Grief-stricken Ukrainian mother weeps over grave she dug for son

Grief-stricken Ukrainian mother weeps over grave she dug for son killed by Russians and a wife finds her husband’s mutilated body in a basement as harrowing details of atrocities emerge in Bucha

  • **WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT** 
  • Oleksei Kostenko, 27, was killed last month by Russian soldiers near his home
  • His mother Iryna Kostenko had to flee their house as the Russians took it over
  • She had to retrieve his body in a wheelbarrow and bury it in a rug in the garden 

A grief-stricken Ukrainian mother had to move her son’s dead body in a wheelbarrow after Russians killed him and took over their house in the latest heart-breaking story to emerge from the war.

Iryna Kostenko wept over her son’s homemade grave in her garden as she revealed Putin’s forces entered her house on March 10 on the outskirts of Kyiv.

Her son Oleksei, 27, had served in the army but was going to work at his job changing tyres at a garage when he was gunned down.

A grief-stricken Ukrainian mother had to move her son’s dead body in a wheelbarrow after Russians killed him and took over their house

Oleksei (pictured as a boy), 27, had served in the army but was going to work at his job changing tyres at a garage when he was killed

She told the BBC: ‘The pain is so bad. Now I’m all alone. My son was young, 27 years old. He wanted to stay alive.’ 

After he was killed, Iryna, who had Oleksei when she was just 18, was forced to flee her home as the Russians took over her home and partied, drinking vodka, gin, whisky, rum and beer, leaving the bottles scattered in her garden.

The house was then mostly destroyed by shelling and when Iryna returned, she had to move Oleksei’s body back home in a wheelbarrow from the road.

She said: ‘I covered the grave with a blanket to protect it from the dogs. He isn’t in a coffin, I had to roll him in a carpet.

‘They were in jeeps with guns. They killed him and fled. How can I talk to such morons. I want them dead.

‘This is my love. My sweetheart.’  

Iryna Kostenko wept over her son’s homemade grave in her garden as she revealed Putin’s forces entered her home on March 10 on the outskirts of Kyiv

The Russians took over her home and partied, drinking vodka, gin, whisky, rum and beer, leaving the bottles scattered in her garden

The house was then mostly destroyed by shelling and when Iryna returned, she had to move Oleksei’s body back home in a wheelbarrow

Oleksei’s bedroom was ruined after Russian soldiers took over their home near Kyiv

In another tragic case, Tanya Nedashkivska found her husband’s rotting corpse after he was arrested by Russian soldiers.

The body of Vasyl Ivanovych, a navy officer, was found in a building’s basement in Bucha.

Tanya had been looking for her beloved husband when she eventually found his body, which she identified by his trainers and trousers.

She said: ‘He looked mutilated, his body was cold. They turned him over a little. He had been shot in the head, mutilated, tortured.’ 

It comes as a mass grave containing the bodies of at least 20 civilians including a mayor and her family were uncovered near Kyiv in just the latest evidence of Russian war crimes. 

The pit was uncovered in woodland near the town of Motyzhyn, around 20 miles west of the city of Bucha where another mass grave has been found, and contains the bodies of local mayor Olga Sukhenko who was buried along with her husband and son, according to Ukraine’s former ambassador to Austria Olexander Scherba.

Tanya Nedashkivska (pictured) found her husband’s rotting corpse after he was arrested by Russian soldiers

The body of Vasyl Ivanovych, a navy officer, was found in a building’s basement in Bucha

Ira Gavriluk holds her cat as she walks next to the corpses of her husband and her brother, who were killed in Bucha

Ms Sukhenko’s body had been rolled into the hastily-dug pit alongside at least 19 others including families, some of whom showed signs of torture. 

Sukhenko was found with her fingers and arms broken, according to the mayor of the nearby town of Kopyliv, while a resident of Motyzhyn said Russian soldiers killed any Ukrainian officials who refused to collaborate.

The mayor and her family had been reported by others as kidnapped by Russians on March 23 and taken in an unknown direction. 

It is the second mass grave to be uncovered behind the backs of retreating Russian troops, after a 45ft pit containing the bodies of at least 57 civilians was uncovered in Bucha. 

The grave had been dug into a grassy area to the rear of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha with Serhii Kaplychnyi, head of the local rescue services, saying at least 57 civilians had been buried in the 45ft pit. Other officials put the total at nearer 300.

A Ukrainian policeman walks by a pit in the village of Motyzhyn, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022 where the bodies of the mayor of the village, Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son and that of a man believed to be a Ukrainian serviceman, who was not yet identified, lie

A satellite image taken on March 31 shows the mass grave – a 45ft-long pit – dug behind the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, during the time that Russian forces were in control of the region

Satellite images taken on March 31, while Russian troops were still in control of the area, clearly show the existence of the grave – giving proof to the lie peddled by Moscow that it was dug by Ukrainian forces. Satellite firm Maxar said images taken as far back as March 10 show what appear to be preparations to construct the pit.

Dmytro Kuleba, Ukraine’s foreign minister, said Russian troops had instigated a ‘deliberate massacre’ in Bucha and branded them ‘worse than ISIS’. Photos from the ground showed bodies left to rot alongside roads, some of them with their hands tied, others piled on top of car tyres as if to be burned. Witnesses gave horrifying accounts of torture and rape by Putin’s men. 

Footage released by the Ukrainian military showed what appeared to be a ‘torture chamber’ in a building used as a barracks by Russian troops in Bucha. The bodies of civilians were lined up against a wall in the basement, kneeling, having been killed. At least one had been shot through the knee before being killed, the military said.

Civilian survivors said some bodies left on the streets had been run over by Russian tanks and ‘squashed like animal skin rugs’. Others reported seeing soldiers shoot dead elderly civilians in front of their relatives.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson led world leaders in condemning the violence at the weekend, pledging to send funding and specialist investigators to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to compile evidence for a war crimes tribunal. 

A mass grave was discovered in the grounds of the Church of St. Andrew and Pyervozvannoho All Saints in Bucha, containing the bodies of dozens of civilians

Another view of the mass grave discovered close to a church in Bucha, which was uncovered by Ukrainian forces as Russian troops withdrew from the area around the capital

A man and two women weep as they stand next to a mass grave filled with the bodies of Ukrainian civilians dug into the ground of one of Bucha’s largest churches 

‘We will not rest until justice is served,’ he vowed, before a spokesman for the PM added: ‘It’s clear that Putin crossed the threshold of barbarism some time ago.’

‘It’s certainly evidence that Putin’s army is committing war crimes,’ the spokesman said, adding that the Government now wants ‘to look beyond what we have already provided’ in terms of fresh arms shipments to Ukraine.  

‘Whatever equipment we send will obviously allow Ukraine to defend itself. We are aware of the requests from the Ukrainians for equipment to defend themselves from ships and we are looking into what we can do,’ he said.

Putin’s invasion has suffered another devastating blow after his force’s death toll rose to 18,300, according to Kyiv’s estimates today.

Russia has only admitted 1,351 of its troops have died fighting in Ukraine since Putin invaded on February 24, a fraction of the figure estimated by Ukraine’s armed forces.

In a further blow to Putin’s war, Ukrainian forces have also retaken some towns in the northern Chernihiv region, whilst Russian forces no longer occupied any areas in the Sumy region, in Ukraine’s northeast. 

Ukrainian soldiers also blitzed a Russian military convoy in an effort to disrupt deliveries of fuel and supplies to Putin’s troops on the frontline, with video showing a military tanker being hit by what appears to be a rocket before bursting into flames. 

But Russian attacks on civilian areas have continued, with eight people killed and 34 wounded after shelling hit the southern Ukrainian cities of Mykolaiv and Ochakiv on Sunday, prosecutors in Kyiv said. 

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