Safety pins from a grenade that Irina found in the rubble. Irina’s house was blown up by Russian troops.Bucha is a town near the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Near the intersection of Yanovka and Vokzalna streets, about 1 km south of the Bucha train station in the center of the city, many bodies of civilians believed to have been massacred by the Russian military were found.
Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk, 49, also testified to me that he saw about 20 bodies left on the street, and the Ukrainian government is currently investigating 10 Russian soldiers who are believed to have been involved in the massacre.
When I visited the site in early May, I found that the intersection had been cleaned up, but one house on the corner was still burned and wrecked, with piles of concrete rubble.
“It was four Chechen soldiers who came to the house. I could tell by their faces and Russian accents that they were from Chechnya. They threw grenades at us, and my husband was shot dead.”
Irina Abramova, 48, who lived in the house, opened her mouth heavily, holding a safety pin from a grenade she had found in the rubble.
A week ago, I finally started to put into perspective what had happened to me,” she said.
According to Irina, the four soldiers arrived on March 5.
There were already many tanks and armored vehicles in the area, and the fighting was beginning to intensify. Sensing danger, Irina and her husband, Oleg (40), moved from her mother’s house to a remote house where her father (72) was staying. Soon after, the main house exploded. Her father coughed and tried to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher. He was saved in the nick of time, but Irina was taken toward the warehouse by one of the four soldiers who had invaded the house property and pointed a gun at her.
‘It is Ukraine’s fault that people in the Donbas region are being persecuted. Are there any nationalists here?”
The Donbas region consists of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts in eastern Ukraine and has a large Russian-speaking population. Russia claims that Russian speakers in the region are persecuted by Ukrainian nationalists and has used this as an excuse to justify fighting in the region.
When Irina replied, “There are no nationalists,” the soldier continued.
“We are here to make them suffer, the same as those who were persecuted in the Donbas region.”
Soon after, the soldiers left the compound of the house, but Oleg was nowhere to be seen. When we headed toward the gate to look for his whereabouts, we found Oleg’s sweater and T-shirt were left in the yard. On the street just outside the gate, Oleg was lying face down with his upper body naked. The ground was covered with blood. He had been shot in the head while Irina was being questioned by the soldiers. The moment she saw her husband’s disfigured body, she said to herself, “Please kill me too!”
“I want you to kill me too!”
She shouted to four soldiers who were nearby, but she left the place with her father. Since then, she has been living as an evacuee at an acquaintance’s house.
“I used to converse with them in Russian, but my husband used Ukrainian.”
Ukrainian speakers were considered patriotic nationalists and may have been targeted.