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.

‘People came to get some food and were deliberately shot at’

11.12.2023    available: Українською | На русском
Taras Zozulinskyi
“The destruction was catastrophic. Houses, shops — everything was destroyed. The Lysychansk Regional Children's Hospital was shelled. Children were evacuated, but neither the hospital nor the ambulance worked” — Lysychansk (town in Luhansk Region) was already under Russian occupation in 2014 and is now experiencing the horrors of the “Russian world” once again.

My name is Oleksandr Ilchenko. I was born on 2 March, 1990. I have been working as a paramedic in Lysychansk for ten years. I also worked in 2014, when the “Russian world” came to our country for the first time.

In 2014, there was also no electricity, water or gas... I saw a lot then: bombings, shelling, etc. I helped the wounded people. Now I have moved to Lviv because fighting has started again in my town.

People spent most of their time in their basements. There was no water, no electricity, no gas — no living conditions at all. The infrastructure was almost completely destroyed. There was no food, no water, no money. People lived in constant fear. We got water from wells or radiators.

Have you witnessed criminal acts against civilians?

Lysychansk was shelled day and night. It was bombed directly from military aircraft. Why did they (the Russians) do that? I don’t know.

There was shelling every day. I lived in house No.20, and nearby was house No.21. One day at 6 a.m. a bomb was dropped on house No.21. Part of the building from the second to the fourth floor was destroyed. In all, probably twelve flats were destroyed. The house looked as if it had been demolished by a giant tractor.

People died near the house. I also saw dead people: a woman in the street and a man about 40 years old.

Apparently, they were passing near the house at the time of the shelling and were killed. There were also dead bodies near house No.24. Imagine: we went to the well for water and there were dead bodies lying nearby. And nobody took them away.

Houses caught fire from the bombing. Firefighters tried to put out the fires, but what could one fire engine do when the whole street was burning?

The destruction was catastrophic. Houses, shops — everything was destroyed. The Lysychansk Regional Children’s Hospital was shelled. Children were evacuated, but neither the hospital nor the ambulance worked. Ambulance workers were afraid to go to work because of the constant shelling.

The fourth district of the town was badly damaged. People were hiding in the basement of a nine-storey building when a shell hit the basement. Balconies were destroyed and doors ripped out. A rocket hit house No.15. As a result, there were no walls between the fourth and third floors.

Technical colleges No.94 and No.56 were also badly damaged. People said they had been mined.

My neighbourhood was also heavily shelled. They (the Russians) deliberately shelled the gas mains. There was a terrible rumble for a day and a half. The result was a huge hole in the main and flames.

There has been no water since the beginning of March (2022). Then gas and electricity disappeared. People made fires outside their houses to cook food or boil water. We collected snow for bathing and flushing toilets. That’s how we lived.

What do your friends who stayed in Lysychansk tell you? What is the situation there now?

People say a rocket hit a humanitarian aid centre. There were two or three hundred people in the queue. Because people in Lysychansk couldn’t buy food even if they had money. There was no food in the town. So, people were standing there to get humanitarian aid: some chicken, oil, bread, water.

Parents with small children could get there five diapers and a package of baby food. It was hard for small children. You can’t explain to a one-year-old child that there is no food.

The first and second rockets hit the residential area. But the third and fourth ones hit exactly where people were standing — a culture center, where humanitarian aid center was located. People immediately ran away and tried to hide somewhere.

People came to get some food and were deliberately shot at.

Before the war I was well off, I had everything. Now I’m living in a strange city with people I don’t know. Of course, I am against what is happening in my country. I am against this war and against Putin!

Oleksandr Ilchenko, Lysychansk

Translation: International Society for Human Rights (German Section)

The article was prepared by the Kharkiv Human Rights Protection Group with the support of the Prague Civil Society Centre
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