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.

‘When I was evacuated, I only had a pair of trousers, shoes, a jacket and my documents’

06.03.2024    available: Українською | На русском
Oleksandr Vasyliev
Petro Neshchadym is a pensioner from Moshchun (a village in Kyiv Region). His house was destroyed. Petro hopes that the war will end and he will be healthy enough to build a new house.

My name is Petro Neshchadym. I am 62 years old. I have lived in Moshchun for 15 years. Before the war I was retired, but I worked part-time as a security guard. Since our house was destroyed during the hostilities, my family and I moved to Cherkassy Region. We now live in an old house, but we try to make it comfortable.

Do you remember the 24th of February?

I remember that day. I had just finished my shift at work. It was late and there were no buses, so I got a lift home. I didn’t really believe the war was going to start. And then, I don’t remember the exact time, but 28 Russian helicopters flew over our house. I ran out of the house, my children ran out too. The helicopters flew over and I saw them circling over the Hostomel airport and shooting. They were flying very low, about a metre from the tops of the trees. When I was young I served in the air force, so I have seen planes flying low, but I have never seen the helicopters flying so low... Later they descended even lower, almost to the ground, and flew over the river towards the Hostomel airport.

Did you see the Russian military landing in Hostomel?

Yes, I did. The first two or three helicopters hovered over the airport and the others circled the sky, dropped the paratroopers and started to land. It took about 20 minutes: they dropped the paratroopers, there was a firefight, and then they flew away.

Have you seen also the Russian planes, apart from the Russian helicopters?

Well, I saw the helicopters, but I also saw their planes. They were far away, I do not know whose they were, but they were flying from the Russian side. They reached the Irpin Bridge and flew back, so I think those were their planes.

What happened in the following days?

There were shootings, our military and their equipment were in Moshchun. My daughter and her children left and my wife and I stayed. We evacuated later — on 6 March (2022).

Did the Russians bomb Moshchun in the first days of the invasion?

Yes, they bombed us. A shell hit my balcony, it was on fire, there was rubble everywhere. I put out the fire. But all in all the house was destroyed later, when we left the village.

Why didn’t you evacuate during the first days of the invasion?

Well, we didn’t want to leave. At first, a lot of people stayed here. But when our military brought in their equipment, they told us to leave. So, we left.

How did you escape the shelling?

My wife and I used to hide in our basement. One day a bomb hit our neighbour’s house just as I was passing by.

Was it emotionally difficult to endure the shelling?

To be honest, it was easier emotionally when the shelling actually happened. Only now I began to feel the full horror. I didn’t feel it then.

Was your property damaged?

Everything I had is gone! I’ll tell you something: when I was evacuated, I only had a pair of trousers, shoes, a jacket and my documents. I had nothing else. Everything I had was destroyed.

Destroyed house of Petro Neshchadym in Moshchun

What are your plans?

We’ll see. We will rebuild step by step, but first the war must be over. During the war, who knows what we’ll do. But we will try to rebuild the house.

Do you think everything will be all right?

Of course I do! I am a builder. I built my house myself, so I will build another. The most important thing is good health and an end to the war. We don’t have much money, but we will build a new house step by step.

Does the government help you?

How can it help me? They paid me 6600 UAH (about 160 EUR) once and helped us with food, but nothing more. By the way, the locals help my family a lot. For example, they helped us with furniture...

Were there many civilian deaths in Moshchun?

Yes, there were many deaths. I know one person whose mother was very badly injured in the head and neck. She committed suicide because of that, she hanged herself. I know that story for sure. And you can’t imagine how many such stories I have heard from others... A lot of people died or disappeared.

Do you think the Russian troops deliberately shelled residential buildings?

Of course! But our soldiers were there too, and our military equipment was nearby, so the Russian troops fired there.

Did the Russian troops loot in Moshchun?

Yes, they did! For example, the front door of my house was cut down with an axe. My neighbour’s lock was shot out. Another neighbour had all his clothes stolen, including all of his wife’s shoes. They stole everything they could. All the houses were broken into.

Before the war, could you imagine that Russia can launch a full-scale invasion?

I didn’t think about it. I thought: “Will he (Putin) really do this?” I thought it would only happen in Donbas at most.

Has your attitude to the Russians changed?

You bet. Though, I have relatives there — my nephews — but my attitude to Russia has changed completely.

Petro Neshchadym, Moshchun

Translation: International Society for Human Rights (German Section)

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