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.

‘It felt like the Lord salvaged people’

16.06.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Andrii Didenko
From the beginning of the war, the son of Liana Florynska from Vyshhorod [Kyiv Region] was engaged in volunteer activities. He miraculously managed to stay alive when the Red Cross car came under mortar fire. Liana herself almost became a victim of the Russian bombing. She left the house a few minutes before the shell hit her apartment building.

For the time being, I had a very deep sleep and never heard anything. And at 5:00 on 24 February, my husband woke me up and said that the war had begun. I did not want to believe this because, until the last moment, I hoped that all this was just talk and Russia would hardly take such a step. In the early days, there was fear, misunderstanding, and uncertainty that everything would be okay because no one was prepared for this. Talking is talking, but action is something else entirely. Moreover, a week before the start of the war, our son returned from a voyage to the sea.

Of course, we had our plans for a peaceful life. And then you realize that everything is falling apart.

Our son went to the Red Cross as a volunteer. We talked about it every morning. There was fear because the city was almost empty, and there were explosions. Our family experienced this pain as their own because we followed what was happening. If I called my son, who was out of range, I understood they were somewhere near Demydov, near the destroyed bridge where the shelling was happening. We learned about more serious events not from him but from other people who drove a Red Cross car, which came under mortar fire. I realized that five minutes (and even less) were worth a lot. The guys got out of the vehicle to help the people on the other side of the bridge, and everyone got out just because there were a lot of boxes. This happened regardless of the rules requiring someone to stay in the car. Let’s just say that thanks to this, my son and his friend survived. They told us about it.

Liana Florynska, Vyshhorod

A rocket flew into our building, and we were witnesses to that. I came running 8 minutes after it happened. 15 minutes earlier, I went to visit my son and brought him food. He was on a volunteer mission and arrived from Pokrovsk at night when they had to deliver help to our guys [military]. We were waiting for him for dinner, but he did not come because he was tired. And what did Mom do? Mom took the containers and carried them to him. And it was at this time, when I left, that the rocket hit our entrance. I was with him in the apartment across the street. We heard explosions. I didn’t understand anything, and my son said: “So, they shelling in the city, you have to run to the headquarters, and on your way, look at what happened with our building.” I ran, and everything was on fire. People were bloody. Do you know what I noticed? On the stretch between our house and Grushevskoho 3, there was not a single whole place: everything burned down and was black.

Fortunately, at that time, no one was on the playground, where children constantly played. It felt like the Lord salvaged people.

Everyone I talked to had something happen: someone was late at work, another was waiting for someone, and someone was late or something else. These were all the people who should have been in the house. I was supposed to be there too, but I left. And it was a horror to see the bloodied neighbors. Some people could not even be identified because it was a bloody mess. There were a lot of shrapnel wounds. Our neighbor died. God rest her soul. This is the horror we have seen with our own eyes and endured. And now we live with it. The rocket hit near our entrance creating a creator in front of it. There were no steps at the entrance. We lived on the third floor. That is, even if we do not consider that there is no electricity, water, or gas, we would hardly be able to get there, just like all our neighbors. We continue our work; we still work. We hope there will be some kind of housing sooner or something will change for the better. However, we were told today the city has no money.

Destroyed residential building in Vyshhorod, photo: telegram channel of Oleksii Kuleba

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