On February 28, the first column of Russian invaders entered Borodianka. The city, located 35 km from Kyiv, was liberated only on April 1. The town, which had been in absolute isolation throughout the occupation, after the liberation, met journalists with hundreds of corpses and ruins. The exact number of victims has not yet been disclosed, but it is known that more than 200 families have reported the disappearance of their relatives. Presumably, they are buried under the rubble of houses blown up by the Russians. On April 5, Oleksii Arestovich commented: "Bucha is not the worst thing. Borodianka. Much, much worse."
"Houses and infrastructure have been destroyed, burnt cars are standing on the streets. But the worst thing is hundreds of killed civilians, hundreds of wounded. Russian invaders staged a genocide of Ukrainians. You can't call it otherwise," Ukrainian minister of foreign affairs Dmytro Kuleba.
Yesterday I managed to talk with the mayor of the city and Heorhii Yerko, who, fortunately, is alive. He told about all the horrors that the townspeople experienced and about all the maneuvers that people were given to survive.
The townspeople themselves characterize their city as "a quiet and inconspicuous place". However, it is located on the road leading directly to Kyiv. And therefore, it was Borodianka that was the first to be occupied and mutilated by the Russians.
"The first days, when the columns passed, they shot civilians, shot houses. Not paying attention to the fact that no one opened fire on them. Our territorial defense had only machine guns. But they shot both houses and residents," the mayor Heorhii Yerko.
Journalists from The New York Times, who have never been to war-ravaged cities, describe the de-occupied Borodianka as a place where "high-rise buildings along the main street seem to be cut by traces of airstrikes, 4 high-rise buildings folded like an accordion."
On the morning of February 28, the townspeople woke up from the screech of Russian fighters. Within seconds, the Russians began dropping bombs on high-rise buildings. The first 8 people were immediately killed by a Russian column entering the city. Unarmed residents of Borodianka were shot from machine guns just on the street, and then they began to shoot at the townspeople with heavy weapons.
Hundreds of people found themselves under the ruins of 9-story buildings. They could have been saved, but the Russians shot those who began to clear the rubble.
"People who were in the basements were buried alive. We immediately tried to dig them out. An air raid alert was announced. Then columns, tanks, armored personnel carriers went again and fired at those cars and people who tried to dig up people. We turned to them, and in writing — they didn't allow us to dig", Heorhii Yerko.
The townspeople of Borodniaka, isolated by a ring of murderers from Russia, could not ask for help. Couldn't contact their families. They couldn't find out if Ukraine was trying to save them. The townspeople tried to negotiate with the invaders about green corridors and even wrote written appeals, but in vain.
"The so-called "green corridor", when we first achieved it, existed not from 9 a. m to 3 p. m, but for 1 hour 20 minutes. We evacuated about 400 people from the group home," Yerko.
The ring around Borodianka closed even stronger and began to choke the city. The residents could no longer secure a green corridor and, isolated, did not know what to expect. Almost lost hope, the townspeople suddenly got an announcement about the evacuation, which the invaders organized for the population of Borodianka. However, the city was disconnected, and people didn't know where they were being taken. Moreover, informing the Ukrainians about the evacuation was an almost impossible task since there were no tools to spread information throughout the locality.
"They didn't give us loudspeakers, didn't allow us to walk along the street. There was no connection in Borodianka for about 10 days. We didn't know how to notify people that they were going to release them. Therefore, at their own peril and risk, we sent brave men who simply ran down the street and shouted about the evacuation. And when the evacuation to Gomel, Belarus, began, people didn't know whether they were taking to Gomel or to our mother-Ukraine," Heorhii Yerko shares his bleeding memories.
Now there are no communications in the city. And this is not surprising because the city itself is almost gone. The rest of the streets are mined. There is nowhere to return.
Since April 1, headquarters has been working in Borodianka, which is looking for the bodies of the dead, clearing the city of explosive weapons, and restoring the supply of water and electricity.
This is only the top of the array of horror that Russia has done with Borodianka. The city is closed, and most of the nightmares are still unknown to the general public.