BUCHA.- The open black plastic bags are placed next to each other, in a row. Each has a yellow plastic number next to it, which counts the horror, the massacre Some are ajar and it is impossible not to see deformed purple faces, swollen abdomens. Silence is sepulchral loofah, the symbol city of horror of this war who has already served six weeks and continues to sow death and destruction, now in southeastern Ukraine, where a Russian missile on the Kramatorsk railway station left 50 dead – five of them children – and at least 86 injured.
After scary images who shocked the world a few days ago, when photos of dozens of handcuffed bodies abandoned on the streets after the withdrawal of the Russians came to light, in Bucha even more atrocious stories begin to emerge, which speak of torture.
It is 11 am on a gray and rainy day and in what used to be the back garden of the Orthodox Church of San Andrés – a modern temple with the classic golden bell towers -, an imposing Common well. Fenced with duct tape, as happens at the crime scene, the coroners work in the pit wearing white overalls, accompanied by dozens of officers in blue vests who read “War crimes prosecutors” (war crimes prosecutors), are eliminating, one by one, the corpses that the city authorities, overwhelmed by the massacre carried out here by the Russian forces, were burying there. There are shovels on the mountain of sand, folding chairs, many heavily armed soldiers and officials writing and trying to identify the dead.
“They are all normal people, civilians, many of them were lying in the street … They were people who were trying to escape and the Russian soldiers shot them,” he said. explains the THE NATION Don Andri, the parish priest of a church whose garden, now transformed into an open-air cemetery, makes news today and is also visited as an example of horror by the president of the European Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen.
The silence is broken by a bulldozer that continues to dig into the ghostly grave, by the crowing of a crazed rooster that comes from a few blocks away and by the crying, mostly shy, of people who come to recognize relatives and friends. .
In front of dozens of cameramen Volodimir is an exception, a young man with a black wool cap, a short beard, who cries inconsolably. “I recognized my brother immediately when they took him out of the pit, his name was Dimitri, there was also a neighbor next to him”, Volodimir shouts, between sobs that take his breath away. “We wanted to join the Territorial Defense Forces, but they refused us because they no longer had weapons”, he adds, desperate for the pain.
Anastasia, who protects herself from the rain with a pink hood, says that there is a friend in that tomb. Her name was Alexander and she was 38 and she says she’d rather not go see him now that he’s one more corpse, lined up in one of the black plastic bags. “He was absolutely peaceful, he never did anything to anyone and The Russians tortured him. ” grievance. “Yes, they tied their hands and covered their eyes and the soldiers tortured them. But they hadn’t hurt anyone. ” he insists, without collapsing. How do you know they have been tortured? “A person who was with them but who was released told us about it”, replies this young woman, who says she has not yet given her testimony in front of the prosecutors present and does not know what the procedure should do.
There is smell of rotten meat, many start wearing chin straps, handkerchiefs and scarves over their noses. The fetid air permeates everything. Tatiana Lepinska, blue eyes, short blond hair, coordinator of the call center for which he opened the municipality of Bucha report the missing he says THE NATION what are they getting in between 300 and 400 calls per day. “At least 3,000 people have called so far,” he says.
He also witnessed what happened in Bucha, a city just 30 kilometers northwest of Kyiv that was captured on February 25, the day after the invasion launched by Vladimir Putin against this former Soviet republic, by Chechen soldiers. Days later, Ukrainian forces destroyed the armored column the Chechens had entered – whose demolished remains can still be seen on Volkzal’na Street – and on March 4, more Russian soldiers arrived, accompanied by Siberians, with Asian eyes, according to the neighbors . They went on with this dirty war against civilians.
Tatiana, who managed to escape from a “green corridor” on 11 March and who returned yesterday, he has been in Bucha long enough to see the beginning of the carnage. “All of Bucha’s neighbors were locked up in basements; Those who tried to leave by car were massacred with machine guns, as happened with the volunteers who distributed medicines on bicycles. Russian soldiers also killed them in cold blood.“, Complaint.
“They also shot, with a tank, an acquaintance who lived on the fifth floor who dared to look out the window. They did this intentionally and then burned his body because they set his house on fire. When some of the neighbors went out to try to put out the fire, they were killed too, “he adds.
“The Russians say this was a” special operation “, but what the soldiers who entered Bucha did was a genocide“, Accuses Tatiana, a native of Donetsk – a city of Donbass, a disputed and under fire southeastern region -, from which she moved in 2016. There too, she assures us, she witnessed how the Russians killed all those who identified as Ukrainian. “And they killed everyone here because we are all Ukrainians, it was genocide,” she shouts.
Meanwhile, in the only hospital in Bucha, they say that the morgue only reopened today, that when the Russians were there it had stopped working, like everything else in this devastated ghost town. Two women from the funeral home report that the refrigerator van outside, where you can also see a coffin with a handwritten name on a piece of paper and a red wagon with a corpse, “There are several tortured men.”
Accompany a young soldier from the Ukrainian army THE NATION and other Italian journalists at a recreation center in Bucha, which stands in the middle of a park, in front of a church with damaged windows. There, in the basement of a building, they found five tortured people. In another building that was the main base of the invaders, you can see the food rations of the Russian military, mattresses thrown on the floor where the troops slept and, on the second floor, on a sofa, necklaces, costume jewelery and other jewels, evidently looted from homes. “Surely the Russians were trying to figure out if there was something valuable,” explains the soldier.
In the garden of the church of San Andrés where the bulldozers continue to remove the black bags, when I ask the parish priest, Don Andri, what he would say to the Russians who say that the Bucha massacre was staged, he shakes his head. And he replies by taking his cell phone out of his pocket: he shows the images of when they began to bury, in that same mass grave, because the morgue was not working and to bury them, the dozens and dozens of corpses lying in the streets of Bucha. “We started burying the dead on March 10 – he assures us -, we had problems with the internet connection and we could not directly upload these videos. The Russians lie, there was a genocide here. “