ZAPORIZHZHIA, Ukraine—It was the terrible stench they remembered as they left Mariupol. Before Russian airstrikes it was a city of nearly half a million people. Today dead bodies are still rotting under the debris of bombed buildings while only a few hundred Ukrainian soldiers continue to hold on.
It is possible to escape from a burning city but the smell—like the pain of loss—stays with you for a long time.
Shells crashed around the Lyubomirsky family and their friends as they carried a stretcher and pushed a wheelchair chair 11 miles long from their still-burning home. The seven of them could not stop talking about the “demons” that destroyed their happy life.
Most of the refugees, who had been trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol without food or supplies for weeks, were Russian speakers. The very people President Vladimir Putin claimed he wanted to protect.
Ever since he sent the army to Ukraine, Moscow has denied killing any civilians and baselessly blamed the atrocities on Ukraine.
The four members of the Lyubomirsky family and their three neighbors escaped from the hellish war zone on April 7, their city that now looks like Dresden after the bombings of World War II. “You might know the smell of rotten meat but this was deeper. The smell of rotting human bodies and of bodies being burnt in crematoriums was everywhere,” Mariupol siege survivor Vitaly Lyubomirsky told The Daily Beast.
The latest debate in Kyiv is about who and how should document the crimes of this war. Independent international groups, including Amnesty International are preparing reports focusing on airstrikes targeting civilian population, soldiers raping civilian women, torturing or executing civilians, burning bodies of the victims. Thousands of Ukrainians including more than 200 children have fallen victims of this war.
Yuriy Fenenko, one of the pathologists in the city of Chernihiv, has examined hundreds of bodies since February 24. “Out of 139 bodies that we received in our morgue in the last two weeks after the Russian occupation, at least 20 had hands tied up behind their backs, about 40 percent of them were executed in the back of their heads,” he told The Daily Beast. “There must be a group of forensic experts analyzing the evidence of war crimes, such as executions, rape, bombings of the line of civilians to get bread and outside of the pharmacy, bombings of residential apartment blocks—criminology experts should analyze each particular case.”
Experts agree that even having thousands of investigators and journalists working in the field, Ukraine cannot document all the atrocities and investigate each bombing. “It will take us years to put together records of each crime,” Fenenko said.
Father Serhiy, the principal bishop of Mariupol and the Donetsk region, told The Daily Beast that he had encountered countless horror stories.
One of the victims he met was an Orthodox church believer called Yelena, 15, who was raped. Her mother and her…
Read Full Story At: The Daily Beast.