Borodianka razed: Zelenskiy says situation 'more dreadful' than Bucha

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BORODIANKA, Ukraine, April 7 (Reuters) - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Thursday the situation in the town of Borodianka was "significantly more dreadful" than in nearby Bucha, where Russian forces' suspected killing of civilians has been broadly condemned.

In Borodianka, about 60 km (37 miles) northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, families looking for relatives watched diggers search through the rubble of an apartment block. Most of the building was charred and its middle section had been razed to the ground, leaving a gaping hole.

"My mother, my brother, brother’s wife, his mother and father-in-law, are still there, as well as other people who were there in the basement," resident Vadym Zagrebelnyi told Reuters.

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"But there were other people on the upper floors there, and with children too. And I know for sure that they didn’t come out. I know they were there at that time."

Zelenskiy said in a video posted on the Telegram messaging service the devastation in Borodianka was worse than in Bucha, where officials have said more than 300 people had been killed by Russian forces, with about 50 of them executed. read more

"It's significantly more dreadful there. Even more victims from the Russian occupiers," he said. He did not provide any further detail or evidence that Russia was responsible for civilian deaths in the town.

Earlier, Ukraine's prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, said in the Kyiv region, which includes Borodianka, Bucha and other towns and villages such as Irpin, the authorities had found "650 dead bodies, from them it is 40 dead bodies only kids".

Russia has denied targeting civilians and says images of bodies in Bucha were staged by the Ukrainian government to justify more sanctions against it and derail peace negotiations. Borodianka is about 25 km (15 miles) from Bucha.

Few buildings remain standing in Borodianka, the ones that do have burn marks running up their walls. Among the rubble, a blue plastic child's shoe could be seen.

"When you see that pattern developing then it becomes clearer and clearer and clearer that what we're talking about is war crimes and also crimes against humanity," said Wayne Jordash, a lawyer with the Global Rights Compliance law firm and foundation.

"I would say in Bucha they may even go further, it's unclear at the moment, but there are indications there of genocide. That's what I would say."

The killing of civilians in Bucha has been widely condemned by the West as war crimes, building pressure for stricter sanctions against Russia.

"And what will happen when the world learns the whole truth about what the Russian military did in Mariupol?" Zelenskiy asked. "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."

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.

Zelenskiy has rejected those claims, saying they are a baseless pretext for Russia's invasion.

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Reporting by Reuters; Writing by Conor Humphries and Ronald Popeski; editing by Grant McCool, Robert Birsel

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