The Russians have committed so many war crimes in Ukraine, it will take years to count them all

ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine — It was the terrible stench they recalled leaving Mariupol. Before the Russian airstrikes, this was a city of nearly half a million people. Today corpses are still rotting under the rubble of bombed buildings while only a few hundred Ukrainian soldiers continue to hold on.

It’s possible to escape a burning city, but the smell – like the pain of loss – will stay with you for a long time.

Bullet casings fell around the Lyubomirsky family and their friends as they carried stretchers and pushed a wheelchair 11 miles from their still-burnt home. The seven of them couldn’t stop talking about the “demons” that destroyed their happy lives.

Most of the refugees, who have been trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol without food or supplies for weeks, are Russian speakers. The very people that President Vladimir Putin claims he wants to protect.

Since sending troops to Ukraine, Moscow has denied killing any civilians and baselessly blamed Ukraine’s atrocities.

Four members of the Lyubomirsky family and their three neighbors escaped the hell of war on April 7, their city now looking like Dresden after the bombings of World War II. “You may know the smell of rotten meat but this goes deeper. The smell of rotting corpses and bodies being burned in crematoriums is everywhere,” Vitaly Lyubomirsky, a survivor of the siege of Mariupol, told The Daily Beast.

The latest debate in Kyiv is about who and how should the crimes of this war be recorded. Independent international groups, including Amnesty International, are preparing reports focusing on airstrikes targeting civilians, soldiers raping civilian women, torturing or executing civilians, burn the victim’s body. Thousands of Ukrainians, including more than 200 children, have become victims of this war.

Yuriy Fenenko, one of the pathologists in the city of Chernihiv, has examined hundreds of bodies since February 24. “Of the 139 bodies that we received in the morgue in the last two weeks after Russian occupation, at least 20 bodies handcuffed. behind their backs, about 40 percent of them were executed behind their backs,” he told The Daily Beast. “It takes a team of forensic experts to analyze evidence of war crimes, such as executions, rapes, bombings in the stream of civilians for bread and outside the pharmacy, bombing apartment complexes. – Criminologists should analyze each specific case. ”

Experts agree that even with thousands of investigators and journalists working at the scene, Ukraine could not document all atrocities and investigate each bombing. “It will take us years to compile the files on each of the criminals,” Fenenko said.

Father Serhiy, principal bishop of Mariupol and the Donetsk region, told The Daily Beast that he has encountered countless horror stories.

One of the victims he met was a 15-year-old Orthodox church member named Yelena who was raped. Her mother and brother were beaten. The trauma was so terrible that she collapsed at the refugee center in Dnipro ten days after the attack as soon as she saw the men in uniform. “Some DPR soldiers raped Yelena at the Mariupol checkpoint, her mother told me there were several men. So when the police arrived at our asylum, Yelena started shaking, as if she had a seizure,” Serhiy said.

The priest struggled to feed about 2,000 refugees a day, most of them survivors from Mariupol. “Who can help our refugee center, please help us with food. Russian bombs destroyed our church on Otkrytaya street of Mariupol, Russian bombs killed thousands of men of our country, Russian soldiers raped 15-year-old Yelena and they continue to commit crimes war even three days before Easter — they must be the devil,” he said.

The deputy mayor of Mariupol, Stepan Maksma, is helping tens of thousands of refugees with transportation, shelter and food, while handling the tragedy on his own. “The Russian military carried out an act of genocide in our peaceful city, where none of us speak Russian ever suffered from Ukrainian nationalists. Now, soldiers are cleaning up dead bodies — more than 6,000 civilians have been killed in this war,” Maksma told The Daily Beast.

Earlier this week, survivors of the siege of Mariupol were waiting on a train heading west. It was a painful train ride.

Most of the passengers are women. A kindergarten teacher, Olga Goncharova, 46 years old, is hiding from Melitopol, because of her teenage daughter Kristina, 17. Mother and daughter hold hands. “We started reading about rape and felt scared. Earlier this month, Russian soldiers began arresting people in Melitopol, taking them out and leaving on a road about 50 kilometers from the city, refusing to work with anyone who disagreed with them; one of them was a colleague of mine, she went missing,” Goncharova told The Daily Beast, trying – and failing – to hold back tears. “The feeling of terror took our breath away, we left everything we had, our two-room apartment, our summer cottage.”

There are tears everywhere. Even after decades of experience as a forensic pathologist, Fenenko couldn’t avoid it, he recovered twice during our interview at his morgue in Chernihiv. His pain is understandable, Chernihiv’s apartment blocks, schools, giant bridges are horribly disfigured. Fenenko placed small plastic bags full of bullets on the table. One of the plastic bags containing three bullets was removed from the bodies. The paper tag inside the plastic bag says: “Krasne.” Unknown. Another bullet was tagged with the victim’s name, “Metik.” Fenenko pointed to the bullet: “This bullet hit the head, the men’s hands were tied behind.” The Russians have committed so many war crimes in Ukraine, it will take years to count them all


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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