The collection of preliminary interviews by lawyers and psychologists of the Centre for Assisting War Crimes Documentation (hereinafter – the Centre) began on September 12, 2022, and from that time until May 6, 2023 869 preliminary interviews were collected.
|Month||Number of interviews conducted|
|Early May 2023||17|
- Interview collection method
Interviews were collected directly at the premises of the Center at the address Marszalkowska 77/79 in Warsaw and during the visits of specialists (lawyers and psychologists) to the places of centralized residence of a significant number of immigrants from Ukraine or to an organization that conduct educational and cultural events for the displaced people (Ptak Warsaw Expo, Atrium, Eхpo Modlińska 6D, Al.Jana Pawla II, 15, Warszawski ośrodek interwencji kryzysowej ⅕, Centrum przespa koordynacji “Warszawa”, Ukrainian House in Warsaw).
- A typical portrait of a witness
Most interviewed witnesses (71%) were women (610) and only (259) 29% were men, which is due to the peculiarities of crossing the state border of Ukraine during martial law.
|Gender of people interviewed||Number of people interviewed|
The methodology of the Centre for Assisting War Crimes Documenting involves interviewing adult witnesses, but in two cases children were present and supplemented the testimony of their parents (guardians) with their permission. Therefore, 36% (309) of witnesses aged 31-45, 23% (196) aged 46-60, 23% (202) over 60, 13% (116) under 30 were interviewed.
In 41 cases, the witnesses expressed a desire to remain anonymous and did not consent to the collection of personal data and their transfer to law enforcement agencies, therefore, information about their age is not available.
|Age of people interviewed||Number of people interviewed||Percentage|
848 respondents stated that they were eyewitnesses of different types of war crimes or their immediate consequences (rocket and other shelling of populated areas), however, the vast majority of interviewees provided testimony from other people’s words, in some cases providing eyewitness data. Eyewitnesses of individual episodes can also be established as a result of a clear reference to the place and time in which the relevant episode took place, or the contact details of persons who can provide detailed information.
In 67% (579 witnesses in total) of cases, eyewitnesses noted that they had seen military personnel in the territories to which the testimony related. The categories of servicemen included both the regular troops of the Russian Federation, identified by eyewitnesses both by chevrons and by the external characteristics of individual peoples of the Russian Federation. Eyewitnesses also noted the presence of representatives from the so-called self-proclaimed “people’s republics” who arrived from the territory of ORDLO (occupied regions of Donetsk and Luhansk regions), or in 3 cases of military equipment marked with the letters “z” and “v”. Individual respondents did not provide answers to questions about the presence of military personnel.
- Territorial affiliation of the interviewees
The vast majority of those interviewed belonged to regions, to one degree or another, covered by hostilities, occupied territories. Interviewed residents of the regions of Western Ukraine and the city of Kyiv became direct witnesses of air raids (they saw with their own eyes air bombs or hits).
|Region||Number of people interviewed||Percentage|
|Region||The number of cases per region||Percentage|
- Types of war crimes revealed during preliminary interviews.
|Types of war crimes||Number of cases reported||Percentage|
|Damage to the property of other persons||796||12,67|
|Damage or destruction of civilian objects (educational, medical institutions, residential institutions, etc.)||707||11,25|
|Damage to other infrastructure facilities (electricity, gas, water, oil networks, etc.)||603||9,59|
|Fragments of projectiles in residential areas||530||8,43|
|Conduct of hostilities near or in residential areas||452||7,19|
|Damage to own property||441||7,02|
|Theft of property||296||4,71|
|Damage to objects of culture or art||287||4,57|
|Killing (shooting) or wounding of civilians||264||4,2|
|Illegal detention or deprivation of liberty of a person||261||4,15|
|The use of civilian infrastructure (schools, hospitals, cultural institutions) with military purpose||254||4,04|
|Obstruction in receiving medical assistance, evacuation||212||3,37|
|Torture or ill-treatment of people||211||3,36|
|Capturing or holding a person as hostage||132||2,1|
|Covering wiyj civilians (use of “human shields”)||132||2,1|
|Targeted resettlement of Russians in captured Ukrainian territories||125||1,99|
|Use of prohibited weapons (e.g. phosphorous bombs)||120||1,91|
|Mines of residential areas, facilities (schools, hospitals, etc.), property (cars, devices, etc.), human bodies, etc.||96||1,53|
|Deportation or forced resettlement of a person (group of persons), children||89||1,42|
|Damage to dangerous objects (nuclear plants, warehouses with chemicals, etc.)||75||1,19|
|Environmental disaster due to shelling||60||0,96|
|Destruction of bodies of murdered people (incineration)||42||0,67|
|The use of civilian clothes with emblems of the UA Armed Forces, humanitarian institutions, incl. the Red Cross or medical institutions||26||0,41|
|Rape or other sexual violence by the military||20||0,32|
|The killing of a wounded soldier who no longer took part in hostilities||17||0,27|
|The killing of a medic/pamedic staff, rescue staff, participants of international missions||7||0,11|
|Murder of a prisoner of war||4||0,06|
|Conducting biological or other experiments on people||2||0,03|
- Resume of the recent cases documented by the Centre (Feb 15 – May 6)
During the interviews, almost all interviewees noted that they had witnessed or heard about the commission of several types of war crimes in the respective locality. In the vast majority, it was about the destruction or damage of property, in particular, 796 respondents testified to the destruction or damage to the property of other persons, and 441 – to their own property, mainly as a result of airstrikes, and in the territories close to hostilities – shelling from other weapons.
In 707 cases people witnessed damage to civilian infrastructure, for instance in Konstantynivka (Donetsk region), Rubizhne (Luhansk region), Nikopol (Dnipropetrovsk region), and in Kyiv city (hotel “Alfavito”).
The eyewitnesses spoke about street fights that took place in the residential areas, the use of unauthorized weapon, including cluster bombs, tail rockets, and “Sontsepok” installations. The Russian military removed parts of cluster munitions located in populated areas. Agricultural land was mined.
A significant number of testimonies were related to the territories that were (or will be soon) under occupation. In the occupied territories, combat weapons were placed in residential areas (132 cases). Ukrainian handbooks in schools were burned or taken away. People were forced to obtain passports of the Russian Federation, parents were forced to send their children to Russian schools. Relatives of servicemen were persecuted, illegally detained, beaten up and tortured, forced to cooperate.
Russians also took equipment from schools, plants and factories, for instance the equipment from the Zaporizhzhia iron ore plant and the ore mined at this plant, were exported to Russia. Hunting weapons were taken from the residents who were hunters, and mobile phones were checked using a special program. In addition, private property from houses and cars was taken from local residents, they were demanded to transfer apartments to other persons in accordance with Russian legislation, the Russians took away grain, sown and harvested in the private fields of local residents.
As in previous months, many interviewees mentioned obstacles in the evacuation: those people who had some symbols or photos of the destruction of civilian objects caused by the Russians were removed form the filtration buses. IMEI phone numbers of persons leaving Ukraine were entered into the database. Cars and buses were kept for a very long time (a case was mentioned when a woman died in one bus because of waiting for a week in a filtration camp), often witnesses had to pay bribes to be allowed to pass. Witnesses also noted cases of deportation of their relatives to Russia, Russians also selected “specialists” – with different professional backgrounds – from the filtration camps and directed them to specific regions of Russia. Young men were forcibly mobilized into paramilitary formations created in temporarily occupied territories or formations of the aggressor state. Some hospitals (for example, in Nova Kakhovka) were used only as hospitals for the Russian military, local residents had to be treated in other towns (Novotroyitsk or Henichesk).
If citizens violated the curfew, they were forced to lie on the ground, threatened with weapons (Kherson city). During the “referendum” members of the election commission went to the houses together with armed soldiers. People were brought in to hold rallies in favour of Russia. Lawyers came from Russia, who took testimony and recorded damage to houses and apartments only if it a person testified that it was a “Ukrainian shot.” Russian immigrants were brought from the north of Russia, Buryatia, and other regions and settled in the houses of Ukrainians. Cases were mentioned when the consequences of Russian shelling in populated areas were filmed and presented on Russian channels as being carried out by the Ukrainian army.
Witnesses from Mariupol, Kherson, and Nova Kakhovka mentioned the use of mobile crematoria to destroy the bodies of the dead, during the shelling of Azovstal, the Russian Federation used more and more powerful mines and projectiles, among them were some prohibited substances that affected health.
264 witnesses testified that they are aware of the facts of the death or injury of civilians, some witnesses personally saw the serious injuries (loss of arms and legs) of civilians (Kherson) or death (Mariupol) as a result of the shells, artillery shelling, the conduct of hostilities in the city.
 For those who did not want to tell their age