Russian death squads ‘told to kill everyone’ in Bucha rampage

In grainy CCTV footage from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, nine men with their heads bowed hurry across a muddy street at gunpoint, each clutching the waist of the man in front. Only one will survive the coming massacre.

Chilling footage and intercepted phone calls released yesterday have revealed how Russian soldiers rounded up civilians in Bucha, with one soldier reportedly telling his mother they had orders to kill “everyone”.

The investigation by the Associated Press and PBS added to the mountain of evidence that the mass killings in Bucha were intended to neutralise resistance and terrorise locals into submission.

The massacre in Bucha came to light in April as Russian troops retreated from the once quiet suburb, leaving behind streets strewn with the bodies of dead civilians.

More than 450 bodies have since been recovered, with nearly 40 of them discovered along a single street where Russian troops held and tortured local residents in an industrial building serving as their headquarters.

Russia has denied any role in the deaths in Bucha, and several Kremlin officials have accused Ukraine of staging the killings.

But the weight of evidence proving Russian forces carried out the massacre has only continued to grow.

Footage from several CCTV cameras in Bucha, provided by the Ukrainian government, showed the scenes of terror that preceded the massacre.

In one of them, a Russian soldier escorts three people with bags, a suitcase and a dog into the building that was later to be revealed to be a Russian torture chamber. The footage of the nine men being led across the street was filmed at the same location.

All except one were killed by Russian troops after they discovered they had manned a checkpoint nearby in a desperate volunteer attempt to protect their country, Ukrainian officials said.

The survivor, Ivan Skyba, a taxi driver, told the Associated Press that the Russians accused him and other volunteers of being Nazi sympathisers and guiding Ukrainian artillery fire.

One of the nine men was shot dead in front of Mr Skyba, who was beaten until he lost consciousness.

When he came round, Mr Skyba saw the Russian soldiers leading his friends out into the yard and executing them.

Before long it was his turn.

Mr Skyba, who eventually managed to escape and fled to Poland, said: “I felt the bullet pierce my side. I fell and froze, pretending I was dead.”

Intercepted phone calls the Ukrainian government shared with reporters included several soldiers confessing to their families in Russia to killing civilians in Bucha in cold blood.

A Russian soldier named Ivan called his mother in mid-March while Russian troops were still stationed there and said he had orders to “shoot everyone, who gives a f*** who it might be: a child, a woman, an old lady, an old man”.

“Anyone who has weapons gets killed. Absolutely everyone,” he said.

He went on to tell his mother this unit was leading a “cleansing” operation, seizing weapons, strip-searching people and examining their phones.

Another soldier, identified only as Maksim, called his wife from outside Kyiv a few days later, saying he and all of his mates were binge-drinking to make the job more bearable.

“Everyone here is like that. It’s easier like this to shoot civilians,” a clearly intoxicated Maksim is heard saying.

The investigation included eyewitness testimony saying the violence was not random.

“The Russians hunted down on lists prepared by their intelligence services and went door to door to identify potential threats,” said one Bucha
resident. “Those who didn’t pass this filtration, including volunteer fighters and civilians suspected of assisting Ukrainian troops, were tortured and executed.”

Ukrainian officials say the pattern of the killings suggests that the Russian soldiers were murdering civilians in cold blood, on orders from their commanders.

Tamas Semkiv, Ukraine’s lead prosecutor for the Bucha massacre, told the AP and PBS: “The results of the criminal evidence we have gathered so far reveal it wasn’t just isolated incidents of military personnel making a mistake but a systematic policy targeting the Ukrainian people.”

Ukrainian prosecutors named Russia’s 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division as responsible for the atrocities and are pursuing the commander, Maj Gen Sergei Chubarykin and his boss, Col Gen Alexander Chaiko, on war crimes charges.

Bucha became a by-word for Russian atrocities in Ukraine after investigators, the military and journalists first visited the town in early April, only to find contorted bodies – some of them with hands tied behind their backs – lying on the side of the road.

Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky, who visited Bucha after it was recaptured by Ukrainian forces, said the atrocities were proof of Russia’s genocidal plans for Ukraine. (© Telegraph Media Group Ltd 2022)

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