A year of war in Ukraine, bodies were dug up in a once occupied city

BORADZYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — The freshly exhumed remains of three men lie in black body bags on the edge of…

BORODZYANKA, Ukraine (AP) — The freshly exhumed remains of three men lie in black body bags at the edge of a small cemetery in a town not far from Ukraine’s capital, waiting to be taken to a morgue. No not yet discovered.

The Ukrainian authorities are still digging up the people who were there hastily buried in makeshift graves during Russia’s short but brutal occupation of villages and towns near Kiev. Almost 200 bodies remain unidentified and 280 people are missing.

Among them is Alexander Pinchuk’s mother Galina. They never found her body in the wreckage of her apartment building, where she suffered a direct hit airstrike a year ago. Pinchuk left the building just eight hours ago and hasn’t seen his mother since then, he said.

On Thursday, Pinchuk stood in the wintry cold, his face grim, among a small group of mourners gathered for a service to mark the anniversary. strike in Barodyanka.

“Just look at what the Russians have brought to us and what they have done to our beautiful town,” says priest Dmytro Koshka, who conducts services on the site of the former residential building. “How can we ever forget and forgive?”

Nothing remains of the building except the outline of the place where it once stood. Behind it is another apartment building, blackened and empty, but still standing.

Pinchuk said that rescuers managed to reach the building only last April, after Ukrainian forces regained control of Borodyanka. Crews dug under the rubble for about two weeks and found the remains of 15 people. But they found no sign of the dozens of others believed to have been in the 108-apartment building.

“We still have hope for at least some of them, but the rest just burned alive,” Pinchuk said, his gaze unchanged, the pain of loss visible in his eyes.

With no body to mourn and bury, the 43-year-old hopes his mother is still alive. He heard rumors that Russian troops had taken more than 100 people from Boradyanka to Belarus. Perhaps she was among them.

“Until the last moment, I will think of her as alive,” he said.

The exhumation of three bodies on Thursday from two makeshift graves on the edge of a cemetery in Boredyanka meant some families may have a chance to learn what happened to their loved ones.

The three were found by a passer-by in early March 2022, when Russian troops were still occupying the city, and he buried the bodies with the help of another person, said Andrei Nebytau, head of the Kyiv Oblast Security Service.

The bystander then fled the area. He only recently returned and reported the burials to authorities, the police chief said.

One of the dead is believed to be a 50-year-old local man who was shot and partially burned in his car, but DNA tests are needed to confirm this. No one knows who the other two are.

There are not many to identify them. On one they found only a green pencil, on the other – packs of cigarettes and key chains. The remains were so decomposed that a forensic examination would be required to identify them and determine exactly how they died.

As a result of the exhumation, the number of bodies of civilians found in the previously Russian-occupied areas of the Kyiv region reached 1,373, Nebytov said. Of these, 197 have not yet been identified.


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