiers entered her home, killed her husband and raped her repeatedly under threat of a gun while her young son hid nearby. She then managed to escape to Ukrainian-held territory.

In the village of Vorzel, Nataliya and Valeryi Tkachova left their basement on March 3 to check for incoming Russian tanks, telling their 18-year-old daughter Kateryna to stay hidden. After hearing gunshots, Kateryna left the basement to find her parents lying dead in the street, her father shot six times in the back and her mother once in the chest. She was helped to leave Vorzel on March 10.

“Testimonies show that unarmed civilians in Ukraine are being killed in their homes and on the streets in acts of indescribable cruelty and shocking brutality,” Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general, said in a statement. “The intentional killing of civilians is a human rights violation and a war crime. These deaths must be fully investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted, including up the chain of command. »

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