What was the city of Buča like when you visited?
At first glance, the city resembles other villages in the territory from which the Russian army had to retreat. He is really very, very damaged by the war. A lot of houses don’t hold up at all. Dwelling houses and other buildings are very badly destroyed.
Returning to normal life is certainly not on the agenda in Buče, describes Jan Moláček, journalist for Deník N
The most terrible thing that shocked the whole world was the traces of the massacre of civilians. I am thinking of the bodies of the victims of the Russian soldiers who were there yesterday (Wednesday) when we were there. The bodies of the victims, which were right on the street where the Russian soldiers shot them, had already left, but there are more and more of them in less visible places – in the gardens of houses, in various cellars, etc. . Crimes were taking place everywhere.
We don’t even know their total extent, because Buča is a relatively large city. Before the war, 40,000 people lived there.
Most of the population fled, but some did not. It is not known who left and who died at home, in the cellar or in the mass grave – there are several. Nobody knows exactly how many bodies there are and who they belong to right now. Finding out what happened in Buče is only the beginning, but we can already say with absolute certainty that these were really very horrific war crimes.
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How are the survivors of this huge massacre trying to live?
Those who stayed and survived Buč have great trauma. The Russian military has been there for so long and there has been so much crime that almost anyone you meet on the street will immediately start telling you that someone they know has died, a family member has been murdered by Russian soldiers. And I’m not talking – I don’t want to be cynical – about common war damage, such as destroyed infrastructure, destroyed shops, etc. These are things that people also have to deal with.
Are there people in Buč trying to help and get back to normal life? Even if it is very difficult in this bombed-out city.
I don’t think there can be a return to normal life at this point. It has been a few days since the Russians left not only Buč, but also the whole region. At this point, people often try to go home, for example, and find out what their house is worth, if they have a place to return to, or if they should look for an alternative. The scale of the killings, war crimes, is also being investigated.
A return to normal life is certainly not on the agenda, but humanitarian aid is flowing into the areas. Not only to Buč, but also to other municipalities, which are located in the relatively large area between kyiv and the Belarusian border.
We were in the village of Boroďanka, which is still several tens of kilometers north of Buča. We saw many different supply stations and similar convoys delivering food, because of course you can’t buy anything at all in these villages, it’s very complicated. They are volunteers from Kyiv, but we also saw foreign license plates. They deliver bread or perishable goods, for example. And they give it to the people standing in front of their broken homes. This way they have the opportunity to get something to eat.
How do survivors explain the behavior of Russian soldiers? Does anyone understand why they turned against the defenseless civilian population?
We asked the question because it is something very difficult to understand. If I were to quote the responses we received from the local population, most were in the sense that soldiers are animals, they are not people, that you cannot do such a thing, which is a perfectly understandable feeling.
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We know from military psychology that a combination of different factors leads to such atrocities. Frustration. The Russians suffered a very unpleasant defeat in this area, and we know that even the functioning of their army, which had been there for several weeks, was far from ideal.
According to some reports, the Russian troops did not have enough food and were cold. They lacked the basic things they needed to function normally in a war zone. The fact is that the Ukrainian army very successfully defended itself, and many soldiers died in the area. This, of course, leads to enormous stress, enormous frustration.
The result may be actions of this nature – which, of course, is no excuse at all – but we know that this is sometimes the case in similar war conflicts.
Did the residents ask if they were able to identify if the behavior of the Russian soldiers was spontaneous, or were they ordered to do so, if they had their orders?
People there are speculating about it. I confess that I do not know myself, I have no proof of this, I cannot answer this question as a journalist. People are more inclined to believe that it was a Russian strategy, that it was a planned revenge for the defeat suffered by Russia.
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Let me remind you that the Russians suffered a very serious defeat just on the third day after the invasion. Ukrainian drones and air force destroyed a relatively large column of Russian armored personnel carriers, which tried to move towards kyiv and clear the way for other Russian troops. It didn’t work at all. The Ukrainians destroyed the entire column. Many Russian soldiers died there. Traces of air raids and remnants of Russian military equipment are still visible there.
So, of course, it is possible that the Russian command really decided to make it clear to these people that they do not want defeat to please them. But it is also possible that it was a spontaneous action by the military.
Interestingly, in recent days, while most of the worst crimes have taken place, there has been a different Russian unity than at the start of most of the occupation. So it is possible that she came there with a special task. But that’s really speculation. I can’t confirm it, I have no proof. This is just one of the theories discussed in Buč. People want this to be investigated, to be clear about it.
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