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OneShot

Photo Of The Week: This Happened In Bucha

We have chosen a single image to tell the story of what happened in Bucha, Ukraine, though there are many others worth looking at. We bear witness to face the present reality, and help document for posterity and war crimes trials that the world now demands.

​Detail of a photograph by AFP photographer Ronaldo Schemidt showing the legs of a body in the streets of Bucha, Ukraine

Detail of a photograph by AFP photographer Ronaldo Schemidt

Once Russian troops retreated from Bucha, reports arrived this weekend that the suburban town north of Kyiv had been the scene of possible war crimes: civilians killed, raped and deprived of food and water.

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Among the first journalists to arrive was a crew from Agence France-Presse, including award-winning Venezuelan-born photographer Ronaldo Schemidt.

His images and those of other photographers — along with testimony gathered by multiple independent reporters from survivors and witnesses — would confirm many of the world's worst fears about bloodletting by Russian forces: bodies strewn on the street of people in ordinary clothes, shot down alongside their bicycles, outside their homes; others buried in hastily dug mass graves.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters that Russia was not responsible: "It is a forgery aimed at denigrating the Russian army." That is quite evidently a lie.

Though there are many other photos worth looking at, we have chosen a single image below to tell the story of Bucha with our "This Happened" video format. Journalists bear witness to the reality in Ukraine, both to guide the decisions we make today and to help document what happened for posterity and for the war crimes trials that the world now demands.

How It Worked with the Russians

For La Stampa, Italian reporter Francesca Mannocchi recorded what she saw and the accounts of Bucha residents:

"I ask them about the dead bodies along the road, from the images that have circulated worldwide. Nelya, in her seventies, says that the road is nothing. That you have to look for the dead in the houses, in the cellars, in the woods.

"That this is how it worked, with the Russians: They would enter the buildings, ask everyone to hand over their phones, destroy the SIM cards, then separate the women and children from the men. The women and children were forced into cellars and shelters and the men into the houses. If it went well they were used as human shields, if it went badly they were executed. Eight men were shot in her building, Nelya saw their bodies when she finally got out of the shelter.

"This is how people died in Bucha. A practice of the occupation, not just the extreme retaliation that precedes the retreat. Shot in the back of the head while trying to leave the house to get a pot left on the grill the day before..."

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