This text incorporates photos of graphic violence.


BUCHA, Ukraine — It’s the final time the boys could be seen alive: In two movies, Russian paratroopers march them at gunpoint alongside a road in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv. Among the Ukrainian captives are hunched over, holding the belts of these in entrance of them. Others have their fingers over their heads. “Stroll to the suitable, bitch,” one of many troopers orders them.

The movies, filmed on March 4 by a safety digital camera and a witness in a close-by home and obtained by The New York Instances, are the clearest proof but that the boys have been within the custody of Russian troops minutes earlier than being executed.

“Hostages are mendacity there, towards the fence,” the individual filming the video says. He counts: “One, two, three, for certain, 4, 5, six …” In complete, 9 persons are being held.

The lads are pressured to the bottom, together with one sporting a particular brilliant blue hooded sweatshirt.

The video ends. However eight witnesses recounted to The Instances what occurred subsequent. Troopers took the boys behind a close-by workplace constructing that the Russians had taken over and was a makeshift base. There have been gunshots. The captives didn’t return.

A drone video filmed a day in a while March 5, additionally obtained solely by The Instances, is the primary visible proof that confirms the eyewitness accounts. It confirmed the useless our bodies mendacity on the bottom by the facet of the workplace constructing at 144 Yablunska Road as two Russian troopers stood guard beside them. Among the many our bodies, a flash of brilliant blue was seen — the captive within the blue sweatshirt.

{A photograph} of the executed males’s our bodies mendacity in a courtyard, some with their fingers sure, was amongst a variety of images that obtained international consideration in early April after Russian forces withdrew from Bucha. Russian leaders on the highest levels have repeatedly denied wrongdoing in Bucha and described the photographs as a “provocation and fake.”

However a weekslong investigation by The Instances offers new proof — together with the three movies — that Russian paratroopers rounded up and deliberately executed the boys photographed within the courtyard, straight implicating these forces in a possible warfare crime. Russia’s international affairs and protection ministries didn’t reply to requests for touch upon The Instances’s findings.

To uncover what occurred to those males, The Instances spent weeks in Bucha interviewing a survivor, witnesses, coroners, and police and navy officers. Reporters collected beforehand unpublished movies from the day of the execution — among the solely proof up to now to hint the victims’ last actions. The Instances scoured social media for lacking individuals experiences, spoke to the victims’ relations and, for the primary time, recognized all the executed males and why most of them have been focused.

They have been husbands and fathers, grocery retailer and manufacturing unit staff who lived atypical civilian lives earlier than the warfare. However with restrictions on males leaving the nation, coupled with a resolve to guard their communities, a lot of the males joined numerous protection forces within the days earlier than they have been killed. Practically all of them lived inside strolling distance of the courtyard wherein their our bodies would later lie.

Russian troopers first entered Bucha in late February, days after the warfare started, as they superior towards Kyiv. Ukrainian forces have been prepared for them. They devastated Russian paratroopers on the entrance of the column in an ambush. Death notices and interviews with Russian prisoners posted by a Ukrainian YouTuber point out that not less than two paratrooper models — the 104th and 234th Airborne Assault Regiments — suffered losses.

The Russians withdrew and regrouped earlier than returning on March 3, making their technique to Yablunska Road, an extended thoroughfare working by town. Safety digital camera footage obtained by The Instances reveals that the troopers, like those that have been ambushed in late February, have been paratroopers. The video reveals them driving automobiles — such because the BMD-2, BMD-3 and BMD-4 designs — which might be used nearly solely by the Russian Airborne Forces, based on specialists from the Worldwide Institute for Strategic Research and the Royal United Providers Institute.

The paratroopers patrolled the world, conducting house-to-house searches and working out and in of 144 Yablunska Road, a four-story workplace constructing that the Russians was a base and discipline hospital.

About 300 yards from that base, at 31 Yablunska Road, Ivan Skyba, a 43-year-old builder, and 5 different fighters had been manning a makeshift checkpoint when the Russians returned. They’d a grenade, bulletproof vests and a rifle between them, Mr. Skyba informed The Instances.

Warned through radio that Russians have been again in Bucha and transferring of their path, they hid in the home beside the checkpoint, together with the house owner, Valera Kotenko, 53, who had been bringing the fighters tea and occasional, Mr. Skyba mentioned.

They have been joined later by two extra fighters, Andriy Dvornikov and Denys Rudenko, the person sporting the blue sweatshirt within the video. Because the 9 males hid, they texted and referred to as family members. Mr. Rudenko messaged his finest buddy saying they have been trapped. “Don’t name. I’ll dial later,” he wrote.

The lads sheltered there in a single day. By the morning of March 4, they realized that an escape was not possible. “We’re surrounded,” Mr. Rudenko wrote to his buddy. “For now we’re hiding. They’re capturing from armored automobiles and heavy caliber.”

Mr. Dvornikov, a supply driver, referred to as his spouse, Yulia Truba, at 10:20 a.m., she informed The Instances. “We are able to’t get out. I’ll name after I name,” he mentioned, earlier than telling her to delete all of their messages and to arrange to evacuate. “I like you,” he mentioned.

Round an hour later, Russian troopers conducting searches discovered the boys and compelled all 9 of them, together with the house owner, out of the home at gunpoint, Mr. Skyba mentioned. The troopers searched the boys for tattoos that would point out navy affiliation and made a few of them take away their winter jackets and footwear. Then they walked them to the Russian base at 144 Yablunska Road.

What occurred subsequent was described to Instances reporters by Mr. Skyba and 7 civilian witnesses whom Russian forces additionally rounded up from neighboring homes and held in a separate group yards from the captive fighters.

The witnesses mentioned they noticed the group of captives within the parking zone in entrance of the Russian base with shirts pulled over their heads. Yura Razhik, 57, who lives in entrance of the workplace constructing, mentioned some had their fingers tied. The Russian troopers made them kneel down after which shot one of many males, Vitaliy Karpenko, 28, nearly instantly, Mr. Skyba mentioned. Mr. Razhik mentioned he additionally witnessed the capturing.

Mr. Skyba and one other captive, ​​Andriy Verbovyi, have been then taken contained in the constructing, he mentioned, the place they have been questioned and overwhelmed earlier than Mr. Verbovyi was shot and killed. The troopers took Mr. Skyba again to the parking zone, the place the opposite checkpoint guards have been nonetheless being held.

At one level, one of many checkpoint guards confessed to the Russians that they have been fighters, Mr. Skyba mentioned, and he was finally let go. He’s now below investigation by Ukrainian authorities, based on an area navy commander and investigators; a authorities doc seen by The Instances specifies it’s for “excessive treason.”

The troopers debated what to do with the remaining males. “Eliminate them, however not right here, so their our bodies aren’t laid round,” one mentioned, based on Mr. Skyba.

Two Russian troopers took Mr. Skyba and the remaining captives to a courtyard on the facet of the constructing, the place the physique of one other useless man was already mendacity, Mr. Skyba mentioned. The Instances has recognized that man as Andriy Matviychuk, 37, one other volunteer fighter who went lacking a day earlier. He was shot within the head, based on his demise certificates.

Mr. Razhik and different witnesses being held exterior the workplace constructing noticed the troopers lead the captives out of sight, they mentioned. Then gunshots rang out.

“I used to be shot and I fell down. The bullet went into my facet,” Mr. Skyba mentioned. Photographs he shared of his accidents present an entry and exit wound within the left facet of his stomach. A health care provider in Bucha who handled his harm and a medical report reviewed by The Instances confirmed the harm.

“I fell down and I pretended to be useless,” he mentioned. “I didn’t transfer and didn’t breathe. It was chilly exterior and you may see individuals’s breath.”

Mr. Skyba lay there because the troopers fired one other volley at injured males who have been nonetheless transferring. He waited for about quarter-hour till he may not hear the troopers’ voices. Then he ran.

Tetyana Chmut, whose backyard borders the courtyard at 144 Yablunska Road, was among the many residents held and later launched by the Russians, alongside together with her household. As Ms. Chmut dashed from her home to shelter in a neighbor’s basement in a while March 4, she noticed the our bodies mendacity within the courtyard. A neighbor of Ms. Chmut’s, Marina Chorna, noticed the our bodies two days later when she emerged from her basement after the Russian troops occupying her home left.

The our bodies of the boys killed within the parking zone and contained in the constructing have been delivered to the courtyard and, along with the six different victims, would lie there for practically a month.

4 weeks later, after Russian forces had withdrawn from Bucha, Instances reporters visited the scene of the executions. The wall and steps of the constructing have been pockmarked by bullet holes. On the opposite facet of the courtyard, scattered a couple of ft from the place the our bodies lay, have been spent 7.62x54R cartridge casings, used within the Soviet-designed PK-series machine weapons and Dragunov sniper rifles generally utilized by Russian troops. The Instances additionally discovered an unfired 7.62x54R spherical contained in the constructing.

Different proof left behind by the Russians factors to 2 particular paratrooper models which will have occupied the constructing. Packing slips for crates of weapons and ammunition listed Models 32515 and 74268, corresponding respectively to the 104th and 234th Airborne Assault Regiments. Each models suffered heavy losses throughout the first Russian try and enter Bucha in February.

Investigators with the Safety Service of Ukraine, or S.B.U., additionally supplied The Instances with a picture of a patch recovered from contained in the constructing bearing the logo of the 104th Regiment and a roster of Russian troopers recovered from the constructing. By looking out Russian social media web sites and different databases for every soldier’s identify, The Instances discovered that not less than 5 of the named troopers had obvious hyperlinks to the 104th Regiment. Others posted photos of themselves holding paratrooper flags or sporting paratrooper uniforms. Some listed their location as Pskov, town that’s the headquarters for each the 104th and 234th regiments.

The execution of the captured fighters and the house owner in Bucha “is the sort of incident that would change into a powerful case for warfare crimes prosecution,” mentioned Stephen Rapp, former United States ambassador-at-large for warfare crimes points. The captives, having been disarmed and brought into custody by the Russians, have been “exterior of fight,” below the legal guidelines of warfare, Mr. Rapp mentioned. In response to the United Nations and the Worldwide Committee of the Pink Cross, such legal guidelines imply that prisoners should be handled humanely and shielded from mistreatment in all circumstances.

Along with the troopers who shot the boys, their commanders may very well be charged in the event that they knew in regards to the killings and did not act to stop or punish the conduct, Mr. Rapp mentioned.

On March 4, after the boys stopped answering calls and replying to textual content messages, their brothers, wives, moms and associates started an agonizing seek for them. Russian forces patrolled the streets of Bucha, so the kinfolk went on-line, pleading for info on social media.

“My nephew Denys (sporting a cap and glasses) stopped responding three days in the past,” Valentina Butenko, Mr. Rudenko’s aunt, wrote on Facebook. “Does anybody know something about him?”

“Assist discover this man,” Elena Shyhan wrote with a photograph of her husband, Vitaliy. “His household may be very nervous, however we aren’t dropping hope.”

In the meantime, the boys’s our bodies remained within the courtyard. As soon as the Russians fled practically a month later, the graphic picture of the scene caught the world’s consideration — and that of the households scrambling to search out clues.

Liudmyla Nakonechnaya, the mom of Mr. Dvornikov, noticed the photo on Facebook. Her remark learn: “Oh my god! Oh my god! My pricey son!”

Ms. Shyhan additionally noticed the picture. She edited her post from weeks earlier with a single line: “Cease looking out. Now we have discovered him.”

Benjamin Foley, Aleksandra Koroleva, and John Ismay contributed reporting. Dmitriy Khavin and Emily Sternlicht contributed video manufacturing, and Oksana Nesterenko contributed analysis.