She grabbed his hands, crying, “Oleh, Oleh.”
“The Russians were sitting on the curb, drinking water from plastic bottles, just watching me,” she said. “They didn’t say anything, they didn’t show any emotion. They were like an audience at the theater.”
That’s when she let out a “wild cry, like something I have never heard,” her father said.
“Shoot me!” she screamed. “Shoot me and the cat!”
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
She was looking at the soldiers, staring at their boots, but the commander eventually lowered his gun and said, “I do not kill women.”
He gave Iryna and her father three minutes to leave.
Bucha’s population is normally around 40,000, but all but 3,000 to 4,000 residents had fled before the Russian occupation, city officials said. Around 400 civilians are thought to have been killed, meaning about one of 10 people who were here.
Some were shot execution style with hands tied behind their backs. Others were horribly beaten. Many were like Oleh: no military experience, unarmed and posing no obvious threat.
So many bodies were left on Bucha’s streets that city officials said they were worried about a plague. But they didn’t have enough workers to collect the dead. So they drafted volunteers. One of them was Vladyslav Minchenko, a tattoo artist.
“The most blood I had ever seen was in a piercing,” he said wryly.
But soon he was picking up dead people and body parts, zipping them into black bags and taking them to a communal grave outside Bucha’s main church. He retrieved Oleh’s body, with its shattered head, he said, which was verified by video evidence.