The first time they visited Babak, they were polite. But when they returned on his birthday, March 28, they screamed at him and his brother-in-law. They put a grenade to the brother-in-law’s armpit and threatened to pull the pin. They took an AK-47 and fired near Babak’s feet. Let’s kill him, one of them said, but another Russian told them to leave it and go.
There is a body in the basement of the abandoned yellow home at the end of the street near the railroad tracks. The man is young, pale, a dried trickle of blood by his mouth, shot to death and left in the dark, and no one knows why the Russians brought him there, to a home that wasn’t his, AP reports.
There is a pile of toys near the stairs to the basement. Plastic clothespins sway on an empty line under a cold, gray sky. They are all that’s left of normal on this blackened end of the street in Bucha, where tank treads lay stripped from charred vehicles, civilian cars are crushed, and ammunition boxes are stacked beside empty Russian military rations and liquor bottles.
The man in the basement is almost an afterthought, one more body in a town where death is abundant, but satisfactory explanations for it are not.
A resident, Mykola Babak, points out the man after pondering the scene in a small courtyard nearby. Three men lay there. One is missing an eye. On an old carpet near one body, someone has placed a handful of yellow flowers.
A dog paces by a wheelbarrow around the corner, agitated. The wheelbarrow holds the body of another dog. It has been shot, too.
At the beginning of their monthlong occupation of Bucha, he said, the Russians kept pretty much to themselves, focused on forward progress. When that stalled they went house to house looking for young men, sometimes taking documents and phones. Ukrainian resistance seemed to be wearing on them. The Russians seemed angrier, more impulsive. Sometimes they seemed drunk.
© Copyright LaPresse