Ukrainian police search for bodies and collaborators in the ruins of Bucha and Borodyanka

Law enforcement and security services in Kyiv are investigating at least 10 cases of local residents of the Bucha region suspected of collaborating with Russian troops accused of committing war crimes, the deputy chief said on Monday. of the city police.

Maksym Ocheretianyi declined to identify the suspects at a special Monday press conference and simply said that some people who may have been “involved in collaborating with the enemy” have recently been made aware that they are suspects.

Bucha, a small community outside kyiv, was the scene of some of the most horrific atrocities against civilians in the two months since Russian forces invaded Ukraine. Moscow denies that its troops carried out the massacre there or in other nearby communities, such as Borodyanka.

Cases of alleged collaboration are still under investigation, and Ocheretianyi would not speculate on whether the investigations could lead to charges. The fate of the accused would be “decided by the court”, he said.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova said on Sunday that as many as 15 collusion cases could be prosecuted in the country’s capital.

That’s fewer than the number of suspected traitors the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) said it was prosecuting last month. Artyom Dehtyarenko, a spokesman for the SBU, was quoted by local newspaper Kyiv Independent as saying that 33 suspected collaborators have been identified across the Kyiv region.

The SBU, state and local police, Ukrainian army territorial defense units and the state emergency service say they are working together to find suspected collaborators and possibly prosecute them for treason.

When Russian troops pushed to the gates of kyiv in early March, they reportedly took lists of people’s names and addresses with them – possibly from a hack into Ukraine’s car insurance registry in early January, cybercrime reveals recently by the authorities. They also worked with sympathetic local residents of Moscow.

Collaborators might have been involved in searching for individuals the Russians wanted to arrest or might have flagged Ukrainian military positions.

Murder in a war zone

The war has unleashed a series of crimes that may have nothing to do with Russian atrocities, Ocheretianyi said, and efforts are underway to separate those investigations from the effects of the war.

For example, up to 114 people were notified that they were suspected of murder, he said.

“Unfortunately, we have such facts, but, you know, our responsibility as law enforcement is to identify these people and bring them” to justice, Ocheretianyi said in translated comments Monday.

Venediktova said her office was investigating 9,158 criminal cases related to “purely war crimes”.

His team unveiled its first war crimes charges last week against members of the Russian military.

Valentyna Nechyporenko, 77, cries at the grave of her 47-year-old son Ruslan during his funeral at a cemetery in Bucha, on the outskirts of kyiv, on April 18, 2022. (Emilio Morenatti/Associated Press)

Three weeks ago, the RCMP announced that it would assist Ukrainian authorities by interviewing people who fled to Canada about what they witnessed.

Britain, France and other allies this week sent investigators to help with the investigation and promised to use the intelligence to link specific Russian military commanders to specific crimes.

Ocheretianyi said authorities have so far recovered the bodies of 1,202 civilians in the Kyiv region, but identifying the remains can be difficult. Eight mass graves were discovered in the area.

“These are innocent local civilians, our citizens,” Ocheretianyi said.

“These corpses bear clear signs of torture. Not only have their hands been tied…but they have also been [shot] in their legs. They were killed by [being shot] in their head. This brutality, this cruelty terrifies the police and the public.”

WATCH | The first civilians emerged from the beleaguered Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol on Monday:

Trapped residents walk out of the Azovstal Steel Plant in Mariupol, Ukraine

As many as 100 people, most of whom had been trapped underground at the Azovstal steelworks in Mariupol, Ukraine, left through a safe corridor. 0:58