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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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Society

End Of Roe v. Wade: Will It Spark Anti-Abortion Momentum Around The World?

Pro-life activists celebrated the end of the U.S. right to abortion, hoping it will trigger a new debate on a topic that in some places had largely been settled: in favor a woman’s right to choose. But it could also boomerang.

Thousands of people demonstrate against abortion in Madrid

Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Shaun Lavelle

The Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion put the United States at the forefront of abortion rights in the world.

Other countries would follow suit in the succeeding years, with France legalizing abortion in 1975, Italy in 1978, and Ireland finally joining most of the rest of Europe with a landslide 2018 referendum victory for women’s right to choose. Elsewhere, parts of Asia and Africa have made incremental steps toward legalizing abortion, while a growing number of Latin American countries have joined what has now been a decades-long worldwide shift toward more access to abortion rights.

But now, 49 years later, with last Friday’s landmark overturning of Roe v. Wade, will the U.S. once again prove to be ahead of the curve? Will American cultural and political influence carry across borders on the abortion issue, reversing the momentum of recent years?

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  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
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