The mayor of Bucha, Ukraine, forcefully condemned all of Russia on Monday for the widespread civilian deaths in his town, the full extent of which became apparent only amid the withdrawal of Russian forces from the region.
Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of the city on the northwestern outskirts of Kyiv, told CNN that he had remained in Bucha during the Russian occupation and witnessed the subsequent atrocities.
“We all were witnesses to the horrific events and the horrific crimes that the Russians committed here. And we will never forgive the Russian people — not personally, not individually, but on the whole — we will not forgive the Russian people for the atrocities that happened here,” Fedoruk said, speaking through an interpreter.
Over the weekend, Ukrainian officials and various media outlets shared shocking scenes emerging from Bucha, one of a number of suburbs abandoned by Russian forces as they’ve pulled back from the capital, Kyiv. Dead bodies littered the streets, some with their hands tied behind their backs, apparently shot at close range.
The images sparked a fresh wave of condemnation from European leaders, who called for investigations into the alleged war crimes. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was more blunt, saying, “This is genocide.” Russia denied responsibility.
Ukrainian officials said a total of 410 dead civilians were found in Kyiv region towns like Bucha that were recaptured from Russia in recent days. “They shot everyone they saw,” a Bucha resident told the New York Times.
Fedoruk said both elderly and children were among the victims in his city.
“It was impossible not to see that they were children, not to see that a mother is carrying a child. These cynical atrocities is what the Russian troops are all about; that’s what Russia is all about. And we shall never forgive them. They will never be forgiven, on this earth or in heaven,” he told CNN.
Zelensky similarly addressed his condemnations to the broader Russian people, asking how they were capable of such violence.
“Russian mothers! Even if you raised looters, how did they also become butchers?” he asked in a Sunday speech. “You couldn’t be unaware of what’s inside your children. You couldn’t overlook that they are deprived of everything human. No soul. No heart. They killed deliberately and with pleasure.”
Zelensky said his government would set up a special investigative unit for the alleged war crimes, with the goal of bringing “concrete justice” to the perpetrators.
Cover thumbnail photo: Bucha City Council/Handout via Reuters