More than 1,000 bodies have been found in Kyiv suburbs, UN says
By Nick Cumming-Bruce
The bodies of more than 1,000 civilians have been recovered in areas north of Kyiv that were occupied by Russian forces, the United Nations human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, said Thursday, including several hundred who were summarily executed and others who were shot by snipers.
“The figures will continue to increase,” Bachelet told a special session of the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the second in two weeks, focusing on abuses uncovered by investigators in Bucha, Irpin and other suburbs of Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, that were seized by Russia’s forces in the early stages of its invasion before its focus shifted east.
Russia did not attend the meeting. It withdrew from the council shortly after the U.N. General Assembly voted last month to suspend its membership and snubbed the opportunity to address a special session.
Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador in Geneva, instead released a statement dismissing the council’s debate as a “stunt” organized by the West to defame Russia.
China on Thursday complained of increasing politicization of the council but endorsed Ukraine’s sovereignty and urged a political resolution to the war. Belarus, a Kremlin ally that has said that the war has turned into a lucrative business for U.S. arms manufacturers, called for a speedy end to the fighting.
The United Nations, meanwhile, estimates that thousands of civilians have been killed in Russia’s assault on the southeastern port city of Mariupol, Bachelet told the session, expressing shock at the scale of destruction and the “unimaginable horrors” inflicted on its residents. “A once flourishing city lies in ruins,” she said.
Wounded and sick Ukrainian combatants in the Azovstal steel mill, the last bastion of resistance to Russia in Mariupol, “must be allowed” to evacuate and receive medical care, she said.
Emine Dzhaparova, Ukraine’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, addressed the U.N. council by video link from Kyiv. She accused Russia of trying to turn newly occupied areas around the city of Kherson — the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russian forces — into a “people’s republic” satellite of Moscow and of killing Ukrainians who refused to cooperate with newly appointed Russia-backed authorities.
On Wednesday, the Kremlin signaled that it could annex the strategically important region, a move that comes as its forces have stepped up repressive efforts amid a flurry of local protests.
In addition to the killings and destruction, Dzhaparova spoke of “women raped in front of their children, children raped in front of their mothers.”
The United Nations is investigating Russian troops’ sexual violence against women, girls, men and boys, Bachelet said. “Women and girls are the most frequently cited victims,” she said. “However, reports of men and boys being affected are starting to emerge.”