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.

‘We were bombed every day’

24.10.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Serhii Okuniev
Hanna is a resident of the Kherson Region who survived the Russian occupation and the near-complete destruction of her native village. According to the mayor, 80% of the central part of the village was damaged or destroyed. A woman says the Russians bombed her barn and proudly reported that they had blown up an ammunition depot.

Our store group received an SMS that a war had started. We went to work, and the orcs [Ukrainian name for the Russian army] arrived a few days later. I don’t remember the exact date, but at 23:00, they said the Russians were in the village. I called the management, and they started watching on cameras as the Russians entered the store and robbed it. This was the first time, and a few days later — a second time. They took the alcohol and left us a mess. Then, the head of our village brought in their leadership. We showed what their people had done, and I began communicating with him. With this leader. He said: “I would have killed them myself, these people who created such a mess.”

Of course, there was panic in the village. I worked in a store where they brought bread, but I had to deliver it to people’s houses because of shellings. Our guys picked me up from work and accompanied me home because walking was dangerous. So I delivered [bread] to people in the neighborhood. At first, people panicked and didn’t leave. Then, when they started shelling us, many went. I was one of the last, it seems, to evacuate in June. By the beginning of June, I couldn’t stand it. We were heavily shelled, and there were 300—400 hits daily. And my psyche could no longer stand it. We lived in basements. There was a connection with volunteers because a sick man was in our basement — a diabetic. We contacted volunteers, and they brought us all the necessary medicines. Many thanks to them!

Hanna, a resident of the Kherson Region

The first hit was in front of the house on 9 May. All the front windows were blown out. Then, in June, there were four strikes at the house. It was, of course, impossible to be here because of the bombing. There was no one here, and the entire street was empty. The Russians fired at every yard. I can tell you this with a 100% guarantee because I was here and saw no military personnel in the area. And from yard to yard, they fired at every square—some from a tank, some from a helicopter. Then I watched their reporters: when my woodshed burned, they said they had blown up an ammunition depot. We laughed for a long time with the whole village. It wasn’t funny, of course, but I probably have an ammunition depot at my house and a bio-toilet.

There were no windows or doors here—nothing. They caused significant damage; I didn’t have a single window left. The roof of the children’s house was broken, and my entire roof was damaged — we use jars and cups as water is flowing. My house has a basement, and we hid there, but it was terrifying. I always thought that I was brave. But my psyche could not stand it. I remember how they [Russians] left. I watched from the attic as they stood here in the alley. When they were retreating because they had no choice, they turned around and hit the village — right at us. They wanted to make it look as if it were our people who bombarded us. However, I saw how they fired a mortar, got on their armored personnel carriers, ducked into an alley, and went further to Zolota Balka. They staged provocations as if it were our people who were shooting.

Ours entered very carefully. True, many of our people died here. We saw a guy get killed there. There were big troubles, of course. We met ours, but the guys were careful; they didn’t want to put us [in danger] or themselves. They spoke to us very tactfully. The whole village brought them food to celebrate. We met our defenders, but the Russians began to bomb the village so that most people left.

Despite the shelling, people are returning to their homes and trying to restore what the Russian occupiers destroyed.

People are returning. Everyone is returning en masse, although they are still shooting at us from the other side. I want to live in my own house, under my roof. When the war began, I wondered: is this reality or a dream? How could this happen? I went to work in Russia. It wasn’t even a thought that we could go to war against each other like that. What kind of monsters are they? Our village is friendly, and everyone is pro-Ukraine. I can’t say that anyone supports Russia. There is one woman, but I think that because she has children in Russia, she misses them and says all sorts of stupid things. Of course, victory will be ours. Otherwise, we, as a nation, will not exist.

One day, a girl went to the priest and asked to pray for our soldiers, but he refused. Then, we began to understand who our church supports. One woman, a novice of the church, came to my work and began to say that Zelensky was to blame, that Putin had nothing to do with it. Let Zelensky die, and there will be no war. And then she disappeared. The scandal was huge, and the village lost faith in this priest, so they all ran away. At first, they hid and prayed somewhere in their small church. We are among the first to drive out the Moscow Patriarchate and create the Ukrainian church. Paradoxically, the Russians bombed that church to the ground.

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