Twenty bodies, all men dressed in civilian clothes, appear to have been there for a few weeks, and was photographed on April 2 by AFP, the first media outlet to enter Bautja, a suburb of Kiev, after the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Twenty corpses are scattered on the same street: Yaplonska Street, in other words, Street of Apple Trees.
The films go around the world and spark international excitement and mark a turning point in the Ukrainian conflict, in its sixth week.
Quickly, Kue accused Russian forces of committing “war crimes” when they occupied the city in March.
On Thursday, the top 10 Russian soldiers were charged with “brutal treatment” by the services of Ukraine’s public prosecutor and making death threats against civilians in Bautista. The prosecutor clarified that an investigation is ongoing to find their possible involvement in the “premeditated murders”.
Yablounska Street, a pre-war residential street, seems to have become a hell for Boutcha residents in March. But what exactly is going on there? Who are these fallen men? How, when did they die, and who killed them? Also, the more subtle question, why?
Russian officials have accused Ukrainians of “manipulation” and have denied responsibility for the deaths left over from the occupation of the city.
The AFP spent several days interviewing relatives of the victims, who collected or attempted to retrieve the bodies, collecting copies from police and judicial sources.
By cross-examining the official list of victims by the authorities and consulting autopsy reports at the Bautza morgue, the AFP was able to identify these individuals and trace their journey to “Death Street.”
Here is the story of four of them.
Micha Romaniuk, cyclist
His body lay on his back, stuck to his bicycle, his face found to be gray and already rotten.
“We went as a couple, I came alone,” says 21-year-old Alexander Smagliok, whose blue eyes were firm and empty when he began to think again on the morning of March 6th.
At 10:30 a.m., Mikhailo, also known as 58-year-old “Mischa” Romaniuk, decided to try everything: on a 4km bike ride with his daughter-in-law’s boyfriend, Alexander, to the military hospital in the neighboring town of Irbine.
The two hoped to find a loved one who was missing in the blast, and may have had electricity to charge their phones and ask for help.
They pedal, in front of Miza, behind Olexander, and arrive in Yablonska Street in a few minutes. They have another 500m to go to the hospital.
“We were driving so fast, there was no one on the street,” says Alexander. “I heard a noise first, an explosion. And Mikhailo fell in front of me. I fled through a small alley while pedaling.”
The scenes, he says, came straight from the two-story yellow house. “Snipers,” he said, referring to potential snipers.
“I do not realize what’s going on there,” explains the guilty young man.
Unbeknownst to the residents, Yablonska Street, the main thoroughfare leading to the neighboring town of Irbine, became an outpost for the Russian infantry and commando units that captured the city, tracking everything that enters and exits Putsa.
Since March 4, volley tanks have been planted there, with Russian soldiers occupying houses and setting up a command post in one of them. The street is theirs.
What is instruction? “The first thing they did was stabilize themselves, shoot everything they had, and shoot anything that moved, anyone, anyone,” said Bouchav’s police chief Vitaly Lopas.
Mischa Romaniuk’s body was painted yellow and white on the sidewalk for 28 days before the shooting in front of the house. His wounded face turned to the side with a pleading face, his hands in orange work gloves.
The body was collected when the city was liberated on April 3, and an autopsy was performed five days later.
Cause of death: “Ballistic head trauma, invasive bullet (…) caused by multiple brain damage and skull fracture”, in his death certificate, will be consulted by AFP.
Conclusion: “Automatic weapon wound with intent to kill”.
The construction worker was filmed cooking in an oven for his entire small family before the Russian troops arrived in Bootsa at the beginning of the war.
“Day 5 of the war. Mischa is on fire. Hello Hello handsome!”, Victoria Vadora, 48, her brother-in-law, commented on the video: “Sashka is back under the shelffire, we have meat, skewers tonight.”
“He was a simple man who loved life and never hurt anyone,” his brother-in-law told AFP. “He was a happy companion. He loved wine.”
Michka Romaniouk was buried on April 18 without ceremony and without a priest. Each of the four members of his family said a little word in his grave, at the n ° 2 grave of Bautza.
Mikhail Kovalenko, hands clasped
Body of Mykhaïlo Kovalenko, he was 29 days on the asphalt of Yablounska Street, lying by his side, in his blue parka and brown pants.
The 62-year-old father loved “classical music” and collected records and hi-fi equipment. He wanted to walk with his dog to the base of the bout.
On March 5, when it was still possible, Myhailo Kovalenko decided to drive out Bautza by car. His wife sits in the front and his daughter in the back.
Arriving on Yablounska Street, he presents himself as a barrage of Russian soldiers, “raises his hand” to show that he is unarmed, and gets out of the vehicle, says his son-in-law Artem, who wants to keep his last name quiet.
The soldiers at the roadblock did not want to know anything. They shot him and told his daughter and his wife he could run away.
In a photo taken from a distance by the AFP on April 2, Mr. Kovalenko’s relatives have identified him by his clothing. “It’s scary,” Artem says.
On April 18, Artem is summoned to the Boutza morgue to confirm his stepfather’s identity. Mr. Artem’s comrade. Kovalenko’s daughter could not come: she went to Bulgaria, where she is being treated for psychological trauma in Bautista.
“She gets up every night and cries,” Artem says.
Mykhaïlo Kovalenko was buried in a black coffin on April 18, in the presence of his son-in-law and two relatives, at the Boutcha cemetery, AFP journalist noted.
Maxim Greaves is known as the “Fearless Maxim”
She is wearing a bright blue buffer jacket with her pants tucked over her black pants. Next to him were the bodies of two other men, one of whom had his hands tied behind his back with a white cloth. All three lie next to the cinder blocks that were to be used to align the nearby roundabout.
AFP photographed the passport found next to the man in the down jacket: Maxim Greave, born July 17, 1982.
A 39-year-old construction worker from the area survived the first weeks of the war.
He disappeared from the cellar into the basement, testifying to Irina Svetchowk, 52, who, like him, was a refugee for several days in the basement.
When Russian soldiers terrorized the street, Maxim helped everyone, searched for business and tried to supply.
“Everyone called him + fearless Maxim +,” Irina told AFP, 100m from where she died, a month later, with a puddle of blood embedded in the ground.
On March 17, Irina again explains that Maxim and another person have decided to leave their hideout and are getting supplies from a nearby construction site.
He never comes back and she is still trying to find out when and how he died.
“It is very important for Maxim to do justice because if no one (the Russians) punishes them, they will start all over again,” Irina insists.
To police officer Lopez, Maxim and two of his comrades were “sadly tortured. The bodies of three people were found with gunshot wounds to the heart or neck”.
Volodymyr Provtchenko, man with a blue bicycle
Her body, flat across the sidewalk, was seen with her legs in a blue bicycle frame. His belongings are scattered around him.
Volodymyr Provtchenko, 68, was shot dead on March 5 while riding a bicycle on Yaplonska Street, according to his sister-in-law Natalia Zelina.
A neighbor who tried to pick up his body was shot, but survived, Ms Jelena said.
“On that day, he had to bring his bike to Warsaw,” explained the 63-year-old woman, from a village near Bautza where he worked.
“He borrowed the bike from someone and took it in his head to get it back,” he added. Volodimir’s wife tried to stop him from making another dangerous trip, but the father of two wanted to return the bicycle.
He is of Russian descent and has lived in Bautista since 1976.
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