war crimes in Ukraine

The Tribunal for Putin (T4P) global initiative was set up in response to the all-out war launched by Russia against Ukraine in February 2022.

‘Do not look! Our house is burning’

19.03.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Oleksii Sidorenko
Liudmyla Shevchenko lives in Moshchun. The house they struggled to build, in which three generations of the family lived, burned down before her eyes. All they managed to save were documents.

My name is Liudmyla; I was born and lived in the village of Moshchun. We were all born here: parents, children, and grandchildren.

My husband and I built this house. We didn’t eat or drink enough, but we worked. We grew and sold strawberries to earn our home. There were nine of us living here. My little grandson is on insulin; he has diabetes. The children evacuated earlier, they wanted to pick us up, but I have a household: a pig, chickens, and rabbits. I said: “I will not leave them! How can I go?” One day, we sat quietly, I cooked soup in the kitchen. The husband flies in with a cry: “Liuda, forget about the soup. Turn off the burner and run. Do you hear what’s going on?” As we were, we ran to my mother's house, where my brother lives. We hid in the cellar there. We just came to the house, and the rocket hit like hell! Where the gas boiler is. We were covered with earth, and we barely got to the cellar. We rushed inside, and I heard such a roar as if the slates were bombarded.

I told my husband: “Tolia, it seems this is our hut.” He replied: “Don't look! Our house is burning.”

I ran out, shouting: “Let’s put out the fire,” and he answered: “How are we to put out the fire? Look, the flames are already bursting out of the windows.” I screamed so much! There was a neighbor in the cellar who asked to hide with us. She said I shrieked like I was crazy. Two hours and that’s it, no more home. Everything burned down. The only thing we managed to grab was the documents. And everything else burned down — money, gold, clothes, all equipment. Well, imagine: three families lived in the house, and each had its own washing machine, refrigerator, freezer, coffee grinder, and coffee maker. Finally, we settled down, and the children grew up, and grandchildren appeared. I already have a great-granddaughter. And just like that … We were left with nothing.

Liudmyla Shevchenko, Moshchun

We spent three days and three nights with virtually no food. What’s in the cellar? Sauerkraut, cucumbers, tomatoes, compotes. We had cats and dogs with us. It was already unbearable. On the second day, I went to a neighbor: her house survived, there were chickens, and she said we could come for eggs. So, I went and collected eggs, we ate them raw, and fed the dogs and cats. And then our children, who went to Ternopil, called volunteer Garik.

First, he took to the basement of a hospital. Then a neighbor took us to the Congress Hotel in Pushcha, where her daughter worked. We were given clean clothes, a bed, and food. Then the children called and said: “Why are you staying there? Come to us”. I have in-laws in Ternopil, and they stayed with them. So we took a train, stayed there until 13 May, and returned home on the 14th.

How was the first day of the war for you?

— There was such a roar when the helicopters flew! I thought it would blow the roof off as they flew so low. All the neighbors ran out, raised their heads, and almost greeted them. We didn’t know they were Russians. And I said to my husband: “You know, these are not ours. It must have been America that gave us the helicopters.” They sat, their legs dangling, machine guns in their hands, and they looked at us like we were fools because we were staring at them. Then, they flew to the airfield in Hostomel and began shooting and bombing. That’s when we realized they were Russians and already here.

If not for Moshchun, they would have reached Kyiv. On their maps, Moshchun was marked with a red circle.

Many of our guys died here, but they blew up the bridges and the dam, the Irpen flooded, and the Russians could not go further. It stopped them a bit. So many of them have been killed here! Our guys took the bodies out by car for two days.

Did many people die?

— Five or six people were killed for sure. And the rest ... Someone’s heart could not stand it, and others had a stroke. My friend, to this day, does not know where her son is. He is not among the dead or the living. One was shot as he was leaving the cellar. There he laid. One was shot on the highway, and another on the street. So many people died in the dachas [summer cottages]. When we left, the Russians did whatever they wanted. Even my grandson’s sneakers were taken away. Women's underwear was stolen, as well as washing machines. The electric kettles were taken away, but the heating elements were left. They weren’t smart enough to understand that kettles do not work without them. My son-in-law’s blankets, pillows and mattresses were taken away. Looting was in full swing.

Did you think there would be a full-scale invasion?

— No, we didn’t believe it. We didn't think this could happen. We have been like brothers and sisters for many years. After all, that’s what everybody said. What have we done to him [Putin]? I’m shocked ... Well, it would be okay if it were another country with which we had a conflict. But everything was friendly and peaceful. We did not expect this and thought he [Putin] wanted to scare us or show how strong he is. Nobody thought it would be like this. Nobody! And as a result, in galoshes, work jackets and trousers, we went to the in-laws. The only thing we managed to grab was the documents.

The foundation of a burned-out house in which three families lived, Moshchun

Has your attitude towards the Russians changed?

— You know, even though I’m 67, if they gave me a machine gun, I would shoot them all. They have parents and children at home, but they torment the others ... If a person does not understand this, he is not a man but a beast! He [Putin] is a zombie beast. He sits in a bunker, gives out orders, and fools kill our children, although they also have children. Are they people? No! They are not people; they are monsters!

The article was prepared by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group with the support of the "People in Need"
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