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  • Writer's pictureVira Kuryko

“Let Retribution Come Soon”

Three witness testimonies from the invasion of Ukraine.

Hanna Tkachuk photographed in her dental office in Snihurivka, Ukraine after the city's liberation from Russian forces. (by Anna Tshyhyma)

The following witness interviews from Ukraine were collected, transcribed and translated by The Reckoning Project (TRP), an organization of journalists and lawyers dedicated to compiling evidence for future war crimes prosecutions. Two dozen Ukrainian reporters make up the on-the-ground staff of The Reckoning Project. For the past year, they have been traveling throughout Ukraine to collect testimonies of kidnappings, murders and attacks on civilians, in the hope of creating a repository of evidence for future claims against Russia.

The witness interviews “have to have enough details to reconstruct what really happened,” said Nataliya Gumenyuk, a Ukrainian journalist and founding member of TRP.

The interviews her team conducts are designed to extract meticulous detail: “It’s very important to be able to re-create details beyond those necessary to a typical news article,” Gumenyuk explained. “What happened from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.? What were they wearing? Uniforms? What language did they speak? Did they have guns?” The hope is that these details will one day allow prosecutors “to re-create the scene before, during and after the alleged crime” and perhaps identify the perpetrators.

Gumenyuk’s team does its best to collect testimonies shortly after the events in question take place. “There are people who want to tell the stories. But with time people don’t want to speak. The longer it takes from the crime, the less willing people are to [talk],” Gumenyuk explained. “I do think that journalists are the first responders. They are the first to arrive at the scene, they’re first to the talk to people. They arrive before human rights organizations or prosecutors.”

Read the full story in The Dial here.


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