Transcript

Putin’s Attack on Ukraine: Documenting War Crimes

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MALE NEWSREADER:

This morning the mass exodus in Ukraine reaching historic levels.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The U.N. is reporting that nearly one in every four people living in Ukraine has been forced from their home by the Russian invasion.

NARRATOR:

We arrived in Ukraine during the early weeks of the war. Fighting in the north, south and east of the country had already displaced nearly 10 million Ukrainians.

ERIKA KINETZ, The Associated Press:

Hey, Jeff. We’re good, we just crossed the border.

NARRATOR:

Accounts of Russian atrocities were coming out.

MALE NEWSREADER:

For the Russian forces attacking Ukraine, killing large numbers of civilians is not uncommon. In Mariupol—

NARRATOR:

And the calls to hold President Vladimir Putin accountable were growing. AP reporter Erika Kinetz was heading to the northern city of Chernihiv, which had been under attack by Russian forces for a month. Hundreds of civilians had been killed there.

NARRATOR:

Kinetz was part of a team of reporters from FRONTLINE and The Associated Press focusing on war crimes—

ERIKA KINETZ:

Do you know how old the children were?

NARRATOR:

—looking for evidence on the ground, in news footage and in the streams of video being posted by Ukrainians themselves.

We started cataloging the daily attacks, both using our firsthand reporting and online information like satellite data and social media posts.

MICHAEL BIESECKER, The Associated Press:

In the first weeks of the war, as we were seeing this imagery come in, we began tracking it, trying to confirm where it occurred, when it occurred and what it shows.

This is video posted to Twitter.

We were starting to see videos showing both a lot of civilian deaths, bodies in the street, bodies in burned out homes, bodies in cars. A lot of government buildings were struck, but also cultural buildings, theaters, hospitals, schools. Things that someday may be prosecuted by either Ukrainian or international officials in some sort of tribunal against Russian troops.

There were a lot of missile strikes. There were cluster bomb attacks. They were designed to take out masses of troops, but in Ukraine they've been taking out clusters of civilians.

NARRATOR:

A month into the invasion, we had documented and verified around 100 attacks involving potential war crimes.

MICHAEL BIESECKER:

The aftermath of an apartment building strike. I remember geolocating this one. We're able to use this rather distinctive building to determine exactly where the collapsed building is. We can usually find things in a video that’s going to be in the background like that building to determine where this was.

NARRATOR:

When we arrived in Chernihiv, the apartment building was being torn down. Ukrainian officials said it was bombed in a Russian air assault.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So your sister lived here.

KATERYNA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Yes.

ERIKA KINETZ:

I’m so sorry for your loss. I'm sorry.

NARRATOR:

Five members of Kateryna’s family were killed.

KATERYNA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] My family died here. My sister, her husband and three children all lived here. The oldest was 12 years old, and the twins were 3 years old. How is it possible I have no one left? [Cries] Here! Here’s what’s left! What is f------ left? What’s left? What’s left of the children? They were living! Small children, found underneath the cement plates. It’s just the way it is.

[Cries] The twins. Five people are simply gone. [Cries]

KATERYNA'S BOYFRIEND:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Calm down, calm down.

NARRATOR:

During the bombardment of places like Chernihiv in the early weeks of the invasion—

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

Explosions rocking several cities, including the capital of Kyiv.

NARRATOR:

—Russian forces pushed towards the capital.

MALE NEWSREADER:

And there’s little stopping Russia from threatening the capital, Kyiv, itself.

NARRATOR:

But as the advance hit Ukrainian resistance and began to fail, the Russians waged a different kind of warfare in the suburbs of Kyiv.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Russia’s withdrawal has revealed what looked more like crime scenes then the aftermath of battle. Bodies bearing signs of torture and rape.

NARRATOR:

What they left behind when they retreated from the town of Bucha was a shocking scene of violence against civilians and would change the world’s view of war crimes in Ukraine.

DMYTRO KULEBA, Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs:

Bucha. The suffering that these people went through. You are no one. You are not a human being. They can do anything with you: kill you, rape you, cut you into pieces.

SITU/Talionis Group

NARRATOR:

To try to understand the scope of the atrocities in Bucha, we worked with visual investigators, SITU and Ukrainian drone videographers to create a 3D model of the town—a map of the patterns of violence and hundreds of potential war crimes.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

Bucha is the most obvious case of the war crime, of the systemic war crimes committed by the Russian army.

NARRATOR:

What happened here would lead us on a long investigation into the extent of the brutal campaign, who was behind it and who could be held accountable.

The largest concentration of bodies in Bucha was found along Yablunska Street, a main road through the town’s industrial section.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Sasha? Did you ask—

NARRATOR:

We went there with AP videographer Sasha Stashevskyi. He's based in Kyiv and was one of the first journalists to arrive on the scene in Bucha after the Russian retreat.

ERIKA KINETZ:

This is Yablunska Street we're on now.

SASHA STASHEVSKYI, The Associated Press:

Right. One body, with bicycle. We found another one in a backyard.

One here, and another one here. And another one, he was—

NARRATOR:

Sasha filmed the bodies of more than a hundred dead civilians.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Hang on a sec. So if we start from there—here you've got a body in the yard.

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yeah.

ERIKA KINETZ:

You've got one here.

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yeah.

ERIKA KINETZ:

With two cars. And then you've got three bodies. Where were the bodies?

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Like one was here. This bicycle was here. And then two here.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So, so far, you've got one, two, three, four, five, six bodies.

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yes.

ERIKA KINETZ:

And this is within like your first 5 minutes on Yablunska Street?

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yeah.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Six bodies.

NARRATOR:

A focal point of the killings was further down Yablunska Street at a nondescript office building that had become a de facto headquarters for the Russians during the occupation.

ERIKA KINETZ:

And what's the address of this building?

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yablunska 144.

And here was eight bodies. Some of them was clearly shot in the head, tied hands. And some of them had, like, eyes was—

ERIKA KINETZ:

Blindfolded eyes.

SASHA STASHEVSKYI:

Yeah. Blindfolded eyes.

NARRATOR:

Sasha had documented what looked like the point-blank execution of eight men. Almost immediately, local prosecutors began building war crimes cases.

RUSLAN KRAVCHENKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] It’s unbelievable that such a huge number of victims could be possible in these times, in our world.

NARRATOR:

The effort was being led by Ruslan Kravchenko.

RUSLAN KRAVCHENKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Bucha was an outpost for the Russians staying here. They were very present and controlled the life of the city. I believe that the massive scale of cruelty and murders was due to the number of Russian military forces stationed here during the occupation and the fact that they were not in active combat.

ERIKA KINETZ:

There seems to have been a lot of killing on Yablunska Street. How many bodies were found along Yablunska?

RUSLAN KRAVCHENKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] More than 30, that’s for sure. They didn’t pose any threat to the Russians. People were just walking along, on their way to get groceries. An older woman was killed in the street on her way home.

NARRATOR:

A month after the Russians left Bucha, officials were continuing to count how many civilians had been killed. Bodies were still arriving at the city morgue. We went there with a local journalist we were working with, Taras Lazer.

ANNA DOLID:

[Speaking Ukrainian] On the first day, they brought the bodies. It was chaos. No one understood what was happening. And people don’t understand, "Why did they take my Petia," if she buried him in the garden herself. There were women that had to bury their own children. It’s ******. For real.

NARRATOR:

Anna Dolid, a psychologist, was helping families find the bodies of their loved ones. She and her colleagues were keeping a running list of the dead.

TARAS LAZER:

This is how the list looks like.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So these are the numbers and the description, and the third column is?

TARAS LAZER:

[Translating] This is the morgue where the bodies and the pictures.

ERIKA KINETZ:

  1. So if we go to the end, how far—? 119.

ANNA DOLID:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Those are unidentified bodies.

TARAS LAZER:

[Translating] Unidentified.

ERIKA KINETZ:

OK.

FEMALE MORGUE ATTENDANT:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Illyin, Muzychenko, Skandevych, Liashchenko, Yevtushenko, Saliia, Moroz.

NARRATOR:

Around the corner, morgue workers were reading out the names of the bodies that had been found.

Tania Boikiv had been searching for her husband, Kolia Moroz, for three weeks.

TANIA BOIKIV:

I want to tell, I lost my love. It’s a big pain for me.

NARRATOR:

The day we met her, her husband’s body was being brought here.

TANIA BOIKIV:

Russian soldiers killed my husband. [Speaking Ukrainian] My husband was taken somewhere. They forced him into a car. They were killing people in every village. Just because, for no reason. For no reason.

NARRATOR:

As we followed Tania, the trail of the killings led through the once-peaceful suburb of Bucha to the nearby village of Ozera. She was bringing her husband’s body home to be buried.

Petro Volinko had been with Kolia the day he disappeared. He said the two of them had been taping up windows blown out by a mortar. Some Russian soldiers approached them.

PETRO VOLINKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] While we were looking for the tape, they waited over there. We took the tape and they started to follow us and stopped us in front of the doors. They checked my documents.

NARRATOR:

He said the soldiers went through Kolia’s phone and found videos from the local warehouse where he worked.

PETRO VOLINKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] ”What is this recording?” they asked. “It's from my job,” Mykola replied. He was working as an electrician. They called him a snitch as if he were an informer for Ukrainians. And they added, “We will shoot you.” Just like that. Then they put a plastic bag over his head. I said, “Don’t take him!” I was pleading, but they dragged him into the car and drove away without saying a word.

TANIA BOIKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We met in Kyiv in a park two years ago. No, three years ago. So, there was a group in the church where singles meet. Friends invited Kolia, and just like that, we met.

After his death, people came over to me to say that being without Kolia is like being without your hands. Helpless. I didn’t see any flaws in him. Yes. He did everything right. I never saw him get angry. He was generous, always helping others even if he had a lot of work to do.

NARRATOR:

After the funeral, a friend of Kolia’s spoke with us.

KOSTYA HASILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We went to Bucha every day looking for him. We were searching for him for two weeks. One woman told us to go see the priest because he had photos of our dead.

NARRATOR:

He showed us a picture of Kolia he said he’d gotten from a priest in the next town over.

KOSTYA HASILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] He showed only Kolia. He showed him from different angles.

NARRATOR:

Tania had also seen the picture of Kolia that the priest had taken.

TANIA BOIKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I remember this moment. I was shocked. I remember that I took the phone from the priest and yelled, “Kolia, Kolia!” In the photo, Kolia's head was covered in blood and half of his face was bruised. When the autopsy came out, it stated that he had multiple gunshots in his body. That’s when I understood he had been shot.

I am very thankful that he took that photo. Otherwise, we wouldn't know anything.

NARRATOR:

The next day, we went to find the priest who’d taken the picture of Kolia. He was in a village called Zdvyzhivka, about 9 miles from Ozera. His name was Father Vasyl Bentsa. We found him working at the local cemetery.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So tell us what happened.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] On the evening of Friday, Feb. 25, their military vehicles arrived. We thought that the Russians were headed for Kyiv. That they had no interest in our village.

NARRATOR:

Zdvyzhivka would end up being under Russian occupation for a month. In the days after the soldiers retreated, one of his neighbors discovered five dead bodies.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I don't know where he was. On March 31—I think it was the 31st—neighbors walked into a compound on Tsentralna Street. There is a big, beautiful new house. The Russian military used this house.

Interestingly, these bodies were found in the garden. But there is a fence, and behind the garden fence there is a forest. They could have easily left the bodies in the forest, but they were found in the garden.

NARRATOR:

His photos showed the bodies of four other men alongside Kolia.

ERIKA KINETZ:

This is—who is this?

TARAS LAZER:

This is Kolia.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So their hands are bound. Oh, God. His mouth is bound, too.

NARRATOR:

Father Bentsa said he didn’t recognize any of the men. But he would eventually learn that three of them were from Ozera.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Ivan Boiko identified his employee. His wife identified Kolia. Misha was identified by his sister.

NARRATOR:

By then, Father Bentsa had already had the bodies moved from the garden to just outside the cemetery and buried them all together.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So why put five bodies in one grave?

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I knew it was temporary, that sooner or later it would end. We did not hold a funeral service because I didn’t know their identities. What if these were prisoners or Russian soldiers? Chechen or God knows who? I also don’t have the right to bury everyone. I decided to put them in one grave.

NARRATOR:

Later, Father Bentsa took us to meet the men who found Kolia and the four other bodies.

TARAS LAZER:

Good afternoon.

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] Nice to meet you, I am Yevhenii.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Erika, Associated Press journalist, hello.

IHOR:

Ihor.

[Speaking Russian] During the occupation, we were visiting empty houses. We were checking everything, turning off the gas. We took care of houses.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So the Russians were living in this rich house? There was like a group of Russians staying there?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] In the evenings, they left for the night. And in the morning they would come back and again, they drank coffee, exchanged their little jokes, vodka, beer.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So what did you find when you went there?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] The first two bodies we saw wore clothes five sizes too large. The clothes were tied with tape. Also, eyes were taped blind. The clothes did not belong to bodies, for sure. They were probably stripped naked and tortured. The bodies were in bad condition. They were tortured.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Do you have any idea where these men were killed?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] They were killed here. There was blood on the fence.

IHOR:

[Speaking Russian] There was blood on the fence. Blood on the fence from the bullets.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Can you show us?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] We can’t get in.

TARAS LAZER:

[Speaking Russian] Can you draw it?

[Speaking English] You enter. Hundred meters. Here.

ERIKA KINETZ:

And here’s the five bodies.

TARAS LAZER:

These are. Yes.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Can we just walk to the house?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] Of course.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Who is the owner?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] A simple Ukrainian businessman. Nothing more.

ERIKA KINETZ:

And he is not here now?

YEVHENII:

[Speaking Russian] No, he flew in just yesterday. Came back, locked the house, that’s it.

NARRATOR:

What happened in Zdvyzhivka bore a striking resemblance to the executions less than 20 miles away in Bucha, at 144 Yablunska St., where the Russians had their command center and a place to process and interrogate civilians. Torture and killing at 144 Yablunska would become the main focus for Ukraine’s war crimes prosecutors.

Taras Semkiv from the Prosecutor General’s Office was put in charge of the case.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is in fact the place where the eight bodies that are in this photo were found.

The military officers were there. The actual interrogations were not conducted by ordinary soldiers. The interrogations were conducted by the officers of the Russian army. Identifying them by clothing has been difficult, even for their relatives.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Oh, God. These poor people.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] These were people who had been found in the neighboring houses not far from 144 Yablunska. They were hiding in the basements of those houses. They were found.

The hands of those individuals were tied and they were deprived of any possibility to resist. And the fact that they were executed was obvious.

ERIKA KINETZ:

What do you think the odds are of you getting any of the people responsible for the atrocities at 144 Yablunska into an actual court of law and prosecuting them in a court?

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I will do everything in my power to ensure that these people are convicted. I think our chances are quite good. We’ve already gathered a lot of evidence. We believe it qualifies as a war crime and violates the laws of war.

NARRATOR:

The effort to prosecute war crimes in Ukraine traces back decades, to London, 1945, where the foundations of modern war crimes law were created. It was here in the months after the defeat of Hitler that the victor nations created the laws known as the Nuremberg Charter, named after the city in Germany where Nazi leaders would soon stand trial.

MALE NEWSREEL NARRATOR:

This is the building in Nuremberg where top Nazis are being tried for many crimes.

MALE VOICE:

Crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

NARRATOR:

Nineteen Nazi officials would be convicted under the these new laws.

On this afternoon in London there was a ceremony being held for one of the authors of the Nuremberg Charter.

PHILIPPE SANDS, Prof., University College London:

He is literally the individual who came up with the idea of putting the concept of crimes against humanity into the Nuremberg statute.

NARRATOR:

Philippe Sands is an historian and international human rights lawyer who is advocating that Vladimir Putin be prosecuted by the Nuremberg standards developed here.

PHILIPPE SANDS:

They sat down in London and they basically invented three new international crimes. One was crimes against humanity.

MALE VOICE:

The wrongs have been so malignant and so devastating—

PHILIPPE SANDS:

The second new crime that was created was genocide, the destruction of groups. And the third international crime was what was then called crimes against peace.

MALE VOICE:

Crimes against the peace of the world.

PHILIPPE SANDS:

The crime of aggression—waging a manifestly illegal war. It was the one that was the most important for the judges, because all the other crimes flowed from the decision to wage an illegal war.

NARRATOR:

It would be nearly half a century before the Nuremberg principles would be put into practice again.

MALE NEWSREADER:

The fall of Srebrenica prompted the biggest war crime of the conflict—

MALE NEWSREADER:

Eight thousand men and boys murdered and thrown into mass graves.

NARRATOR:

—with war crimes tribunals for conflicts in Yugoslavia and Rwanda.

MALE NEWSREADER:

Every day thousands of people fleeing the war-torn capital of Kigali. Yet they are Rwanda's lucky ones. They’re alive.

FEMALE NEWSREADER:

The trial at the International Criminal Tribunal was intended to shed light on events surrounding the Rwandan genocide.

FEMALE SPEAKER:

This is the beginning of the first trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia.

CLINT WILLIAMSON:

People thought that the Yugoslavia tribunal was going to accomplish very little, that it would try a few low-level camp guards and then would fade away. And what we saw instead is that it was actually able to indict and prosecute the senior leadership that was responsible for crimes in former Yugoslavia.

FEMALE SPEAKER:

The prosecutor vs. Slobodan Milosěvić.

NARRATOR:

Clint Williamson was one of the war crimes prosecutors in the case against Serbian President Slobodan Milosěvić.

CLINT WILLIAMSON:

What started out as something that was almost unthinkable has evolved into something quite different. Heads of state are no longer seen as being untouchable. With the creation of the Yugoslavia and Rwanda tribunals, it really changed the trajectory of this ideal of international justice.

NARRATOR:

In the wake of those tribunals, there was a push to create a permanent court based on the Nuremberg principles to prosecute war crimes like the targeting of civilians.

FEMALE SPEAKER:

What we need is a permanent court structure.

NARRATOR:

It became the International Criminal Court, the ICC. The court went on to obtain convictions in other countries, but never against Vladimir Putin, despite an increasing outcry over war crimes. In 2014, with the invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula. In 2015, with the war in Syria to help the dictator Bashar al-Assad.

STEPHEN RAPP, Fmr. U.S. Ambassador for War Crimes:

Putin takes us back almost to the Middle Ages. The idea of siege warfare. The idea that there is no civilian immunity. Anyone that's on that side is the enemy. The only way to survive is to surrender to us.

Ancient cities, tens of thousands of people killed. Hospitals a major point of attack. This was the approach. And violated rules like no attacks on hospitals or ambulances that have been the oldest things in the Geneva Conventions, been with us for 160 years. Out the window.

NARRATOR:

Former war crimes prosecutor Stephen Rapp says the ICC has been no match for Putin’s prominent place on the world stage.

STEPHEN RAPP:

There was no way that there was going to be any international court established for Syria. Russia would veto it. No referral to the International Criminal Court.

MALE SPEAKER:

Will those in favor of the draft resolution please raise their hand?

STEPHEN RAPP:

In fact, Russia and China vetoed that one offered in May of 2014.

MALE SPEAKER:

Those against.

STEPHEN RAPP:

Even any kind of modest sanctions against those that were engaged in this conduct of use of poison gas or anything else, vetoed by Russia in the Security Council. So the clear message is, "I can get away with this."

NARRATOR:

Five months into the war in Ukraine, FRONTLINE and the AP had documented more than 300 attacks involving potential war crimes, and Ukrainian officials were saying they were investigating more than 20,000 cases.

In July at the Hague, home to the International Criminal Court, government officials came together from around the world.

MALE SPEAKER:

He is now on the screen. Mr. President, it is very good to see you.

NARRATOR:

Their focus: accountability for alleged war crimes in Ukraine.

MALE SPEAKER:

—and the floor is yours.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Time is ruthless. It's playing into Russia's hand. If justice is delayed, people feel like there is none at all. For different jurisdictional reasons, our institutions cannot bring accountability to all perpetrators for their crimes. That is why we need a special tribunal.

NARRATOR:

The Ukrainians were lobbying for a new special tribunal apart from the ICC, using the Nuremberg principle, the crime of aggression—waging an illegal war against Ukraine.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

The war of aggression Russia is waging against Ukraine is the largest and most brutal war of aggression in Europe since 1945.

PHILIPPE SANDS:

The evidence is there proving an illegal war. The war is not authorized by the Security Council, the war is not being carried out in self defense and the war is not being carried out for humanitarian purposes.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

Unfortunately, there is currently no international court or tribunal that could effectively try Russia’s top political and military leadership for committing the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

NARRATOR:

The ICC doesn’t have jurisdiction over Putin for the crime of aggression because Russia—like the U.S. and other countries—never agreed to give it the authority to pursue that charge.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

This is why Ukraine calls on the establishment of a special tribunal which would have a specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

The crime of aggression is called the mother of all crimes, right? Because you don't have war crimes if you don't have the crime of aggression. So the best way to prosecute personally President Putin is to have a special ad hoc tribunal for the crime of aggression.

PHILIPPE SANDS:

Unlike proving war crimes and crimes against humanity or genocide, which are labor-intensive, take huge amounts of time, the creation of a special criminal tribunal brings certain advantages.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

I encourage all of you to look into this initiative and proceed with implementation of the initiative without delay.

PHILIPPE SANDS:

I've used the expression from basketball, it's pretty much a slam dunk in relation to the crime of aggression as compared to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. It's straightforward, it's neat, it's simple, it's quick and it's cost-efficient. Why wouldn't you do it?

KARIM KHAN:

We need to realize this is not about fiefdoms. It's not about different entities struggling and competing and rubbing against each other.

NARRATOR:

At the conference, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, sidestepped the issue. But in an interview with us later, he pushed back against the idea of a special tribunal.

KARIM KHAN, Chief prosecutor, ICC:

I mean, we're a court. We're here. We have a building; you're in it. We have judges; they're upstairs. We have rules of procedure. Everything is up and ready and it's in operation. And my own view is we have clear jurisdiction.

Victims, they don’t have much tolerance in my view for vanity projects or distractions. They want the law to be put into force as diligently as possible. And if states want to have other parallel processes, it's really for states.

NARRATOR:

Khan has personally been to Ukraine and the ICC has dozens of investigators on the ground looking into potential war crimes committed during Putin’s invasion.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Can you indict Putin?

KARIM KHAN:

You ask about an individual who's the head of state of a government. No prosecutor worth his or her salt should put the cart before the horse. No prosecutor worth his or her salt should start with the target. They should start with the evidence and decide what the evidence shows.

We have to start by the principle, and the principle is to get to the truth, get to the evidence, and the first to hear of that will be the judges of the ICC.

DMYTRO KULEBA:

International Criminal Court is telling us, "Don't go ahead with your special tribunal because this is against our interests. We need to maintain integrity of the international criminal legal order. And ICC should remain the only judicial body to try everything related to international criminal law." And my response is that in this case, your interests have nothing to do with the interest of justice.

NARRATOR:

While we were reporting outside Ukraine, we got new leads about the Russian military operation in Bucha and the surrounding areas.

TARAS LAZER:

I have a bunch of news.

ERIKA KINETZ:

OK. I'm listening.

NARRATOR:

Our colleague in Ukraine, Taras Lazer, had been given notes and documents left behind by Russian soldiers after they pulled out at the end of March.

TARAS LAZER:

So the document I saw was named exactly like this: Russian troops, direction, Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel. I have all that written down, a lot of different military units, including OMON, including assault troops, including regular army.

ERIKA KINETZ:

How many units are we talking about?

TARAS LAZER:

Fifteen.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Fifteen. OK.

TARAS LAZER:

Fifteen military units.

ERIKA KINETZ:

OK, that sounds very promising. Does this connect up to Ozera and Zdvyzhivka?

TARAS LAZER:

Yeah.

NARRATOR:

The troops were part of a campaign under the command of Col. Gen. Alexander Chaiko, one of Putin’s top military leaders, seen in this Russian state footage handing out medals near Zdvyzhivka during the occupation.

COL. GEN. ALEXANDER CHAIKO:

[Speaking Russian] All units, all divisions are acting the way they were taught, as we were taught during peacetime. They are doing everything right. I am proud of them.

ERIKA KINETZ:

This was his battle zone. Zdvyzhivka, Ozera, Babyntsi, Hostomel, Bucha, Irpin. This was his zone of command. That battle space was his responsibility.

He had been the commander Russia’s troops in Syria. What stands out is the history that he had in Syria and the allegations of violations of international humanitarian law that already clung to him as he was coming into Ukraine as a leader of Russia’s offensive.

NARRATOR:

We now had information pointing to specific military units and their general that could be implicated in the mass killings in Bucha, as well as the deaths of Kolia Moroz and others.

We brought the materials we had been collecting to a group in London we’d been working with to investigate war crimes, the Center for Information Resilience.

PIERRE VAUX, Center for Information Resilience:

So what we did with the information you gave us is we started a) putting together a timeline to put it into sequence; b) putting that on a map. And what we also did is cross-correlated that with data from our own database, which is based on open-source, social media postings, and so on.

NARRATOR:

Using satellite data and video we had given them, CIR mapped out something about the Russian military campaign that hadn’t been reported before, in the town of Zdvyzhivka, where Kolia Moroz was found.

PIERRE VAUX:

So the bodies were found, and correct me if I'm wrong here, I believe, judging from the drone footage you shared, that the bodies were found around here in the garden, near the rear fence.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Right near the rear fence.

BENJAMIN STRICK, Center for Information Resilience:

What we do have is satellite imagery to confirm at least the presence of Russian military. We can see a lot of tire tracks around the town. There's a definite window of time between the 25th and 28th of February, when a huge amount of Russian forces descended on this town.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So, are these all—these are all Russian vehicles, then? They're everywhere. Here on this road, on this road. There's convoys everywhere.

BENJAMIN STRICK:

Yeah, absolutely. You can see this other side of the main road is full of this sort of convoy where they're actually out walking around there.

NARRATOR:

As the Russians had done at 144 Yablunska in Bucha, they created a base in the village; this one, a major hub for thousands of troops occupying the area.

PIERRE VAUX:

This is the road into Zdvyzhivka, and here is the kindergarten that they used as one of their headquarters buildings. One of the football pitches they used for landing helicopters. Carry on down that road and eventually we reach the area with the Baptist church, right here. And here's the big compound that the Russians used as their main base.

NARRATOR:

The satellite images and video from local residents show the military encampment in the woods around Zdvyzhivka.

PIERRE VAUX:

It’s straight down the road into the Russian base, then continue on the road and then you reach the forest. It’s all on one long road. When you look at what they have set up there—the sauna, all of the tents, the accommodation—it seems that this was considered a safe, relatively relaxed place to be.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Have you ever seen this kind of infrastructure near Kyiv? Or this is sort of unusual?

BENJAMIN STRICK:

This is rare.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Yeah.

PIERRE VAUX:

Yeah, I'd agree.

NARRATOR:

It was a particularly strategic location: not far from Kyiv and the airport in nearby Hostomel.

BENJAMIN STRICK:

We can see that Zdvyzhivka is quite a useful position for that kind of advance towards Hostomel, and then that push towards Kyiv, right?

ERIKA KINETZ:

So what does all of this tell you about this place and its strategic role?

PIERRE VAUX:

So this is presumably being used as a sort of forward operating base that's a bit to the rear, so that they can bring troops back here. They can come back here to resupply and replenish, bring the wounded back here. But it's not right on the front lines. So this is where they've set up effectively the headquarters for the area.

NARRATOR:

The CIR analysts had also made an important discovery about the events preceding Kolia’s abduction in Ozera.

PIERRE VAUX:

So this is footage released by the Ukrainian armed forces on the 14th of March. Right near where we see these smoke plumes we then see flashes going off. And that means that they have accurately hit Russian artillery munitions and set them off, which means this is an extremely well-informed strike. It's perfectly logical for the Russians to suspect a spotter in the area.

NARRATOR:

It was the day after the Ukrainian missile strike outside Ozera that Russian soldiers came to Kolia’s house.

PIERRE VAUX:

What I would read from this is that they're probably taken to a site in Zdvyzhivka where, because it's closer to the administrative center for operations there, there's specialized interrogators or counterintelligence personnel who are then conducting an interrogation to try and get any information out of them. So they've not just been stopped on the street and executed in a sort of fit of violence. These are people who were clearly being taken somewhere for processing by interrogation, torture and then execution.

NARRATOR:

Our investigation took us back to Zdvyzhivka in the summer to find out more about the Russian occupation.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Most of us aren't accustomed to living during wartime. We don't know how to deal with it. No one taught us. We tried to live without provoking them because we didn't know what to expect from them.

NARRATOR:

We spoke to more than 50 residents. They told us what it was like when the Russians were there. Many of them showed us video they’d taken.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Can you show me some of the images that you took? The photos and videos that you took?

ANDRII SEMENIUK:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is them shooting. And here you can see our drone.

VIACHESLAV SEMENIUK:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I've sent all of these to you. You don’t have the helicopter one, right?

The occupation feels like one very long day. You don’t sleep, don’t eat. You're just like a zombie.

RAISA KOZYR:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We had checkpoints. At the beginning of the village and then here in the center where their HQ was.

PETRO KARABA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] There is an internet tower here. Russian troops destroyed it immediately.

IHOR IVANCHENKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They didn’t allow anyone in the center of the village. They warned us against going into the forest because it was too dangerous.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] After all of this, there was no electricity until the end of March. We didn't know anything until the Russian military left our village.

NARRATOR:

The Russians finally pulled out of Zdvyzhivka at the end of March.

RAISA KOZYR:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We hoped that everything would come to an end. We thought that they would leave the entire country. But look what happened in the forest.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] After that, we realized they stayed in the woods, too. Not only in the village, but on the outskirts of it.

NARRATOR:

The bodies of dead civilians began to appear almost immediately. First, Kolia Moroz and the other four men. Then more.

IHOR IVANCHENKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is when we pulled him out. This is how he was lying face down. His hands were bound. This is the one lying face down.

VASYL BENTSA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Turned out it was Viktor Balai and Pavlo Kholodenko. They were friends, and schoolmates, lived close to each other.

RAISA KOZYR:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They were beaten really harshly. The death was violent. They were shot to death.

Of course, we took this very hard, as village residents, as mothers. Because Vitia was the only son of his mother.

The funeral of Pavlo and Viktor, for the first time since the occupation gathered all residents of our village who had lived under the occupation. The entire village. To see the boys off on their last journey.

NARRATOR:

The body count would rise to 16, far more than previously known. The regional police were now investigating the killings here as part of the rising war crimes case load.

ANDRII NEBYTOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Appropriate investigations are underway now. We have unfortunately found one more body. We think he is our compatriot.

NARRATOR:

They were still finding bodies while we were there.

ANDRII NEBYTOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is a civilian about 40 to 50 years old. He had his hands tied back. There are injuries, as we can see. The seat cover found on his head indicates that he was also tortured before his death.

A total of 16 people have died in Zdvyzhivka as of now. Fourteen of them are male and two are female. For Zdvyzhivka, unfortunately, this is going to be the 17th body.

NARRATOR:

A pattern was emerging. Like Bucha, abductions, torture, executions. We began looking more closely into what might have made these people targets of the Russians.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is our land and we will fight for it.

NARRATOR:

In Kyiv, we were allowed inside a National Security operations center.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is one of the three centers the president has to manage this situation. You are the first journalists to come here. Generally, this area is closed to the public.

NARRATOR:

Here they are able to pinpoint Russian attacks against Ukrainian forces.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Every day we are keeping track of where the rockets are coming from and how many there are. The yellow dots represent fires, which we fixate on using satellites. Give me a map, please.

NARRATOR:

Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, showed us a map of a Russian division's intended path of attack on the capital.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is a captured map. The Russians were using it to get inside our country. It’s been a while since we used maps like this.

ERIKA KINETZ:

This is one unit that was supposed to follow this line all the way down from Belarus to the southern part of the capital.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They were planning to march through here without stopping. According to the documents we have they were supposed to be in the government quarters at 4 p.m. on the 24th.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So that is a lightning strike. Very fast.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They believed there would be no resistance!

NARRATOR:

The map was stamped with the mark of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division, an element of Gen. Chaiko’s command and led by Maj. Gen. Sergei Chubarykin.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They all came here expecting a parade. They wanted to report to Putin that they had completed the task. We know the names of the brigades, units and commanding officers that controlled the offense that started on Feb. 24. Our intelligence is working tirelessly. We live in a time when you can't hide anything from anyone in the world.

NARRATOR:

The map showed where the Russians encountered Ukrainian resistance.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Zdvyzhivka.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Zdvyzhivka is here. What are all these red marks?

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] This is where we started fighting them.

ERIKA KINETZ:

They got attacked here, all here in the forest?

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We stopped them where we could. It just happened that they could establish a base here. There are forests, maybe that's why they set up there.

ERIKA KINETZ:

You mentioned that you would get reports from local people of where Russian vehicles and troops were located.

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] The app's geolocation feature immediately identifies troop locations. It’s very simple, actually.

We received a lot of information from people who were communicating directly with the military. The engagement of the locals was very important.

ERIKA KINETZ:

What difference did it make? Why?

OLEKSIY DANILOV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They were feeling involved. If the citizens are taking an active part in this, it's a very important force. They risked their lives. They were helping their country.

NARRATOR:

The forces under Gen. Chaiko’s command violently went after this civilian participation in the war. They were ordered to block and destroy nationalist resistance in what were called "cleansing operations"—“zachistka” in Russian.

INTERCEPTED PHONE CALL

MALE VOICE [on phone]:

[Speaking Russian] There was this one time, they stopped a young boy and asked for his phone. After checking his Telegram account, the messenger app had info about our location, where we were going, where to strike us, our numbers, our number of tanks. He was shot on the spot.

NARRATOR:

In intercepted phone calls home that we obtained, Russian soldiers described targeting anyone who might pose a threat.

INTERCEPTED PHONE CALL

MALE VOICE [on phone]:

[Speaking Russian] Or then, there was a boy, 18 years old, taken prisoner. First, they shot through his leg with a machine gun. Then he got his ears cut off. He confessed to everything and was shot dead. We do not take prisoners. Meaning, we don't leave anyone alive.

NARRATOR:

One of the men who was swept up in these cleansing operations was Andrii Voznenko. He had been helping the Ukrainian military spot Russian positions. We met one of his friends in Ozera.

IVAN BOIKO:

[Speaking Ukrainian] He was quite knowledgeable about deciphering military aircraft, whether they were Ukrainian or Russian. He also knew a lot about the different types of military ground vehicles. When he was transmitting the information about the positions and movement of enemy vehicles, he could clearly paint the entire picture, down to the modified positions of the enemy’s vehicles fighting back.

NARRATOR:

One morning in late March, Russian soldiers carrying out a sweep took Andrii.

SERHII KUTCHER:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They were searching for weapons or someone in hiding. They broke down every door.

NARRATOR:

Serhii Kutcher was there when the soldiers arrived.

SERHII KUTCHER:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They brought me into the house. They searched the house, every room, every crevice. They threatened that if any data gets sent from anywhere within the village, “We will come back and shoot you on sight.”

Russian soldiers were standing there. The one standing behind him drew a rifle to the back of his head, which was ducked and he was shirtless. It was very cold outside. They asked me if I knew about Andrii's tattoo. I said no. They said it was a Nazi tattoo.

They put a bag over his head, ducked his head as they took him out behind the gates. Their armored vehicle was parked outside, so they shoved him in. What happened after that, I don’t know.

NARRATOR:

A week and a half later, Andrii’s body was found in the garden in Zdvyzhivka, right next to Kolia Moroz.

TANIA BOIKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I understand what war is. My entire life, I've read about it, seen it. When Kolia received a phone call from his job saying that the Russians were attacking us from Belarus, I immediately said, "Kolia, let’s get out." He never thought that they would commit such monstrosities here. Kolia was kind, he never thought they would touch the civilians. We were not fighting. We didn't have any weapons against them.

NARRATOR:

Tania said that when the Russian soldiers took Kolia away, they accused him of being a spotter for the Ukrainian military.

TANIA BOIKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They checked Kolia’s documents, looked at his phone. They said there were suspicions that he was a spotter. We told them we are not and that we aren’t transmitting any information. They didn’t believe it.

They put a bag over his head and put him in the car. Then I found out that they took him to Zdvyzhivka where they had their headquarters.

NARRATOR:

These Russian sweeps took on an especially violent nature in Bucha. We were able to get a vivid view as Russian soldiers carried them out.

From a source in Ukraine, the AP and FRONTLINE obtained hundreds of hours of closed-circuit TV footage, recorded by cameras positioned throughout Bucha.

ERIKA KINETZ:

We got three terabytes worth of CCTV videos from Bucha on a hard drive.

NARRATOR:

Much of it has never been seen publicly.

Many soldiers obscured identifying markings, but there were visible symbols of the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division and related units.

FEMALE VOICE [on phone]:

Hello?

NARRATOR:

And in the intercepted phone calls we obtained, soldiers admitted to killing civilians.

INTERCEPTED PHONE CALL

MALE VOICE 1 [on phone]:

[Speaking Russian] So we have the order: It doesn't matter whether civilians or not. Kill everyone.

MALE VOICE 2 [on phone]:

[Speaking Russian] Hide weapons from me! I’m getting crazy. I've already killed so many civilians.

NARRATOR:

It was one of these deadly sweeps in Bucha that culminated in the massacre at 144 Yablunska St.

ERIKA KINETZ:

On the morning of March 4, the Russians began sweeping up everybody from the area, checking them, documents, phones, houses, looking for weapons, looking for spotters. And they take them all to 144. And then while they were at 144, what neighbors told us is that the Russians searched their houses.

We know that on March 4, this group of nine guys are escorted across the street, from number 31 Yablunska to 144 Yablunska, at gunpoint.

NARRATOR:

We were able to find a man who was among those captured that day, Ivan Skyba.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So that’s you in black?

IVAN SKYBA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Yes. I went to help some guys at Territorial Defense who were setting up checkpoints. I was just an informal helper.

On March 3 we were informed via walkie-talkie that the Russians were coming and we’d better tell people to run away because we had no weapons.

ERIKA KINETZ:

Most of the Ukrainian troops are able to flee to Irpin. These guys, who were manning that checkpoint closest to 144, in the chaos get lost.

NARRATOR:

Ivan said he and the other men hid inside at house at 31 Yablunska St.

IVAN SKYBA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We tried to stay quiet since the Russians were close. We called our wives and friends to explain that we were surrounded. We had to wait. No one knew what was going to happen.

On the 4th, they broke into the house and found us. They called us names like "banderivtsi," "Nazis," saying we were spotters. They forced us to stand up and made us each grab onto the other person’s pants. Put our other hand behind our heads and look down at the ground. Then they led us to 144 Yablunska.

ERIKA KINETZ:

So the Russians are shouting at them, "To the f------ right, to the right, dumbass. Where are you going? To the f------ right." And there they go off to the right, to 144 Yablunska.

IVAN SKYBA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They forced us on our knees right in the yard. I was scared. Then they started kicking us, asking questions. “Who are you? Why were you hiding?” They said, “I’ll make you talk.” Then they lifted Vitalii Karpenko up from his knees and shot him point blank. I watched as he fell, bleeding from the head, from his gunshot wound.

One of the guys started telling them, he was really afraid for his life and he started to tell them that we were standing at the checkpoint and that we were in the Territorial Defense. The Russians started screaming, “What? You wanted to burn us down with Molotov cocktails? We will burn you alive right now!”

Then, they grabbed me and led me toward the building. They took me inside, put a bucket on my head and tied my hands behind my back with tape. They hit my head with something, I don't know. I lost consciousness two or three times. But they lifted me up again, shook me and continued the beatings.

After this, a Russian came and said, “Take them outside.” I was taken to the same place where we were before. They took the bucket off of my head. I started to see what was going on outside. I saw Vitalii Karpenko dead along with three of the other men who had been in the house with us.

They kneeled me down again and put my head toward the edge of the pavement. My hands were tied behind my back. I heard one of them say, “What should we do with them?” Another one said, “Kill them. But take them away first so they're not laying around here."

They lifted four of us up and brought us to the corner of the building. There was already a dead body lying there. His hands were bound. They asked us to stop. But Prykhodko kept walking and didn't stop. They started shooting. I heard a shot, and he fell. I felt the bullet pierce my side. I fell, too, not moving. I pretended to be dead.

I was waiting for the darkness. Terrible. I cannot explain. Just terrible.

NARRATOR:

Ivan has given his account to Ukrainian war crimes prosecutors.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] It’s obvious that these people had no guns. They were not resisting the Russian military, and cannot be subjected to the cruel treatment they received during questioning. And they definitely did not die in combat.

NARRATOR:

Taras Semkiv, the Ukrainian war crimes prosecutor, told us that those responsible for the killings at 144 Yablunska were soldiers from Russia’s 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division, led by Gen. Chubarykin and under the command of Gen. Chaiko.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] We have identified the commanders of these units. And we have also identified

a large number of people who were in Bucha, specifically on Yablunska Street at that time. If we talk specifically about which units they were, then it was the 76th Guards Airborne Assault Division of the Russian Federation, which is usually based in the city of Pskov, Russia.

NARRATOR:

Ukrainian prosecutors have already issued a broad indictment against Gens. Chubarykin and Chaiko for leading the invasion of Ukraine. They are still looking for evidence of direct orders that they would need to prosecute them for specific crimes, like 144 Yablunska.

But there’s another approach they’ve pointed to for charging Russian commanders such as Gen. Chaiko: a war crimes prosecution at the International Criminal Court, using the laws of “command responsibility” that hold military leaders accountable for the actions of their troops.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Obviously, the commander of the Eastern Military District who was there would have to be aware of what was happening near his headquarters located in the same village. It's only logical.

NARRATOR:

Gen. Chaiko had come to his command in Ukraine after earning the "Hero of Russia" award from Vladimir Putin for his leadership in Syria. He'd overseen the campaign in Idlib province that resulted in over 1,000 civilian deaths.

TARAS SEMKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] As of today, we don't have enough evidence that indicates he gave specific orders to commit the crimes. But we can confirm that during his stay in the Kyiv region and in the village of Zdvyzhivka, a significant number of war crimes were committed.

NARRATOR:

The prosecutors say Gen. Chaiko was in Zdvyzhivka for more than a week before Kolia Moroz and the other men were found. We spoke to eyewitnesses who saw him.

PETRO KARABA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] He was standing 15 meters from me. There was a barrier and Russian soldiers were standing there with rifles and machine guns. There was a so-called checkpoint. He was standing behind them on the territory of the kindergarten. It was their headquarters.

NARRATOR:

Petro Karaba said the Russian headquarters in town was heavily guarded and he saw the general around there multiple times.

PETRO KARABA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I saw this general three times. One day I saw him twice. When they retreated on March 29, I saw him for the last time.

NARRATOR:

It was the day before Kolia’s body was found, less than a mile away, behind a house along the main street. Like other residents we spoke to, he said that he'd seen Russian soldiers apprehending people on the street.

PETRO KARABA:

[Speaking Ukrainian] I saw them taking my friend from this building to the kindergarten. His hands were pulled behind his back. He was walking like that. I saw this.

ANDRII:

[Speaking Ukrainian] A soldier got out of the car and asked for our documents. He said, "I give you one hour to go and come back, or you'll be like this one in the car." I looked in the car and saw a man with his hands bound behind his back. His head was wrapped with tape.

NARRATOR:

A few doors down was the house where Kolia and the others were found.

FEMALE SPEAKER:

[Speaking Ukrainian] The house was guarded. They did not let anyone in.

ANDRII:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They did not even let their own soldiers in. Sometimes soldiers were passing by the street, asking for water or something else. But even they did not go into that house.

NARRATOR:

When we arrived at the house this time, the owner was standing at the door. He led us to the garden out back.

VADYM:

[Speaking Ukrainian] They were all lying over here. Just here where you see the concrete fence base.

NARRATOR:

Evidence of the killing still littered the ground. Bullet casings, a cut zip tie and bullet holes in the fence.

VADYM:

[Speaking Ukrainian] No one can see, people don’t live here. It's far from the road and houses. It was convenient for them to commit the crimes here.

ERIKA KINETZ:

It was Kolia, and one of the two bodies that was there.

When we first met Tania at the morgue, it seemed like Kolia's abduction was random. And the neighbors, they asked, "Why was he taken? Why was this innocent man taken? How could this happen? It's just random."

But Kolia’s death was not random. Voznenko’s death was not random. Ivan Skyba’s torture was not random. Those guys who were marched from 31 Yablunska to 144, that was not random. That was part of a strategy. It was strategic violence.

This was a Russian military strategy that has been used over time in past conflicts, that has been used across Ukraine now, to seek out and destroy any potential threat. And the way that that strategy is implemented was with very little regard for the laws of war and with quite extreme brutality.

NARRATOR:

A special war crimes tribunal for Ukraine has still not been created, and the International Criminal Court has not issued any indictments.

By the end of October 2022, we had documented over 530 attacks in Ukraine involving potential war crimes. Ukrainian authorities had opened more than 40,000 investigations.

TANIA BOIKIV:

[Speaking Ukrainian] Here is another one, he is just looking straight in it. Very serious here. He had always been trusting. Kind. He believed people. Here is another one like this. It did not occur to him that he would be shot for nothing.

I am alone here. I do also have friends, and my church community here which supports me. But everything reminds me of Kolia. Who's going to pick the berries that Kolia planted? He worked hard, for the both of us. So I must eat them now.

I was hoping that he was just in captivity and that he will return. As a religious person, I do believe that everything is in the hands of God. And the time will come when people will be punished for this. The judgment day is awaiting them.

54m
children of ukraine documentary
Children of Ukraine
FRONTLINE examines how thousands of Ukrainian children have been taken and held in Russian-controlled territory since Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.
April 16, 2024