It has been more than a month since Russia invaded Ukraine, and the horrors of this war are difficult to imagine.
For years, decades, and generations to come, Bucha and other cities in Ukraine will be remembered as the sites of atrocities.
These war crimes and their victims are being documented by Ukrainian forces and civilians in freshly retaken lands.
Former heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko is making sure that the world sees these crimes for themselves — and remember those responsible.
“This is genocide,” Wladimir Klitschko wrote on Twitter.
Until late February, Wladimir was known primarily as a former heavyweight champion of the world, and also for being the ex of Hayden Panetierre.
Now, in addition to fighting to free his homeland from a merciless aggressor, he is using his platform to open the world’s eyes to atrocities committed against his people.
On Sunday, April 3, Wladimir shared a grim and extremely graphic video from the city of Bucha in Ukraine.
“What happened here, and everywhere in Ukraine, what is happening…” Wladimir said into the camera.
“This is not [a] special operation. This is not military [targets]. This is civilians,” he said.
Wladimir then illustrated his point as grimly as he could, angling it to show the bodies of two dead Ukrainians behind him.
“They’ve been shot in the head with tied hands behind their back,” he described.
Wladimir continued: “This is genocide of the Ukrainian population.”
“And that’s exactly what Russian regime, Putin’s regime, Russian army is doing,” Wladimir described.
He observed: “Killing the civilians with tied hands behind their back and with a shot in their heads.”
On Monday, Wladimir followed up by tweeting: “There are no words for these crimes. But there are those responsible for these crimes.”
When Wladimir refers to what has taken place as genocide, he is not being hyperbolic.
Some of the world’s foremost scholars on genocide have said the same.
It’s not hyperbole, propaganda rhetoric, or misuse of a term.
Through Wladimir and others on the front lines, we can bear witness to evidence of what has taken place.
We have all seen bodies littered in the streets. Other victims of the Russian invasion were found in their homes or in makeshift shelters.
Many of those executed by Russian troops were elderly. Some were bound. Some had been tortured. Some were children.
When Putin’s forces first launched their invasion of Ukraine on February 24, his regime reportedly believed that victory would come swiftly.
Propaganda within Russia suggested that Ukraine was filled with “ethnic Russians” begging to be free from “Nazi” oppressors.
Ukraine’s democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is a Jewish man who lost family in the Holocaust, and worked as a comedian before entering politics.
The Russian government and invading troops (many of whom had no idea what they were being sent to do until they were ordered to invade) did not foresee the resistance.
Ukraine’s military is not fighting alone, but has been buffered by countless civilians who have quickly learned to fight and kill under dire circumstances.
Russian forces have suffered losses of personnel, equipment, and morale. Unfortunately, their violence has escalated since then.
Some have attempted to characterize these recent crimes against Ukrainian civilians — torture and execution, mass graves, and more — as a recent development.
While overall Russian behavior and rhetoric has become more aggressive (condemning all Ukrainians rather than claiming to liberate them), civilians were targeted since this began.
From the infamous video of a tank swerving to run over an occupied car to Russian bombing of residential neighborhoods and buildings, Ukrainian civilians have been in mortal peril all along.
What Wladimir and many others are now documenting is the horror left behind in neighborhoods retaken by Ukrainian forces.
While the first priority is getting food and medicine to survivors and removing mines left from roads, houses, and vehicles, there are many victims.
These tragic deaths must be documented so that those murdered by Putin’s forces can be remembered and properly buried.
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