UK’s Minister for Security Tom Tugendhat with a delegation of British diplomats attended the Center for Assisting War Crimes Documentation in Warsaw, opened by the Civil Network OPORA.

Tom Tugendhat thanked OPORA for its initiative to collect information about war crimes and emphasized that such mediation between victims and prosecutors is extremely important. The minister noted, "Today I heard first-hand accounts about the terrible crimes committed by Russia. Those responsible must be held accountable for their barbarism."

At the meeting with the Center's team and Olga Aivazovska, the head of the board of the Civil Network OPORA and co-founder of the International Center for Ukrainian Victory, the British delegation discussed the role of the United Kingdom as a reliable partner of Ukraine in resisting Russian aggression and the prospects for cooperation in restoring justice. In particular, they spoke about the creation of an international mechanism to punish both those guilty of crimes against the civilian population and the top Russian leadership, which initiated the large-scale crime of aggression.

As Olga Aivazovska said, lawyers and psychologists of the Center for Assisting War Crimes Documentation collected 656 preliminary interviews from witnesses of war crimes who were forced to flee the war in Ukraine to Poland. Thus, the victims reported 4,487 war crimes. Interview data is systematically transferred to the local prosecutor's office of the Republic of Poland, and law enforcement officials carry out official investigative actions with witnesses who have agreed to cooperate for the sake of justice and the prosecution of criminals.

The Center's methodology involves interviewing adult witnesses when professionals (lawyers and psychologists) visit places of centralized residence of temporary protection seekers from Ukraine. For example, the largest number of interviews — 250 — was collected by a group of psychologists and lawyers during a visit to Ptak Warsaw Expo, where, according to official data, about 5,000 people from Ukraine live.

Read more: Group analysis of interviews conducted by the Center for Assisting War Crimes Documentation.

"We were worried about how to use the data collected by the Center. We did not intend to distribute the collected information as the stories for the mass media or social networks,” Olga Aivazovska said. “We asked the General Prosecutor's Office of Ukraine to recommend us as a professional initiative that can be trusted to the Polish Prosecutor's Office. We transfer the data to the Prosecutor's Office of Poland, and they are already starting official procedural actions — the investigation of Russian war crimes in Ukraine."

OPORA has already received feedback from the Polish Prosecutor's Office that such activities help a lot because the Center's lawyers and psychologists are Ukrainian-speaking, and it is easier for them to establish contact with the victims of Russian aggression and obtain the necessary testimonies.

According to Aivazovska, the most important thing for this initiative is political support, "The Center for Assisting War Crimes Documentation contributes to the creation of an evidence base which will help to partner countries to find the political will to establish a Special Tribunal for the Crime of Aggression in order to bring to justice the top leadership of the Russian Federation."


Tom Tugendhat was appointed Minister of State (Minister for Security) on 6 September 2022 and attends cabinet. He previously served as the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee from 2017 to 2022. He has been the MP since 2015. Before being elected as an MP, Tom served on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also worked for the Foreign Office, helping to set up the National Security Council of Afghanistan and the government in Helmand Province. On returning to the UK, Tom served as the military assistant and principal adviser to the Chief of the Defence Staff to the British Army.

Over the past year, hundreds of Ukrainians have contributed testimony to the Centre for Assistance of War Crimes Documentation in Warsaw.

Today I heard first-hand about the horrendous crimes committed by Russia. Those responsible must be held to account for their barbarity.

— Tom Tugendhat (@TomTugendhat) February 2, 2023