She grabbed his hands and cried, “Oleh, Oleh.”
“The Russians were sitting on the curb drinking water from plastic bottles and just looking at me,” she said. “They did not say anything, they showed no emotion. They were like an audience in the theater.”
That was when she let out a “wild scream, like something I’ve never heard,” her father said.
“Shoot me!” she screamed. “Shoot me and the cat!”
Russia-Ukraine war: key developments
Mariupol evacuation. Ukrainian officials promised to continue a large-scale evacuation from the ruined city despite renewed Russian shelling that has threatened to derail efforts to rescue hundreds of civilians sheltering under a steelworks.
She looked at the soldiers and stared at their boots, but the commander eventually lowered his gun and said, “I’m not killing women.”
He gave Iryna and her father three minutes to walk.
Bucha’s population is about 40,000, but all but 3,000 to 4,000 residents had fled before the Russian occupation, city officials said. About 400 civilians are believed to have been killed, meaning about one in 10 people who were here.
Some were shot execution style with hands tied behind their backs. Others were terribly beaten. Many were like Oleh: no military experience, unarmed and posed no obvious threat.
So many corpses were left on the streets of Bucha that city officials worried about a plague. But they did not have enough workers to collect the bodies. So they called in volunteers. One of them was Vladyslav Minchenko, a tattoo artist.
“Most of the blood I had ever seen was in a piercing,” he said crookedly.
But soon he was picking up dead people and body parts, zipping them in black bags and taking them to a mass grave outside Bucha’s main church. He retrieved Oleh’s body with its crushed head, he said, which was confirmed by video evidence.