Ukrainians discover horrors near kyiv, a month after Russian retreat

Down the highway near Kalynivka, a sleepy village of gas stations, truck stops and auto repair shops that straddle the E-40 highway, Lyudmyla Kyrpach was still struggling to figure out what her life would be like after Russian soldiers killed her husband Oleksandr in early March. “We did everything together. He always thought of me, ”she told POLITICO in the courtyard of her chalet.

Her 47-year-old husband was a mechanic who organized a local territorial defense unit in their village the day Russia invaded, calling on his friends Oleksandr Radchenko, 52, and Serhiy Zaborovets, 51, to join him. They hoped to provide intelligence to the Ukrainian military on Russian troop movements. The Russians entered the village four days later, on February 28, and the shooting and shelling began.

On March 1, according to Valeriy Spasichenko, an acquaintance of Radchenko and Zaborovets, the men – unarmed – drove off to see if they could locate the positions of Russian troops, which they then hoped to share with the Ukrainian army. They never came back. When Krypach didn’t hear from his friends, he went looking for them. “He said he would come back right away,” Lyudmyla said. He didn’t come back either.

Lyudmyla said she hadn’t slept that night, and early on March 2 she went looking for him. In a wooded area just off the road less than a mile from their home, she spotted his sedan. The car was riddled with bullets and the rear window was shattered. She looked inside but there was no sign of her husband. The keys were still in the ignition. “Maybe he needed to run in the trees for his safety,” she recalled thinking. She cried out for him in the forest, but there was no response.

She returned the next day with one of her husband’s friends to continue the search. The friend, Yuriy, noticed a peculiar pattern of bullet holes along the trunk of the car. When he turned the key, the trunk opened to reveal Oleksandr curled up inside. Lyudmyla rushed to her body but Yuriy grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her away, fearing she was trapped.

On March 4, they returned with Ukrainian soldiers. They tied a rope around his limbs, moved away from a safe distance, and slowly started shooting. The car exploded in a ball of fire. The Russians had placed Krypach atop a weight-sensitive mine which exploded when his body was moved.

Lyudmyla picked up the pieces of the man she had spent decades with and placed them in a box. Back at the house they had built together, she buried him in the garden where they planted vegetables every spring. He lay there under a thin layer of earth until the Russians withdrew, then she transferred his remains to a plot in the local cemetery.

A few days later, Radchenko and Zaborovets were found shot dead in their car a few hundred meters away.


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