Painstaking new techniques for archiving social media posts could provide crucial evidence in future prosecutions.
IN EARLY APRIL, as Ukraine started to regain control of Bucha and other small towns northwest of Kyiv, appalling imagery began to spread on Telegram and other social networks. Photos and videos showed bodies in the streets and anguished survivors describing loved ones, civilians, killed by Russian soldiers. In Chernivtsi, in western Ukraine, attorney Denys Rabomizo carefully built an archive of the gruesome evidence. His aim: to preserve social media posts that could help prove Russian war crimes.
“Psychologically it’s very difficult to look at,” says Rabomizo, who coordinates a team of more than 50 volunteers who gather online material and also contact witnesses to alleged atrocities to gather testimony. “So I think about trying to archive all this in a proper way to be used in the future.”
Such evidence could, in the months and years ahead, be submitted to the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands, which said in February it would begin investigating alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine. Cases over actions in Ukraine might also be brought at the European Court of Human Rights or in countries like Germany that prosecute certain crimes beyond their borders.
“Capturing social media from Ukraine is an incredible source of evidence,” says Alex Whiting, deputy prosecutor at the Kosovo Specialist Prosecutor’s Office in the Hague, and a visiting professor at Harvard University. A deluge of TikTok and Telegram posts could vastly increase the amount of evidence of alleged Russian war crimes—but they will only aid prosecutions if judges accept such material in court.
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- Come Back Alive is one of the largest charitable foundations that supports Ukrainian soldiers, founded by the IT specialist Vitaliy Deynega. The organization collected more than 210 million UAH (more than $7M) in 2014. According to Na chasi, the Patreon page Come Back Alive is in the top ten projects by the number of financial donations.
- Army SOS, which develops drones;
- Everybody Can, an organization that supports internally displaced people;
- Help on the Ministry of Defense website.