Conflicts & War

The memory keeper of Bucha horrors

By Luis Angel Reglero

Bucha, Ukraine, May 23 (EFE).- Since the war broke out in Ukraine, security guard Mykola Anatoliyovych has taken on a less conventional job and become a memory keeper of the horrors some 100 people endured in Bucha.

As he strolls through a bunker in a building owned by agricultural firm Ahrodudpostach, Anatoliyovych tells Efe that he has been collecting stories from survivors.

The 27-year-old used to work in the Czech Republic before he returned to Ukraine for his visa paperwork and got caught up in the war. He then sourced a security guard job at Ahrodudpostach.

In March, days after Russia launched its onslaught against Ukraine, some 100 civilians rushed to the shelter that the agricultural company built long ago.

It is “nuclear proof,” he says, recalling that Russian soldiers arrived at night and settled in one of the plants.

“Surely they didn’t know that there were people downstairs,” he adds as he enters the shelter.

The Russian soldiers managed to push through the first door that was meant to block access to the shelter.

But they couldn’t open the second one, so they threatened to launch a grenade.

The civilians sheltering inside decided to open it after arguing with the Russian soldiers for 30 minutes, he says.

“They didn’t know there was another exit inside. They thought it was blocked,” he explains, pointing to the narrow path.

When Russian forces were readying to enter the shelter, the civilians say a soldier told them not to be sacred, that they had come “to free them from the Nazis,” he says.

The Russians let the women out, but some of them decided to stay with their husbands to be evacuated out of Bucha a few days later when a humanitarian corridor was opened.

Shortly after, Ukrainian forces arrived to free them and the Russians fled down to the shelter, forcing the civilians to go upstairs, according to Anatoliyovych.

“What do you want Nato for?” the Russians painted on one of the walls.

Now the place is somewhat tidier, despite the destruction and the traces of blood that have since been scrubbed clean.

“They must have used the room as a kind of hospital for the wounded,” he says.

The young man recounts events to Efe calmly, until he speaks of what happened outside the building.

Anatoliyovych says a group of eight men were taken by the Russians, brought to their knees and shot.

Only one person survived, but was left for dead, he adds.

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