Back to the gate of death

This street in Butsja became the symbol of the Russians’ brutality in the Ukraine war.

Now the road has been cleared, new cement has been laid. Cars drive back and forth, families roll prams – children ride at full speed.

BUTSHA, UKRAINE (Aftenposten): There are still several unpleasant surprises waiting for the Russian soldiers who lived here.

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We warn against strong images in this case.

It happens that Vasil Patakivsky forgets what happened in the neighborhood in March this year. The 51-year-old walks out into the street and imagines that his neighbor Holodya is strolling, asking if they should have a beer. That he sees Vita out on the street, about to fix something. That he sees Jura on his way to his car.

Patakivsky knew them from childhood. They grew up together. As adults, they lived side by side. Now everyone is dead.

He shakes his head, takes a deep breath:

– I can not imagine what happened to them.

He takes a break, closes his eyes and holds his hand over his temple. Then he tells what he knows about the fate of his friends.

Vasil Patakivsky is back in Butsja, after the Russians left the city in early April.

We’re in Butsja. The suburb north of Ukraine’s capital Kyiv sent shock waves around the world in late March. Then the Russian soldiers who occupied the area withdrew. Hundreds of executed women and men, young and old, were left behind. When Aftenposten was in this same neighborhood the first week in April, we could count seven corpses in the gardens and along the road.

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