Skip to main content

Ucrânia: novas descobertas sobre a destruição russa em Mariupol

Investigações sobre crimes de guerra são necessárias para apurar o grande número de vidas civis perdidas e infraestrutura destruída

Rua Universytets’ka, no centro de Mariupol, Ucrânia, em 10 de março de 2022, um dia após aviões russos atacarem a área.  © 2022 AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka
  • A incursão russa à cidade ucraniana de Mariupol em 2022 deixou milhares de civis mortos e feridos, incluindo muitos em ataques que aparentemente violam o direito internacional, mostram novas descobertas.
  • A destruição de Mariupol pelas forças russas e os esforços contínuos para apagar a cultura ucraniana se destacam como um dos piores capítulos da invasão em larga escala da Ucrânia.
  • Órgãos internacionais e governos comprometidos com a justiça deveriam se concentrar em investigar altas autoridades russas que possam estar envolvidas em crimes de guerra em Mariupol.

(Kiev, 8 de fevereiro de 2024) – A incursão militar russa à cidade ucraniana de Mariupol entre fevereiro e maio de 2022 deixou milhares de civis mortos e feridos, incluindo muitos em ataques que aparentemente violam o direito internacional, e obrigou centenas de milhares a permanecerem na cidade por semanas sem serviços básicos, disseram hoje a Human Rights Watch, a Truth Hounds e a SITU Research em um relatório com extensas novas descobertas. O presidente russo Vladimir Putin e outras autoridades deveriam ser investigados e processados adequadamente por seu papel em aparentes crimes de guerra cometidos pelas forças russas durante os combates em Mariupol, e a Rússia deveria fornecer reparações às vítimas e seus familiares por violações das leis de guerra.

O relatório de 224 páginas, “‘Our City Was Gone’: Russia’s Devastation of Mariupol, Ukraine,” (“‘Nossa Cidade Desapareceu’: A destruição russa de Mariupol, Ucrânia”), acompanhado de uma publicação digital multimídia e um vídeo de 20 minutos, analisam o sofrimento de civis e os danos a milhares de edifícios, incluindo várias centenas de prédios residenciais, hospitais, instalações educacionais e infraestrutura de eletricidade e água. Os materiais descrevem diversas tentativas de autoridades ucranianas e agências internacionais de organizar evacuações oficiais e entregar ajuda humanitária diante da obstrução russa.

Veja a descrição em texto desse vídeo

VAAGN MNATSAKANIAN: “In the first days of the war, we had no idea that such a tragedy could take place.” 

TETIANA BURAK: “That’s why a lot of people didn’t evacuate.” 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV, MARIUPOL RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN VOLUNTEER: “With the onset of the war, everyone’s life changed. Everything changed.” 

VOICE IN VIDEO: “Stay back!” 

This is the story of Russia’s assault on Mariupol. 

A strategic port city in southeastern Ukraine. 

These are the interviews, videos, photos, and 3D models that Human Rights Watch, SITU  Research, and Truth Hounds used to reconstruct the struggles residents faced as Russian forces took over the city.  

This is Mariupol after Russian forces occupied the city. Russia’s full-scale military invasion of Ukraine began on February 24, 2022, as its forces attacked Ukrainian positions defending Mariupol. 

The city was pounded by explosive weapons for weeks. 

Much of Mariupol was seriously damaged in the Russian assault.  Human Rights Watch and SITU Research conducted a detailed damage assessment of the destruction. While satellite imagery shows damage to rooftops, our modeling reveals more. We used over 850 videos and photos of buildings that we found online and verified, in addition to satellite imagery, to capture the extent of the devastation in the city center. Buildings with damage are seen here in red. Our analysis shows that 93% of the 477 high-rise apartment buildings in this area were damaged. Some of this imagery could help prove war crimes. Our focus was Mariupol’s main avenue, Myru or “Peace” Avenue, and the immediate surrounding area, the city center, which includes cultural hubs, hospitals, schools, and universities.  

And this is Mariupol before. 

DMYTRO KULYK: “It’s [was] a town with about half a million inhabitants.” 

HALYNA MOROKHOVSKA: “Recently, it had blossomed. We had new parks. The city center was well-developed.” 

NATALIIA TKACHENKO: “In general, the city was becoming modern and vibrant. 

For Russian forces, Mariupol was a strategic prize. It would give them control of one of Ukraine’s largest ports and a land corridor between occupied Crimea to the west and areas Russia had been controlling in Donbas, to the northeast.   

As the attack on the city began, tens of thousands of civilians huddled in shelters and basements to escape Russian bombing and shelling. Many people we spoke to relocated to the city center, which they believed to be safe. 

DENYS SHEVTSOV: “Most people moved in all directions. To a bomb shelter, to a basement. Some stayed in their apartments. But we believe it isn’t safe to stay in the apartment... We are in the basement now. This is our makeshift bomb shelter. These are the conditions we live in. About 40 people live here with us, about 15 children.” 

DENYS SHEVTSOV: “This morning, our yard was heavily shelled. Basically, all the cars were destroyed, and the windows.” 

Russian forces used a variety of explosive weapons in Mariupol including aerial bombs and ground-launched artillery, such as projectiles and rockets. The use of these weapons in populated areas is the greatest threat to civilians in contemporary armed conflicts and heightens the risk of unlawfully indiscriminate attacks. 

HALYNA MOROKHOVSKA: “An aerial bomb hit the dormitory. My face was torn up. I had cuts everywhere. My arm, chest, stomach, legs.” 

VOICE IN VIDEO: “It’s coming from that side.” 

VOICE #2 IN VIDEO: Come into the entryway...   

DMYTRO KULYK: “Dead bodies became an ordinary sight for me. We were told that seven people died that one day. Two children and five adults.  

Under the laws of war, parties have an obligation to do everything feasible to minimize harm to civilians.  

These are the maternity and pediatric units of a hospital that Russian forces bombed on March 9. 

At least three people were killed, including a pregnant woman and her baby, who was stillborn after the attack. Seventeen people were injured. In this case, witnesses told us that there were no Ukrainian military personnel, vehicles, or installations close by at the time. A deliberate strike on a hospital not being used to carry out attacks harmful to the enemy, is a war crime. 

Humanitarian volunteer Mykhailo Puryshev was about 400 meters from the hospital by Pryazovskysi State Technical University. 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: “Everyone is very, very afraid. Everyone is very afraid. You hear that, don’t you? The rumbling. It’s Mariupol... “ 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: “I heard an airplane approaching… And I shouted “Airplanes!” and we all ran... “ 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: Fucking hell! Go down! 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: “When I went outside, I saw the full horror of what had happened.”  

VOICE IN VIDEO: “Was it a mine?” 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: “No, an airstrike most likely.” 

VOICE IN VIDEO: “Grandma...” 

MYKHAILO PURYSHEV: “Drag her, drag her!” 

At least two people were killed on the spot. Witnesses said there were no military targets at the university. An attack that is not directed at a specific military objective is a laws-of-war violation and a possible war crime.  Numerous images posted on social media and given to us by witnesses helped us assess the damage to parts of the university campus. The fighting damaged vital infrastructure, knocking out the city’s electricity grid, which in turn cut essential services. 

DENYS SHEVTSOV: “So, we’re left without gas, without water, without power. We are absolutely isolated from civilization. No internet, no updates. Nothing.” 

DMYTRO KULYK: ‘’If you want to wash your hands, this is the only way. So we pick up snow, put it in a bucket. Then we put the bucket on an open fire and boil the water.” 

DENYS SHEVTSOV: “Here is our field stove. We live like in the Stone Age in caves. This is what I call really living it up during the war. Bacon, pasta. And shells are flying overhead. As long as they don’t make barbecue out of us.” 

DENYS SHEVTSOV: “The city was destroyed. And every day, the city was getting destroyed more and more.”  

DMYTRO KULYK: “I am telling you, day after day, these explosions became more frequent. Every day, they got louder and more hellish.” 

We used satellite imagery, photos, and videos to track damage across Mariupol. We found 86 out of 89 schools and universities were damaged, and all the city’s 19 hospital campuses. The damage to these facilities devastated health care and education across the city.  

VAAGN MNATSAKANIAN: “Every day we thought about when we could leave. But we realized that the city was completely closed off and there was no way to leave.” 

In the first two weeks of March, multiple attempts to provide safe passage out of the city failed in the face of Russian obstruction. Arbitrary restrictions on the evacuation of civilians or the delivery of aid would amount to a violation of the laws of war and possible war crimes. 

In early March, hundreds of people had gathered at the Donetsk Academic Regional Drama Theater, for shelter and in the hope of getting safe passage out of Mariupol.  

Nataliia Tkachenko arrived on March 12 after an attack destroyed her home.  

NATALIIA TKACHENKO: “They gave us a bit of food. A soup in the afternoon, a cup of boiled water in the morning and evening. It was something. At home there was no water, no food, nothing. It was dark, there was no electricity. It was impossible to use the toilets. There was no water. Nobody was cleaning them. It was a nightmare. No one was walking around the theater. Only kids were running around because kids will be kids. They were playing and laughing.”  

At least 500 people were sheltering at the theater on March 16. Giant Cyrillic letters spelling “children” were painted on the ground in front and at the back of the theater. These words were clearly visible on satellite imagery.  

Nataliia was bringing water inside, by the main entrance. 

NATALIIA TKACHENKO: “And at that moment, the bomb struck. The shockwave hit us. Everything was flying around. Cement got in my mouth, eyes, everywhere. Shards of wood and glass. I couldn’t hear anything except the humming, the cracking.” 

Satellite imagery, videos, and photographs of the theater show that the central part of the roof and the northern and southern walls were destroyed. At least 15 people were killed and the total number has not been determined. Given the absence of a military target at the theater, it appears that Russian forces deliberately attacked civilians, which would amount to a war crime. 

Those responsible for war crimes in Mariupol should be held to account. By reviewing official Russian government statements, social media posts, and obituaries of Russian soldiers, we identified 17 military units that took part in the 2022 siege of Mariupol. 

Considering the extent of the military operation, the highest levels of Russian command likely knew the situation in the city and were involved in the planning, execution, and coordination of the actions of the Russian and Russia-affiliated forces. 

Those responsible for the conduct of Russian forces during the siege of Mariupol include President Vladimir Putin, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu, and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces, Valery Gerasimov, among others. 

As the battle for the city raged, food and other basic supplies ran low. 

VOICE IN VIDEO: Wait. Step back a little. 

MIKHAILO PURYSHEV: You may crush others! Please! 

MIKHAILO PURYSHEV: “The worst problem was probably not with food or heat, but with medication. And people were just dying because there was none. The people who suffered the most were older people and children.” 

Thousands were killed in attacks. Others died from health complications due to lack of medicine and clean water.  

MIKHAILO PURYSHEV: “Mariupol is a big, big, big, big cemetery. There were a lot of people left under the rubble. So it remains to be seen how many people died there.” 

TETIANA BURAK: “We were horrified at what we saw because there were burnt multi-story houses and bodies in the streets.” 

HALYNA MOROKHOVSKA: “It was impossible to count them because people were buried under the debris, on the roads.” 

Many were buried in a makeshift trench grave in the Old City Cemetery. 

VAAGN MNATSAKANIAN: “We filled one trench [with bodies] completely. There were about 200 bodies.” 

These bodies from the trench grave and many other makeshift graves across the city were exhumed and reburied in the city's cemeteries when Russian forces took over. We estimated the minimum number of people killed by fighting or who died of poor conditions. To do so, we counted graves in two types of burial sites. In some cases, we counted individual graves visible in high resolution satellite imagery. We also estimated the number of bodies buried in trench-type graves. We verified footage at two cemeteries which allowed us to count the plaques, sticks with a small wooden panel, in a given area. We then used this sample size to extrapolate to other parts of the cemeteries. In five cemeteries in and around Mariupol between March 2022 and February 2023, we estimated at least 10,284 new burials.  

We do not know how many of these people were civilians. Considering average annual death rates in Mariupol, we calculated more than 8,000 people would not have died were it not for the attack on the city. This is likely a significant underestimation of the total number of dead, as many graves contained multiple bodies and the remains of others were likely buried in the rubble and taken away during demolition efforts. 

With the city still under Russian occupation and much of the physical evidence destroyed, the full death toll may never be known. 

DENYS SHEVSTOV: “Look around. What is going on, what’s happening in our Mariupol. It’s completely destroyed. Completely gone, just disappeared. Just nothing. Just ruins.” 

With attacks by Russian forces continuing, tens of thousands of residents found their way out of the city at great personal risk beginning in mid-March. 

DENYS SHEVSTOV: “We were hoping war suddenly will stop and finally we realized this is not going to happen, we decided to run away. We hope we will be fine but overall, it’s been horrible, just horrible.” 

By mid May 2022, Russian forces had full control of the city. 

The bombs might have stopped now but the city’s tragedy is far from over. 

The psychological effects of the fighting, displacement, and the losses that Mariupol’s residents experienced will reverberate for years to come. 

DMYTRO KULYK: “Mariupol is a city that has become hell.” 

TETIANA BURAK: “People should know what is happening.” 

VAAGN MNATSAKANIAN: “We realized that no matter how much we want our pre-war life, our city, our friends, our loved ones, our apartments, we won’t get them back” 

This footage is from October 2022. Since occupying the city, Russian forces are demolishing buildings and constructing new ones. Russia is also replacing Ukrainian culture with its own. 

For justice to be done, the survivors of Mariupol need reparations for their losses. The loss of their homes, their loved ones, their livelihoods, and the impact on their mental health. 

Russian officials and military commanders credibly implicated in war crimes committed in the city need to be brought to justice. 

NATALIIA TKACHENKO: “When I got to Ukrainian territory, my first words were, “These people should be punished!”” 



“A destruição de Mariupol pelas forças russas se destaca como um dos piores capítulos da invasão russa em larga escala na Ucrânia”, disse Ida Sawyer, diretora de crises e conflitos da Human Rights Watch. “Organismos internacionais e governos comprometidos com a justiça deveriam se concentrar em investigar as altas autoridades russas que parecem conectadas à supervisão de crimes de guerra nesta cidade outrora vibrante.”

O relatório é baseado em 240 entrevistas realizadas pela Human Rights Watch e Truth Hounds – uma importante organização ucraniana de direitos humanos – com moradores deslocados de Mariupol e uma análise de mais de 850 fotos e vídeos, documentos e dezenas de imagens de satélite obtidos pela Human Rights Watch e SITU Research. A publicação digital multimídia inclui reconstruções em 3D de sete edifícios danificados em ataques que aparentemente violam o direito internacional, gráficos sobre escolas e hospitais danificados e uma análise de cemitérios para ajudar a estimar o número de mortos.

Os grupos documentaram em detalhes 14 ataques que danificaram ou destruíram 18 edifícios, matando e ferindo civis. Eles incluem ataques que atingiram dois hospitais, o teatro da cidade que abrigava civis, um armazém de alimentos, um local de distribuição de ajuda humanitária, um supermercado e edifícios residenciais usados como abrigos. Nestes ataques, a Human Rights Watch e a Truth Hounds ou não encontraram evidências de uma presença militar ucraniana dentro ou perto das estruturas atingidas ou apenas uma presença militar pequena, tornando os ataques aparentemente ilegais.

Em um caso, um homem que ajudou a resgatar sobreviventes e recuperar corpos dos escombros de um edifício residencial atingido em 13 de março de 2022, descreveu o que viu. “O prédio foi simplesmente pulverizado”, disse ele. “Quase nada restou, apenas parte de um banheiro e parte de um corredor... [Um homem ao lado de sua mãe morta] estava coberto de sangue. Ele tinha sangue saindo das orelhas, nariz e olhos, e estava chorando... [Outro homem] estava segurando seu filho sem vida e falando com ele. Ele continuava dizendo: ‘A criança não está chorando’”. O ataque matou oito civis e feriu outros três.

“Apesar dos desafios em investigar crimes de guerra em áreas tornadas inacessíveis pela ocupação russa, nós e nossos parceiros passamos quase dois anos investigando a verdade sobre os horríveis crimes cometidos pelas forças russas em Mariupol”, disse Roman Avramenko, diretor executivo da Truth Hounds. “Esta investigação visa garantir que esses crimes nunca sejam esquecidos e que os perpetradores enfrentem a justiça.”

A análise de imagens de satélite, fotos e vídeos dos principais cemitérios da cidade demonstra que mais de 10.000 pessoas foram enterradas em Mariupol entre março de 2022 e fevereiro de 2023. Comparando o aumento de sepulturas com a taxa de mortalidade normal da cidade, os grupos estimam que pelo menos 8.000 pessoas morreram em decorrência do conflito ou por causas relacionadas à guerra, embora não haja informação de quantas dessas pessoas eram civis.

O número total de mortos pode ser significativamente maior: algumas sepulturas continham vários corpos e os restos mortais de outras pessoas provavelmente foram enterrados nos escombros. Algumas pessoas mortas podem permanecer em sepulturas improvisadas, e outras podem ter morrido mais tarde de causas relacionadas à guerra. Alguns familiares de desaparecidos ainda estão procurando seus entes queridos.

Milhares de pessoas foram feridas, muitas das quais perderam membros, visão, audição ou memória, incluindo por lesões cerebrais traumáticas causadas por explosões.

O relatório identifica 17 unidades militares russas e afiliadas à Rússia que estavam operando em Mariupol em março e abril de 2022, no auge dos combates.

Os grupos também identificaram 10 pessoas que, por uma questão de responsabilidade de comando, podem ser criminalmente responsáveis por crimes de guerra relacionados a ataques ilegais e o possível bloqueio arbitrário de ajuda humanitária e evacuações. Estas pessoas também podem ter cometido crimes de guerra e possíveis crimes contra a humanidade pelo deslocamento forçado de residentes de Mariupol para a Rússia e territórios ocupados pela Rússia. Sob o princípio da responsabilidade de comando, um superior é responsável pelos crimes cometidos por seus subordinados quando sabia ou deveria saber que os crimes estavam sendo cometidos, mas não tomou medidas razoáveis para impedi-los ou puni-los.

Em 4 de dezembro de 2023, a Human Rights Watch enviou ao governo russo um resumo das descobertas do relatório e uma lista de perguntas, mas, até 1º de fevereiro, não havia recebido nenhuma resposta.

Desde a ocupação da cidade, as autoridades russas estão construindo novos edifícios residenciais como parte de seu plano declarado de reconstruir e reurbanizar Mariupol até 2035. Uma potência ocupante deve limpar os escombros e demolir estruturas inseguras para proteger a população. No entanto, na ausência de investigadores independentes, o governo russo está apagando evidências físicas em centenas de potenciais cenas de crime.

As forças ocupantes também estão eliminando características da identidade ucraniana, incluindo a imposição de um currículo escolar russo e mudando o nome de ruas. Eles estão exigindo que os residentes obtenham passaportes russos para se candidatarem a certos empregos e benefícios.

Em Mariupol, como em outros lugares na Ucrânia, as forças russas e afiliadas usaram extensivamente armas explosivas com efeitos de grande área, incluindo bombardeios de tanques e artilharia pesada, lançadores de foguetes de múltiplos canos, mísseis e ataques aéreos em áreas povoadas. O uso desse tipo de armamento em áreas povoadas tem impactos devastadores sobre civis e infraestrutura civil, aumentando as preocupações sobre ataques indiscriminados e desproporcionais, que violam o direito internacional.

“Mariupol se destaca como um testemunho da cruel destruição e sofrimento causados por armas explosivas em cidades e vilas ao redor do mundo”, disse Sawyer. “Todos os governos deveriam apoiar a busca por justiça para os crimes cometidos na Ucrânia e assinar a declaração internacional condenando o uso de armas explosivas em áreas povoadas”.

Your tax deductible gift can help stop human rights violations and save lives around the world.