The Russian member of Parliament rejected claims his country’s forces were responsible for the death and injuries of hundreds of Ukrainians caught up in heavy shelling since the start of the so-called “special military operations.” Considerable evidence of attacks on civilians has emerged since February 24, with reports of unharmed Ukrainians being murdered indiscriminately by invading Russian forces now being investigated. But Evgeniy Popov claimed Russia never bombed Ukraine, sparking incredulous laughter from LBC presenter Tom Swarbrick.
The radio host said: “Do you ever wonder if you’re wrong? Do you ever wonder if you got this wrong, if the stories being told in Russia have misled you?
“That the Russians are targeting civilians, that they are responsible for war crimes in parts of Ukraine? Do you ever wonder if you might be wrong?”
Popov quickly said: “No, no, no. First of all, we are not targeting and we are not bombing civilians. We are one people with Ukrainians, you know?”
As Mr Swarbrick could be heard and later be seen laughing at his claims, the Russian MP asked: “Why are you laughing? Stop it, stop it, stop it!”
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The presenter said: “Because Russian bombs are falling and killing people.”
But Popov hit back: “Let me tell you something which might maybe impress you. My own father, right now, lives in Ukraine.
“At the moment, he is Ukrainian and I’m partly Ukrainian. My second part is from Ossetia, which you, with your satellites, have bombed in 2008. My third part is Russian.
“We are not going to occupy Ukraine, we are going to liberate it from Nazis and we are going to save our people. We are going to save and protect our county.”
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Moscow has maintained they are not waging war against Ukraine but seeking to protect the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine from an alleged genocide.
No evidence of any crime against the group in question has emerged so far and Kyiv rejected the claims as an attempt to justify the invasion, which Russia insists is aimed at “denazifying” its neighbour.
Despite Popov claiming Russia has not been targeting civilians, photographic and video evidence have emerged since the liberation of previously occupied territories near Kyiv showing what appear to be war crimes against civilians.
Photos from Bucha, 23 miles northwest of the Ukrainian capital, showed the bodies of local residents having been abandoned on the streets after seemingly having been executed.
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Ukrainian forensic investigators this week began to exhume bodies from mass graves found in the town in a bid to identify the dead and establish a cause of death.
Moscow has denied any responsibility for the deaths and accused Ukraine of fabricating evidence in a bid to smear Russia.
But experts at BBC Monitoring this week showed Russian state TV had been using footage from a TV series set to claim Ukraine had been dressing up mannequins to disguise them as dead civilians.
Calls for Russia to be brought in front of the International Crime Court have been growing steadily as more reports of violence against civilians, including the use of children as human shields and the rape of women, emerge.