About a week ago, a group of Chechen soldiers stormed the gate of a mental health center in Borodianka, northwest of kyiv.
“I can’t believe my eyes, it’s hard for me to say this, but I really don’t think this can happen,” says Natalia Schulhach, a 45-year-old teacher. “I don’t understand how this happens. in the 21st century.”
The New York Times recounts harrowing accounts from Borodianka, a town of about 12,000 that nearly became a ghost town after Russian forces withdrew.
Soldiers jumped out of their jeeps and ordered 500 patients and employees of the Borodianka House for Special Care into the courtyard at gunpoint.
“We thought we were going to be executed,” said sanatorium director Marina Hanitska.
Hanitska added that the soldiers took out a camera and demanded that everyone smile while most of the patients were crying. “We order you to say to the camera ‘Thank you, Vladimir Putin,'” the soldiers told Hanitska.
Looking at the guns pointed at her, she said, “Thank you for not killing us.” She then lost consciousness, according to the Al-Hurra website.
In more than a dozen New York Times interviews in Borodianka and other towns in the affected areas around kyiv, residents described Russian soldiers as brutal, sadistic and undisciplined.
Their accounts could not be independently verified, but were consistent with other reports and visual evidence about Russian behavior in the region, the newspaper says.
The siege of the psychiatric hospital lasted for weeks, during which the building lost heat, water and electricity, and more than ten patients died. “The Russian occupation was short but terrible,” says the New York Times.
Officials from the mental institution in Borodianka said Russian soldiers stole alcohol from their pharmacy. The staff said they saw Russian soldiers writing obscene messages on the walls, in human excrement.
“I threw up when I saw it. I don’t understand how they were raised and who can do it,” Hanitska said.
Elsewhere, residents said they stole sheets and sneakers, and defaced many of the homes they had taken over with children’s graffiti.
In the Ukrainian regions recently liberated from the month-long Russian occupation, a long series of disturbing stories is emerging about the horror and death inflicted by Russian soldiers on defenseless Ukrainian civilians under their control.
Every day, Ukrainian investigators discover the bodies of civilians who have been shot in the head or show signs of torture. There are also other accounts of civilians being held as human shields, some of them dying from lack of food, water or heat.
Ukrainian officials said last Friday that Russian forces had killed at least 900 civilians as they withdrew from the kyiv region.
Much of this misery spread to small towns near kyiv, where the Russians occupied large areas in the early days of the war, the New York Times reports on the situation.
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