Satellite images released Monday, April 4, by the American company Maxar Technologies contradict Russian claims that the bodies of people in civilian clothes found in the Ukrainian town of Boutcha were placed there after Russian troops evacuated the scene. In Maxar images dating back to mid-March, several bodies of civilians can be seen lying dead in a Boutcha street or on the side of the road.
Accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity (indiscriminate bombing of Ukrainian cities, kidnapping of civilians, rape, torture, murder, etc.), whether they come from the Ukrainian authorities, the media or non-governmental organizations (NGOs ), have multiplied since the invasion of Ukraine by the Russians on February 24, who have since faced fierce resistance from kyiv forces and deny the abuses.
The Ukrainian army recaptured this town located northwest of kyiv from the Russians a few days ago. The Ukrainian authorities claimed, over the weekend, to have found many bodies in Boutcha after the withdrawal of enemy troops.
Those « high resolution images (…) corroborate recent videos and photos on social media revealing the presence of bodies lying in the streets [de Boutcha] and abandoned for several weeks”says Maxar Technologies in a press release.
In an analysis of close-ups of Yablounska Street provided by Maxar, the American daily New York Times wrote on Monday, after comparing them with video images of the bodies strewn on this street shot on the 1er and April 2, that many of them had been there for at least three weeks, when Russian forces controlled the town.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov rejected “categorically” all these accusations, ensuring that the experts of the Russian Ministry of Defense had discovered signs of “falsifications” in footage presented by Ukrainian authorities as evidence of a Russian massacre. This denial was repeated in New York during a press conference by the Russian ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia.
“We know that thousands of people have been killed and tortured”
But according to Maxar satellite images dated March 19 and 21, several bodies were already strewn on Yablounska Street on those dates, as shown this video published by a journalist from the New York Times. According to the analysis of the American newspaper, these images reveal dark lines of a size similar to that of human bodies on this same street from March 9 and 11.
Many of the bodies in the satellite images appear in exactly the same position on the ground as revealed by a video of Yablounska Street taken by a local councilor or by the photographs published by international media.
In another image cross-checking comparison, the New York Times analyzed a video posted on Instagram of a body lying in the street in front of two cars. According to the daily, a Maxar image from March 21 shows the body and the two vehicles in the same position, in the same place.
On Monday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to Boutcha, where he denounced “war crimes” and one “genocide” after the discovery of dozens of corpses wearing civilian clothes in the city and in other localities near the Ukrainian capital.
“You are here and you can see what happened. We know that thousands of people were killed and tortured, had their limbs torn, women were raped and children killed”he said at an improvised press briefing, after walking a few meters down a downtown street littered with the shredded carcasses of Russian personnel carriers and armored vehicles, amid destroyed houses.