Kateryna Ukraintseva, a city councillor and Ukraine defence force volunteer, tells of random killings and says Russians came looking for her
ByKateryna Ukraintseva 5 April 2022 • 6:00am
When shells started flying towards our courtyard, everyone started hiding in the basements. We brought all of the old people and children down there. For us, living in the basement started in the first days of the war. We dragged everything [necessary], stocked up on water, and tried to make it as suitable for human life as possible.
Nobody was allowed to go outside until March 8 or 9. We were allowed to boil water on fires in the streets because there was no longer any power or water. It was the same day reports began to appear about civilian bodies in the streets.
To evacuate, people had to pass the Russian checkpoint — to get to the Ukrainian one. I don’t know how many people managed to get past the checkpoint; you’d have to count the corpses.
I didn’t see anybody get shot. The ones lying on Yablonskaya died as a result of random shooting. The ones who got away from Yablonskaya said it was hell. There was a panic.
At one point, Russian soldiers gave their dry rations to people in a basement, and then threw a grenade into the basement. That happened. I don’t have data about casualties from that story. During one of their “clean-up operations”, they were afraid to go into a dark basement in an apartment complex, so they threw a grenade in, just in case. By pure chance, nobody died.
I got the feeling there were different units dispersed throughout Bucha — they all behaved differently. The city centre got lucky — there was some kind of medical unit there. They even gave their diesel fuel to the hospital. Some of them didn’t want to fight.
But the ones who came in at the very beginning, when the occupation began, they were animals. A lot of people are missing. We don’t know what happened to them.
I was friends with one girl from Lesnaya Bucha. At some point, she sent me a photo of a dead body. They buried him themselves and left him next to his identification documents; I think the Russians chose him just because of the documents. His old ID, from 2005, said that he was an “adviser to the president”. Apparently, they noticed that phrase. He’s probably still identifiable, but that will come later.
I left because I started getting word that the Russian troops were searching for me. I needed to physically get out of there. I left, and three days later, they were in our home. I wouldn’t be of much use dead.