“Ukraine. In the footsteps of the executioners", on Arte.tv: a relentless field investigation

Almost two years since the invasion of part of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army

“Ukraine. In the footsteps of the executioners", on Arte.tv: a relentless field investigation

Almost two years since the invasion of part of Ukrainian territory by the Russian army. Two years of horror and suffering which are part of a vast project carefully considered by Vladimir Putin for ten years and the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

A project which aims not only to “denazify” the country as claimed by propaganda which will stop at nothing, but also to annihilate a culture, a language. Even if it means deporting children, so that young Ukrainians become good little Russians. Because, behind the war and the atrocious fighting, there also exists a vast project of forced assimilation into Russian culture.

Experienced and authors of numerous remarkable documentaries in Russia, Ukraine and Chechnya, Ksenia Bolchakova and Manon Loizeau have, from May 2022, decided to go into the field to collect evidence of war crimes committed: summary executions, acts of torture, kidnappings of civilians, deportations of children. For months, taking the time to build a long-term relationship of trust with first-rate witnesses, the two journalists carried out the investigation in the heart of areas that had become infamous: Boutcha, Izioum, Kherson to name a few. .

Chilling testimony

Among the witnesses who agreed to speak on camera, Bolchakova and Loizeau managed to collect the words of an ex-soldier recruited by the Wagner Group in a Russian prison. And the story of Azamat, who is now hiding in Russia, sends shivers down the spine when he talks about the “cleansing” that took place in Bakhmout: “We shot 250 or 300 people that day. » No survivors.

Another chilling testimony: that of Victoria, a young maths teacher in Izioum, kidnapped then tortured and imprisoned for six months in Russia before being released following a prisoner exchange. Without forgetting that of Nikita, a Russian soldier who, after two months at the front, witnessing horrors, deserted and took refuge in Spain.

Over the course of meetings and returns to places used to imprison and torture (such as these schools and police stations in Izioum), evidence accumulates and demonstrates that these war crimes were planned for a long time. Preparation made easier by the presence of infiltrated agents in many cities and “collaborators”, especially in the east of the country.

The evidence ? These nominative and detailed lists of people to be arrested dating from January 2022 and bearing the signature of the FSB, the federal security service of the Russian Federation. Or the presence on the ground of “specialists” in torture methods belonging to private companies, who came specially from Russia to make witnesses talk and break them. Let us also mention these thousands of ready-to-use school textbooks to get the good principles of Russian education into the heads of little Ukrainians. Rigorous from start to finish, this long field investigation proves to be relentless. And necessary.