Debunking Russia’s Bucha massacre conspiracy theories

Russian propaganda said that the pictured bodies “are not stiffened”, the underlying claim being that a real dead body would be affected by rigor mortis. As has been pointed out on social media, rigor mortis is a temporary condition and ceases after 24 hours of death.

Another claim made by the Russian defence ministry is that Anatoliy Fedoruk, the mayor of Bucha, failed to mention the bodies in a brief video confirming the exit of Russian troops.

What is likelier than a conspiracy involving a cast of hundreds is that the extent of the massacre was at that point either unclear or deemed inappropriate for the purposes of that particular video. There are multiple reports of departing Russian forces leaving booby traps, in some cases mining corpses.

Mounting evidence of war crimes

Any statement emanating from the Russian government must be read in the knowledge that this is a regime with a rich history of manufacturing disinformation, whether it be faked videos of foreign politicians, the absurd claim that Ukraine is being bombed not by Russia but by itself, or its umpteen denials that the war is even a war.

Boris Johnson said that evidence was mounting that “[Vladimir] Putin and his army are committing war crimes in Ukraine”.

The Prime Minister said: “No denial or disinformation from the Kremlin can hide what we all know to be the truth – Putin is desperate, his invasion is failing, and Ukraine’s resolve has never been stronger.”

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