the New York Times identified Russian paratroopers from the 234th Air Assault Regiment as the main perpetrators of the killings on Yablunska Street, in this martyred city of the conflict in Ukraine.
Last April, the world discovered Boutcha, and with it, the massacre of which its inhabitants were victims. When this city was liberated from the Russians between February 27 and March 31, images of the bodies of civilians scattered in the streets went around the world.
Butcha becomes a symbol of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, outraged world opinion. However, for its part, Moscow has an opposite reaction: it denies. She even accuses kyiv of a “staging”.
During the occupation, several Russian units were present in Boutcha. If the Russian paratroopers of the 234th Air Assault Regiment had already been identified as the main executioners of Boutcha, an eight-month long investigation of the New York Times provides compelling additional evidence.
As eyes turned away from Boutcha to other martyr cities and other fronts, the journalists of the New York Times remained, interviewing residents, collecting CCTV footage and recovering various documents.
While more than 400 people were killed in the city, journalists focused on the victims on Yablunska Street, of which 36 have been identified. This quiet suburban street has turned into what locals now call the “road of death”.
The investigation cites for example the case of Tamila Mishchenko, 52, and her 14-year-old daughter, Anna, killed on March 5. They were part of a group of women fleeing the city when Russian soldiers fired on their vehicle.
“The soldiers interrogated and executed unarmed men of military age, and killed anyone who happened to cross their path – whether children fleeing with their families, residents hoping to find a grocery store or people just trying to get home by bike”, summarizes the New York Times.
A systematic “cleaning” operation
“These killings were part of a deliberate and systematic action to ruthlessly secure a route to kyiv,” the investigation concludes. Located about thirty kilometers northwest of the capital, Boutcha was the victim of a systematic “cleaning” operation.
Almost all of the victims identified in Yablunska Street were Ukrainian civilians or prisoners of war. Men suspected of having links with the Ukrainian army were also rounded up and executed. The main cause of death was gunshot wounds.
According to New York Timesthe systematic nature of these murders could constitute, beyond a war crime, a crime against humanity.
Telephone conversations, equipment…
The involvement of the Russian paratroopers of the 234th regiment has been proven through the analysis – in video and in physics – of military equipment, uniform insignia, radio conversations or packing slips on boxes of ammunition . This type of units is considered to be among the best trained and equipped in the Russian army.
Another proof: these Russian soldiers regularly used the telephones of the victims to call home in Russia, often only a few hours after their death. Exchanges recovered by the New York Times, who was also able to speak to some of the soldiers themselves. Two confirmed that they were part of the “234th” and had served in Boutcha.
Journalists also identified Lieutenant-Colonel Artyom Gorodilov as having supervised the operations of this unit in Boutcha. Shortly after the withdrawal of Russian troops from the region, he was promoted to colonel in April. The ceremony took place a few days after the broadcast of the images of the Boutcha massacre.
War in Ukraine: New evidence overwhelms Russian unit for Boutcha massacre