Report from Ukraine: in Irpin, “impossible to forget and rediscover life before the war”

In the northwestern suburbs of kyiv, Irpin is trying to heal its wounds and revive its devastated streets after the departure of Russian troops at the end of March. Its inhabitants continue to bury their dead daily after weeks of Russian bombardment and occupation, synonymous with executions and rapes. Testimonials. Located about thirty kilometers northwest of kyiv, Irpin will never forget the destruction caused by the Russian army which seized the city at the end of February, before evacuating it a month later, when the he offensive launched by Russia on Ukraine is now concentrating on eastern Ukraine. refuge for foreign tourists and very popular with the inhabitants of kyiv. The latter came to enjoy, for a weekend or more, the banks of its rivers and its green spaces.Residents still in shockThe inhabitants of Irpin, who survived this infernal month, are still in shock of the acts committed by the “racist Russian and Chechen soldiers”, as described by Konstantin Godoskos, a Ukrainian of Kazakh origin. A resident who cannot hold back his tears each time he recalls the violence and the killings that took place from the first day of the Russians’ arrival in Irpin.” A big explosion woke me up on the night of the 24 february [le jour du début de l’invasion russe, NDLR]. I looked out the window to try to understand what was going on, and it was there that I saw hundreds or even thousands of paratroopers dropped by Russian military planes on the airport of Hostomel, located just one kilometer from Irpin. The noise of the helicopters was terrifying and unbearable and my brain could not believe what I was seeing in the sky”. Konstantin Godoskos is one of the witnesses of the massacres committed by Russian forces in Irpin. © Tahar Hani, France 24 “Two days later, Russian soldiers came to my building and shot the guard for no reason, he continues. The unfortunate was not even armed. Several times I saw Russian soldiers killing people who were just walking in the street. Due to its proximity to kyiv and the main road leading to the Ukrainian capital, Irpin is one of the first cities occupied by Russian soldiers. The latter were prevented from advancing towards kyiv by Ukrainian forces who confronted them and forced to take up positions in Irpin for a month – which seemed interminable for the inhabitants of the city. I saw them rape women and young girls”Konstantin Godoskos not only saw summary and arbitrary executions in the street, he also claims to have witnessed “even more horrible” scenes, in his words, such as rape of women, whom he will never forget. “I saw them raping women and young girls. One of them was 15 years old, he says. They sequestered her in the basement of the building. They weren’t Chechens or soldiers of another nationality, no, they were Russian soldiers who were no more than twenty years old. The young girl finally managed to escape because her rapists, heavily intoxicated, had forgotten to reattach her bonds. occupation of the city by Russian forces. I told them they were Christians like me and foreigners like me. I asked them to bury the dead in the cemetery as our religious traditions require, but they refused and ordered me to bury them in the gardens of the houses.” “What have we done to Putin for us to be killed like this?” As of April 15, the bodies of more than 900 civilians had been discovered in the Ukrainian capital region after the withdrawal of Russian forces, including 150 in the town of Irpin alone, according to the regional police chief. of kyiv, Andriy Nebytov. A figure likely to increase because not all the bodies have yet been found, according to him.”The task of the police now is, first of all, to collect evidence, document the crimes committed by the soldiers Russians, and to prosecute them before international justice. Secondly, to arrest the Ukrainians who helped them and all the thieves who looted the empty houses,” Andriy Nebytov explained. buildings and buildings are destroyed, while the infrastructure has collapsed. There is no more water, no more electricity, no more shops. This critical situation has pushed the vast majority of its inhabitants to flee. One of the many buildings destroyed by Russian bombing in the city center of Irpin © Tahar Hani, France 24 Before the war, the city had more than 60,000 inhabitants.Today, there are only a few families left who have no unable to flee, for lack of having found a safe place to take refuge. Among them, that of Alina Kochkuk, who stayed with her children in a small apartment located on the third floor of a building whose roof was destroyed. “I have nowhere to go. I buried my husband on March 20, who was shot dead by Chechen soldiers, she confides. Today, we are forced to stay in this building which risks collapsing at any moment.” “My children support me and ask me to turn the page on the past and not to look back, continues Alina Kochkuk, with tears in her eyes. But how can we forget all that we have been through? My husband was killed, my apartment is destroyed, and we lost everything we had. We have become beggars. No, it is impossible to forget and rediscover life as we knew it before the war. We didn’t rob anyone and insult anyone, we lived in our country and didn’t attack anyone, it was he who attacked us and destroyed our lives.” Many years to rebuild devastated citiesIn Irpin, where sometimes line buildings similar to those visible in the French suburbs, many people witnessed killings and massacres.An apartment devastated by a Russian RPG rocket attack that targeted a resident who was smoking a cigarette on the balcony . © Tahar Hani, France 24 “In the middle of March, a woman called us to inform us that her uncle had not given any sign of life for several days, says a policeman on patrol in one of the neighborhoods from the city. When we went to this individual’s home, we found that a Russian rocket had hit his balcony. This man was targeted and lost his life while he was just smoking a cigarette on his balcony”. Other residents were targeted for no reason or “as soon as they took out their mobile phones”, explains his colleague, according to which “the Russians wanted to prevent anyone from documenting the heinous massacres they committed against this city and its inhabitants. Russian forces targeted the police station of Irpin in which a security officer was killed. © Tahar Hani, France 24 It will take a long time for Irpin to come back to life. The main roads, buildings and bridges leading to the capital have all been destroyed. Even its cultural center, considered a masterpiece. architectural work built in the Soviet era, was not spared by the bombardments and will have to be completely destroyed because its pillars were shaken by the intensity of the artillery strikes. Irpin, Boutcha, Borodianka, Hostomel and full other ukrainian cities nes were destroyed within a month. It will take Ukraine several years and a lot of resources to rebuild them all. Article adapted from Arabic, find the original version here.