Not all residents of the Bohorodychne village in Donetsk oblast of Ukraine survived the Russian occupation in the summer of 2022. Those who remained alive tell about the terrible events in the ruins of their native village.
Mykola and Nina Honchar, residents of Bohorodychne, who survived the Russian occupation/photo: Vchasno
Before the war, almost 800 villagers lived in Bohorodychne, today there are only 5 left, «Vchasno» reports.
Almost all local houses were completely destroyed. It’s big luck if at least a few walls survived. But the most terrible thing that the villagers had to experience was the killing of people by the Russians.
Nina, a 93-year-old woman, lives in a half-shattered house among the destroyed buildings, and her son Mykola Honchar lives nearby in a small building. These two residents of Bohorodychne saw the Russian occupation and after the de-occupation, they continue to live here in extremely difficult conditions.
Russian troops occupied Bohorodychne in the summer — for them it was the way to Sviatohirsk. Then all the propaganda media announced that «Allied forces liberated the village of Bohorodychne in the Donetsk People’s Republic.»
The occupiers were placed in a local school and a monastery, and a toilet was installed in the church behind the altar. Russian paratroopers and Chechens entered the settlement as «liberators», who immediately opened a hunt for local residents and domestic animals.
«They stole geese and goats from us,» Mykola Honchar recalls. «I was captured twice: first they kept me in a barn, and then took me to a church. There, in the basement, they equipped a room for interrogations and kept prisoners. All the walls there were painted with the letter „Z“. They held a machine gun to my head and kept asking me: „Where are the Ukrainians here?“. And what will I tell them? I do not know anything».
The enraged occupiers considered every village resident an enemy. Peaceful villagers were fired at with machine guns, not knowing what to do.
«Once my elderly neighbor went to the greenhouse to get tomatoes, and after a few minutes I heard a machine-gun fire,» Mykola Honchar says. «I go out into the street, and the occupiers come to me and ask — who is this guy in military pants that was walking in the garden? And my neighbor wore green pants. I tell them: „What kind of guy? He was 80 years old!“ Well, I understood that they killed him indiscriminately, and then asked me. The neighbor was a good man — he once worked at the Kramatorsk plant. His wife also died in the occupation.»
Already during the de-occupation of the village in September, the Armed Forces of Ukraine found the bodies of killed Ukrainian soldiers — headless and without shoes, as well as the bodies of local residents. In the local school, the occupiers left behind garbage, weapons, and pornographic publications. The whole village was destroyed.
Mykola’s mother, 93-year-old Nina, lost her eldest son and his wife. The woman says that it happened during the shelling of the village by the Russians. She herself hid in the basement — at first, it was scary, but then she seemed to get used to it.
Mykola found the body of his older brother near the house — he did not have time to hide from the shelling of the occupiers. And his wife’s body was torn to pieces.
«The daughter-in-law was torn apart — I collected her corpse peace by peace: arms, legs. I collected everything — I have to bury her somehow,» — Mykola sighs heavily. «Found the body of Vasyl (brother). I wanted to bury them together.»
But Mykola could not bury his relatives in the cemetery, because the occupiers mined it, so it was impossible to go there. Then the man dug a grave next to the house and buried his brother and daughter-in-law in the yard.
This is not an isolated case when people have to bury the bodies of the dead in the yard. Other residents of Bohorodychne also talk about the graves found in their gardens.
Despite the terrible occupation and the destroyed village, which has no infrastructure, Mykola and his mother do not want to leave anywhere. Several abandoned domestic animals, which they are feeding, came to them. So they live together in the ruins.
«We will not go anywhere from here,» they say. «If we’ve already experienced this, we won’t leave now either.»
93-year-old Nina lives in half of a small house that survived the shelling — it is one room measuring no more than 6 square meters. It includes only a bed, a tapchan and a table. Mykola plugged the holes in the walls and built a small stove, which is heated with firewood. His house is a couple of meters bigger.
They get food from humanitarian aid, which is sometimes brought by volunteers — these are cereals, pasta, and flour. And the family has all of this now. But the first thing the old lady asked us was: «Do you have bread? I don’t need anything, just ordinary bread, and ordinary high-quality water. After all, the water that is now available in the village is very bad, and it constantly hurts my stomach.»
In fact, the conditions of such a life are terrible. There is no light, conditions to take a shower or wash clothes, poor sanitation, there is neither a store nor a pharmacy nearby. Nina needs professional medical help. The people themselves will not be able to solve these issues, these are the direct responsibilities of social services, which have not yet arrived here.