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The Deputy Minister of the Interior, Igor Bondarenko, presents the virtual reality system with which he intends to document every last flaw of the war. / Zigor Aldama

Ukraine uses virtual reality cameras to collect data on destruction and investigate war crimes

ZIGOR ALDAMA Special correspondent. Makariv Friday, 15 April 2022, 08:55

There are small holes, like those caused by the impact of small arms bullets; then there are the medium and large gaps pierced by tank shells, artillery and small bombs; and finally there are the huge missile craters. Well, in Makariv, 76 kilometers from the Ukrainian capital, they have the complete catalog: the door plate of a van is pierced by Kalashnikov shots that killed its driver, the facades reflect the intense tank combat that the town, and there are areas of the road where the asphalt looks like the surface of the moon.

These are the wounds sustained by one of the peoples that first suffered the Russian invasion. And the Ukrainian government wants to document them in detail. For this reason, yesterday his deputy interior minister, Igor Bondarenko, presented there the system with which he intends to document every last flaw. “We are going to start using virtual reality panoramic cameras to create images that will be made public, so that people can compare what Makariv was before and what it is now,” he explained.

Additionally, the images collected by the cameras will serve as evidence in the hypothetical trial of Russia in institutions such as the International Criminal Court, whose experts have also visited the country these days. In addition, aware that the battle of the story has already been won in much of the world, Bondarenko announced that the cameras will be useful for citizens, since “they will identify and map the areas that pose a danger.” Not in vain, the departure of the Russians has not meant an immediate liberation, because in their retreat they have left houses and fields strewn with explosive devices.

According to the municipal authorities, a thousand have already been found in Makariv alone. Some are visible to the naked eye, others are more hidden. And they are only the tip of the iceberg. For this reason, to enter houses and farm fields, they must first be inspected by deactivation teams, a task as dangerous as it is meticulous. For this reason, in a conversation with this newspaper, Bondarenko demands that the Western powers hurry up in sending “detection and protection teams.” After all, it is these house-to-house ‘cleaners’ who uncover the horror that still awaits in living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens.

And gardens. Because that is where a mother and her child were found buried, killed during a shooting in the Vablya district. Yesterday, their bodies in an advanced process of decomposition continued to await their removal, a complex process due to the possibility that the Russians have hidden explosives that detonate with movement.

More than twenty corpses

In total, the rescue teams have found 23 bodies in Makariv, but its police chief advanced that there will be many more. “Some are in such poor condition that we haven’t been able to identify them yet.” When asked by this journalist, Bondarenko acknowledged that the bodies of Russian invaders had also been found, “although their number cannot be revealed,” and stated that “they are being preserved according to the protocols dictated in the war.” The deputy minister took the opportunity to launch a taunt: “It does not seem that the Russians are rushing to claim them.”

Parallel to the documentation of the material destruction, which in Makariv has left 200 buildings totally destroyed and 600 partially damaged but which will hardly prosper in compensation from Russia, 50 groups of Ukrainian and foreign researchers are already working to obtain all the information possible about the torture and executions around kyiv. “We have already opened proceedings to clarify more than 2,000 war crimes in the area,” said the head of the National Police in the region, Kotish Anatoly.

However, 20% of the residents have decided to return to their homes without first having been swept and photographed. Anatoly, 73, is one of them. He has found part of his home destroyed, but he has decided to live in the area that remains. «The problem is the cold, the explosives don’t worry me. Those kill you fast », he comments, still in the mood to make jokes.

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