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I managed to take my papers, two nightgowns, and my vyshyvanka
Natalya Bezrukova, teacher
Natalya Bezrukova
When Putin recognized the LDNR on February 22, I understood that we were on the verge of big events. And on the 24th, I woke up at about 5 am from the explosions. Gostomel is not far from us, my grandmother was born there, and in her youth, she used to walk to the town on foot – it's very close*.

Russian headquarters was 10 meters from my house

I was supposed to have a class at 10 am – I'm an English teacher. But the student’s mother texted me: “Egor won’t come today.”

At first, we thought everything would be over by the evening, the enemy would be defeated, and victory would be ours. A friend from Hadera called me to ask how I was. I replied: "They are bombing us". At two o'clock she called again. I told her, they are bombing, we are fighting. She said, “I thought you had already surrendered.” I retorted, "No way."

But the explosions were getting louder and closer. Although while there were water, gas, electricity, heating, and the Internet, we perceived everything like theater. Okay, they are shooting, the rockets are flying, the glass burst in the bedroom… Okay, the orcs are riding in the tanks under the windows... In my apartment, one window overlooks the road, and the tanks were literally three meters away – some with the letter V, others with Z. Their headquarters was 10 meters from my house.

Photo courtesy of Natalya Bezrukova
On February 27, the heating was gone. I had to sleep in fur boots and a fur coat. Then it became cold even in the fur coat, and I laid the second fur coat on the bed.

How did we survive? Three or four days before the start of the war, I had a shopping day: I bought meat, cheese, and many other things. But you know, I didn't want anything. We heated water on a fire in the yard. I just drank hot water, but could not eat. But the neighbors boiled potatoes, carrots, onions – they chopped everything finely so that it would be ready fast. They would boil the vegetables for about 15 minutes on fire, after which they would take the brew home and eat.

For three weeks, I almost did not drink, did not eat, and did not go to the toilet, sorry for the details. All the life processes have slowed down. I am 67 years old. My legs unlearned how to walk, climbing to the second floor was like conquering Mount Everest. It was very hard.

From our entrance, there was only left an alcoholic on the ground floor and a drug addict on the first one. Also, an old woman with a dog above me. I met a neighbor from the second entrance, 42 years old, Ph.D., chopping wood. I told him: "Vasily, when you and your mother are leaving, you warn me."

“What, lads, you want some water?”

Personally, I did not come into contact with Russian soldiers, otherwise, I'm afraid, I would not talk to you. I am a talkative, emotional person, I would have blurted everything out in their faces. They came to one of my friends – ten of them. She asked them where they were from. From Tambov, they said. She described them as precise in their movements, in full gear. They checked her papers, took her phone, and one of them declared: “Before your eyes, I am breaking the SIM card and returning the phone.” Who do you think you are to take my things in my house?! Of course, I wouldn't hesitate to tell them off.

The town of Bucha after liberation from Russian occupation. The body of a murdered woman
Source: Military television broadcasting of Ukraine, Wikipedia
There were very nice houses in Bucha, new buildings, and these fascists would just shoot at them with grenade launchers, the apartments just burned out from the inside
When people went for the water, at the well they used to come across these orcs (but for me, just urkas**.) Once, Vasya asked them: “What, lads, you want some water?”

“Well, we also need to drink.”

“Where are you from?”

“We are from Kursk. What did they decide at the negotiations?”

“So far, nothing…”

"Damn it. Now we’ll have to stick here longer.”

“And you want to go home?”

“Of course we do, we are ready right now.”

They have no motivation, they don’t understand why they came here or how to “denazify” us. We elected a Jewish President, and their rockets are falling into Babi Yar.

Rockets flew over my building, and when the tanks were burning, there was black smoke, and for a long time, we could not understand what it was. People sat in the basements and waited for everything to end. But they started at seven in the morning and finished by five in the evening. There were very nice houses in Bucha, new buildings, and these fascists would just shoot at them with grenade launchers, the apartments just burned out from the inside.

On February 27, at Vokzalnaya there were 47 destroyed tanks. I saw photos of those who remained lying there, young people. What did they perish for…

They shot indiscriminately

On March 9, the evacuation started. When Vasya came and said that they were leaving and there would be no more buses, I was scared. I took my papers, two nightgowns, and a vyshyvanka. I closed my apartment and ran.

Bucha after liberation from Russian occupation
Photo: Vitalii Sarantsev, Roman Drapak -
They shot my classmate's brother. He was three or four years older than us, that is, over 70. He was walking at 8 in the morning, elderly, unarmed
Leaving Bucha on March 13, near Vorzel – we also used to walk there in childhood – we saw corpses on both sides of the road. The driver said, yesterday they were just lying, today someone covered them against the dogs. In Bucha itself, 200 meters from the city authority building, was a body of a murdered man. I was afraid to go out of the bus because if I saw them, everything I thought about them would be written on my face.

They shot my classmate's brother. He was three or four years older than us, that is, over 70. He was walking at 8 in the morning, elderly, unarmed. And they just went and shot him. A bullet to the head, targetedly. His relatives searched for him for several days, no one knew what happened to him, then his grandson found him.

They fired indiscriminately. The younger brother of my friend’s husband lived in Irpen, he was hiding in the basement. One day (on March 23) he went out for a smoke. And was shot.

How I got out? There were many checkpoints, but I did not photograph them. I filmed only broken tanks and burned houses. They say that some phones were checked, but I hid mine in my sleeve.

The Russians, they are puny. I’d crush them like a moth. Just puny people with guns.

I traveled through all Western Ukraine. Everyone went out of their way to please us: maybe we want some tea? Maybe something to eat? Do we lack any clothes? For the children, everyone was ready to get the moon on a stick.

We reached Rivne, and then the Polish border. On the Polish side, a volunteer girl led me into a tent, where there were many tables, each with tulips in a vase. They vied to offer me anything and everything, but I didn’t want anything. I asked just for tea, and while I was drinking tea, a policeman came running and said: let's go, Madame. And they took me to Grubeshov on a service bus. From there, we were brought to Warsaw, to a hotel rented by Sokhnut.

Many went to Germany, someone went to Poland, and the dean of the faculty where I taught went to Britain to his daughter.

I Eventually repatriated to Israel, and I'm settling in. My daughter lives here for 25 years, she left with the Naale program. I already have three grandchildren.

Last night, they sent me a photo of my house. The Russians are still standing on the outskirts. They come into the houses: “Make us some coffee, we want coffee.” And people make – what can you do
Putin invented this problem

Who oppressed the Jews in Ukraine? My paternal grandmother is Jewish, her last name was Remez. Everyone adored her. When she died, the whole Bucha followed her coffin. My dad was also buried by the whole town like that (he fought in the WWII, he went all the way to Berlin), and my mother, a teacher of the Russian language. I graduated from the university and taught English.

My grandfather was shot by the Nazis right in Bucha. For two years the town was under them. But even today we know that sooner or later we will be released (the interview was taken on the day of release, but Natalya did not know about it at the moment - ed.) Last night, they sent me a photo of my house. The Russians are still standing on the outskirts. They come into the houses: “Make us some coffee, we want coffee.” And people make – what can you do.

Putin invented this problem and started solving it in his way. G-d be his judge. What about the people? My husband's relatives live in Russia, they sheltered us after the Chornobyl catastrophe in 1986. Shortly before the war, they blocked my and my daughter’s numbers. “You oppressed people in Donetsk, people just wanted to speak Russian, Lenin created you,” etc. Your society’s “bonds”, I told them are the execution of the royal family, the Holodomor, the Gulag. We don't want to go there, and we don't want to join the “Taiga union” either. They reply, you are friends with the West. Yes, we are friends. And they blame the West at every step, but they have Western TV, Western cars, medicines. This relative of mine was a high-ranking justice, she worked as a judge for many years. She hung up and blocked me. Obviously, she is very afraid of losing her judge’s pension…

*These days, there are a military airfield and the airfield of the Antonov plant in Gostomel.
** Urka (jarg.): a common criminal in Russia

The testimony was chronicled on March 31, 2022

Translation: Maya Milova