Ukraine opens website to submit Russia war crime allegations

A new Ukrainian website will allow those that submit claims of Russian human rights abuses to fill out accusation forms, describe the violation, and attach evidence.

 A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.  (photo credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)
A view shows cars and a building of a hospital destroyed by an aviation strike amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Mariupol, Ukraine, in this handout picture released March 9, 2022.
(photo credit: Press service of the National Police of Ukraine/Handout via REUTERS)

A new website to crowdsource the collection of alleged Russian war crimes was created by the Ukrainian government, the Ukrainian President's office announced in a late Wednesday night statement.

The website will require those that submit claims of Russian human rights abuses to fill out a form, describe the violation, and attach evidence. The statement from the President's office says evidence can include "photos, videos, documents, information about witnesses, victims." It also assures that the state will protect witnesses that come forward.

Read more about the Russia-Ukraine War:

According to the website, examples of human rights violations and crimes include genocide, targeting of civilians, murder, torture, rape, and abduction. Other crimes such as robbery, looting, and violations of rights of movement, assembly and religion are also listed as examples by the site. 

"The information received will make it possible to prosecute the Russian Federation and defend Ukraine's interests in international courts," said Yuliya Sokolovska, President's Office deputy head.

The project to collect alleged Russian human rights violations in Ukraine is a joint effort between multiple Ukrainian government bodies. 

 EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Parliament in Brussels last week for a special session to debate the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS) EUROPEAN COMMISSION President Ursula von der Leyen arrives at the European Parliament in Brussels last week for a special session to debate the response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (credit: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS)

"The collected facts will be used as evidence for the defense and representation of Ukraine in the European Court of Human Rights and the International Court of Justice," said Ukrainian President's Office head Andriy Yermak  "By his decree, President Volodymyr Zelensky has already authorized those responsible to represent and defend Ukraine's interests in the UN International Court of Justice in the case against Russia on genocide charges. And there will be more such cases."

Russia has made several claims about Ukraine's actions against the rebel Donbas region, including President Vladamir Putin's claim prior to his country's invasion that Ukraine was conducting genocide against ethnic Russians. Multiple Russian officials have echoed the claim of genocide as the war progressed. 

Russia's Investigative Committee claimed on February 16 that mass graves of hundreds of ethnic Russian civilians had been found in the Donbas region.

The Ukrainian government has made multiple allegations that Russia had committed war crimes. Ukraine has said that Russia has deliberately targeted civilians or acted discriminately, such as reckless use of thermobaric weapons or shelling humanitarian corridors and civilian areas.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba accused Russia on Wednesday of a "petrifying war crime in Mariupol" in which a Russian airstrike hit a hospital and maternity house. Zelensky also decried the airstrike in an address the same day.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that the attack was "horrific," but Russian deputy ambassador to the UN Dmitry Polyansky asserted that the hosptal had been turned into a military facility on March 7, when the Ukrainian Armed Forces removed personnel and set up a firing position. Earlier, Russia's embassy in Israel tweeted that the doctors had specifically been removed by the Azov Battalion.

A senior US defense official told Reuters on Wednesday that the Pentagon believes Russia is using unguided munitions, which in certain circumstances could be considered indiscriminate military strikes. The official noted that they weren't certan of the intent of the use of unguided munitions. 

International NGO Amnesty International echoed the Pentagon's claim in a Wednesday report that asserted that Russia had used unguided munitions in a March 3 airstrike in Chernihiv that reportedly killed 47 civilians.

On Wednesday, Ukraine alleged that Russian soldiers were dressing as civilians — Which is a crime of perfidy.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk repeated claims that Russia was using civilians as human shields on late Wednesday, according to the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry. On March 2, the Russian Black Sea Fleet was accused by the Armed Forces of Ukraine of using the civilian vessels Helt to cover military movement. The Helt was soon after sunk. Ukrainian officials have also claimed that Russia is hiding military equipment in civilian structures. 

International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan said on March 2 that he would open an investigation of Russia for possible war crimes following the referrals of 39 states.

On Friday, the United Nations Human Rights Council voted 32-2 to open a Commission of Inquiry into possible Russian human rights violations during the war. 

"Russian commanders need to remember that war crimes are not just committed by those at the very top of the Russian government," Britain's armed forces minister James Heappey told Sky News on Thursday.

Tovah Lazaroff and Ben Zion Gad contributed to this report.