Russian President Vladimir Putin first shared his opinion on the war crimes committed in Bucha in his phone call with Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, describing the issue as “a rough and cynical provocation from the Kyiv regime.” Orbán spoke about the phone call in a press conference on Wednesday, but failed to mention that the Russian president spoke about the event.
Liberal economic news portal hvg.hu shared the Kremlin’s summary of Orbán and Putin’s telephone conversation published Wednesday afternoon. According to the briefing, Putin described the massacre of Ukrainian civilians in Bucha as “a rough and cynical provocation,” from the Ukrainian government.
Video and Photo Evidence Shows Civilians Killed in Bucha
Bucha was captured by Russian troops after Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24. After these troops withdrew more than a month later, photos and videos revealed dozens if not hundreds of murdered civilians, some of them appearing to have been shot in the back of the head after their hands were tied.
The Ukrainian government accused Russia of genocide, an accusation which the Russian government rejected.
The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that the bodies were placed in the streets after Russian troops withdrew on March 30, but evidence shows otherwise. Russia even claimed that the footage was staged, depicting “fake dead bodies.”
The Times’ review of videos and satellite imagery found that many of the civilians were killed more than three weeks ago. Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service shared intercepted messages of Russian communications with the German government, in which Russian soldiers can be heard discussing the killings of Ukrainian civilians. In one message, Russian soldiers appear to be discussing interrogations before shooting their victims, in another, a Russian soldier talks about shooting a person on a bike.
A graphic video shared on April 1 shows bodies on either side of a road in Bucha.
Ukrainian Spokesman: Orbán Reinforcing Russian War Crimes
Western powers have declared that they will be announcing new sanctions against Russia in light of the massacred civilians. The Ukrainian government, which is already unsatisfied with Hungary’s approach to the war, has criticized the Orbán administration for its unwillingness to speak about the atrocities Russian forces committed.
Spokesman of the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, said that the Hungarian government’s silence on the killings “strengthens Russia’s sense of impunity and encourages it to commit new crimes.”
FM Szijjártó Calls on Ukraine’s Gov’t to “Stop Insulting Hungary”
“We ask the Ukrainians to stop insulting us, to stop their accusations against Hungary,” Péter Szijjártó said in a press conference following the meeting of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs. “They ask for and expect help while immorally attacking and accusing us. It is difficult to fit these two together,” Szijjártó said.
Orbán Call for “Independent Investigation” into Bucha Killings
It is surprising that Orbán chose not to mention this in his international press conference on Wednesday. Regarding the issue, he said that an “independent examination” needs to be conducted in Bucha, and that the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in the Hague is not recognized by Russia nor the United States.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s Press Secretary, made a similar statement as Orbán on Wednesday, calling for an “independent examination.” Peskov noted that many international examinations in recent years have excluded Russia from representing itself, which Moscow does not view as impartial.
Russian citizens can be imprisoned for up to 15 years for spreading “false information” about the war in Ukraine, and thousands of antiwar protesters have already been arrested in Russia.
In the featured photo: bodies in Bucha after the Russian withdrawal. Photo by MTI/AP/Rodrigo Abd