war crimes in Ukraine

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‘The neighbor was still alive and called his granddaughter to get him out from under the rubble,’ — a resident of Borodianka

20.02.2024    available: Українською | На русском
Oleksandr Vasyliev
During the bombing of Borodianka, Mykhailo Kokidko and his son received shell shock. The family barely had time to escape the destroyed burning house. After the evacuation, the man ended up under occupation in the neighboring village of Zahaltsi.

I learned on television that the war had started. And then, I don’t remember exactly, somewhere on February 26 or 27, Russian equipment came down Tsentralna Street. Then I realized that this was war.

They started firing machine guns and cannons at our house and the one nearby. The house opposite, number 306, caught fire, and our windows broke, but the house was still intact. I have no close relatives, so there was nowhere to go. I was sitting in the apartment, and my wife and son hid in the basement.

The blast wave broke the windows in our apartment, so I covered the windows with film. It was cold.

I remember my wife came up from the basement in the evening to have dinner and said she saw a car parked near the house. Then, a woman and two men got out of the car. And she said: “People live here.” And the man answered her: “It’s none of your business, do your job.”

Mykhailo Kokidko, Borodianka

I suspect they installed a beacon for the plane. I heard something whistling an hour later (I had just put the kettle on to make tea). I thought it was a rocket. I didn’t immediately think about the plane. Then the thought — that’s it, this is the end. And literally three or four seconds later — bang! The light went out, and that was it... We were close to the epicenter of this explosion: everything was destroyed, furniture was scattered, and the neighbor’s wall fell into our bedroom. The end would have come to her if the wife had been there. However, only the door was torn off.

My son was shell-shocked; debris cut his chest, stomach, and face. I also received a shell shock.

In what we were wearing, we immediately rushed out of the house. We didn’t take anything with us. Everything was left in the apartment. I think it was some kind of high explosive or incendiary bomb because everything quickly caught fire.

Who would have thought that this would happen? They said we needed to pack our emergency suitcase. We had it. But would you really notice it in such a situation? After the explosion, everything collapsed, dust, dark... In addition, after the first hit of the bomb, I lost my hearing and heard almost nothing. The plane immediately turned around and dropped a second bomb. But I didn’t hear it anymore.

Destroyed Borodianka, consequences of Russian bombardments

When we recovered a little, I asked the Terrorist Defense officer to take my son to the hospital because it was already curfew and it was dangerous to go on my own. My wife went to spend the night in some barn with neighbors, and I stayed at the destroyed apartment. In the morning, my son returned from the hospital, and suddenly, we saw Russian planes flying again. They dropped bombs on nine-story buildings.

Then we got ready and went to visit our friends in the village of Zahaltsi, about 10 kilometers from Borodianka. From there, the wife and son left for the Rivne region. But I stayed and survived the entire occupation. I saw the Russians entering the house. They climbed over the fence, and the dog started barking.

I saw that he had reloaded his machine gun and wanted to shoot. I said: “Why are you shooting”?! We put the dog into a kennel.

I said again: “What do you want?” And they: “Well, we are looking to see if there is a DRG [A sabotage and reconnaissance group]...” Then they said to write on the fence: “People live here.”

I think this is so they know where they can go and rob and where they can’t.

On 1 April, the Russians left Zahaltsi, Borodianka, and the Kyiv Region. And I returned to Borodianka. The entire apartment burned down. I counted that at least ten people died, and these were only the people I knew personally. One of them was a doctor, his wife, and a child. A doctor was found, but his wife and child were not.

More than four dozen dead were found under the rubble in Borodianka. Eight high-rise buildings were completely destroyed, and 32 houses were partially damaged.

My neighbor, the prosecutor, also died; a wall fell from his apartment into our bedroom. They said that a panel slab collapsed on him. He was still alive. He called his granddaughter and asked to be pulled out. He died, burned. Their bodies were only recovered in April.

I have a good attitude towards all Russians as a people. But towards Putin and the military, my feeling, of course, is negative.

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