Russians 'booby trap bodies with bombs' as tearful Zelenskyy decries 'genocide'

5 April 2022, 00:04 | Updated: 5 April 2022, 08:39

Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy was reduced to tears on a visit to Bucha.
Ukraine President Volodomyr Zelenskyy was reduced to tears on a visit to Bucha. Picture: Getty/Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Russia is facing more accusations of committing atrocities against Ukraine amid claims their forces have been rigging bodies with explosives.

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Ukrainian soldiers have reportedly been careful with the bodies they find in the towns occupied by Russia, which has been accused of carrying out killings on innocent people.

In even more brutal assertions, the invaders have now been accused of rigging the dead with explosives as a booby trap.

It came as new satellite pictures of the area appeared to show bodies in the streets in early March - before Russian troops pulled back last week.

Over the weekend, Ukraine accused Russian forces of killing 300 civilians in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, during their occupation to the northwest of Kyiv.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenksyy was reduced to tears when he spoke to residents about the horrors inflicted by Russia's forces in the town, with dozens of bodies strewn across the streets.

The Times reports how Archpriest Piotr Pavlenko came across the bodies of Hostomel's mayor, Yriy Pzylykoa, and his driver, Ivan Zoryo, apparently cut down by Russian troops.

It later emerged their bodies were left out, rigged with explosives, waiting for someone to try and retrieve them so they could be killed.

Russian retreat from Bucha reveals scores of civilian deaths.
Russian retreat from Bucha reveals scores of civilian deaths. Picture: Getty

The bodies of Ukrainian civilians have been found scattered, many with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture, after Russian forces retreated from the area.

Videos and photos from Bucha show the bodies of civilians lying in the streets, some still inside vehicles or sitting atop fallen bicycles.

The Kremlin has denied being behind the killings, insisting footage was set-up.

However, first signs of excavation of a mass grave on the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha were seen in images from March 10.

The 45-foot-long trench - dug into the grounds of the Ukrainian church - was later seen again on satellite imagery at the end of March.

Ukrainian troops have recently retaken control of the town, with Zelenskyy making a rare-in person appearance to the suburb on Monday.

The Ukrainian leader, hailed a hero for his defiance and bravery during Russia's invasion, was visibly emotional as he surveyed the massacre in the town.

Read more: 'You allow me to die': West failing to stand up to 'new Hitler', says ex-Ukrainian PM

Read more: Ukrainian village mayor 'executed and buried in shallow grave along with husband and son'

Zelenskyy was visibly emotional on his visit to Bucha.
Zelenskyy was visibly emotional on his visit to Bucha. Picture: Getty

He spoke to local residents about the horrors inflicted on their community by Vladimir Putin's forces, condemning the Russian leader of war crimes and "genocide".

"We know that thousands of people have been killed and tortured, their limbs were cut off, raped women, killed children," Mr Zelenskyy said.

"I think this is actually more than - this is actually genocide."

"These are war crimes and will be recognised by the world as genocide,' Zelenskyy said, wearing body armour and surrounded by military personnel.

"It's very difficult to talk when you see what they've done here," he said.

"The longer the Russian Federation drags out the meeting process, the worse it is for them and for this situation and for this war."

Read more: Two Russian soldiers die after eating poisoned 'pies' given as gifts by Ukrainian citizens

Satellite imagery gives a closer view of a probable grave site and the church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho in Bucha.
Satellite imagery gives a closer view of a probable grave site and the church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho in Bucha. Picture: Getty/Maxar Technologies

Mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk said some were wearing white bandages, indicating to Russian troops that they were not armed, and some had their hands tied behind their backs.

Others were thrown into mass graves, with around 280 corpses being found buried on Saturday.

Mr Zelenskyy says the evidence makes it difficult to conduct peace talks.

The bodies of Olha Sukhenko, her husband Igor and their son, Alexander, were found in a shallow grave behind buildings housing Russian soldiers in woodland outside the village of Motyzhyn, 30 miles west of Kyiv.

Local reports say they were shot at close range and had been thrown into a pit.

They were reportedly taken captive on March 23 after refusing to collaborate with Russian forces.

Ms Sukhenko's body is said to have shown signs of torture, with broken arms and fingers. Her husband reportedly had his hands behind his back and a piece of plastic wrapped around his eyes like a blindfold.

The UK's Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK needs to announce a tough new wave of sanctions on the Kremlin amid the devastating scenes in Bucha.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine's foreign affairs minister, called for the "most severe" sanctions to be applied by the West "this week" on Moscow after the atrocities.

He told a joint press conference in Warsaw, Poland, alongside Foreign Secretary Liz Truss: "Half measures are not enough anymore. I demand from our partners, on behalf of the victims of Bucha and the people of Ukraine, to take the most severe sanctions against Russia this week.

"This is not the request of Ukraine's foreign minister. This is the plea of the victims of rape, torture and killings, their relatives and the entire Ukrainian nation.

"I have heard thousands of arguments about why this or that sanction cannot be imposed against Russia.

"It is time to put all hesitation, reluctance, business-wise arguments aside and think about human suffering and the need to stop the Russian war machine until it kills and destroys more on its way."

Earlier, Ukraine's former prime minister Oleksiy Honcharuk told LBC that "scared" western leaders are allowing Ukrainians to die.

He told LBC's Tonight with Andrew Pierce: "We are ready to fight until the end, but we don't have enough weapons. And you guys have weapons, and you don't provide us weapons.

"You allow us to die, personally me, personally you allow me to die because you are scared. This is a pity.

"We have the same values, we are Europeans and now what we understand about you, you are going to absorb our deaths... you will be next. Putin will go to your homes and will destroy your homes."

He called Russian president Mr Putin "a new Hitler" who "will go as far as we let him go."

"He is going to destroy a nation, one of the biggest nations in Europe," he said.