August 15, 2022

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War in Ukraine: Shocking satellite image shows bodies on the ground and contradicts the Russian version

  • Reality check and BBC tracking
  • BBC News

debt, Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an independent inquiry. Pictures of civilians killed in PuchaIn Ukraine “.

Warning: This report contains strong images that may be considered disturbing.

After the withdrawal of Russian troops from the city on the outskirts of Kiev, pictures of the bodies appeared on the streets, which were viewed by the media.

Ukraine has accused Russia of “deliberate assassination” – but said it was “all staged” after Moscow withdrew its troops from the area. Made a series of unsubstantiated claims about Pucha’s pictures.

Claim: ‘Fake corpses’

After the Russian evacuation, shots taken from a car through the city showed bodies on both sides of the road.

The Russian embassy in Canada tweeted the video, entitled “Video showing fake bodies in Pucha, near Kiev.”

But satellite images of Pucha on March 19 – two weeks before Russian troops left the area – show bodies lying on the side of the road.

debt, BBC / Maker

Originally published by the American newspaper The New York Times and checked by the BBC, the images show bodies in precise positions and a video staged after Russian troops exit the same street.

Pro-Russian social media profiles circulated a slow-motion version of the video, claiming that the hand of one of the bodies had moved.

The mark in question looks like a raindrop or dirt spot, and similar markings are visible on the car windshield at the beginning of the video.

Another Russian claim focuses on a different area of ​​the scene. The car passes another body, which is near a sidewalk with red and yellow stones and a broken brown fence.

As the vehicle progresses, the body can be seen briefly in the right windshield. Pro-Russian profiles say the body “sits”.

But the slower version of the video shows that the rearview mirror clearly distorts the reflection of the body as well as the houses in the background.

debt, Ministry of Defense of Ukraine

Photo caption,

The questionable body appears in the rear window of the car during the video

The same effect can be seen in the videos of similar rearview mirrors published on the internet.

On April 3, the BBC compared the two bodies in the video with high-resolution photos provided by Getty Images and AFP (released on April 2).

debt, BBC / Getty

In the video, the first body is near the white and yellow curb on its back. The sidewalk on the right is a section of sidewalk, a section of grass. The trunk is open in front of a white picket fence on a silver car sidewalk. The same car, curb, sidewalk and fence are visible in the Getty / AFP image.

debt, BBC / Getty

Claim: ‘Uncompressed’ bodies

The Russian Foreign Ministry tweeted: “Of particular concern is that the bodies of all persons released by the Kiev regime have not been hardened after at least four days.”

The Russians left at dawn on March 31, according to the Ukrainian military. Russia says they left on March 30.

Within hours of death, bodies undergo a process Strict MortisIn which the muscles contract and harden.

Four days later we asked the forensic pathologist’s opinion on whether to “harden” a body. The expert, who has worked in war crimes trials in places like Kosovo and Rwanda, declined to be identified, but told the BBC within four days. Strict Mortis “Usually declining”.

debt, Getty Images

The Russian tweet also said there were “no regular body scars” on the bodies.

It is not clear what this means, but the pathologist said the appearance of a person who has died from a gunshot wound or other act of violence can vary greatly depending on the weapon used, the distance it was fired and so on.

There is not always a lot of visible blood because it can accumulate under the body or soak through heavy clothing, especially if the person is ready for cooling.

The tweet may refer to the fact that after death the blood flow stops and blood accumulates in the body and the skin may turn red or purple.

But if someone is lying down, the location of this blood and discoloration may go unnoticed in just one picture.

Charge: ‘None of the locals were subjected to violence’

However, this claim contradicts many testimonies from residents.

On March 4, a local teacher told Human Rights Watch that Russian forces had arrested five people and hanged one of them briefly.

Residents who spoke to the Russian intelligence website The Insider drew a similar picture. “Those were terrible days. Your backyard, your house or even your life did not belong to you. No electricity, no water, no gas. Leaving the house is forbidden, if you go out – you will be shot,” Christina told The Insider.

Residents told the BBC that residents were forced to sit in the basement as Russians systematically broke down doors to loot apartments and soldiers stole valuables and food.

Report: Jake Horton, Shayan Zardari, Rachel Schreier, Olga Robinson, Alistair Coleman and Daniel Palambo.

Video Production: Sarah Claude and Jacqueline Calvin.

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