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Two atrocities in the port city of Mariupol epitomise Russia’s violence in Ukraine. This is the story of those atrocities and of Mariupol’s truth


First published
Monday 25 April 2022

Last updated
Sunday 24 April 2022

Why this story?

Two months ago Mariupol was a modern, thriving coastal city. Now it lies in ruins, arguably the scene of some of the worst atrocities committed by Russian forces since the invasion of Ukraine. If you look at drone footage and satellite images taken from above the city you get a sense of the scale of physical destruction. Pockmarked, blackened apartment blocks and entire neighbourhoods flattened to the ground stretch into the distance. What you can’t possibly tell from that height though is the scale of human suffering. For this episode of the Slow Newscast we decided to spend some time trying to understand some of that suffering. We have focused on two events a week apart: the bombing of a maternity hospital on 9 March and the bombing of the theatre on 16 March. One of the questions obviously raised by these two appalling events is whether they were war crimes. All over Ukraine groups of lawyers, journalists and human rights activists are gathering evidence which they hope will be used to prosecute Russians in a future war crimes trial. But a bigger question, raised especially in the case of Mariupol, is what happens when a war crime has been committed but no one can be put on trial? Jasper Corbett, Editor