In Ukrainian cities that fall into the hands of the Russian military, the first priority is to evacuate the survivors, especially the wounded, so that they can be treated. The dead are not in such a hurry. 63-year-old Vasil managed to save his life, but not his right leg. He confirms that on the night of 16 to 17 March, the attacking soldiers ordered the men to line up and were shot in cold blood in the shin for being late. It took two days for him to be transferred from Bohdanivka to the hospital in Brovry, only twenty kilometers east of Kyiv.
“I’ve been in this profession for more than 20 years and I haven’t seen the damage I see these days,” says Volodymyr Andryuts, 44, deputy director of the medical center. Time seems to have frozen in the rooms of this building decorated with plants, furniture, crochet rugs and telephones, which seem to have been brought from a museum, but where medical equipment is conspicuous by its absence. Some of those interviewed, such as Vasil himself, admit that having managed to move here now allows him to look ahead, although in his case it is with a pair of crutches that are now the headboard of the bed. rests next to.
In this hospital they are presently treating 28 injured civilians who have come from different places around Browari. The eastern bank of the Dnieper River, which irrigates a significant part of Ukraine, is these days the scene of battles between the armies of Ukraine and Russia in the vicinity of the capital.
Zina, 62, with experience as a nurse, checks that her husband’s medicine has flowed through the drip before feeding the soup. Vasil’s account coincides with that of other internally displaced persons who have managed to escape from those villages, but it is shocking to see him with his stump on the bed without changing the tone of his voice.
It was Thursday, March 17 at one o’clock in the morning. About twenty neighbors were sheltered in a house, all together. “They came home and an officer said the men had 10 seconds to line up in front of him. I was late and he shot me straight in the leg. He wanted to shoot me in another, and I told him: ‘Okay, shoot’. But they left”, the man recalls. “We put on the bandage. We had antibiotics, painkillers and we put on tourniquets. We could not save his leg, but his life,” she explains, sitting on the bed next. The woman went on to say that the Russian soldiers who witnessed the scene themselves “understood that their officer was not right” and allowed them to move to another nearby town. Vasil’s son-in-law, Aleksandr, has also had to leave Bohdanivka with his wife and children. Arriving at the hospital to visit his father-in-law, he says that he has already had two neighbors buried in the street in his neighborhood and three bodies are pending for collection.
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Bohdanivka, about 50 kilometers from the center of Kyiv, was in the hands of Kremlin troops, who were unable to advance towards the capital and were facing supply and logistics problems. For this reason, now fledgling neighbors in Browery describe scenes of looting and abuse. Vasil, a retired construction worker, recalls it as if it were a film he had to experience firsthand: “Next to each house were one or two tanks, armored personnel carriers and equipment. We were very scared. They had taken over all our houses and put their equipment in the courtyard. They broke, destroyed, stole, nothing was left. They stole all the men’s clothes, and women’s too. He took out all the equipment. Zina recounts: “None of the houses they used to live in, that they used to be there. Sleep. All the food that was in the fridge. They took children’s bicycles, scooters, because we have four grandchildren, motorcycles and they were on them.”
There is neither an atmosphere of chaos in the hospital nor frequent visits of the injured in the running. The deputy director details that in recent days, with the withdrawal of Russian troops, hardly four or five civilians are injured every day.
In another room, 47-year-old Yuri, a member of civil defense groups in the city of Dimerka, is recovering. The man points to his leg and stomach, where fragments of a cluster bomb remained embedded, a weapon prohibited by more than a hundred countries but not by Russia, which has not ratified the Convention on Cluster Wars. Yuri was injured on March 8 and had to undergo surgery as soon as he arrived in Brovari. “I was running from my house to the shelter to hide and on the way I was shot by a piece of projectile. The cluster bomb went around the city and fell on a house, causing it to burn down. But the pieces fell out and exploded everywhere. At first I didn’t know he was hurt. I felt something, but I thought maybe it was a blast wave, then I got sick and saw a hole in my stomach.
Rina, Vasil’s wife, who is also being treated for colon damage, scoffs: “Great Russian army, pure poverty.” And all his anger is let out: “We want them to go, go to the last. I want the whole of Europe to know what kind of army this is. It’s not an army, they’re a bomb. And they’re dressed worse than butts. No bath for two months, dirty, greasy. Wearing our clothes, without clothes.”
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