Stage of killings, Ukrainian city tries to restore basic infrastructure after Russian withdrawal. In an interview with DW, the mayor claims that more than 300 civilian bodies have already been found in the city. In the city of Bucha, northwest of Kiev, bodies of residents shot were left on the street after the Russian army retreated.
In addition, mass graves were also found with bodies that showed signs of torture. In the face of atrocities, Ukraine accused Russia of war crimes. The infrastructure has been destroyed, and very slowly life is starting to return to normal.
THE Deutsche Welle talked with the mayor of Bucha, Anatolij Fedoruk, about what happened in the city.
DW: Mayor Fedoruk, how is the situation in your city?
Anatolij Fedoruk: For the fourth day in a row, experts are busy tracking acts of sabotage and clearing mines. Utilities are restoring infrastructure, especially electricity, gas and water supply. There are also humanitarian issues that we are taking care of.
We organize deliveries of food, medicine, hygiene products and animal feed. As there is no gas or electricity, we bought a thousand cylinders and a thousand stoves and set up places where people could prepare food. We distribute the stoves and cylinders in areas where many people live close to each other. We also appoint people in charge of cooking.
How many people lived in the municipality before the war, especially in Bucha, and how many live now?
Bucha had 50 thousand inhabitants. Including neighboring villages, there were a total of 67,000 people. There are currently 3,700 residents in Bucha, but the number is slowly increasing as emergency services workers work to restore infrastructure. In the other villages in the municipality, the population has decreased by 30%.
Yesterday I was in Sdwyschywka. There, of 1,780 residents, 760 remained. Unfortunately, six civilians were shot by Russian invaders. The villages north of Kiev were occupied in the first day or two of the war, so people were unable to flee. But the population supported each other, distributed food, medicine and thus survived the occupation.
Is the exact death toll known?
To date, 320 civilians [morreram]. Specialists, criminologists and investigators are now examining victims. But the death toll grows every day. Bodies have been found on private property, parks. Places where bodies could be buried during bombing breaks. People wanted to bury them so they wouldn’t be eaten by dogs. Every day we see more improvised burials in the villages of our community.
Were people killed by gunfire or artillery?
Nearly 90% have gunshot wounds, so no shrapnel wounds [o que seria característico de artilharia].
The images of mass graves are horrible and shocked the world. How many tombs like these were found in Bucha?
Three were discovered in Bucha: on the premises of an agricultural supply company, where Russian invaders piled the bodies like firewood, of people whose hands were tied. And also on Woksalna and Jablunska streets, near a children’s home, where people were also found with gunshot wounds and their hands tied.
Were you in the city at the time of the invasion? And saw civilians being shot?
Both before and during the occupation I was in the city, as I should have been. Personally, I’ve seen three cases in one place.
I was on private property where there was a shooting nearby. That was on Lech Kaczynski Street. In this place, there was a checkpoint of the Russian occupation, and they just shot three cars.
In one, there was a man, his pregnant wife and two children. Only the man survived. He buried his pregnant wife in a trench the Russians had dug to protect themselves. Instead of a cross, the man put his car’s license plate on the spot. The children’s bodies were taken to the church and buried there. I don’t know if the man is still alive and what his situation is now.
Should crimes be documented, showing who the victims are and how they died? Are representatives of the International Criminal Court involved?
All relevant international and Ukrainian agencies are involved in finding out the names of all the people who were shot, especially in order to be able to use the evidence and bring the criminals to justice.
Are looting taking place in the city?
The national police patrol every street, and there is no looting. Because of what they have lived through, our citizens cannot even imagine such a thing.
Are there preliminary estimates of how many homes were destroyed?
At least 112 homes were completely destroyed and cannot be rebuilt. Another 100 were damaged. In addition, 18 apartment buildings were heavily damaged by artillery and also burned. Two of them, prefabricated, cannot be repaired. Later, experts will give more details about what can be restored and what should be demolished.
How serious is the destruction of Bucha’s infrastructure?
The main infrastructure at the accesses to the city and also within the city itself is almost completely destroyed. On the third day of the war, the Russians destroyed the power substation that supplied both the city and the Ukrainian railway. The substation cannot be rebuilt, a new one will have to be built. As for the water supply, the city has a certain peculiarity because the three districts had three systems. The plant is not working, and welders are now filling holes in the pipes caused by bombing.
How long will it take to restore the city’s infrastructure?
We are doing everything we can to make it happen as quickly as possible. We were counting the days until liberation by the Ukrainian army. It’s the same now, we can’t wait for the city to come back to life. We are making every possible effort.
Many people want to go home. When will they be able to return to Bucha?
There is currently a curfew that will run until April 7. What will be decided later is still unclear. But I advise civilians who are not involved in community, medical or social work not to return until a decision has been made. This is especially true for women and children, as there is still no electricity, water or gas in the city.