Interview collection method

The collection of preliminary interviews by lawyers and psychologists of the Center for the Documentation of War Crimes (hereinafter - the Center) began on September 12, 2022, and from that time until December 27, 656 preliminary interviews were collected. Witnesses and victims reported about 4487 war crimes.

Interviews were collected directly at the Center premises (Marszalkowska 77/79) in Warsaw and during the visits of specialists (lawyers and psychologists) to the places of centralized residence of a significant number of immigrants from Ukraine (Ptak Warsaw Expo, Atrium, Eхpo Modlińska 6D, Al.Jana Pawla II, 15, Warszawski ośrodek interwencji kryzysowej ⅕, Centrum przespa koordynacji “Warszawa”, Ukrainian House in Warsaw). The largest number of interviews - 250 - was received by a joint group of psychologists and lawyers during a visit to the Ptak Warsaw Expo, where, according to official data, there are about 5,000 immigrants from Ukraine.

The methodology of the Center for Assistance in Documenting War Crimes implies interviewing adult witnesses, but in two cases children were present and supplemented the testimony of their parents with their permission. Therefore, 36% (239) of witnesses aged 31-45, 24% (156) aged 46-60, 21% (175) over 60, 14% (86) under 30 were interviewed. In 30 cases, the witnesses expressed a desire to remain anonymous and did not consent to the collection of personal data and their transfer to law enforcement agencies, therefore, information about their age is not available.

Territorial affiliation of the interviewees

The vast majority of interviewed people came from the regions covered by hostilities, or occupied territories. Interviewed residents of the regions of Western Ukraine and the city of Kyiv became direct witnesses of air raids (they saw with their own eyes air bombs or hits). The table below shows the number of war crimes reported from each oblast:


Number of cases reported by interviewees 


Number of cases reported by interviewees 

Kherson region


Lviv region


Kharkiv region


Volyn region


Donetsk region




Zaporizhzhia region


Ternopil region


Kyiv region


Cherkasy region


Luhansk region


Vinnytsia region


Dnipropetrovsk region


Poltava region


Mykolaiv region


Kirovohrad region


Sumy region


Khmelnytsk region


Zhytomyr region


Rivne region


Odesa region


Crimea AR


Chernihiv region




Types of war crimes revealed during preliminary interviews

During the interview, almost all interviewees noted that they had witnessed or heard about the commission of several types of war crimes in their locations. In the vast majority, it was about the destruction or damage of property, in particular, 599 respondents testified to the destruction or damage to the property of other persons, and 310 - to their own property, mainly as a result of airstrikes, and in the territories close to hostilities - shelling from other weapons. Witnesses from Mariupol testified, in particular, that street fights took place in the settlement. Residential buildings were destroyed by aerial bombs, hail, rockets, tanks, and mortars, many people were under the rubble, and a significant number of dead bodies lay on the street for two weeks. When apartment buildings collapsed, there was no one to free people from the rubble due to constant shelling. According to eyewitnesses, the seashore was completely mined with so-called "petals" or “butterflies”, there were many lines and mines of various types.

Witnesses noted cases of damage to the health of civilians during shelling. Thus, during the shelling of Kremenchuk, the mother of the witness was knocked down by the shock wave, received minor injuries (arms and legs) and temporary hearing loss for 2 days. When a rocket hit the house, one of the witnesses fell and broke her arm, as a result of not being able to get medical help, the arm grew back incorrectly (Zaporizhzhia region). According to the testimony, a significant number of civilians also suffered from heart attacks and strokes caused by air raids.

The reported deaths mainly concerned relatives, neighbors, or fellow villagers who died due to airstrikes. However, some witnesses also reported cases of specific persons' disappearance, detention, and death. The interviewees also reported the cases of rape of their fellow villagers that they were aware of (in particular, according to secondhand evidence, the bodies of girls who were raped were then burned in the Kyiv region). In some cases, interviewees from Donetsk and Luhansk regions reported killings and disappearances between 2014 and the full-scale aggression on February 24, 2022.

Several witnesses personally experienced threats of execution and torture by representatives of the temporarily occupied territories. They saw the consequences of torture against Ukrainian men who were persuaded to cooperate with the Russians or those forced to join the Russian army.

In 449 cases, damage to infrastructure facilities (electricity, gas, water, oil networks, etc.) was recorded throughout the territory of Ukraine. 523 respondents mentioned damage or destruction of civil infrastructure objects (educational, medical, residential institutions, etc.) 394 people saw fragments of air shells in residential areas. In addition, some witnesses noted that they saw the destruction of civilian objects in the occupied territories by artillery and tanks. Among the objects whose damage caused or could cause significant environmental damage, the seizure of the nuclear power plant in Energodar, the destruction of the oil base in Vasylkiv, the gas station in Zaporizhzhia, the ammonia pumping station, and the burning of a forest in the Kherson region were mentioned. 

Eyewitnesses who were in the occupation, in the overwhelming majority, noted among the crimes obstruction of evacuation to Ukraine, long-term detention, as well as cruel treatment in filtration camps and checkpoints (including in the Kyiv region (near Gostomel), in particular stripping and searches of persons, viewing all the information on the phones, subjecting individuals to torture for the information found on the phone. In the filtration camps, detention was carried out without any sanitary conditions, minors were interrogated without the presence of their parents, they shouted, threatened minors with electric shocks, it was forbidden to speak Ukrainian, and cars with families who had already left the filtering area, they intimidated civilians by directing the muzzles of tanks towards their car. 

There is also information that parents in the occupied territories were threatened to take away their minor (14-year-old) daughters and demanded a ransom from the parents. Forced attempts to cooperate with the occupation administration, threats, and intimidation with the use of weapons for refusal to cooperate, deprivation of the right to use one's residence, and deprivation of other property were also recorded in the occupied territories. The interviewees testified to the shelling of peaceful demonstrators who, at the beginning of the occupation, went out with protest rallies, as well as the subsequent detention and illegal detention, ill-treatment, and torture of the rally participants.

Interviewees who left the occupied territories mentioned cases when former ATO soldiers who ended up in the occupied territories, farmers, and businessmen who cooperated with the Armed Forces were detained, detained, ill-treated, and tortured, and some ATO participants were immediately killed. In order to find a population loyal to Ukraine, the occupiers practiced paying for denunciations, as a result of which they became frequent. In addition, in the testimonies, there are cases of forcing business representatives to cooperate in the occupied territories, arbitrary punishment (beating) of civilian residents by the occupying troops for violating the landscaping rules. Cases were mentioned when family members were kidnapped from entrepreneurs and illegally held hostage, demanding a large ransom.

The holding of pseudo-referendums in the occupied territories was accompanied by pressure and the presence and threats of armed soldiers of the Russian Federation. In such a case, it was possible to vote only "for" joining the Russian Federation. The "member of the commission" and the military either went from house to house or set up a table on the street, where the representative of the "commission" and armed soldiers sat, forcing all passers-by to vote. Residents of the occupied territories were also forced to obtain Russian passports.

211 interviewees reported that they were aware of the theft of property of people who left the occupied territories, as well as the open robbery of civilian residents who remained living in the occupation. First, they took away food, appliances, mobile phones, and cars. Individual cases of forced removal of grain taken from farmers and elevators and appropriation of agricultural machinery have been documented.

In 178 cases, the interviewees reported using civilian infrastructure (schools, hospitals, cultural institutions, etc.) for military purposes. Civilian infrastructure, including boarding schools, schools, and technical schools, was used to settle the occupying forces. During the occupation of Oleshok, the Russians entered and occupied the hospital, all civilian patients were discharged regardless of the stage of treatment, and wounded Russian soldiers were brought to the hospital.

In 101 cases, the interviewees noted that the Russian army covered civilians, deliberately placing their equipment between residential buildings. The occupiers used civilian facilities and private housing for occupation troops, set up ammunition warehouses in the city center among civilian buildings and in schools, placed military equipment in residential areas, and also settled the wives and children of Russian servicemen and FSB employees in the occupied territories. Also, Russian teachers who came from Russia to work instead of dismissed Ukrainians were settled in other people's houses.

Eyewitnesses from the occupied territories testify that the Russians took away from the settlements the equipment of polyclinics and ambulances, cash registers, equipment from the "Tavria" factory (Nova Kakhovka), collections from museums (for example, the Shevchenko Museum in Kherson). After the liberation of the territories, Russian troops began shelling the de-occupied territories.

In 8 cases, witnesses reported the use of phosphorus bombs (in particular, in the city of Nikopol).

In 63 cases, witnesses indicated the mining of objects (particularly a water tower in Kyiv and residential quarters in the Kherson region) and surrounding landscape areas (rivers, forest plantations).

Type of war crime

Number of cases reported

Type of war crime

Number of cases reported

Damage to the property of other persons


Targeted resettlement of Russians in captured Ukrainian territories


Damage or destruction of civilian objects (educational, medical institutions, residential institutions, etc.)


Mines of residential areas, facilities (schools, hospitals, etc.), property (cars, devices, etc.), human bodies, etc.


Damage to other infrastructure facilities (electricity, gas, water, oil networks, etc.)


Damage to dangerous objects (nuclear plants, warehouses with chemicals, etc.)


Fragments of missiles in residential areas


Use of prohibited weapons (e.g. phosphorous bombs)


Damage to own property


Deportation or forced resettlement of a person (group of persons), children


Conduct of hostilities near or in residential areas


Environmental disaster due to shelling


Theft of property


Destruction of bodies of murdered people (incineration)


Damage of cultural or art objects


Rape or other sexual violence by the military


Killing (shooting) or wounding of civilians




Illegal detention or deprivation of liberty of a person


The killing of a wounded soldier who no longer took part in hostilities


Obstruction in receiving medical assistance, evacuation


The killing of a medic/pamedic staff, rescue staff, participants of international missions  


Torture or ill-treatment of people


The use of civilian clothes with emblems of the UA Armed Forces, humanitarian institutions, incl. the Red Cross or medical institutions


Covering by civilians (use of "human shields")


Murder of a prisoner of war


Capturing or holding a person as hostage


Conducting biological or other experiments on people