“Only the elderly remained alive”: the horror and destruction after the passage of Russian forces in Makariv, another suburb of Kyiv

MAKARIV.- It’s raining, it’s cold and there is a completely destroyed Russian tank in the middle of the main avenue of Makariv, a town 50 kilometers west of Kyiv which is another postcard of the destruction and horror left by Russian soldiers in this martyred area of ​​Ukraine. Although no common graves were found here, as it turned out, according to LA NACION Vadym Tocar, mayor of this city, 133 civilians were counted dead in the fierce fighting that took place in this district, among which there are several “tortured” .

“The prosecutors who analyze war crimes are analyzing the bodies found with signs of torture”says Tocar, a 39-year-old lawyer, elected mayor of this town of 15,000 inhabitants for the second time in 2020 and recently honored by the Ukrainian president, Volodimir Zelenskyfor his courage in defending this key city so that the Russians could not advance towards the capital, Kiev.

“On the first day of the invasion, the Ukrainian army was not here, we only had our territorial defense forces. When the Russians got close to Makariv, we counterattacked with what we had, no heavy weapons, only role-playing games. (portable anti-tank rocket launchers), ”he says, dressed in military uniform and confirming that all the mayors of this war that has been going on for 45 days have become virtual commanders of their cities.

Vadym Play, mayor of Makariv
Vadym Play, mayor of MakarivElizabeth Piqué

The bridge to reach Makariv is impressive: it is still good to cross by car, but it boasts two craters – the result of bombing – over four meters in diameter that allow us to see the river flowing below. The classic gilded dome of the church at the entrance is intact, but with holes in it and damaged like everything around it.

The city seems half empty. The mayor says, in fact, that almost everyone left as soon as the war began, when two columns of Russian battleships entered between 2 and 3 March, one of 65 vehicles and the other of 86. Most of the population fled days earlier and fewer than 1,000 residents remained in Makariv. Now that the Russians are gone and the area has been cleared, there is a traffic of people driving back to see the damage, which is huge.

A man who comes out of a restaurant that is closed like any other business in this devastated area like no other, which has broken glass and a tin roof, as soon as he sees this correspondent and other colleagues arriving sale showing, gesturing, that on a branch of a tree a few meters from the wrecked tank that is still in the middle of the avenue, the guts of a Russian soldier hang. “There were 17 people there, in that tub: 9 died and what hangs from the tree is part of a body,” he says.

A Russian tank in the middle of an avenue in Makariv
A Russian tank in the middle of an avenue in MakarivElizabeth Piqué

On the outskirts of Makariv, an area of ​​countryside like Pilar, there was an enchanting Golf Club. In the midst of a sepulchral silence broken by the song of frogs, you can see the green and manicured grass of the deserted golf course. In the distance you can see a white electric car, some abandoned golf carts, a hole in the ground left by a bomb. The club house, a modern building with large windows, is vandalized. “As soon as the invasion began, this place was occupied by an elite Russian commando, by special forces and that is why it was not looted inside, as happened in other places”explains a Ukrainian officer. In the middle of the ruins stands a toy car and, in the garden, the sculpture of an elephant lying on the ground.

At that moment appears Iuri Zavchuk, director of the National Museum of the Second World War in Ukraine, in kyiv, who says he has documented the terrible destruction of this area for days. “For me it’s the same thing that happened during the Second World War: the same methods, the same events, the same catastrophe, the same tragedy … It’s absolutely unbelievable … Putin is an idiot”commented to LA NACION.

Crates of Russian ammunition and weapons on the outskirts of Makariv
Crates of Russian ammunition and weapons on the outskirts of MakarivElizabeth Piqué

Zavchuk recommends going to the town of Andriivka, which is a few kilometers away. We follow his advice and in a few minutes we find ourselves in a Dantesque scenario, even more frightening than what we have seen until then.

Almost nothing is left standing in Andriivka, a rural town that was occupied by Russian troops from late February to early April. From there, where the destruction is overwhelming, the Russians fired artillery and Grad missiles in Makariv. In the part of the city that used to be the first line, the military green ammunition boxes are evident and the missiles are still lined up, unused.

“It was horrible, we lived underground, in the cellar, for almost a month, without water, without electricity, without food”, says Olga, a peasant woman in her seventies with a hat, glasses and boots, who, like everyone, denounces that the soldiers who occupied the city were buryats. That is to say, belonging to a Siberian ethnic group of Mongolian origin which, according to testimonies, showed extreme ferocity. “They destroyed our houses, they raped women and killed all men in cold blood, at least 40. They only left the elderly alive and stole and looted everything they found: televisions, food, furniture and even used clothes. “accuses the woman, who breaks up telling the horror.

Olga, a farmer from Andriivka, described the horrors committed by the invading troops
Olga, a farmer from Andriivka, described the horrors committed by the invading troopsElizabeth Piqué

Due to the rain there are puddles and mud on the main street of Andriivka. Trucks from humanitarian organizations come and go carrying aid, first aid, locals on bicycles and people with cell phones photographing the remains of Russian tanks.

Sergei, bearded and wearing a black cap, says he was spared from the Russian carnage because he lives in a part of the city that was not the first line, which was occupied by a column of Russian-Slavic soldiers. not as brutal as buryats. “Five soldiers buryats They raped a woman and then killed her. And when a Russian Slavic officer found out, he had them executed, “he says. “There is no justification,” he says, his face still terrified.

The Russians also bombed the city of Kalynivka, which is south of Makariv. There is a huge warehouse of a destroyed logistics company and a residential area with a five-story apartment building pierced by missiles. Maxim, 31, and his wife Natasha, say that no one died in that attack because everyone had already fled and that they returned home to take the things still intact they kept in the trunk: an ironing board, a sled, boys bicycles, the Christmas tree, a desk chair and other undamaged items.

Cars turned into twisted irons in Andriivka
Cars turned into twisted irons in AndriivkaElizabeth Piqué

The same is being done by Raisa, a neighbor on the fifth floor, who managed to enter her apartment because the stairs, full of rubble and black from the fire that unleashed the missile launched by the Russians, are still intact. But the building – in whose apartments one can guess suspended lives, libraries, a skateboard, the kitchen where the oven was left open, an image of the Virgin left in a double room – is so destroyed and lost that it rains even inside. You can still smell the smoke, there is glass everywhere and the feeling is that you are breathing in toxic elements.

Cap of gray wool, Raisa says she is married – her husband is waiting for her downstairs, he accompanied her to get things from the apartment where they have lived all her life, but which is now uninhabitable -, two children and four grandchildren. when I ask him if you fear that the Russians may return to this key area of ​​western Kiev, he replies that “of course I do”, with eyes full of fearstill in shock from this nightmare he is experiencing and never imagined.

When I ask the same question to the young and heroic mayor of Makariv, Vadym Tokar, the answer is different. “We are not afraid. We are ready to face the Russians and now we are better prepared than before,” he says. Although he admits that yes, that ghost that scares Raisa and many others in this torn area is real: “That’s right, there’s still a chance they’ll come back.”

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