(CNN) — Russian military paratroopers executed at least eight Ukrainian men in the town of Bucha on March 4, in what appears to be a possible war crime, according to a New York Times investigation published Thursday.
Based on eyewitness testimony and three videos obtained and analyzed by The New York Times, the investigation details the alleged execution of eight Ukrainian men by Russian paratroopers occupying Bucha in early March.
The timeline of the incident is established by two videos analyzed by the newspaper, which appear to show Russian paratroopers leading a group of Ukrainian men at gunpoint to a Russian-controlled office building, where their bodies were later found.
Several eyewitnesses The New York Times spoke with, including one of the men involved in the incident who was shot but managed to survive, say an execution-style carnage ensued in the moments afterward.
A video recorded with a drone a day after the alleged incident seems to corroborate the facts, since it shows two Russian soldiers guarding several bodies outside the same office building, according to The New York Times analysis.
“They shot me and I fell. The bullet entered my side,” said Ivan Skyba, who the newspaper identifies as a 43-year-old builder.
“I fell down and played dead,” he said. “I didn’t move and I didn’t breathe.”
The newspaper identified the soldiers involved as paratroopers based on its team’s analysis of CCTV footage captured in early March, when Russian forces were still occupying Bucha, along with evidence left in the Russian-controlled office building. the Russians where the shots were fired.
Based on translated text messages, interviews with local authorities, family members and witnesses, The New York Times investigation identified eight of the men who were executed in the March 4 incident.
According to the investigation, they had all joined local paramilitary groups in Bucha in the days before their deaths.
CNN has not reviewed or verified any of the videos in the report, and the identity of the victims has not been verified.
Since early April, following the departure of Russian forces from the Kyiv region, evidence of mass graves and executions of civilians has continued to emerge in the towns of Bucha and Borodianka.
Images of dead bodies littering the streets of Bucha have drawn international condemnation and fueled calls for an investigation into possible Russian war crimes.
CNN visited the scene of the Bucha mass graves in April, following the withdrawal of Russian forces, revealing to the world the horrors of their occupation. Correspondent Fred Pleitgen was among the first to arrive at a mass grave that residents dug while the site was under Russian occupation, because many residents had lost their lives and longer burial ceremonies would have been too dangerous in the midst of the shooting and bombing.
During a visit to Bucha and Borodianka in mid-April, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan, said there were “justifications to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC were being committed” in both cities.
But Khan also warned that it would be “difficult” to ensure justice is served in Ukraine, given Russia’s decision to withdraw its signature from the ICC statute, which gives the Court jurisdiction to prosecute people for genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. Russia also does not extradite its citizens to other countries.
The Kremlin has denied any involvement in the mass killings of civilians in Ukraine, while reiterating baseless claims that images of dead bodies on the streets of Bucha are “fake”. The New York Times reported that the Russian Foreign and Defense Ministries did not respond to requests for comment. CNN also contacted those ministries.
Khan directly addressed the Russian disinformation claims.
“Those bodies that are in those bags on the screen are not fake. I have seen them. I have been with them. The question is how they died, who is responsible and under what circumstances,” Khan said, adding that the world was watching. of the “effectiveness of the rule of law” in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.