Retreating Russian forces have been accused of genocide following the discovery of mass graves in towns on the outskirts of Kyiv, with Ukraine’s Culture Minister Oleksander Tkachenko blaming any war crimes to have taken place on Russia’s “brainwashing propaganda” throughout the conflict.
Scores of murdered civilians were visible lining the streets of Bucha, a liberated town located north of Kyiv, in harrowing photographs printed on the front pages of the Western press on Monday, as the extent of civilian massacre by Russian forces became apparent.
Photographs published by the Ukrainian state and media showed bodies of the victims, unarmed and wearing civilian clothing. “This is blood-curdling. Hundreds killed. Mass graves,” lamented Tkachenko in a post on his social media.
“Who is accountable for this? Russian army? Putin? Yes, but not only them,” Tkachenko added, who also claimed the atrocities were in part an effect of “Russian propagandists’ long-lasting hate marathon.” While listing the plethora of Russian television presenters who have become the mouthpiece of Vladimir Putin’s media war, Tkachenko accused them of carrying out a campaign of dehumanizing the Ukrainian people.
“They were telling the Russians that Nazis live in Ukraine, and that they have to be ‘denazified,’ that is, exterminated. They created the foundations for the genocide of the Ukrainian people,” wrote the minister.
“By dehumanizing the Ukrainians, Russians had dehumanized themselves, also. That is was the tragedy in Bucha is the political accountability of those, who chose and supported the Russian government,” the Ukrainian culture minister added.
By naming Russia “a terrorist country,” Tkachenko called on all democratic countries to “boycott everything that has to do anything” with Russia, including a ban on Russian propaganda channels, a ban on import of Russian oil and gas, and the establishment of a no-fly zone over Ukraine.
The Ukrainian minister also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims of the tragedy in Bucha.
Russia’s defense ministry denied the Ukrainian allegations, saying footage and photographs showing dead bodies in Bucha are “yet another provocation” by Kyiv.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called for an urgent meeting of the European Council due to the massacre discovered in Bucha, which he has referred to as “genocide.”
“The crimes Russia has committed on close to 300 inhabitants of Bucha and other towns outside Kyiv must be called acts of genocide and be dealt with as such,” he posted on social media.
The United Nations has demanded an investigation into the atrocity while both France and Britain have announced they will work with the International Criminal Court to pursue the guilty.