Estonian leaders mark Bucha anniversary

Banners, flags and flowers tied to barriers outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn's Old Town.
Banners, flags and flowers tied to barriers outside the Russian Embassy in Tallinn's Old Town. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Estonia's top politicians marked the anniversary of the uncovering of Russia's crimes at Bucha on Friday, calling for the perpetrators to face justice.

President Alar Karis virtually attended the Bucha summit organized by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Karis has said that both the victims and perpetrators of Russian aggression have names.

"We can never bring back those who have been killed, but we are obliged to seek justice for them and to give hope to the many victims who have suffered in this war," he said, according to a statement.

Karis recalled that the first images that emerged from the liberated town of Bucha a year ago shocked the world.

"We were horrified by the news of mass graves and by the sight of bodies in the streets, some of them with their hands tied behind their backs," he stated.

"And yet this was only the beginning: we have heard more and more reports of the devastation being wrought upon and people being murdered in Mariupol, Izium, Irpin, Kharkiv, Kherson and elsewhere. The wounds inflicted by these war criminals will not begin to heal until justice has been served. We will never forget their unspeakable cruelty."

The head of state said that the warrants for the arrest of President Vladimir Putin and Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova issued by the International Criminal Court give hope that justice will prevail.

He said Russia has flagrantly breached the underlying principles of international order – the UN Charter, international humanitarian law and human rights – and that it was continuing to ignore the General Assembly's calls to cease its aggression.

President Karis drew attention to the fact that Russia's violence in Ukraine had gone far beyond the deportation of children and the crimes committed in Bucha.

Protest against rape in the Ukraine war in front of the Russian Embassy in Talllinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

"The atrocities perpetrated by the Soviet Union in World War II went unpunished," he noted. "Only by eliminating impunity can we help to prevent such crimes from being committed again."

The Estonian head of state noted that the International Criminal Court does not have the jurisdiction to try Russia's crimes of aggression in Ukraine, which is why Estonia supports the Ukrainians in seeking the establishment of a special international tribunal for the investigation and prosecution of the crimes of aggression committed by Russia in Ukraine.

Estonia signed its name to the declaration adopted at the close of the summit condemning the worst international crimes committed on Ukrainian territory and stressing the need for the fair, thorough and independent investigation of all of the crimes committed on Ukrainian territory.

PM: The world woke up to the true face of Russian occupation.

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) also marked the anniversary.

"A year ago, Ukraine liberated Bucha and the world woke up to the true face of Russian occupation," she wrote on social media.

"Bucha is a crime scene and a symbol for all Russian crimes – mass killings, deportations, erasing whole cities.

"There's no going back – Russia will be held accountable."

On March 31, 2022, Ukrainian retook the town of Bucha which had been occupied by Russian forces since the start of the war.

Ukraine says more than 300 civilians were killed by the Russians in Bucha.

Russia denied any involvement but satellite images contradict their claims.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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