2023 The Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, Large Newsroom finalist

Crime Scene: Bucha

About the Project

In “Crime Scene: Bucha,” The Associated Press, the PBS investigative documentary series FRONTLINE, and SITU Research, a visual investigations practice, offered a unique multimedia investigation into the atrocities that took place in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha as the Russian military occupied the small town for a month.

To better understand the scale of the atrocities and how the violence unfolded, SITU Research built a comprehensive 3D model of Bucha based on data captured by the Ukrainian citizen research group Jus Talionis. AP also obtained hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and intercepted phone calls from Russian soldiers that showed exactly how the cleansing operation played out in Bucha and offered an intimate look at what Russian soldiers did during their month-long occupation.

When Russian forces finally retreated from Bucha at the end of March 2022, the scale of Russia’s brutality shocked the world. AP and FRONTLINE visited Bucha shortly after the withdrawal and interviewed prosecutors, witnesses, and survivors who all described how the Russians rounded up those civilians in a “cleansing” operation to root out any potential threats. Bucha would become case number one for Ukraine’s war crimes prosecution.

Through this immersive, visual framework, the 14-minute documentary, “Crime Scene: Bucha,” offers viewers a stark representation of where more than 450 bodies were found. It also provided a granular view of the terror that radiated from 144 Yablunska Street, where Russians had set up a headquarters.