Russian thugs that murdered children in Bucha had orders from Putin’

Ukraine: President Zelensky visits Bucha in April

WARNING: THIS STORY CONTAINS DISTRESSING DETAILS Russian troops who murdered more than 450 civilians, including at least 40 children, during last year’s Bucha massacre in Ukraine had direct orders from the Kremlin to “dispose of” anyone resisting them, an investigator has said. Barrister Wayne Jordash KC was speaking exactly a year after evidence emerged of harrowing atrocities inflicted on the population following Putin’s full-scale invasion just over a month earlier.

And he urged the International Criminal Court, which recently served the Russian President with a warrant for his arrest related to the abduction of thousands of Ukrainian children, not to overlook what happened in the Kyiv suburb, which he cited as “an arguable case for genocide”.

Mr Jordash is Managing Partner of Global Rights Compliance – an international law firm and foundation which is supporting the investigation of war crimes by Ukraine’s Office of the Prosecutor General.

He is spearheading GRC’s Mobile Justice Team, a group of international experts and Ukrainian lawyers based on the ground in Ukraine assisting the country’s Office of the Prosecutor General (OPG).

His investigation has uncovered evidence of summary executions, with some victims found with their hands tied behind their backs and gunshot wounds to their heads.

More than 450 civilians met untimely deaths and hundreds more disappeared, tortured, sexually violated or injured during a month-long Russian occupation, with an estimated 1400 civilian deaths and more than 8,500 incidents in the wider Bucha district, the GRC concluded.

Speaking from Ukraine via videolink, Mr Jordash told “It’s just grim, totally grim. Within Bucha alone, you have over 40 kids killed. You have old people forced onto the ground and bullets in the back of their heads.

“There’s certainly an arguable case for genocide there, I would say, in relation to the targeting of the Ukrainians for no reason.

“It starts off as a security operation which is looking for anyone who’s a nationalist or pro-Ukrainian.

“But of course, everybody in Bucha is pro-Ukrainian and so you get this security operation which just develops into this targeting of anyone, for the least suspicion.

So cars are shot up just randomly full of people trying to leave, men and dragged out of their houses and shot, buses, which are just trying to leave with kids are shot. It’s really as unpleasant as I’ve seen in any conflict.

“It’s all done under the guise of this ostensible security operation.

“So there’s a sort of starting point, which is to take out military men and men who could resist.

“But therefore it starts off with handcuffing and treating men as security risks and then it just develops into a blood frenzy.”

The initial presumption by the Kremlin was the Russian soldiers would be greeted as “liberators”, Mr Jordash explained.

He continued: “The original plan was to take out a very small number of people, I think, who would resist and the rest would fall into place and greet the Russians like liberators, or at least be persuaded, cajoled, into not resisting.

“But of course, when they got to the Kyiv suburbs, what they found was completely the opposite.”

Mr Jordash downplayed the suggestion that the horrific events were the result of a breakdown of Russian discipline.

He explained: “It’s not a rampage, as in one small unit decides to go off on a frolic of its own. It’s a breakdown of the whole original plan and the adoption of a new plan, which is ‘okay, we’re going to kill anyone and everything that is pro-Ukrainian’.

“I wouldn’t describe it as a some sort of spontaneous rampage, I would call it a slow changing of the plan, from one to another, and then the deliberate and methodical targeting of Ukrainians.

“If you replaced pro-Ukrainians with Jews, I don’t see the difference here in terms of the way that they hunted down anyone who they suspected of being pro-Ukrainian.

“And they’re hunting down wasn’t to imprison them to secure them, in the Kyiv suburbs their hunting down was to imprison them, torture them and kill them.”

Looking to the future, Mr Jordash and his team are trying to establish connections with the very top when it came to the Russia leadership.

He said: “I’m interested in identifying and linking these crimes to the upper political and military leadership.

“There are aspects; one is to look at this through the genocide lens and see where the war crimes and crimes against humanity and the narrative brings you in terms of establishing genocidal intent on the perpetrators.

“And then secondly, where it takes you in terms of how far it goes up the chain of command.

“It’s obvious that Putin was aware of it and it’s obvious that Putin’s instructions were to treat anyone who resists as Nazis and dispose of them.

“And the next step is then to establish whether he encouraged it, whether he planned it, whether he designed it and what was his intent.”

Referring to the warrant already issued by the ICC, Mr Jordash continued: ”I hope the ICC looks at Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs because I think it would be a strange legacy for the ICC not to look at those areas.

The crimes are pretty systematic, pretty widespread and seem to emanate from the simple order that anyone who is resists should be dealt with.”

There was evidence in the form of calls back home by Russian soldiers indicating they were acting under direct orders from Putin, Mr Jordash said, continuing: “

“There is at least a preliminary case against Putin and his inner circle for what happened in the Kyiv suburbs.”

In a bitterly ironic twist of fate, the anniversary of the Bucha coincides with Russia’s accession to the Presidency of the United Nation Security Council on Saturday – a twist of fate not lost on Mr Jordash.

He said: “It doesn’t give me much hope when the Security Council is going to be governed by Russia.

“That’s part of the shock, that one of the five permanent members of the UNSC violates the UN Charter in such a blatant and obvious way, and worse than that violates the charter to subjugate millions of Ukrainians.

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“It’s so chilling and what a topsy turvy world where that very state then takes over the security council.”

Evidence collected since the massacre has indicated Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine from Belarus, having been given safe passage by Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko, Putin’s lackey.

They then brought civilians to makeshift places of detention and then executed them in captivity, with many of the victims’ bodies found with their hands tied behind their backs and gunshot wounds to their heads.

The Ukrainian police recovered almost 40 bodies along Bucha’s Yablunska Street alone.

All such actions represent grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions and are war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

OPG investigators, supported by Mr Jordash and his team, are targeting perpetrators with both military units and individual soldiers identified and cases are being built.

The ICC last month issued arrest warrants for Putin and his Children’s Commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova for child-snatching from Ukraine.

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