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Kyiv, Ukraine – It was not an easy case. Ukrainian investigators had to stitch together radio footage, satellite imagery, surveillance camera footage, witness statements and even social media posts.

But this week they made a breakthrough, and for the first time since the war began, Ukrainian officials released the identities and photos of 10 Russian soldiers they said committed war crimes in the city of Bucha, a suburb north of Kyiv’s Ukrainian capital, the Was the scene of some of the worst atrocities of the war.

Hundreds of Ukrainian law enforcement officials have spent weeks trying to figure out who the soldiers were who terrorized Bucha in March, when Russian troops occupied the city and killed at least 400 civilians.

“It was very difficult,” said Ruslan Kravchenko, a senior prosecutor. “We need to find and piece together information in tiny bits.”

Prosecutors said they showed witnesses and victims photos of the 10 Russian soldiers they believed were involved – to allow for positive identification. They were assisted by a team of Ukrainian journalists from an organization called, who then delved into these soldiers’ social media accounts and released personal details about the suspects.

Some like to fish. Others are married. One came from a remote Russian town more than 4,000 miles away and served as a firefighter.

“It is difficult to say what forced him to switch from the profession of rescuer to the profession of war criminal,” said Dmytro Repliaanchuk, one of the journalists of, in a video published about the investigation.

Bucha is still reeling from the horrors. The bodies of hundreds of civilians were found there after Russian troops withdrew from the area in late March.

Recognition…Ivor Prickett for the New York Times
Recognition…Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

Many victims were shot in the back of the head and others were executed with their hands tied behind their backs. Ukrainian officials said women were raped and children killed.

Dead bodies littered the streets for weeks. While the Russians controlled the city, the residents of Bucha were too scared to collect them.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement Thursday that the 10 named Russian soldiers took civilians hostage, “killed them with hunger and thirst, held them on their knees with their hands tied and their eyes taped,” and “humiliated and beaten” them. had.

The statement, released on social media, included photos of the identified soldiers.

“We know all the details about them and their actions,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in an overnight address. “And we will find everyone, just like we will find all the other Russian thugs who killed and tortured Ukrainians, who tormented our people, who destroyed homes and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.”

Russian officials have denied that their troops committed war crimes in Bucha, calling the images and testimonies fake. President Vladimir V. Putin bestowed honors on the unit located in Bucha, the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade, giving it the title of Guard.

But dozens of witnesses, as well as independent human rights investigators, have said Russian occupying forces tortured and killed civilians, among other crimes.

In a recent Human Rights Watch report, the advocacy group said that “Russian forces committed a slew of apparent war crimes during their occupation of Bucha,” and that there was “ample evidence of summary executions, other unlawful killings, enforced disappearances, and torture, all of them.” “ that would constitute war crimes and potential crimes against humanity.”

Ukrainian authorities said the 64th Separate Motor Rifle Brigade was responsible for some of these atrocities and the soldiers’ involvement “was established through investigations and coordinated work by prosecutors and police officers.” The soldiers were all young and of lower rank, including four privates, four corporals and two non-commissioned officers, Ukrainian officials said.

“It takes a lot of time to identify a single soldier,” said Mr. Kravchenko, the prosecutor.

He added, “There will be no forgiveness.”

The investigation is likely to produce more detailed allegations in the coming days. Over the past month, Ukrainian police officers and other law enforcement agencies have been combing the devastated streets of Bucha, interviewing witnesses and collecting forensic evidence from bodies and crime scenes, prosecutors said.

It is fast becoming an international effort. The Ukrainians are working with French forensic scientists who have set up a mobile home at a government office site in Kyiv. They are also working with the International Criminal Court, whose chief prosecutor recently visited Bucha and called Ukraine “a crime scene”.

Britain has just announced that it will also send specialists, including those dealing with conflict-related sexual violence.

Experts warn it’s one thing to sue Russian soldiers in a Ukrainian court; actually bringing them to justice is another. Ukrainian authorities say all suspects will be brought to justice in one way or another.

“Ukraine’s position is absolutely clear,” said Zelenskyy. “Every Russian criminal must and will be brought to justice. Whoever they are and wherever they are hiding, we will find them all and hold them accountable.”

Recognition…Daniel Berehulak for the New York Times

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