Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday that officials in his country are creating an information system, called a “Book of Torturers,” to compile data on war crimes during Russia’s invasion.
“The creation of such an information system has been going on for some time already,” Zelensky said in a video address. “These are specific facts about specific people who are guilty of specific violent crimes against Ukrainians.”
Zelensky pointed to images that surfaced in early April from Bucha, a suburb of the capital city, Kyiv, showing hundreds of people buried in mass graves and bodies piled in the streets.
The Ukrainian president visited the suburb days later and condemned the inhumane treatment of civilians, and President Biden referred to the Bucha killings as a “war crime” and called for Russian President Vladimir Putin to face a trial.
Zelensky also referenced the struggle for control of Mariupol, a city in southern Ukraine long-eyed by Russia as a strategic capture, in his announcement.
The eventual capture of Mariupol was part of an effort by the Kremlin to create a land bridge between Russia and the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. During the three-month siege, Russia reduced much of the city to ruins, with more than 20,000 civilians feared dead.
In March, the Mariupol City Council claimed that Russia bombed an art school in the city where hundreds of refugees were sheltering and one day later said thousands of residents had been forcibly taken to Russian territory.
The war, which has now surpassed 100 days, has shifted primarily to the country’s east in the Donbas region after Russia failed in its initial campaign to take Ukraine’s capital city.
Zelensky in recent days has characterized the conditions in the Donbas, where Ukrainian troops have fought against Russian-backed separatist forces since 2014, as “indescribably difficult.”
Negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have mostly stalled after atrocities in Bucha and Mariupol.
“Such a ‘Book of Torturers’ is one of the foundations of the responsibility of not only the direct perpetrators of war crimes — soldiers of the occupying army, but also their commanders,” Zelensky said on Tuesday. “Those who gave orders. Those who made possible everything they did in Ukraine.”