It’s a rainy afternoon in Buzova, just outside of Kyiv. Drops fall heavily on spectators’ canopies, on lush grass, and on newly opened tombs. The sound of ceilings in the ground spreads throughout the vault.
Oleksander Bugeruk stands under a black canopy. With a sad, sullen expression, he stared at two open graves. In one the son lies, and in the other lies his mother.
– What can I say?
Oleksandr looks at the ground thinking again about the moment he heard that his son had been killed.
– They called me and said that Oleksandrovich was dead. Then they came with his remains in the trunk of a car.
Here the Russian soldiers turned the house of the Smirnov family upside down: – I was so disgusted
Oleksandrovich (20 years old) was a professional driver. In the days after the start of the invasion, he helped evacuate those who wanted to leave the areas north of Kyiv.
One of his best friends was killed in Hostomel, so he went and took out his wife and daughter. That’s why he was in the car when it happened.
While his son was driving through Erbin – on the outskirts of Kyiv – he suddenly came face to face with a Russian tank. The tank fired a grenade.
The remainder of the son was delivered to Oleksandr in a sack.
– It was Sunday, February 27, Oleksandr recalled.
– Babu was killed two weeks later.
He was killed while searching for shelter
On Sunday, March 13th, the war required another family member. Lydia, Oleksandr’s mother, was preparing lunch when suddenly she heard artillery rounds around the neighbourhood.
I decided to go to a blasting room a few hundred meters away. I hurried out the door, and deliberately walked down the street as explosions rang out. Suddenly a grenade fell 150 meters in front of her.
She was killed by the shrapnel.
In the midst of the worst days of the war, Oleksandr had to dig temporary resting places for his son and mother. As the grenades loomed, the corpses sank into the cemetery we are in now.
Today, the remains will once again resurface. Oleksander will say goodbye decently and dignifiedly. In addition, deceased family members will be investigated in the war crimes investigation.
A former British soldier saves the life of a best friend in Ukraine: – We must act, or we will die
When Russian forces withdrew from the Kyiv region in late March, they left behind bombed neighborhoods, destroyed infrastructure, and hundreds of dead and civilians executed. And Irina Bryanichnikova, a spokeswoman for the police in the Kyiv region, confirmed that the investigation into this matter is in full swing.
She is also at the cemetery today with two police detectives.
– We have found more than 10 mass graves in the area so far. She added that about a thousand civilians were killed during the occupation.
The United Nations recently stated that more than 4,500 civilians have been killed in Ukraine so far in the conflict. The number of civilians wounded reached about 5,500.
Ukrainian prosecutors have so far recorded more than 15,000 war crimes since the start of the invasion, and trials are being conducted against several suspected Russian soldiers.
Rain falls on the five volunteers who will raise Lydia from the grave. Someone is standing in the hole trying to put strips of cloth around his body.
Oleksandr hugs the canopy as he watches it frequently, but attempts unsuccessfully to lift his mother with muscular force.
The body is covered with several blankets and colorful scarves. The men stumble across the grass with Lydia among them.
One of the detectives – Vitaly Sukhinin – pulls the scarf away from Lydia’s chalk white face. The skin is partially dissolved, but you can see the features of the 70-year-old’s expression. Oleksander looks at his mother from afar, and shakes with some cuddles, before taking his hand to his mouth. It turns red around his eyes, and turns away.
There is no doubt about war crimes
Oleksandrovich’s remains are wrapped in a dark cloth. It is heavy and impractical, and one of the men has to lift the remains of his body from under the pit. Finally, the grandmother and granddaughter are lying side by side on the green meadow.
Father is silent in the rain as he is tragically reunited with the family. In addition to losing his mother and son, his brother was kidnapped by Russian soldiers.
– Oleksandr’s brother was found with a bullet to the head. All indications indicate that he was tortured, since he was also wounded in the knees, says police spokeswoman – Irina Bryanichnikova.
Detective Sukhinin leans on a beanbag with Oleksandrovich’s remains. He carefully tries to open the tight knot, while grating on the scent. After a brief glimpse of the cloth, he rises and turns away.
– The son’s body is too damaged to be recognized, he begins to explain.
However, there is no doubt that the attack was a war crime. Her grandmother’s injuries also show that her death can be classified as a violation of the international law of war.
– Both are civilians, so it is clear that these are war crimes, as Irina Bryanichnikova concludes.
Sukhinin adds that both bodies will be removed for further examination and investigation.
Non-Ukrainian refugees die between Poland and Belarus: – I will never forget when they laughed at the children
“Nothing less than a tragedy”
Oleksander now stands with Ludmila Zakabluk – mayor of the neighboring municipality of Pyatisil. They speak in a low voice, while a black truck comes driving through the cemetery. Several volunteers placed the remains in body bags that were loaded into the back of the car.
“I knew the family well,” Zakblok told Netavizen.
The confident mayor stands without an umbrella as the rain falls on his face.
– It is a tragedy, she says, as she folds her arms along the side.
She describes the behavior of the Russians in the village as “brutal to animals”.
The war had also gone beyond her home. Russian tanks moved straight through the local cemetery. Then, they fired indiscriminately around them, and blew up a civilian car with two families who tried to flee, she said.
– In the car sat a mother with two children, ages 12 and 17, and two parents with a small child. She said they lived with me before they fled.
The car had “Children” written all over the body. It did not prevent the Russian tank from attacking them.
The mother of one family died. So did the 17-year-old, Zjablick says.
– I do not want anyone in society to experience this, and I pray to God that Europeans never face Russian troops. They destroy everything in their path that was built with hard work.
Civilian cars, including children, were blown to bits
Nobody cared that the car had the inscription “Child”.
“Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer.”