In Borodianka, the horror of the Russian occupation revealed

Near his garden shed is the body of a man lying face down with a bag over his head and his hands tied behind his back. His pants are down. He has large bruises on his left leg and a large head wound.

Next to his body is a single bullet casing.

“He was executed with a shot to the head,” said a Ukrainian National Police officer. There are no documents on the man, but authorities at the scene say all evidence shows he was another civilian casualty of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.

The body is one of many recently found in towns east of kyiv that were occupied by Russian forces.

Borodianka was home to 13,000 people before the war, but most fled after the Russian invasion. What remained of the city, after heavy shelling and devastating airstrikes, was occupied by Russian forces, who entered on February 28.

Yuriy Pomin was still in the city when the Russian attack began.

“The scariest part was when their planes arrived. They were flying over our house and dropping bombs,” Pomin told CNN.

Today, the 33-year-old is cleaning his fourth-floor apartment. The multi-story building next door to his was leveled in a Russian attack, and he’s moving what’s left of his possessions to another house outside of town.

“I can’t stay here,” he said. “Is not safe.”

The month-long Russian occupation has left a devastating mark on the city.

Not only was it almost completely destroyed by long-range attacks, with buildings reduced to mere heaps of rubble, but the occupying Russian forces used some of the houses as barracks for their own personnel.

Yuriy Pomin's house in Borodianka, which was destroyed after days of Russian bombardment.

Kostychenko and her husband Oleksand fled when the shelling began, only to return after the city returned to Ukrainian control on April 1.

While her house was apparently untouched by the heavy shelling that destroyed Borodianka, it was ransacked from the inside. Discarded clothing and bottles littered the floor. They found his pet bird dead in his cage.

“Alcohol is everywhere – empty bottles in the hallway, under things,” the 44-year-old said. “They (Russians) smoked a lot, put out cigarettes at the table. They used the bedding as their own.”

Most of the furniture was damaged or destroyed, as was his television.

“They did everything they wanted,” Kostychenko said. “They took our jewelry. They are nothing but looters.”

Nearby stores have also been looted, their windows smashed and contents stolen or splattered across the floors.

The letter “V”, short for Vostok (meaning “east” in Russian), and a symbol used by Russia’s Eastern Military District along with the letter “Z”, an emblem of the so-called “special military operation” of Moscow — was painted on buildings, vehicles and checkpoints.

The local unemployment office and town hall were fortified and converted into headquarters for the Russian troops stationed in the city. Both were also covered in V.

The Borodianka unemployment office, defaced with the Russian V symbol.

Borodianka was a staging point for Russian units as they advanced towards kyiv through suburbs such as Bucha and Irpin. They faced stiff resistance from the Ukrainian forces and were forced to withdraw.

Remains of destroyed Russian hardware in the cities and towns around the capital., and the trenches and artillery positions were left almost intact.

Authorities have imposed a curfew throughout the kyiv region until April 7, asking residents to stay indoors while demining operations are carried out.

Moscow has denied targeting civilians, but volunteers are working with police to collect the bodies of slain civilians who have rotted in the open.

“We are gathering people who were shot by the Russians. Civilians who were tortured. We have been working for two days,” said Hennadiy Avramenko, 45.

CNN watched as Avramenko and his colleague removed the body of a 44-year-old Ukrainian man from a car. He was shot in the heart while driving, and his car crashed into a ditch on the side of the road.

“Psychologically, it’s difficult,” Avramenko said. “The worst thing is that we are not finding soldiers, only innocent people.

“They were shot for no reason,” he added.

Russian attacks on Borodianka were more intense than in most other areas around the capital kyiv, with entire multi-story buildings being lifted to the ground.
The volunteers collect two more bodies in the space of an hour. One was the charred corpse of a person hit by an artillery shell, the other an elderly man shot while riding a bicycle.

“(On Monday) we picked up seven people and (at noon on Tuesday) we are already six,” Avramenko said.

In and around Borodianka, authorities are only now beginning to search what remains of most buildings, knowing that they will continue to find bodies as they do.

Despite the withdrawal of Putin’s army from their town, the residents of Borodianka fear the destruction they have wreaked will drag on for months, if not years.

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