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Guterres tours Ukraine amid heavy Russian shelling

Friday, April 29th 2022 - 09:51 UTC
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Ukrainian prosecutors are helping the ICC build a case against Russian war crimes suspects Ukrainian prosecutors are helping the ICC build a case against Russian war crimes suspects

One day after meeting in Moscow with Russian President Vladimir Putin, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres Thursday traveled to Kyiv for an encounter with Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky amid heavy shelling from Russian forces.

The shelling of Kyiv, the first since mid-April, left at least three people wounded, according to Mayor Vitali Klitschko. These bombings “speak volumes about the efforts of the Russian leadership to humiliate the UN and everything this organization stands for,” Zelensky said.

He added that “five missiles” fell on the city “immediately after the meeting” he held with Guterres. “This calls for a powerful reaction of the same intensity.” Guterres and his entourage were “shocked” by the proximity of the Russian shelling, although everyone is “safe,” according to a UN spokesman.

In the afternoon, Guterres visited Bucha, a locality near Kyiv, where dozens of corpses appeared after the withdrawal of Russian troops and defined the war as an “absurdity in the 21st century.” He also admitted the Security Council had “failed” to bring it to an end. “When we see this horrible place, I understand how important it is to have a full investigation and establish responsibility. I urge Russia to agree to cooperate with the ICC,” Guterres told reporters.

The Ukrainian prosecutor's office announced the opening of an investigation against ten Russian soldiers for their alleged involvement in the killings in Bucha. “Ten soldiers of the 64th Russian motorized rifle brigade are investigated in connection with cruel treatment of civilians and other violations of the law and customs of war,” the prosecutor's office said in a statement.

The Prosecutor's Office considered it proven that members of this unit executed and tortured civilians by starving them to death or by mock executions. Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova confirmed on her Facebook account that ten of these servicemen were formally charged and released the names and faces of the suspects.

Venediktova also spoke of “8,600 files specifically on war crimes and more than 4,000 linked to war crimes” including “killings of civilians, shelling of civilian infrastructure, torture,” as well as “sexual crimes” and the “use of prohibited weapons.”

On April 2, AFP journalists found a street full of corpses in Bucha. The UN documented the “killing, including some by summary execution” of 50 civilians. Moscow denied any responsibility and spoke of “staging” by Kyiv.

Some 8,000 people are taking part in these investigations, including agents of the Ukrainian police and secret services and experts or members of NGOs from all over the world, including representatives of the Justice of the United States and other nations such as Germany, France, and The Netherlands.

Venediktova recalled it is not possible to investigate in areas controlled by the Russian army. However, information is being gathered from refugees fleeing those areas. More than five million people have had to leave Ukraine since the beginning of the war, which has left some seven million internally displaced persons.

Guterres said the UN was doing “everything possible” to evacuate civilians from the “apocalypse” in Mariupol, the southern Ukrainian city devastated by the Russian military offensive.

Categories: Politics, International.

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