Bucha massacre: Ukrainian artist recalls horror of Russian occupation

Alina Kosenko, artist and gallery owner, created pieces in her basement during the Russian invasion (PA) (PA Wire)
Alina Kosenko, artist and gallery owner, created pieces in her basement during the Russian invasion (PA) (PA Wire)

A Ukrainian artist and gallery owner who survived the Bucha massacre has recalled returning to her home only to find that everything had been stolen.

Alina Kosenko is selling paintings depicting the atrocities seen from her basement during the occupation by Russian soldiers.

Bucha is on the outskirts of Kyiv and is an area where war crimes were allegedly carried out by the Kremlin’s occupying forces.

Bodies with bound hands, close-range gunshot wounds and signs of torture lay scattered across the city after Russian troops withdrew from the area.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the UN Security Council last April that Russian forces in Bucha had gang-raped women, including in front of their children.

Speaking to the PA news agency in Ukraine with the help of a translator, Ms Kosenko said she had lived in Bucha all her life.

She said she remembers in the early days seeing lots of smoke from her window and then realising there were lots of planes and helicopters in the sky.

Ms Kosenko said: “Every night I’ve heard rockets, I’ve heard airplanes and helicopters, and we called with my close people every day to check if they’re fine.”

She recalled seeing Russian tanks near her building. “It was terrible,” she said.

“So already on first day there was no heating, no water, it was really, really cold. But I tried to do my work, and I’ve made some artworks, but it was really, really hard to continue, but I continued working.”

Ms Kosenko added: “When it was quiet enough I went up from my basement to see that all my windows were broken, and on the sixth day there was a missile which hit my roof.”

She said the tanks left on the seventh day and she went to her brother’s house and stayed in the basement.

“It was safer there for me,” she said.

Ms Kosenko returned home on the eighth day to get food which she shared with others.

“But when I went back home I saw that all my stuff was stolen. There was nothing inside. No money, no credit cards, even pottery.

“They’ve stolen everything. And my neighbours saw how Russians took everything with them,” she said.