Ukraine war; ‘My father was killed in Bucha before my eyes’

Yuri and his father Ruslan went to the city center for humanitarian aid, but were stopped by Russian soldiers.

At about 11:00 a.m. on March 17, Yuri Nechiporenko and his father, Ruslan, rode their bicycles to the governor of Bucha, who was distributing aid. Electricity, gas and water were cut off, and basic necessities were scarce in the city. It was one of the first cities captured by Russian forces on their way to Kiev, the capital of Ukraine.

Yuri and his father hoped to get some medicine and food. Yuri said a Russian soldier stopped him and his father on Tarasivka Street. They immediately raised their hands.

Yuri, 14, who spoke to the BBC on the phone with his mother, Alla, explained what happened next. “We told them we had no weapons and we were not in danger,” he said.

“Then my father turned his head towards me, and that was when he was shot … he was shot twice in the chest, right where the heart is, and he fell to the ground.”

He says that at that moment, the soldier shot him in the left hand and he also fell. He says he was shot again when he fell, this time to his arm.

“I was lying on my stomach, I could not see what was going on,” Yuri said. He says the soldier fired at him again, this time aiming his head: “[But] the bullet went through my jacket cap.”

Yuri said the soldier fired again, this time targeting his father. But Ruslan had died moments earlier. “I had a slight nervous breakdown, I was lying there with my injured arm under me. I could see that I was bleeding,” he said.

After a while the soldier went behind a tank, which Yuri says got up and escaped.

The BBC has not independently confirmed the details of Yuri’s story, but it comes amid growing evidence of the atrocities committed by Russian forces during the capture of Bucha and other cities north of Kiev.

Only in Bucha did the bodies of the men killed be found on the streets, with many extensive injuries. Some were shot in the migraine, as if executed. Some had their hands and feet tied. Some were clearly crushed under the tank.

Many bodies were found along Yablonska Street, two kilometers from the street where Ruslan is said to have been killed.

Alla told the BBC that she went to find her husband after her son, Yuri, returned home and told her what had happened. He thought maybe Yuri was wrong and Ruslan was just injured and needed help.

“My son begged me not to go. He said they would kill me too,” Ala said.

He said that when he walked down the street, the neighbors stopped him: “They told him not to go ahead, the Russians would kill anyone they saw in the areas under their control.”

Ala asked her mother for help the next morning. They went to the shooting site in white scarves. His mother spoke to the Russian soldiers and they were able to cross. Finally, Ruslan’s body was removed and brought home.

A photograph of the half-covered body, taken by Alla and given to the BBC, apparently confirms Yuri’s testimony. The bullet can be seen on the right side of the chest near the heart.

Ruslan was a 49-year-old lawyer, and Alla says he was “active in the neighborhood. He could not just be in the shelter and wait. That’s why he volunteered to help people.”

They buried him in their garden.

Yuri said the soldier who killed him was clearly Russian. He says his uniform was dark green, which is common in the Russian military. “I saw that he had written ‘Russia’ in Russian on his military vest.”

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