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365 days as a free Ukrainian city again President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky visited Bucha to commemorate the anniversary of its liberation and to honor the victims of war crimes
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky posted a video dedicated to the anniversary of the liberation of Bucha. “Bucha and the surrounding region. 33 days of occupation. More than 1,400 dead, 37 children among them. More than 175 people found in mass graves and torture chambers. 9,000 Russian war crimes. 365 as a free Ukrainian city once again. A symbol of the occupying army’s atrocities. We will never forgive. We will punish all the perpetrators,” the president of Ukraine said.
Another video shows part of a press conference, in which Zelensky was asked about the most frightening day of his life — he says it was the day he saw evidence of the crimes in Bucha.
Zelensky visited Bucha alongside four other heads of state: President of Moldova Maia Sandu, Prime Minister of Slovakia Eduard Heger, Prime Minister of Slovenia Robert Golob, and Prime Minister of Croatia Andrej Plenković. Zelensky held bilateral meetings with them in Kyiv, after which they went to Bucha. Information about the proceedings of the meetings was not made public, and the visits were not announced ahead of time.
In Bucha, the five heads of state honored the memories of those killed during the occupation. Participants in the memorial ceremony visited the Church of St. Andrew Pervozvannoho the Apostle, where a mass grave containing the remains of Bucha residents was found, placing altar lamps on the memorial cross near the grave. During the ceremony, the names of 77 murdered residents who could be identified were read out, along with those of 11 soldiers killed in the fight for Bucha.
“This is unforgivable. That’s precisely why we’re here with you during this difficult time and feel it is our duty to help you in the struggle for freedom. It’s our duty also to support you in the search for justice. There can be no punishment for aggression, only punishment for those who committed crimes,” said the Prime Minister of Slovenia. President of Moldova Maia Sandu noted the necessity of cooperative work among all democratic governments to investigate the crimes and punish the perpetrators.
Zelensky gave Bucha the insignia of a Hero City. The city’s mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, received the award. President Zelensky approved the insignia 10 days ago. Bucha was named a Hero City in March 2022.
Bucha was occupied in the first days of the war. Combat started in the city on February 25, 2022, the day after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and Russian troops gained full control of the city in early March. Russians left Bucha on March 31, during a massive retreat from northern Ukraine, which Moscow presented as a “gesture of goodwill.”
After the Russian retreat, the bodies of murdered civilian residents were found in Bucha’s streets, and mass graves were discovered in the area. After Bucha, talks between Russia and Ukraine, which began shortly after the invasion, stalled. Bucha became a symbol of the war crimes the Russian army has committed in Ukraine.
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