The city of Trostianets in northeastern Ukraine, looted and then liberated by Russian forces, comes back to life

By Thomas of Istria

Posted today at 11:15 am, updated at 1:59 pm.

The wooden door was destroyed. The computers in the computer room have been stolen. Others scatter on the ground, split in two, trampled. “The Russians ran out of space to take them, so they broke them,” sighs Irina Bondarenko, the headmistress of school number 5 in Trostianets. The city in northeastern Ukraine, 30 kilometers from the Russian border, was occupied from the first day of the war, February 24. For a month, the 20,000 inhabitants lived under the rule of soldiers sent by Moscow.

This Thursday 7 April, in front of the school that distributes food and hygiene products, the faces are worried, tired but also relieved. “It’s definitely better now”, set a woman free, surrounded by her friends. “Everyone is cleaning up the city. We had a lot of damage. We just hope the Russians don’t come back. † A man who came with his son says he spent the month of occupation hidden in a bomb shelter. “When the Russians came to us, he said, they put us on our knees and checked that we had no traces of gunpowder on our fingers, no military equipment. And then they stole our phones, our computers, and smashed the doors and windows of our house. †

Many testimonials

These massive looting practices have been documented by numerous testimonies from residents of previously occupied territories across the country. Valuables were also found on the bodies of killed Russian soldiers. on April 4, hajun project, a Belarusian opposition site, published a document about the delivery of stolen items to Russia. The site published a three-hour video from the surveillance camera of a delivery service in Mazyr, southeastern Belarus, showing Russian soldiers sending electronic equipment, tools and clothing looted in Ukraine to various regions of Russia. The territory of Belarus, to the north, has served as a rear base for Russian troops since the beginning of the war.

Irina Bondarenko, director of school No. 5 in Trostianets, Ukraine, April 7, 2022.
The acronym

mme Bondarenko spent the whole month in Trostianets, cut off from the world. During the occupation, the director made bread with others that she distributed to the inhabitants because “the killer whales” [le nom donné par les Ukrainiens aux forces russes occupantes, tiré de la trilogie du Seigneur des anneaux] everything stolen from the supermarkets. There was nothing left for the people.” “The first week they behaved normally, they let people walk in the street, she says. But after that the Russians went elsewhere and that’s guys from Donetsk [des séparatistes prorusses du Donbass] they came and they really acted like they wanted us to pay for the eight years of war in their region. † Another resident testifies to the kidnapping of her son-in-law, a former soldier who fought the separatists in 2014. The man was captured on March 16; Since then, the family has not seen him and knows nothing of his fate.

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