Following the withdrawal of Russian troops last week, Borodiankaa Ukrainian city on the outskirts of kyiv, shows the signs of violence, with destroyed buildings, clothes on trees or burned tanks.
A road trip through this modest Ukrainian town is now an absurdly sinister procession.
An apartment building was hollowed out by an explosion, a sooty mattress hanging in the open air. A burned tank is standing in the bowels of a destroyed building. There are toys lying in the street, too many to count. Nothing is where it should be and some houses just aren’t there anymore.
The Russian withdrawal last week left traces of the battle waged to control Borodianka, 50 kilometers northwest of kyiv, the Ukrainian capital.
On the muddy central road, Mykola Kazmyrenko pushes a supermarket cart with aid packages without understanding what happened.
“I can’t even look at it, it makes me cry,” says the 57-year-old. “People were left homeless.”
AFP did not see any bodies on a brief visit to Borodianka, but the inhabitants say that many of their neighbors died.
“I know of five civilians who died”, comments Rafik Azimov, 58 years old. “But we don’t know how many more are left in the basements of buildings after the bombings.”.
In the city of Bucha, between Borodianka and kyiv, the AFP he observed 20 corpses on a single street on Saturday. In the case of Borodianka, although the human cost is not clear, the devastation seems more important.
Most of the windows are broken, and signs of the life that raged inside are now visible from outside: a fridge with magnets, a brown oriental rug hanging on a wall, or untouched kitchen knives.
In a nine-story apartment building, entire rooms disappeared. Only wallpaper remains: brown on the fourth floor, blue on the fifth, gold on the sixth.
Through a hole in the building you can see the sky. Now these houses are crumbling bricks and twisted metal, at the mercy of the Ukrainian wind.
As you walk you can hear the sound of breaking glass and there are cats meowing among the ruins. The grass of the gazebo located at the entrance to the city is burned by the tracks of the tanks.
The mobile phone is not working but two people went up to the top of an apartment block looking for a signal.
Other residents venture into the houses to remove their belongings. But it’s a risk, because the bomb disposal teams haven’t done their job yet..
In the central square, the bust of the poet Taras Shevchenko, an icon of Ukrainian culture, stands. But above his eyebrow and in his head there are two bullet holes.
The verse inscribed below reads: “Love your Ukraine, love her. In the fierce times and in the last of the difficult moments”.
Valentyna Petrenko has traveled from a nearby town to bear witness to what happened.
“When the Russians came they took our mobile phones and looted our houses. We try to behave normally with them so as not to provoke them”, said the 67-year-old woman.
“A missile hit our town, my house was left in ruins,” he said. “The Russians committed atrocities, many atrocities”.
Volodymyr Nahornyi sets out on his bike from Borodianka but must abandon it on a destroyed bridge, making his way through the ruins, now impassable to vehicles.
As he crosses he meets Petrenko and looks towards the place he came from, the destroyed city.
“All the apartments were robbed and vandalized“, said. “Everything is in ruins, everything damaged.” “I buried six people. Many more are under the ruins.”
(With information from AFP / By Joe Stenson)
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