“The images of the Boutcha massacres made it possible to immediately deconstruct Russian propaganda”

grandstand. Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov announced on April 3: “The whole world needs to know: in this century mankind will experience the new Nuremberg trials. They take place in The Hague, Kharkiv, Boutcha or Irpin. » The next day, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the Russian people like this: “The time will come when every Russian will know the whole truth about who among their fellow citizens was killed. who gave orders. Who turned a blind eye to the murders (…) We are now in the year 2022. And we have many more tools than those who persecuted the Nazis after World War II. »

Since the start of the Russian-led war of aggression against Ukraine, the ability of the Ukrainian leadership to prepare without delay at the national level to prosecute crimes against the civilian population has been particularly notable, as has that of the International Criminal Court (ICC) conducting an investigation. Trials held at the scene of a crime might actually include those subordinate to a supranational authority, as was the case in 1945. And President Zelenskyy rightly points out that investigators now have more investigative tools at their disposal than at the end of 2011 during the Second World War.

Face atrocities

Among these sources of information, the image plays an essential role. While the Nazis had prevented the production, and even more so the dissemination, of images of the crimes being committed in the East and the extermination of the Jews of Europe, one of the very first decisions of the American Attorney General, a few days after the opening of the Nuremberg Trials, was to expose the Nazi leaders to provide the images of the concentration camps taken by the Allies. The projection of images classified by the court as evidence had three functions: to witness the crimes committed by making them credible; forcing the accused to visually confront their atrocities; to compare the images with other documents and testimonies by subjecting them to adversarial argument with the judicial authority.

Also read the Le Monde editorial: In Mali, as in Ukraine, those responsible for war crimes must be brought to justice

Today, the first investigations in Kharkiv, as in The Hague, carry out documentary work, which includes collecting traces, written reports, witness statements and pictures. For its part, Russian counter-propaganda, when allowed to flourish under its influence in the official media and on certain social networks, has been so crude and cynical that its significance is severely limited.

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