Vladimir Putin’s corrupt secrets revealed in Borodyanka massacre

BORODYANKA, Ukraine – “I feel empty, like this picture,” Maria Litvin, a 26-year-old painter, told The Daily Beast as she held up a picture of two destroyed buildings, one on each side of a pile of rubble. there had been an apartment block less than six weeks ago.

She was standing in what was left of her bedroom in an apartment in Borodyanka, a small town about 40 miles from Kiev, which the Russians have leveled with hell. The floor was covered with shards of glass and smashed furniture. Had Litvin been in the room when the bombs rained down on March 1, the glass could have torn her to pieces. Instead, when they heard the jets flying overhead, she, her mother and grandmother hid in their cramped shower and bathroom and were spared.

But 27 people in their apartment complex were not so lucky and were killed in the explosion. Many had hidden in the basement of a building next door, which collapsed and buried them alive. Investigators believe there are still dozens of bodies under the rubble, and some may never be retrieved.

After Ukrainian forces pushed the Russians out of Kyiv Oblast on April 3, there was a brief period of cheering. The Ukrainians had resisted the initial Russian offensive, and the survival of their nation and its capital seemed assured. But this relief quickly turned into horror and disgust when the full extent of the war crimes committed in the cities occupied by Russia became clear. In Bucha alone, at least 500 bodies have been found, many apparently victims of summary execution. Local women and girls have reported repeated cases of rape and sexual violence.

When The Daily Beast visited Bucha this week, authorities were digging up a mass grave with nearly 60 residents on a plot of land next to a small church. A team of war crimes investigators was also present, inspecting the bodies for revealing markings of bindings around the neck and wrists indicating execution-like killings.

Despite the utter horror in Bucha, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has warned that the situation in Borodyanka could become even more serious.

Borodyanka is a classic “one-street town” with just over 10,000 people that the inhabitants talk about without much affection. Litvin said she, like many young people, had traveled as soon as she could to study in Kiev, and now spends most of her time in Ivano-Frankivsk in western Ukraine. The buildings along Borodyanka’s central avenue are dull gray Soviet-style high-rise apartment blocks, and the only hint of art or sculpture in the city is a statue of Ukraine’s national poet, Taras Shevchenko. Even this expression of culture was too much for the occupiers, who allegedly smashed the head of the statue the day they arrived.

Now Borodyanka is a hell of a devastation. Dozens of workers in orange vests shovel stones and concrete into heaps while bulldozers patrol the streets, digging for debris. In Bucha and Irpin, the main streets have already been mostly cleaned up, and bridges and buildings are being assessed for reconstruction. Shortly down the road from Irpin, there is a cemetery with dozens of burnt out wrecks of cars that have been towed and dumped in a clearing near a forest. The residents here can not imagine that the city will ever be rebuilt, such is the extent of the destruction.

They told us, ‘Borodyanka must be destroyed, it can no longer exist.’

Borodyanka was directly on the path of the Russian advance to Kiev, so Putin’s troops chose to level it with air strikes to level their advance. At least a dozen apartment blocks were destroyed along with dozens of smaller houses, shops and a supermarket.

A resident, a white-haired man in his sixties, who did not want to be named, showed us the remains of an apartment where his dead neighbors had recently been pulled from. They were a young couple with two children, all of whom had been killed instantly. “There was no military here, no Ukrainian army, only a few poorly armed territorial volunteers. There was no reason for this type of attack, ”he said.

Tatiana, Litvin’s 50-year-old neighbor who only wanted to share his first name, said that after the first airstrikes, the humanitarian situation in the city quickly deteriorated. “My doctor – one of the last in town – also died in that basement,” she said. Then they packed their things and went to a shelter for refugees in the basement near the station in Borodyanka. They spent almost all of their time there during the invasion.

“Russians just fired tanks and weapons at every building. They told us, ‘Borodyanka must be destroyed, it can no longer exist,'” Tatiana told The Daily Beast. “They even tried to make us believe that the Ukrainian army was defeated,” she added. Now that the Russians are gone, Tatiana lives with her husband and mother in a house nearby.

Russia, of course, dismisses all of these allegations as “false news” and claims that its soldiers have acted with the utmost restraint on overwhelming evidence of their barbarism.

Ukrainians are preparing for an even larger catalog of crimes to emerge as they explore areas around the nearby cities of Chernihiv and Sumy, which were also besieged by Russian forces that withdrew at the same time as those attacking Kiev. The Russian Foreign Ministry has already warned that Western intelligence services have prepared for further “provocations” in these regions – a sure sign that they are aware of what their troops have left behind and are prepared for more crimes to be uncovered.

So far, the residents of Borodyanka have created a temporary memorial out of the belongings of the dead. It sits close to a bomb crater left behind by the worst airstrikes, with an oversized baby teddy bear with empty white eyes staring out over the wreck.

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