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Boris Johnson appeals to Russians: don’t let Putin’s war crimes be in your name

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oris Johnson appealed directly to millions of Russians on Tuesday to distance themselves from Vladimir Putin’s war crimes in Bucha – stressing “I cannot believe he’s acting in your name”.

The Prime Minister was recording a video, which he will deliver also partly in Russian, with the hope his message will go viral and the people of Russia will hear the truth about the appalling atrocities being carried out by Mr Putin’s forces.

He was expected to tell of the harrowing reports and footage of civilians massacred in Bucha, near Kyiv, and other towns and cities, some with their hands tied up and shot in the back of the head, a sign of execution.

The world has also been left reeling in horror by the reports of mass graves being discovered and women raped in front of their children

The Prime Minister was expected to describe Mr Putin’s war crimes as a “stain on the honour of Russia” and that they “betray the trust of every Russian mother who proudly waves goodbye to her son as he heads off to join the military”.

Mr Johnson was due to add: “Those responsible will be held to account.

“And history will remember who looked the other way.

“Your president is committing war crimes. But I cannot believe he’s acting in your name.”

State media in Russia is failing to report on the horrors of the war in Ukraine, where the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been found in towns and cities recaptured from Mr Putin’s troops.

But a clampdown on news outlets and demonstrations, with thousands of anti-war protesters arrested, is unable to stop reports from Ukraine and the West filtering through to Russian citizens on social media or through phone calls.

Before addressing the UN Security Council, Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said Mr Putin and his military chiefs will not be able to “deceive the whole world” about their war crimes as he warned of possible worse atrocities than the Bucha massacre.

Unimaginable loss, pain and suffering inflicted on so many families has been revealed in Bucha after Russian troops were forced to retreat. They include Tanya Nedashkivs’ka, 57, mourning the death of her husband.

Mr Zelensky called for the “most complete, transparent investigation” to identity and bring to justice those “who gave orders” and carried out the appalling slaughter of civilians in his country.

In his late night address, the president said: “At present, there is information about more than 300 people killed and tortured in Bucha alone. It is likely that the list of victims will be much larger when the whole city is checked.”

Grimly, he also warned: “There is already information that the number of victims of the occupiers may be even higher in Borodyanka and some other liberated cities.”

He stressed the war crimes were worse than “even during the Nazi occupation 80 years ago”. Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba also warned that the evidence discovered so far of civilian killings was just the “tip of the iceberg”.

Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, described the “genocide of Ukrainians” following a visit to areas around the capital. He told of seeing dead civilians, including an elderly woman, and a car with a white flag and the letters “children” on the outside that was shot up and had blood inside. Satellite images taken weeks ago of Bucha show bodies of civilians in a street, a private US company said, undermining the Russian government’s claims that Ukrainian forces caused the deaths, or that the scene was staged.

Maxar Technologies provided nine images of Bucha on March 18, 19 and 31 to Reuters. At least four of the images appear to show bodies on Yablonska Street. The town was occupied by Russian forces until about March 30. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov claimed the bodies were “staged” and that images of them and what he said was Ukraine’s false version of events had been spread on social media by Western countries and Ukraine.

The Russian Embassy in London tweeted: “FM #Lavrov: #Russia has requested an emergency meeting of @UN Security Council on the situation in #Bucha, because such provocations pose a direct threat to international peace and security. We will demand the #UK as the current #UNSC president to fulfil its duties.”

Labour MP Chris Bryant voiced the views of many in Britain, by responding: “No. You are the butchers of Bucha. You shot people in the head with their hands tied behind their back. You slaughtered whole families and dug mass graves. You will be held accountable.”

The UK is taking a leading role in pushing for a war crimes trial.

Mr Zelensky accused the Kremlin of spreading “lies” and “distorting the facts” about the atrocities. However, he added: “They will not succeed. They will not be able to deceive the whole world. The time will come when every Russian will learn the whole truth about who their fellow citizens killed. Who gave orders. Who turned a blind eye to the murders. We will establish all this.”

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