US politicians have written to the bosses of Meta, TikTok, Twitter and YouTube asking them to archive content containing potential evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine.
The letters were sent by four high-ranking Democrats who chair powerful House committees relating to oversight, foreign affairs and national security.
While the letters are not equivalent to binding legal orders, they are backed by considerable political power and come as platforms face a range of pressures over online safety issues.
One of the letters seen by NBC News, addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, states, “We are writing to encourage Meta to take steps to preserve and archive content shared on its platforms that could potentially be used as evidence.”
He adds that it would help “the U.S. government and international human rights and accountability monitors [who will] investigate Russian war crimes, crimes against humanity and other atrocities in Ukraine.”
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Other key developments:
• Relatives and supporters of Ukrainian fighters entrenched in the Azovstal steel plant under the shelling of the southern port of Mariupol demonstrate in Kyiv, pleading for their rescue
• One of Russian President Putin’s closest allies says the West’s growing military support for Ukraine risks provoking a war between Russia and NATO
• German industrial giant Siemens AG announces it is leaving Russia, where it has operated for nearly 170 years
• Pressure on Europe to secure alternative gas supplies grew after Moscow imposed sanctions on European subsidiaries of state-owned Gazprom and Ukraine shut down a gas transit route, pushing up the prices
Over 10,000 potential war crimes under investigation
A senior British diplomat recorded evidence of “credible allegations” of child sexual abuse by Russian troops, alongside other violations of UN Security Council rules on youth in war.
Dame Barbara Woodward, Britain’s ambassador to the UN, said there was evidence that “Russia commits four of the Security Council’s six grave violations against children in wartime”.
London counter-terrorism police collecting evidence of potential war crimes say they were struck by the “incredibly heartbreaking” material and eyewitness accounts from the front lines.
Ukraine’s attorney general’s office said it was investigating more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.
The trial of a Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian is currently underway in Kyiv. Sergeant Said Shyshimarin, 21, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old man in the head in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka.
It is the first time that a member of the Russian military has been prosecuted for a war crime in the conflict.
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