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Zelensky commemorates 2nd anniversary of liberation of Bucha

by Nate Ostiller March 31, 2024 5:37 PM 4 min read
President Volodymyr Zelensky at a flag raising ceremony at the Memorial to the Defenders of the Bucha Community in Bucha, Kyiv Oblasy, on March 31, 2024, the second anniversary of the liberation of Bucha. (President's Office)
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President Volodymyr Zelensky and a number of high-level Ukrainian officials commemorated the second anniversary of the liberation of Bucha on March 31.

"This is a war for the dignity of our people and every nation seeking its own destiny. This is a war to prevent anyone from daring to become a beast toward others," Zelensky said in comments commemorating the massacre.

"And the bodies of our people, which were found on the streets of Bucha, demonstrated that no one in the world can stay away from this battle."

Zelensky made the comments at a flag raising ceremony at the Memorial to the Defenders of the Bucha Community. He was joined by Head of President's Office Andriy Yermak, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Defense Minister Rustem Umerov, Commander-in-chief Oleksandr Syrskyi, Parliament Speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk, and Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko.

Bucha, a suburb northwest of Kyiv, was occupied by Russian troops shortly after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in February 2022.

Following pitched battles in Bucha, Irpin, and other cities in Kyiv Oblast, Ukrainian forces counterattacked in mid-March and began to push Russian troops back.

After the city was liberated at the end of March 2022, mass graves with civilians were discovered, and thousands of war crimes were documented, making Bucha a symbol of Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

The Prosecutor General's Office said in March 2023 that more than 1,400 civilians were killed in Bucha District, including 637 in the city of Bucha, many of whom had gunshot wounds. The district figure included 37 children who were murdered by Russian forces.

Last year, on the first anniversary of the liberation of Bucha, Zelensky met with the prime ministers of Slovakia, Slovenia, and Croatia following a ceremony to mark the event.

Investigations into the killings in Bucha and other neighboring cities have continued over the past two years.

Earlier in March 2024, the Kyiv City Prosecutor's Office identified a Russian soldier who fired at civilians in the city of Hostomel in Kyiv Oblast.

Ukraine also charged two Russian soldiers in March for allegedly murdering a civilian in Bucha. It is unclear whether they are in Ukrainian captivity or whether they had been served the charges in absentia.

More than 10,000 civilians have been killed and nearly 20,000 have been injured since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, according to the United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine.

The figure consists of civilian deaths verified according to UN methodology, with the actual number of those killed and injured likely being significantly higher.

The Prosecutor General's Office has documented over 128,000 war crimes and crimes of aggression committed by Russian forces since February 2022.

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