Meduza publishes new footage evidencing civilian murders in Bucha during Russian occupation
Meduza has obtained new files containing high-quality drone footage of the southern districts of Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv that was recently freed from Russian occupation. According to the file metadata, these videos were recorded over the course of several days, from March 23–30, 2022. Like the satellite images recently published by The New York Times, the videos Meduza is publishing here are important pieces of evidence showing that the horrific civilian killings in Bucha took place before Russian troops retreated from the town.
What does the new drone footage show?
In the videos obtained by Meduza, you can see the bodies of dead civilians lying on Bucha’s Yablonska Street, as well as on several neighboring roads. Using geolocation techniques, we determined exactly where the bodies lay. Their locations completely coincided with the locations of the corpses seen in photos and videos taken by Ukrainian police and journalists in Bucha on April 1–2, 2022 — after Russian troops had left the town. It’s important to note that in the footage taken from above, all of the dead are lying not only in the exact same places, but also in the same poses seen in the footage taken from the ground.
In several of the videos, you can see (at a distance of several dozen or several hundred meters) military vehicles that resemble those used by Russian airborne units (probably BMDs or BTR-Ds). In one of the videos, you can see people standing near one of these combat vehicles. At this point, the bodies of the dead were still lying several dozen meters away from these soldiers.
In footage from March 29 and 30, the Russian military equipment is no longer in the same place. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, its troops withdrew from Bucha on March 30.
Why does this matter?
So far, objective documentary evidence that civilians were killed during the period when Russian troops controlled Bucha has mainly come from satellite images provided by the company Maxar Technologies. These images, which Maxar says were collected from March 9–11, “show dark objects of similar size to a human body appearing on Yablonska Street,” writes The New York Times. However, pro-Kremlin bloggers tried to use shadow analysis to prove that Maxar’s imagery was collected on April 1, after Ukrainian troops had entered Bucha.
Meduza has not only obtained additional evidence that corroborates Maxar’s imagery — showing that Russian forces were present in Bucha when the civilian killings took place — but we have also independently confirmed when this footage was recorded.
Where did Meduza get these videos?
These videos were given to Meduza by Belarusian neo-Nazi Serhii “Botsman” Korotkykh, whose combat group is fighting on the Ukrainian side. Korotkykh claims that his fellow combatants regularly filmed Russian positions in Bucha’s southern districts using their own drone.
Pro-Kremlin Russian reporters have accused Korotkykh and his combat group of murdering civilians in Bucha on March 31 or April 1 — after Russian troops had retreated from the town. As such, Meduza carefully analyzed the videos Korotkykh gave us and determined that it’s very unlikely that the footage is fake.
How do we know the footage was recorded before the arrival of Ukrainian troops?
There are three main reasons that we can confidently assert that the footage we are publishing was filmed before Russian troops withdrew from Bucha:
- Firstly, Russia military equipment is clearly visible on Yablonska Street, both in multiple videos and across different days. Several armored vehicles appear there between March 23 and March 28. In a video dated March 29, there is no longer any Russian military equipment on the street. The Ukrainian army doesn’t use this type of equipment.
- Secondly, our source provided us with the raw files: the original videos recorded by the drone. These files contain detailed metadata, including the time the footage was captured.
- Thirdly, since metadata can be tampered with, we had two independent experts verify when the videos were shot, using chronolocation techniques. Their findings allowed us to confirm that the times in the metadata matches the actual times when the footage was recorded, and that the first video of the bodies couldn’t have been filmed after March 26, 2022.
The Russian Defense Ministry had not responded to Meduza’s request for comment at the time of publication.
You can download the video files in full here. Please note: The link may not work at this time due to the number of people trying to download the videos.