Investigating sexual violence as war crimes — "He Came Back"
Our War Crimes Investigations Unit released its new documentary, “He Came Back”. The film is about two cases of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers during the occupation of Kherson and Kyiv oblasts in 2022 — and the process of identifying the offenders. Watch it on our YouTube channel.
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A police car drives past a destroyed building in Vovchansk, Kharkiv Oblast, amid a renewed Russian assault in the area, on May 11, 2024. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Francis Farrell/The Kyiv Independent).
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Russian forces had captured up to 40 civilians in the Ukrainian town of Vovchansk and are using them as human shields, the police said on May 17.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry confirmed on May 15 that Russian units had entered the northern parts of the town, but the Ukrainian military reportedly prevented them from establishing a foothold deeper in Vovchansk.

Serhii Bolvinov, the head of the investigative department of the police of the Kharkiv Oblast, said on air on Suspilne that up to 40 civilians, most of them elderly, had been taken captive when trying to escape Russian shelling.

"People are kept in basements, interrogated, and those conducting the interrogations call themselves FSB employees," he said.

His comments echo those made by Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko, who on May 16 said Russian forces were taking Ukrainian civilians captive and preventing their evacuation, even reporting cases of executions.

"We know of the first cases of executions of civilians by the Russian military," Klymenko said on his Telegram channel.

Klymenko said that a Vovchansk resident was killed by Russian soldiers after he refused to obey their orders and attempted to escape on foot. Police investigators had opened a criminal case on the grounds of violations of rules of war.

As of February, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has verified 30,457 civilian casualties, including 19,875 injured, as a result of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

The OHCHR noted that the real number is likely higher. Russia does not allow monitoring in occupied territories, some of which likely suffered the heaviest costs in civilian lives, such as Mariupol.

A U.N. report from last December said that the international organization had documented 142 cases of summary executions of Ukrainian civilians by Russian forces.

48 hours in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s most-bombed major city
The first signs that something ominous is happening in Kharkiv come as soon as the train from Kyiv reaches the suburbs of the city – as two pillars of smoke appear in the distance, every single phone in the carriage erupts with a piercing electronic squawking. “I guess we’ve arrived,

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