‘I looked at him and saw that he had no arm...’ — a resident of Makariv urban-type settlement tells how the invaders killed his grandson
We lived in Kyiv Region, there is an urban-type settlement — Makariv — which used to be in Makarivskyi district, but now it belongs to Buchanskyi district. This is where we lived and retired when the war started.
How did the war come into your life?
There was a message that there was an offensive coming from Bilorus side, where they (Russian troops) had military exercises, it was not far from our Chornobyl nuclear power plant. At about 4-5 o’clock in the morning we heard a strong rumble, you could hear it clearly from afar, as if caterpillar tanks were drinving along the road. Then 15 or 20 minutes later we heard shots and explosions. And when it was already 6:15 in the evening, they started bombing for real, as they say. And then they were shootings every day, beginning at 3:20 — 3:40 in the morning and all day long, until the evening, and their (Russians) planes and helicopters were flying in the afternoon. We saw the planes being shot down, there was a Russian plane shot down not far from us but they (Russian troops) were still shooting. We were bombed from February 24 to March 5. There were explosions, window glasses were flying out, cars were on fire, they (Russian troops) were shooting in random places and people, where they saw a person, that’s where they shot. They were no longer checking which kind of cars were driving — with civilians or military vehicles — they were just shooting at all cars. And there was a group of our people on the way and they were saved. We had a hospital, people made a kind of a hospital in the cellar, the wounded people were brought there. They (Russian troops) did not care whether children were there or not, they were driving APCs (armoured personnel carriers) and shooting straight at cars. They did not look whether it was a child there or an adult — they shot wherever and whoever they wanted.
They just had road directions and they got lost because our guys, thanks to them, put the road signs towards the swamp and they (Russian troops) got in it, and 44 or 50 tons (here — military tanks) — they are still in this swamp, you can only see their upper parts. Thanks to our guys, of course, the road signs were taken down and those Russians just got lost. They wanted to go through Makariv and get to Kyiv but there were no road signs, they had to go through Irpin and they ended up in Makariv.
Then their helicopters came, we saw how they bombed, they bombed our troops so often. There was a brick factory, there was a concrete pad, they (Russian troops) thought it was a helicopter pad... Also there was a base for MIG-95 or MIG-167. So they (Russian troops) broke it down and settled there, it was their base. And then our helicopters flew in and within half an hour they (Russian troops) were razed there to the ground. There is still a lot of damaged military equipment there!
Where were you during the hostilities?
The first days after the shooting had started, we had that small cellar... It was being built but it wasn’t finised; it was a hole with a cement floor. We used to go out (of the cellar) during the day — to smoke, sometimes to eat, and at night — back in there. It was cold, though. Then, later, we went out. My wife was already so weak, she was old. So we decided: what will be, shall be. But we’ll stay in the house. Sometimes we heard a bang somewhere, and our house was shaking... Some people said: “Let it fall right on us at once, so as not to suffer”. Well, this is how we lived... Every day they were shootings, and then garages exploded near us, and sawmills burned. They (Russian troops) were hitting everything, a bakery was blown up, two planes flew over and destroyed it right away.... There was new equipment, tractors, everything.... So, there was a building — and the whole building was gone, both floors, everything was dameged. They did the same with a brick factory and residential buildings. My daughter had an appartment, so a shell hit the balcony, right on the 4th floor, so there is no balcony and no flat, the whole appartment block cannot be repaired. Houses like that were blown up like toys.
Did you suffer from Russian aggression?
They bombed us so hard! I have no words to describe it now, it makes me want to cry. We felt so sorry for the children. When the rockets fell, our house bounced like a ball. A rocket fell near our house, it completely broke the wall, the doors flew out, all of them, the gas pipe was also damaged, and it is still not repaired, half of the wall flew out as well. I thought they stopped bombing, so I decided to go quickly and have a look at the house. It was a bit frightening to go, so I thought I’d go and have a quick look — back and forth. I went and saw that the window glasses were blown out, so I took the tape and nailed the doors to keep them closed so that no one would get in. My grandchildren had already rushed over and I said to them: “Why did you come here? I am going back! Let’s go!” We stood there for about five minutes, and it was quiet... Then my oldest grandson sat down and started calling for the dog. I said to him: “Son, let’s go, that’s enough already”. Then I stood and all I could hear was a squeak — it (rocket) didn’t even reach the ground and just exploded in the air... It was not a blast wave, it was a shrapnel one... And it turned out that I managed to sort of cover myself with my arm... Then the dust began to disperse, it rang in my ears but I was still standing. Then the dust cleared and he (grandson) was moaning and shouting: “Grandpa!” I looked at him and saw that he had no arm, his arm was lying on my friend’s doorstep, about 3-4 metres away, I could see his entrails and his leg dangled. There were no ambulances back then, so what could I do...
And then I (looked) at my hand and still could not understand what it was, then I already saw that my trousers were wet (from blood), then I saw my finger dangled, as they say, on the skin. And grandson said again: “Grandpa, grandpa...” Then I saw that he was bleeding. Because his entrails were everywhere. But how to take him up?... I rushed out of the house, and as soon as I (get) to him — next rocket hit... We tried at night again... We understood that there had to be a spotter somewhere. Someone knew where to hit, what and how. I think I know who it was. We have a local there who is very corrupt. I think, if his house stays undamaged, one day we will pay him a visit... Because at the moment of the rocket hit he was riding his bike up the hill and he said hello, and I asked him: “Where are you going like this?” and he answered: “Ah... I have some stuff to do”. People say that man once went with his neighbour along his street while Russian tanks were already on the same street, so the neighbour run away then but that man was walking really calmly, as if he saw no danger at all, as if he was one of them. And later people told me that he gave them (Russian troops) water and food, so they would not damage his house. Well, these are of course just talks but time will tell.
And then they bombed again on the 5th (of March), we couldn’t take him (grandson), on the 6th — same, I went to the hospital on that day, they cured my hand. They said that there was a 50/50 chance out of 100 (that the hand will be fine). These fingers, it seems, will be fine, but this one, they don’t know...
On the 6th (of March), we were told to leave — women with children, old people, old men and boys under 18, but those men who were over 18 — they had to stay. We drove, then in half an hour we reached Makariv. It was completely destroyed, there was not a single undamaged building there, it was razed to the ground. And they (Russian troops) started shooting again, there where we were sent, the shell hit at once in the corner and on the back side too. Then they were shooting all over the place. Then we moved to Fastiv (small town in Kyiv region). In Fastiv we spent 2 days, then in the morning we got up and were told: “Get ready, now they (Russian troops) will capture Fastiv”.
We just arrived here, in Lviv, and we were really confused: some people go there and others go another way, we barely made it out of Lviv, honestly. This bus goes there, that one goes the other way, and so it was. Thanks to this school for sheltering us. I am very grateful to them, they feed us here. Many thanks to them for being so responsive, it makes me want to cry... However, there have been some incidents here, of course. We’ve had people here who don’t want to help or do anything. Everything was fine, but when they appear here, something happen that I don’t know even how to describe.
What else do you know about the killing of civilians?
Many are looking for civilians. My son-in-law found two cousins yesterday and the day before. Dead already. My friend found his relatives dead in Irpin, in a field. A neighbour was found four days ago burnt in his yard. When people left our settlement they didn’t not see him in a rush. But when they started to come back, they found him. He was lying so long there, from the 5th of March! They identified him by his fingers, he had a tattoo and they understood it was him. So... Of course it was scary. Not so much for ourselves, but for our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren...
Translation: International Society for Human Rights (German Section)