‘What is this pit?’ I asked the Russians. They said: ‘This is a graveyard for you’

Evidence of war crimes mounts after invaders forced into a hasty retreat from towns outside Kyiv, as villagers reveal their chilling threats


When the air felt fresh, Tetiana Oleksiienko used to love spending time in her garden.

Now, she shakes at the sight of it.

Gone are the apple, cherry and apricot trees that nourished her family. They were all ripped up by the Russian soldiers digging a trench to serve as her grave.

Ms Oleksiienko, 69, hid in a neighbour’s cellar with her daughter and grandchildren when Russian troops invaded Andrivka, a small village 70km outside of Kyiv, more than a month ago.

It was only when hunger forced her to go above ground that she returned to her home to find the soldiers.

“They started digging with shovels and then drove in a tractor,” Ms Oleksiienko told The Telegraph, bursting into tears.

“I asked them: ‘What is this pit in my garden?’ And the soldiers said: ‘This is a cemetery.’ That’s what they said: ‘This is a graveyard for you.’“

The soldiers told Ms Oleskiienko they had been ordered to make the grave, which was roughly 7ft deep.

“They only failed to fill it because the Ukrainians took back control,” she said.

Western officials said on Thursday that Russian forces had completed their withdrawal from Kyiv, beaten back by fierce resistance.

It was only the soldiers’ hasty retreat that has stopped them hiding evidence of war crimes.

In Mariupol, the city’s mayor said on Thursday that Russian troops were burning the dead in mobile crematoriums to erase proof of their massacres. Mass graves, similar to those in Ms Oleskiienko’s backyard, have been found across the Kyiv region, while corpses remain strewn in the streets.

Vitalii Cherkasov, a member of Andrivka’s village council, said women and children had been raped by Russian soldiers during the occupation, which ended a week ago.

Many were taken as “human shields” and kept in the school beside Ms Oleksiienko’s home.

The current death toll of 45, Mr Cherkasov said, would surely rise once locals uncover those who remain beneath the rubble of their flattened homes. The heavy mining of the village means that will be a slow and painful process.

Almost every building in Andrivka bears signs of the war. The majority are now just piles of brick and wood. Those that still stand are studded with bullet holes, the windows shattered and doors blown off the frames.

Olha, who raised her children here, told The Telegraph she was determined to rebuild the home they had grown up in. Her car, still parked in what would have been her garage, is now a burnt-out shell.

“I won’t leave,” Olha insisted, carrying a framed picture of her son who is still fighting in the army. “I will rebuild our home. If we all evacuate, we will have nothing left.”

It will take years to achieve, she knows. But the crocuses and snowdrops that peak out among the shards of glass and brick give her hope she can start again.

In nearby Lypivka, which was also under Russian occupation until the end of March, a grave containing the bodies of six Ukrainian fighters was opened on Wednesday.

The bodies of six Ukrainian soldiers are retrieved from a mass grave in Lypivka
The bodies of six Ukrainian soldiers are retrieved from a mass grave in Lypivka CREDIT: Danielle Sheridan

The men had been temporarily buried at Lypivka’s Intercession Church of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, after local villagers had taken it upon themselves to collect perished fighters from the nearby fields.

One woman, Tonya, had suggested to her husband that he approach the Russian soldiers and ask if they would consider holding their fire while villagers collected corpses. To his surprise, the Russians agreed.

Vitaly Sergie, the father of a 24-year-old Ukrainian who had been killed in battle on March 11, stood watch as the bodies were gently pulled out of the soil.

He wiped away tears as his son, still dressed in his military fatigues, was placed in a white body bag lined up next to his fallen comrades.

Not far from the church, Valerii Tymchuk had just returned home for the first time in over a month after fleeing the Russian advance.

He found a scene of destruction. Russian soldiers had stolen his gold, thrown his wife’s underwear drawer on the ground, burnt a hole in his mattress and littered the floor with alcohol bottles and cigarettes.

Outside, graffiti had been spray-painted in Russian on his garage door.

The first line said: “Boom.” The second line read: “Sorry. We didn’t want to,” followed by a third line which inferred that the Ukrainians had to be punished because they were “Banderites” – a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement.

“They make out like we deserve this,” Mr Tymchuk said. “I can’t make sense of it.”

Black swastikas had been sprayed on to fences nearby, presumably by Russian soldiers who had been ordered to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.

Klavdiia Voskoboinikova, 87, who retired to the village of Korolivka, was one of those who refused to evacuate. She stayed put, feeding the dogs left behind by their owners.

“It is very scary, they are shooting people, oh my god,” she said. “How did this happen?”

The bombings shattered the windows in Ms Voskoboinikova’s cottage and she has been left without electricity or heating. Living alone, she is unable to talk to her children, who have all moved far away.

When day falls to night, she would normally read, or watch television. Now she simply sits in the dark and waits for morning to come.

Dispatch: Enormous grave dug by Russian troops intended to bury a village | Ukraine


  1. Danielle presents in her heartbreaking video incontrovertible evidence of planned, systematic, state-sanctioned genocide by degenerate savages enthusiastically working for the putinazi murder gang that is even more evil than the nazis of WW2.
    RuSSia must be completely crushed. It is the most evil country that has ever existed.

  2. Telegraph this morning:
    “Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called upon the West to impose sanctions that are economically destructive enough for Russia to end its war.

    In his daily video address early on Thursday, Mr Zelensky said Western countries must reject Russian oil and completely block Russian banks from the international finance system.

    The desperate plea for greater action comes as Western countries announced new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday.

    The President said the sanctions had a “spectacular look”, but did not go far enough.

    “New investments in Russia are blocked, restrictions are applied against several systemic banks in Russia, personal sanctions are added, as well as other restriction,” Mr Zelensky said .

    “This package has a spectacular look. But this is not enough.

    “It can hardly be called commensurate with the evil that the world saw in Bucha. With the evil that continues in Mariupol, in the shelling of Kharkiv, in Russia’s attempt to launch a new global bloody offensive in Donbas.”

  3. Telegraph:

    “Kyiv horror: Russians reportedly search for signs of resistance
    Russians were reportedly searching for tattoos among Ukrainians and other signs supporting the resistance in Kyiv, Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko has claimed.

    Tortured bodies of naked men and women lay scattered across streets, Ms Vasylenko describing the horror as “one massive war crime evidence scene”.

    People told to keep away from Chernihiv region
    The clean-up continues in the war-torn Chernihiv region of Ukraine, with residents told to steer clear of the area for the time being.

    Buildings have been destroyed with piles of rubble sprawled across the city.

    Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko said land mines and explosives were still being removed.

    Ukraine chairman calls Russia’s brutal war ‘genocide’
    The chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament has labelled Russia’s war on Ukraine “genocide”.

    “What is happening now in Ukraine – in the very heart of Europe, in the 21st century – is nothing short of a brutal war,” speaker Ruslan Stefanchuk said during a joint briefing with PACE President Tiny Kox.

    “When people are getting murdered only because of their Ukrainian nationality, it is called genocide.”

    The Ukrainian Parliament will appeal to international parliaments to the recognise the alleged war crimes of Russia as genocide.

    Evidence of war crimes mounts after invaders forced into a hasty retreat from towns outside Kyiv, as villagers reveal their chilling threats.

    Footage captured by a military drone has revealed an explosive battle between a lone Ukrainian tank and a column of Russian armoured vehicles
    Leave now or face death, Donbas residents told as Vladimir Putin looks for a victory in the east.

    Elderly Ukrainian woman pulled out alive after house fell on her like pile of matchsticks
    Pressure grows on European countries to end all Kremlin-controlled gas imports, as scale of dependency on Vladimir Putin is revealed.

    Russians ‘burning bodies in mobile crematoriums to cover up Mariupol war crimes’

    Trapped in a warzone: surrogate mothers and newborns ensnared in Ukraine’s crisis.

    Russian tank ‘opens fire on cyclist’ in Bucha where bodies later discovered.

    Russia braces for first debt default since Bolshevik Revolution.

    video: Ukraine can ‘absolutely’ win the war, says US
    07 Apr 2022, 2:56am
    Ukraine can ‘absolutely’ win the war, says US

    06 Apr 2022, 9:33pm
    ‘What is this pit?’ I asked the Russians. They said: ‘This is a graveyard for you’

    EU spends 35 times more on Russian energy than weapons for Ukraine

    Pictured: Elderly Ukrainian woman pulled out alive after house fell on her like pile of matchsticks.

    Watch: Lone Ukrainian tank takes on Russian armoured vehicle convoy – and sends them fleeing.

    Protesters set fire to Lake Como villa of Kremlin propagandist and pour red paint in pool.

    Five developments as Joe Biden vows to ‘ratchet up pain’ for Vladimir Putin

    Germany in talks over security guarantees for Ukraine, says Olaf Scholz

    Leave now or face death, Donbas residents told as Vladimir Putin looks for a victory in the east

    George Galloway’s Twitter account marked as ‘Russia state-affiliated media’

    €35bn for Russian gas, €1bn to arm Ukraine: the EU’s shocking spending that makes a mockery of sanctions.

    Russians ‘burning bodies in mobile crematoriums to cover up Mariupol war crimes’.

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