Recalling Bucha deaths, Zelenskiy describes 'horrific' year in Kyiv region

FILE PHOTO: Bucha deputy mayor Serhii Shepetko places flowers on graves of unidentified people killed by Russian soldiers during occupation of the Bucha town, on a day of the first anniversary of Russia's attack on Ukraine, at the town's cemetery, outside Kyiv, Ukraine February 24, 2023. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

KYIV (Reuters) - Ukraine's president said on Thursday the past year had been "the most horrific" in the lives of many residents of the Kyiv region, where Russian troops are accused of committing war crimes before withdrawing a year ago.

The Ukrainian military recaptured the small towns of Irpin and Bucha outside the capital, Kyiv, in late March last year.

International investigators are now collecting evidence in Irpin, Bucha and other places where Ukraine says Russian troops committed large-scale atrocities. Russia denies the allegations.

"For many residents of the Kyiv region, the past year has become the most horrific in their entire lives. And the liberation of the Kyiv region has become a symbol of the fact that Ukraine will be able to win this war," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wrote in English on the Telegram messaging app.

"Events that could not be imagined in the 21st century have become a reality in the satellite cities of Kyiv – Bucha and Irpin. Russian troops marched on the Ukrainian capital from the north and brought death and destruction."

Zelenskiy wrote his Telegram post under video footage showing heavily damaged buildings and vehicles that had been destroyed in Bucha and Irpin.

The video also included interviews with survivors recalling their experiences during the occupation, and footage of corpses lined up on the ground in black body bags.

The video, compiled by the Ukrainian fundraising initiative UNITED24, put the civilian death toll in areas of the Kyiv region liberated from Russian forces at 1,137, including 461 killed in Bucha alone.

The Russian forces that invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 last year were halted outside the capital and later pulled back, but the Kyiv region is still frequently the target of missile and drone strikes as battles rage elsewhere.

(Reporting by Olena Harmash, Editing by Timothy Heritage and Angus MacSwan)

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