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Ukrainian Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova is responsible for leading investigations into war crimes in Ukraine.
The goal is to hold Russian President Vladimir Putin and his soldiers and supporters responsible for crimes such as the killing of civilians and children, rape and torture.
For her, it’s personal.
– I protect the interests of Ukrainian citizens. And now I see that I cannot protect these dead children. It hurts me, Venediktova says in an interview with the Associated Press.
When the former law professor was appointed as the country’s first attorney general by President Volodymyr Zelensky in 2020, she saw herself as a reformer.
She had to change the corrupt Ukrainian system.
Now she is faced with an even more difficult task, if possible, under extremely difficult conditions, with strict international proof requirements, in a country still known for its completely corrupt judiciary.
The Public Prosecution Office and its office have established one website Anywhere anyone can register suspected war crimes. This is how the daily numbers can grow. This is how the public prosecutor’s office and the Venice court can share daily photos of bombed homes, suspected torture chambers and new mass graves.
– I’m not doing this job to get likes on Facebook, she says Watchman.
– Introduce the work we do to Ukrainians and the international community. First of all, you have to do the job. Then she continues, the Ukrainians can judge me when the job is done.
It is difficult to investigate war crimes.
The burden of proof is close to that in a Norwegian court.
The guide must be able to withstand the Russian defense.
Nor does it refer only to Russia.
International law does not hold states accountable, but rather individuals. Then each case must be linked to a person who can be held responsible. As a soldier, general or chief.
Who is responsible for this?
Pictures that shook the world
There have been many reports of the atrocities of the war. Russian denials and refusals as many as possible.
Like March 9, when a women’s and children’s hospital in the coastal city of Mariupol ended up trapped in the rain of Russian missiles.
The Ukrainian authorities reported that three people were killed and 17 wounded.
The OSCE created one this week Report. He states that this was a Russian attack, and that it was a war crime.
Then came news that a theater in the same city, where several hundred civilians were staying, was hit by a Russian air strike.
Mariupol city council fears that up to 300 people were killed in the March 16 attack.
Satellite images from the site showed the word “child” written in large white letters outside the building.
Russia denies involvement in the attack.
Then the Russian forces withdrew from the Kyiv region.
Bodies were found scattered in the streets. They were tied up and shot. The picture shocked the whole world.
satellite image detectionThey’ve been lying there for several weeks. The civilian population did not want to approach them. There were rumors that Russian soldiers were preparing the bodies with explosives.
Russia calls it theatrical representation, propaganda from the West.
Five people were found bound, tortured, and killed in a basement. The Attorney General’s office called it the torture chamber.
Six charred bodies were found in the open street.
And then there were cases of rape.
25 girls and young women were held in a basement In Potsja for more than 20 days, according to Ukrainian authorities.
Their ages ranged from 14 to 24 years old. You will carry nine of them. The Ukrainian Ombudsman for Human Rights, Lyudmila Denisova, said that everyone was systematically raped
Satellite images revealed an increasing number of mass graves.
Now these are dug up. The bodies must be identified. Paths must be secured.
In total, more than 1,200 civilians were found dead in the metropolitan area.
Prosecutor Venediktova was at the mass graves in Potsja this week.
– I saw the corpses while exhuming the corpses, Venediktova explained to the press.
French crime technologists came to the suburbs to take part in documenting atrocities, so that one day they could stand as evidence in a national or international courtroom.
Evidence that could refute Russian allegations about the conduct.
– Now they can see everything. They can see the situation. Real graves, real corpses, real explosions. That’s why this moment is so important to us,” Venetiktova said when she received the international experts.
The challenges of the Attorney General do not stop at the Russians.
“Before the war, the majority of Ukrainians did not trust the state,” Venetiktova told the Guardian.
You think there is a reason for that.
Other members of the Public Prosecution Office and the manner in which they act.
Allegations of corruption are not uncommon in Ukraine. Some would describe the country as “totally corrupt”.
We are these days so in solidarity with Ukraine, naturally enough, that we might imagine that they have gone so far as to become an ordinary European country. But they are well below average, explains Oslo political scientist and researcher Mitt Jörn Holm Hansen.
Almost as bad as Russia
Ukraine scored low on corruption index for Transparency InternationalFor – out of 100 possible points, Ukraine has 32 points. This is enough to occupy 122 seats.
– According to the index, Ukraine is slightly less corrupt than Russia, says Holm Hansen, and continues:
– It says something about the level. It is a very corrupt country, where the oligarchy has a very large influence.
There Ukraine differs from Russia.
The political scientist, formulated in light terms, explains it this way: while the oligarchy has to adapt to Putin’s policy in Russia, it is the oligarchy who control politics in Ukraine. Often the president himself is the oligarch.
– They do this by buying members of the National Assembly, preferably from different parties. Deals are made with powerful bribes by members of the government, the president, and judges. In this way, they ensure that the interests of the oligarchy are protected through, for example, public procurement.
To understand politics, it is not helpful to look at the traditional political division lines of a party, one must familiarize themselves with how buying and selling decisions are made.
Nor does corruption appear only in politics.
Almost no major cases have ended with severe sanctions since Ukraine declared its independence, he writes Watchman.
– This is due to the influence of the oligarchy on the judiciary, as they can buy judges whom the authorities order to rule carefully.
The prosecutor is accused
Prosecutor General Venediktova also did not escape charges of unlawful interference and inaction.
Like many other corruption cases, these cases yielded nothing.
Even those who investigate corruption can be corrupt.
The Norwegian scholar and political scientist has a good impression of the relatively modern attorney general.
– She looks like a less corrupt person. President Zelensky went to the polls, among other things, to stop corruption. But what was revealed in Pandora’s papers last year suggests that he, too, has invested money in tax havens.
I wish you
He finds it difficult to determine whether corruption will affect the investigation of war crimes.
I have a kind of hope, the idea that nothing is so bad that it is not good for anything. I hope that this invasion has brought a benign shock to Ukraine, so that work to stop corruption and oligarchy is already underway.
Ukraine and Venice will not be alone either. The International Criminal Court in The Hague and a number of other countries, including Norway, have launched their own investigations.
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