Russian troops shoot civilians, hold others captive

Clear evidence of Russian troops rounding up Ukrainian civilians and using them as human shields has been found by the BBC.

In multiple interviews in Obukhovychi, villagers say they were taken from their homes at gunpoint and held in a school by Russians trying to stop advancing Ukrainian forces.

Local people also gave accounts of Russian troops shooting civilians and holding others captive in and around Ivankiv, the neighbouring town.

On the night of March14, Russian soldiers in Obukhovychi were attacked and lost men and armoured vehicles. The Ukrainians were regaining territory.

As darkness fell, local people, sheltering in their cellars, heard explosions and the grinding sound of armoured vehicles maneuvering.

They had been under Russian occupation since the start of the invasion – the area was on the main axis of Russian advance. Obukhovychi is 100km (60 miles) from Kyiv, close to Belarus and just south of the exclusion zone around the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

We have now managed to speak to many people about what happened that night. They all told us the same stories about 24 hours of attack that traumatised the village.

Families described how the Russians went door-to-door, rounded them up at gunpoint, and marched them to the local school – where the Russian forces used them as protection.

Many of the houses in the village had the Ukrainian word for “people” painted on their gates – a way of warning soldiers to be careful and not hurt them. But, in the end, the signs were a magnet to Russian troops.

“We were told that if people didn’t open their doors, the Russians broke them down. About 150 civilians, including the elderly and small children, were taken from their cellars to the school.

“The (Russians) are fascists, vandals. It was chaos, children and people crying… I don’t want to talk about the Russians. They’re not human beings,” 60-year-old Ivan told us.

Lydmila Sutkova described the terror of being rounded up at the school. “When explosions came, we thought if the ceiling falls this will become a mass grave.”

Others told us that some of the Russian soldiers were drunk, and threatened to take them to Belarus. -BBC

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