The situation in the Ukrainian town of Borodyanka is “significantly more dreadful” than in nearby Bucha, where Russian forces have been suspected of killing civilians, Ukraine’s president has said.
More than 300 people have been killed by Russian forces in Bucha – 50 of whom were executed.
Moscow has denied targeting civilians and said verified images of bodies in the town were staged by the Ukrainian government to derail peace negotiations.
But just 15 miles (25km) down the road, a similar situation is unfolding in Borodyanka, according to Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
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Russia guilty of ‘heinous crimes’, says Ukraine’s president
In his nightly presidential address, Mr Zelenskyy said the amount of damage and killings in Borodyanka was becoming clearer.
“The work on dismantling the debris in Borodyanka began… It’s much worse there,” he said.
“Even more victims of the Russian occupiers.
“And what will happen when the world learns the whole truth about what the Russian military did in Mariupol? There, on almost every street, is what the world saw in Bucha and other towns in the Kyiv region after the withdrawal of Russian troops.
“The same cruelty. The same heinous crimes.”
He did not provide any further evidence, or details, about Russian killings in the town.
Russian forces pulled out of Bucha last week, under pressure from Ukrainian forces, but relief at their departure soon turned to grief as the scale of killings in the town became apparent.
They have been widely condemned by the West as war crimes, building pressure for stricter sanctions against Russia.
Satellite imagery shows bodies lying in a street for weeks and many have been found with their hands tied behind their backs, suggesting they were executed.
Images from Bucha ‘staged’ says Russia
The war has now entered its seventh week and seen millions flee Ukraine, thousands killed, thousands injured and once-thriving cities have been reduced to rubble.
Moscow says one of the aims of its military campaign is to “liberate” largely Russian-speaking places such as the southern port of Mariupol from the threat of genocide by Ukrainian nationalists, who it says have used civilians as human shields.
However, these claims have been widely rejected as a baseless pretext for Russia’s invasion.
Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, speaking in his first broadcast interview with Western media, told Sky News the images coming out of Bucha were a “well-staged insinuation, nothing else”.
Dmitry Peskov told Sky’s Mark Austin that “we’re living in days of fakes and lies” and the verified photos and satellite images of dead civilians in the streets of Ukrainian cities were a “bold fake”.
“We deny the Russian military can have something in common with these atrocities and that dead bodies were shown on the streets of Bucha,” he told Sky News.
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‘A catalogue of Russian lies’
Critics accused Mr Peskov of “inhabiting a parallel universe” and peddling a “catalogue of lies”.
Tom Tugendhat MP, chairman of the Foreign Affair Committee called the interview a “catalogue of lies” from an “extraordinary administration” known for its “deception and fraud”.
Christopher Steele, the former head of the Russia desk at MI6 accused Russian leaders of “living in an Alice in Wonderland world”.
He said the issue is whether Mr Peskov and his colleagues “actually believe what they’re saying, or if they don’t and they’re just being cynical.
“Because if they do believe it, I think we’ve got a real problem moving forward at all with any negotiations.”
Russia suspended from Human Rights Council
In a symbolic move, the United Nations General Assembly suspended Russia from the UN Human Rights Council on Thursday, expressing “grave concern at the ongoing human rights and humanitarian crisis”.
Mr Zelenskyy called this an “important step” as he urged the West to continue its “coordinated pressure” on the Kremlin.
He said: “The Russian state and the Russian military are the greatest threat on the planet to freedom, to human security, to the concept of human rights as such. After Bucha, this is already obvious.”
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Russia is only the second country to have its membership rights stripped at the rights council.
The other, Libya, was suspended in 2011 by the assembly when upheaval in the country brought down Muammar Gaddafi.