April 14. 2024. 5:53

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Ukraine vows never to forget or forgive on Bucha anniversary


Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy stated Friday (31 March) that the country would not forgive Russian troops for the atrocities committed in Bucha. The anniversary of Bucha’s recapture was marked by a celebration near Kyiv.

In late March 2013, Ukrainian forces retook control of Irpin and Bucha, two small towns located to the northwest Kyiv. This was after the Russian invasion force gave up their attempts to seize the capital.

Moscow refutes accusations of executions, tortures, and rapes by its occupying forces who abandoned bodies on the streets after they fled.

"Russian evil will fall right here in Ukraine and will never rise again," Zelenskiy said. Zelenskiy, who led a ceremony in Bucha that saw the Ukrainian flag raised, stated that humanity will prevail.

The president presented medals to soldiers involved with the recapturing of the town. Relatives received medals in memory of those who had died.

"When Bucha became de-occupied, we realized that the devil wasn’t out there, but was on the ground. Zelenskiy stated that the truth about the events in temporarily occupied territories was exposed to the entire world.

After Ukraine gained control, images of bodies found on the streets were sent around the globe. According to Kyiv, over 1,400 people died in Bucha under the occupation, including 37 children. More than 175 bodies were also found in torture chambers and mass graves. 9,000 Russian war crimes were also identified.

International investigators are currently collecting evidence about war crimes in Irpin and Bucha. Zelenskiy called Bucha a symbol of the atrocities committed by Russian occupying troops.

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Zelenskiy posted on social media, "We will not forget the victims in this war and we will bring to justice all Russian murderers." "We will not forgive. "We will punish all perpetrators."

PSYCHOLOGICAL WONDS

International visitors to Ukraine have made Bucha their stop. Friday’s ceremony was attended by the president of Moldova and the prime ministers from Slovenia, Slovakia, and Croatia.

"We honor and mourn the innocent. Democracies need to work together to ensure these atrocities get investigated and punished," stated Maia Sandu, the President of Moldova. She has joined Zelenskiy in pursuing EU membership for her country.

The fighting continues in the east and southern parts of Ukraine where Russian forces still hold large swathes taken from them on February 24, 2022.

Russia has been conducting a winter offensive in order to make small gains in the east, at great cost of lives. The Ukrainian forces are holding out in Bakhmut, where they have defended their positions for now. They will likely launch a counteroffensive very soon.

Bucha, hundreds of miles from the frontline is still feeling the war. Residents are advised to flee from drone and missile strikes that have resulted in major power outages.

Bucha residents speak out about the psychological traumas caused by occupation. They say that it will take generations to heal them. Some buildings are still damaged in Bucha, while a scrapyard houses many cars and military vehicles that were destroyed by the fighting last year.

"We need to understand that it is easy to rebuild walls but much more difficult to rebuild a broken soul," stated Andriy Holovin (a priest in a Ukrainian Orthodox church).

General Andriy Kostin, the Prosecutor General, stated that his office had found almost 100 Russian soldiers who were suspected of war crimes in Bucha. Indictments against 35 of these men have been sent to court.

He said that they include a three-star general, who commands Russia’s Central Military District. He said that two Russian servicemen were captured in Ukraine and have been imprisoned for illegally looting civilians.

Although the vast majority of Russian suspects aren’t in Ukrainian custody at this time, Kyiv hopes that they will be charged.

"All these crimes are not an accident," he said. He said that this is part of Russia’s plan to destroy Ukraine as an entity and Ukrainians as individuals.

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