Borodianka, a small town northwest of kyiv, has been devastated after the passage of Russian troops, who bombed and fired mercilessly, the neighbors say, destroying everything and killing indiscriminately. But unlike Bucha, where more than 300 bodies have been recovered, no one knows where the bodies are.
“Yes, we’ve seen a lot of bodies. They’ve killed a lot of people. Now they’re gone, I guess they’ve been taken away,” says Anatoli, a 47-year-old Ukrainian, who is watching the destruction on a park bench, among the few who stands. Anatoli witnessed a Russian tank kill six of his friends for making soldiers the sign of victory; how they hit his wife on the head with a kalashnikov -he has lost hearing in one ear because of that-; or how they shot neighbors after making them leave their houses deceived into thinking that they would give them food.
“First they launched airstrikes, then the tanks came in firing ammunition, and then the Russian soldiers burst into houses screaming,” he says. His friend Alexander, sitting next to him, agrees and corroborates. “We know you are hiding in cellars and shelters. We will come and kill you,” the Russians threatened, according to Anatoli. “The Russians are bad,” adds his friend, although they say there were also Chechens and Georgians with the Russian troops.
Worse than Bucha
The cost of lives in Borodianka, where only ruins remain after the Russian occupation, has not yet been quantified, but the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Irina Venediktova, already announced a few days ago that “in terms of human lives” this small town of 12,000 inhabitants, 60 kilometers from the capital, is the worst stop in the region. “I think we’re going to talk a lot about Borodianka“, indicated the prosecutor, who predicted that the figures may be more scandalous than those of Bucha, where more than 300 bodies have been found lying in the streets and in mass graves after the Russian withdrawal, a massacre that has shocked the world.
In Borodianka the destruction of homes and infrastructure is much worse than in neighboring Bucha or Irpin: the passing of the tanks has destroyed the pavement, full of holes; no house is unscathed and dozens of ten-storey apartment blocks on Lenin Street, built in Soviet times, have been reduced to rubble.
Dozens or hundreds of civilian victims may still be trapped under the rubble, where rescue teams began searching today, although they fear there may be mines. “There are a lot of corpses down there. The building fell on them,” says a neighbor.
The authorities collected some bodies from the streets when entering the “liberated” Borodianka on April 1, but nothing compared to the trail of corpses that has been seen in Bucha, although they assure that there are more civilian victims here. Then where are the bodies? Most neighbors shrug their shoulders when asked that question. They know that people have disappeared, some witnessed deaths and all lived for more than a month hearing gunshots and explosions almost constantly.
“The Russians were collecting the dead so as not to leave a record,” says a man who does not want to give his name. “They had a crematorium where they have made them all disappear, now they are just ashes,” he says, a thesis that has not been confirmed until now.
Ludmila, 70, and Galina, 63, have lived through more than a month of Russian occupation crouched in the basement of the house of the first, without light or gas, rationing the little food they had and struggling to get water. “At night they would stand on the banks of the river, and shoot at everything they saw,” says Galina, who says that she has not seen the dead, but has heard them from her hiding place. “They came bombing and shooting everything,” she adds.
“We were always locked up, very scared. When we left the basement, there was only ruins and destruction,” says Ludmila, who carries cabbage, several cans of food, powdered milk and bread in the basket of a bicycle, which they have just been delivered. of humanitarian aid.
Burnt tanks, overturned and shot cars, clothing on the ground or military boots still fill the streets and access roads to Borodianka, but what is most striking are the missile and ammunition remnants, traces of a Russian offensive that raged against this modest town on the outskirts of kyiv, without knowing the extent of what happened.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.