Russia shows its worst side in the Ukraine war. Countless atrocities have already been committed by Russian soldiers. Whole residential areas were razed to the ground, civilians were brutally killed.
The Ukrainian Mykola K.* (33) also had to experience the soldiers. He lived with his two brothers Yevhen* and Dmytro* († 36) and his sister Iryna* in the village of Dovzhyk near the city of Chernihiv. Although the village was occupied by the Russians, the lives of the siblings had changed little since the invasion. Until March 18th.
Russians were convinced of the guilt of the brothers
When a Russian column was bombed in Dovzhyk, soldiers swarmed out to call those responsible to account. They immediately came across the siblings’ house. Three Russian soldiers broke into the house and told the three brothers to kneel while they searched the house for anything that might link them to the bombed convoy. The sister was out of the house at the time.
As Mykola tells CNN, the Russians were convinced of the brothers’ guilt when they found their grandfather’s military medals and a military bag belonging to Yevhen. Then they got to feel the unscrupulousness of the Russian soldiers.
For four days, the three brothers were interrogated and tortured in a basement. “They hit me all over my body with a metal rod and put the barrel of a pistol in my mouth,” says Mykola.
One by one they were shot and thrown into the pit
On the fourth day of detention, the brothers were tortured so badly that they lost consciousness. The soldiers then blindfolded them and tied their hands and legs. The three were driven to an abandoned property in a military vehicle.
While the Russians were digging a pit, the brothers were forced to kneel, blindfolded. Suddenly a shot was fired. The eldest, Dmytro, fell dead. Then the same thing happened to Yevhen, the youngest.
“I thought I was next,” Mykola said. But he probably had more than one guardian angel on his side. The bullet just entered his cheek and exited next to his right ear. He lived! But in order not to attract attention, he played dead.
For the Russians, the matter was now settled. The brothers were thrown into the pit and covered with earth. “It was difficult for me to breathe because Dmytro was on top of me,” Mykola recalls. He cannot say how long he was buried like this. The memories are too vague.
The only thing he remembers is that somehow he managed to free himself from the pit. With the last of his strength, Mykola was able to drag himself to a nearby house, where a woman took him in and took care of him overnight.
“I was lucky and now I just have to get on with my life”
The heartbreaking reunion with his sister Iryna took place the next day. “I came home and there was Mykola,” she recalls. When asked where the other brothers were, Mykola simply replied: “There are no others.”
For Mykola it is clear: It is a miracle that he survived. His scars on his cheek and behind his ear are still visible, but that’s nothing compared to being alive today. “I was lucky and now I just have to get on with my life.”
Now he wants to spread his story. Because he is convinced: “Such things happen, and my case is just one of many”. Even the public prosecutor’s office in the Chernihiv region doesn’t want to simply shelve the brutal incident. She has already opened a war crimes investigation.
Now that the Russians have withdrawn from Chernihiv, Mykola has buried his two brothers in one grave. (ced)
* Names known