The chair of the Russian aluminium company Rusal has called for an impartial investigation into the killing of civilians in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, which he described as a crime.
In a rare public comment from a Russian firm on the conflict, Bernard Zonneveld, a Dutch national, did not say who was to blame for the deaths of civilians in the town, instead urging an end to the “fratricidal” conflict.
Ukraine and several western governments have accused Moscow of war crimes after the bodies of civilians shot at close range, many of them with their hands tied, were found in Bucha after Russian forces withdrew.
Mass graves containing 280 bodies were also found near the town after the initial discovery on Saturday of 20 bodies on the roadside. “All these people were shot,” Bucha’s mayor, Anatoly Fedoruk, has said.
The Kremlin denies its forces were responsible for the deaths, claiming on Tuesday that western allegations that its forces had committed war crimes were a “monstrous forgery”.
However, claims by the Kremlin that Ukrainian forces had placed bodies in the town in “staged provocation” were contradicted by satellite images showing bodies strewn in the streets in mid-March when it was still held by Russian forces in the same places they were seen in pictures published in early April.
Zonneveld said he was shocked by reports from the town. “We support an objective and impartial investigation of this crime and call for severe punishment for the perpetrators,” he said.
“We all wish an early end to this fratricidal conflict, which destroys lives, families and entire cities and we want those responsible for such crimes to be punished appropriately.”
Rusal’s founder, Oleg Deripaska, said last month his personal opinion was that the conflict was “madness” that would bring shame on generations to come.