A year of full-scale war: the Kharkiv Region
Since the 24 February 2022 invasion, the KHPG has been documenting the war crimes, crimes against humanity and acts of genocide allegedly committed by Russian forces in the Kharkiv Region. Here we offer an overview of the incidents in the Kharkiv Region during the past year. They were recorded by the KHPG and now form part of the T4P database. The full version of this report may be found (in Ukrainian) on the KHPG website.
The documented incidents
During the past year of all-out war by Russia against Ukraine, the KHPG has documented 9,252 incidents in the Kharkiv Region. Two thirds of these incidents (6,084) were linked to shelling and bombing by Russian forces.
In geographical terms, the largest number of incidents occurred in the city of Kharkiv (pop. 1.42 million; 2017). A further 2,335 such events were documented in the surrounding Kharkiv district. In the eastern districts of Izium and Kupiansk, there were, respectively, 2,236 and 802 incidents. Elsewhere the numbers of documented incidents were as follows: in the northern Chuhuiv district, 733; in the north-western Bohodukhiv district, 388; in the western districts of Lozova and Krasnohrad 51 and 41 incidents, respectively.
The greatest number of incidents (2,449) were recorded between 24 February and 31 March 2022 (inclusive), or more than one quarter of the documented incidents for the past year in the Kharkiv Region.
From 1 April until the end of spring 1,544 incidents were documented. A further 1,338 incidents took place in summer 2022. During the autumn 638 more incidents in the Kharkiv Region were added to the Tribunal for Putin (T4P) database. Between 1 December 2022 and 23 February 2023 (inclusive) another 267 incidents were documented.
As we gathered information, the KHPG concentrated its attention on contact with the immediate victims or witnesses of these crimes. This enabled us to document more effectively details that might be used in any future national or international judicial hearings. The KHPG made contact with 3,550 witnesses and victims of the crimes allegedly by Russia’s occupying forces, and with 10 likely perpetrators of those deeds. Throughout the Region we contacted 2,702 casualties of these attacks and 457 witnesses; we obtained the personal details of 391 individuals who died as a result.
With the agreement of those who got in contact with the KHPG, their personal histories might be recorded as an interview to be published on the Group’s website as part of the “Voices of War” section; on occasion these interviews might also be shown as a video recording on the KHPG’s YouTube channel.
During the Russo-Ukrainian conflict of the past year the KHPG documented 3,573 incidents in the Kharkiv Region when civilians suffered losses or their civil rights were infringed. A total of 6,395 individuals fell victim to crimes committed by the Russian invaders. According to available information, no less than 295 of these victims were under 18 years of age.
We documented 847 incidents leading to the deaths of civilians (1,609 fatalities, of which 93 were children), and a further 754 incidents in which civilians were injured or suffered other forms of damage to their health (1,840 casualties, of which 88 were children). In 162 recorded incidents individuals disappeared (1,967 victims, including 86 children).
In the full (Ukrainian) version of this overview, we include information relating to cases of rape and other violations of human rights; more details are given there about child victims of these attacks.
Damage to civilian infrastructure
During the period under consideration, the KHPG documented damage to or destruction of 7,588 objects or sites of civil infrastructure in the Kharkiv Region.
The largest number of sites (4,759) were residential or communal buildings. We documented damage to more than 12 categories and sub-categories of civilian objects: building used for educational (315) or medical (71) purposes; commercial and industrial sites (901), transport infrastructure (237), critical infrastructure (123; electricity, water and other supplies), and so on.
Aspects of the incidents
As already noted, two thirds of the incidents documented by the KHPG were linked to enemy shelling and bombing. Cases of disappearance in the Kharkiv Region were also numerous, involving 1,642 of the total 9,252 incidents. During the period under consideration, we also documented 234 cases of the use of civilians as a human shield, 221 instances of torture and inhumane treatment, 207 cases of detention and imprisonment in inhuman conditions, and so on.
As it gathered this information, the KHPG made a preliminary assessment of the incidents in relation to the Articles of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The full (Ukrainian) version of this overview contains information about the total numbers of each provisionally classified crime.
During the past year of Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine we have gathered information about a great many actions by Russian forces that can be provisionally classified as war crimes, crimes against humanity or acts of genocide.
As defined in the ICC’s Rome Statute, many of these acts are
- War Crimes: Article 8:2 [a] and [b] — acts against persons or property protected by “the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949”, and other “serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law”;
- Crimes against Humanity: Article 7:1 — “acts committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack”; or
- Acts of Genocide: Article 6 — “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.
The KHPG is continuing to document and investigate the available information in order to draw up, present and argue the corresponding legal norms within international procedures for their investigation and prosecution by international judicial bodies.
Thanks to our donors
The KHPG would like to express its thanks to our donors. In particular, we are grateful to the European Union, People in Need (Czech Republic), the Prague Civil Society Centre, OpenArchive, the US Embassy in Ukraine, USAID, DIGNITY (the Danish Institute against Torture), Panorama Global and to individual donors. Without their support the work of our organisation could not be performed, or only on a significantly more modest scale.
 Information about child victims is being clarified additionally.