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  • Writer's pictureNataliya Gumenyuk

‘We Need to Liberate Our People From the Horrors of Occupation’

New Allegations of Russian War Crimes: Ukrainian villagers accuse Russian troops of abuse, torture, and the murder of civilians as brutal war grinds on

Grave of Serhii Bozhko (Credit: Anna Tsyhyma)

When Tetyana Bozhko first saw her husband’s body, she screamed. Russian troops had just pulled out of her hometown on March 19th, and villagers were looking around the house the occupiers had commandeered to use as a makeshift headquarters — and apparently a torture chamber and a place of execution.

“When I heard ‘Tanya, Tanya,’ I knew. Serhii’s body was frozen in this horrible pose: one of his hands in one direction, another in a different one. I rushed to him, he was cold. I lifted his clothes, he was all covered in blood. I asked, ‘How can we bury him?’ He wouldn’t fit in the coffin,” Tetyana recalls. The photos taken by the local doctor show signs of torture: a finger without a nail, peeled skin from the palm of his hand, and a fatal bullet hole in his chest.

Serhii had been seized when the Russians had first occupied the town and, according to multiple accounts from villagers, was tortured and executed during the Russian occupation this past March. Tetanya tells me this only days before what would have been his 60th birthday, when I went to the village of Lotskyne in the Mykolaiv region of southern Ukraine. The couple were both retired teachers: She worked in the village school library; he used to teach IT, physics, and math.

Read the full story in The Rolling Stone here.


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