Death and provocation in the Bucha district, which was held by Russian troops


BUCHA, Ukraine, April 7 (Reuters) – (Note: Some pictures in this story may be offensive or disturbing.)

The apartment complex on Vodoprovidna Street is located in a quiet, wooded area of ​​the Ukrainian town of Bucha, with neatly trimmed edges with footpaths. Number 34a Vodoprovidna is one of a group of modern apartment buildings that return to kindergarten. Residents are mostly middle-class: Vasyl Nedashkivskiy, who installed PVC windows, lived on the fifth floor with his wife, Tetyana, and their dog, Nika. Another resident is a child psychologist and a third, Oleksii Tarasevich, a nanotechnology engineer.

Russian troops arrived at the address just after midday on March 5, according to Tarasevich, who kept a diary and video and a photo of what he saw from the apartment window. He shared the photos and footage with Reuters, confirming that they were taken during the season.

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One month later, 47-year-old Nedashkivskiy and another local were killed – their mutilated bodies were found in the basement of a building in the complex – and many residents of the group had fled. A Renault Captur SUV was parked in the parking lot and an Audi car overturned.

The stories of at least a dozen residents of the group paint a picture of the violence and threats of the soldiers while they were in the neighborhood. Nedashkivskiy had been badly beaten while unarmed, according to his wife and Tarasevich.

Nedashkivskiy’s wife, Tetyana, told Reuters that Russian troops had found an automatic rifle hidden in their apartment after it was hit in mid-March. She said a soldier had told her that Russian soldiers had then taken her husband to an unspecified location for questioning. Two weeks later, after Russian troops withdrew, neighbors found Nedashkivskiy’s body, Tetyana said.

A photo of Nedashkivskiy’s body, viewed by Reuters, showed that his face and hands had been broken with what appeared to be a blunt object.

Another man was found dead on April 1 at the same location as Nedashkivskiy’s body, according to Tetyana. Traces of the body of another man, which Reuters saw two days later, indicated that he had been beaten and shot through the mouth from a very short distance. Read more

Reuters quotes and video footage collected by Reuters also indicate that Russian troops have been concerned that, despite the fact that no visible Ukrainian military presence has been inside Bucha since early March, drones or warriors hiding among the population could be targets. their. A video shows soldiers in full combat gear with weapons on their heads and Tarasevich said they had taken blankets from the apartments to hide their vehicles and looked scared and on the sidelines.

The stories also show the provocation of the population as disgusted by the invaders who occupy their city and their residential area.

The Kremlin and the Russian Ministry of Defense did not respond to detailed requests for comment on the deaths of the two men, events in the housing complex declared by residents and Ukrainian accusations of Russian killings of civilians in Bucha.

Russia has refused to deliberately target civilians since its invasion of Ukraine on February 24. Moscow launched what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine with the aim of disarming and “de-liberating” Ukraine. Ukraine and the West say the invasion was illegal and unjust.

Since Russian troops withdrew from Bucha last week, Ukrainian officials have said hundreds of civilians have been found dead. Bucha’s mayor has said dozens of victims of extrajudicial killings were carried out by Russian troops. Reuters could not confirm these figures independently.

Reuters has witnessed the remains of five victims in Bucha who were shot in the head. One had his hands tied behind his back. One of his legs tied. Reuters has not been able to independently determine who was responsible. Read more

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a news conference on Wednesday that photos purporting to show dead civilians in Bucha were forged and published to justify further Western sanctions against Moscow and “to complicate, if not completely disrupt, (peace) talks. “

RUSSIANS TAKE OVER

Bucha is about 30 kilometers northwest of the center of the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv. Tarasevich said that before Russian troops entered the town, he and Vasyl Nedashkivskiy had assisted members of the Ukrainian Coast Guard, made up of general volunteers, to build defenses near the satellite town of Irpin in Kyiv.

Tarasevich said he was not a member of the defense force. Neither was Nedashkivskiy, according to his wife. Bucha’s defense officials referred questions to the deputy mayor, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The place numbers of the defense force were also unanswered.

Even though Nedashkivskiy belonged to the Ukrainian Coast Guard, execution-style killings would still be considered possible war crimes under the 1949 Geneva Convention, which defined legal standards for humanitarian treatment in conflict. A unique act turns into a war crime if it has been committed as part of a broader plan or policy and committed on a large scale during the conflict. Violent attacks on civilians, for example, could be a war crime if it can be shown to have been intentional or intentional.

Russian troops began reaching Bucha on February 27, according to locals, a week before they arrived at the compound on Vodoprovidna Street. There, they managed three apartments in one of the buildings they used as a control center, and also used a basement, Tarasevich said. Soldiers parked armored vehicles and trucks in the courtyard of the apartment complex, showing photos taken by Tarasevich.

About 3,700 civilians stayed in Bucha after the Russians arrived, according to the mayor, or about a tenth of the town’s population.

Troops ordered residents to wear white ribbons around their arms to identify them as civilians, eight Reuters residents said. The troops imposed a curfew every night, according to Tarasevich and Tetyana.

Troops searched apartments and left a handwritten sign on the door that said in Russian, “Inspected,” Tarasevich said. When they met empty apartments, they sometimes took furniture, he added. One photo he shared with Reuters showed an armored truck parked outside with what appeared to be civilian sports bags attached to the roof.

The troops also ordered locals to hand over their mobile phones, at least 20 Bucha residents told Reuters.

Tarasevich said he gave the soldiers an old, broken phone. His real phone was hidden under his elderly mother, with whom he lives. He said he had told soldiers she was too sick to get up, so they did not search her bed.

Tarasevich said he hid ammunition in his apartment, which he pulled out of a damaged Russian military vehicle on February 27 after being attacked by Ukrainian troops. He said he had intended to hand them over to Ukrainian troops, but failed to do so before Russia joined the group.

BODIES IN THE STAIRS

On the evening of March 17, Vasyl Nedashkivskiy arrived at the entrance to his building a few minutes after the curfew at 17:00, according to his wife and Tarasevich, whose apartment is on the same staircase as the couple. They said Nedashkivskiy did not wear the white bracelet demanded by Russian troops.

Both told Reuters they heard the sound of raised voices from the ground floor. A soldier approached Tarasevich’s apartment and pointed his weapon at him, ordering him to go down, according to Tarasevich.

Tarasevich said he saw Nedashkivskiy lying motionless on the ground in a pool of blood, with at least three soldiers over him. Nedashkivskiy’s face was bloody and a few teeth lay on the ground. One soldier ordered Tarasevich to bring Nedashkivskiy up.

When he protested, the soldier swung his weapon at him and threatened him orally, according to Tarasevich, who described his account in a signed testimony that Reuters had examined, which he said he had given to the local prosecutor’s office. Neither the Kyiv Prosecutor’s Office nor the local branch responded immediately to requests for comment.

Tarasevich said he helped Nedashkivskiy onto a bench at the entrance to the building. The soldiers sent Tarasevich back to his apartment.

About two hours later, according to Tarasevich, he heard a noise in the procession and through the spy glass in his door he saw Nedashkivskiy, along with several soldiers, enter the couple’s apartment.

According to Nedashkivskiy’s wife, the soldiers then found the automatic weapon hidden under the television. She said that her husband had received it when, before the arrival of Russian troops, acquaintances who had served in Ukraine’s territorial defense would have gone if they had arrived there for safekeeping.

The soldiers took the couple to the command post, in building 33b, Tetyana said. There, a soldier hit her husband with the gun case, she added.

Tetyana said she was taken to a room, a children’s room, where she fell asleep. When she woke up, her husband was gone.

A soldier told her he had been taken for questioning at the district headquarters without finding the location, according to Tetyana. Reuters, on a visit to the building on Thursday, saw dried blood drip onto the floor and walls leading out of the control room where she said they had been taken and down the stairs.

After four days in command, Tetyana said troops allowed her to return home. Her husband’s body was found about a week later, on April 1, on the steps leading down to the basement of the building that housed the control room.

She said her husband had refused to obey the wishes of Russian troops. “Vasya did not put on the white bracelet,” she said, using a loving version of her first name. “I am on Ukrainian soil,” he said. I’m Ukrainian.

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Editing by Christian Lowe and Cassell Bryan-Low

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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