Residents of Bucha: Russian soldiers took trophies for their wives from their homes

It takes about two hours for the van with journalists to get from Kyiv to the suburbs of Bucha.

Before the Russian invasion, this route took no more than 15-20 minutes, but now many roads have been destroyed. Cars burnt down and hit by bullets and shells can be seen everywhere, including those with the inscription “children”. The road is littered with destroyed military machines and tanks.

Before the war, many children from Kyiv came to Bucha during the summer holidays. They have been housed in private homes, many of which are now completely uninhabitable. The bodies of five men, unarmed and handcuffed, were found in the basement of one of them. The charred bodies of six civilians were found in the yard of another house.

Traces of gunshot wounds

After massive bombings, fierce fighting, and more than a month of Russian occupation, many of Bucha’s buildings have been reduced to rubble. The group of journalists is accompanied by Ukrainian Interior Minister Denis Monastyrsky, who says they are finding victims throughout the city. According to police, rescuers, and locals, dozens of bodies are still in the homes. There are also bodies of the dead in the nearby forests, which, however, should not be entered until they are cleared of mines. “Those who have done all this have neither culture nor humanity,” Monastirski said.

According to the interior minister, “we find thousands of explosive devices every day,” including grenades, explosives remnants, and mine traps. He says Russian servicemen have planted mines in homes with photos of Ukrainian soldiers or state symbols. Therefore, Monastirski added, residents could not be allowed to return to the city until the mines were cleared.

Locked in basements for more than a month

However, after the withdrawal of Russian troops, life in the city is slowly returning. As they stand around a ruined supermarket, waiting for humanitarian aid, some residents recount what they went through. Vladislava, her husband Alexander, and their two children have been in the city since the beginning of the fighting. “Shells flew into ours and the neighboring yards. We felt the power of the explosions. The windows and doors flew out, and the roof collapsed. We knew we were in great danger,” Vladislava said. She saw Russian tanks firing in all directions. Machine guns were also heard.

“We had to run, but where? Bullets were whistling everywhere. There is a kindergarten across the street from our house. We ran there. I knew there was a basement. We sat in this basement almost all the days of the occupation. It is not suitable for a long stay. to people there, because it’s wet and cold, “the woman said.

The residents of Bucha also say that they had no information about what was happening. “We also didn’t know if it was day or night. There was constant shooting, constant fighting,” Vladislava recalled.

“Biscuits were our only salvation”

According to eyewitnesses, the Russian military established its headquarters in a school. Larisa Savenko, 72, lives on the same street. “During the fighting, the whole street was on fire. We only ate biscuits – they saved us,” she said. She saw fresh bread again only in the midst of the withdrawal of the Russians.

Trauma robs sleep

Natalia, 58, says that after the power went out on February 27, she had to cook outside on fire. She remembers how Russian soldiers took furniture and belongings from their homes for their wives. “One day a dozen men came to us, inspected all the rooms, the barn, and the basement. They didn’t say what they were looking for, but they searched every corner.” After the Russians began to withdraw on the night of March 31, the locals could not believe that this was happening. But even after the arrival of the Ukrainian military and police, people remain restless: “We wake up at night and listen. If it’s quiet, we dare to go back and fall asleep,” says Natalia.

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