On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky condemned the “concentrated evil” of the Russian military on his visit to Bucha, where scores of dead bodies littered the streets, many of them civilians.
There have been reports of civilians being executed, raped and tortured, as well as their corpses being run over by tanks.
There was an international outcry at the reports and several countries, including the United States, have accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “war crimes“.
In an interview with German newspaper Bild, Bucha resident Irina Abramova, 48, said her husband was shot by Russian forces on March 5 outside their home.
Recalling the event, Abramova said she and her husband were at home when they suddenly heard an explosion that destroyed half of their house.
“Then they started shooting through the windows. ‘Come out,’ they called. My husband Oleg went out and said ‘Don’t shoot! Only civilians here.’ The soldiers said ‘hands up.’ I went outside and they asked me why I was hiding. I said, ‘We’re scared. And you shoot.’ They said: ‘Look, we are Russians. We have a Saint George ribbon [Russian military badge]. We come to set you free.'”
She said her house started to burn down and her husband Oleg tried to put the fire out.
“At that moment they grabbed him, pulled off his sweater, pushed him to his knees and shot him in the head. Then they started to interrogate me. They asked me, ‘Where are the Nazis?,'” she said.
“My husband was 40 years old, and he didn’t live to see his birthday on March 14,” she added.
“I told them to kill me too. A fighter aimed his gun at me. I said, ‘Kill me and my cat.’ While he was still pointing the gun at me, he said he wouldn’t kill women.”
Abramova said she and her family couldn’t leave the city for a month until the Russian forces left.
“We could fetch water. There was a checkpoint in the city. They forced us to give up our cell phones. I told them: ‘We have nothing left, you took everything from us.'”
She added: “They finally drove us out of town and said, ‘Never come back!’ They blamed us for the deaths of their comrades. We said: ‘We are old people, what have we done to you?’ They replied: ‘You elected the President, you let Nazis in power. You started the Maidan protests.”
The Maidan Uprisings were a wave of protests and unrest in Ukraine, which began in Kyiv, against the Ukrainian government’s decision not to sign the European Union–Ukraine Association Agreement, instead choosing closer ties to Russia.
Abramova said she told the troops she wasn’t at those protests.
Also speaking to the German newspaper, Abramova’s father, Vladimir, 72, said: “All our belongings were burned, documents, everything we had. They said they were Russians and came to free us. They dragged Oleg out, forced him to his knees and shot him in the side of the head. Half of his head was shredded.
“They were wearing Saint George’s ribbons, they must have been Kadyrovtsy fighters [paramilitary fighter unit from Chechnya] because they wore the letter V. And we saw in their faces that they weren’t Russians. Also, they spoke with an accent,” said Abramova.
Newsweek has contacted the Russia defense ministry for comment. Newsweek is still trying to verify the claims made.
After first launching the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Putin said his mission was to “de-nazify” and “neutralise” the eastern European country. Zelensky, who is both Jewish and had family members die in the Holocaust, has condemned Putin’s rationale.
Social media footage has shown apparent Chechen volunteers fighting in Ukraine, CNN reported on March 24.
Chechens are known for being fierce, conflict-hardened fighters, who fought in two bloody wars against the Russians between 1994 and 1996 and 1999 to 2014.