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Ukrainian Man Says He Was Tortured, Shot in the Face and Buried Alive by Russian Soldiers

Russian solider. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

How much more brutal can Russia’s war in Ukraine actually get? A Ukrainian man said he survived being buried alive after Russian soldiers tortured and shot him and his two brothers in the northern city of Chernihiv.

Mykola Kulichenko, 33, told CNN that he was left for dead but managed to escape a grave dug by Russian soldiers, but that his brothers died in the attack.

The story was earlier reported by Ukrainian outlet Suspilne.

Kulichenko said the Russian soldiers arrived at the brothers’ home on March 18. Around this time, Chernihiv was under constant bombardment as Russian troops advanced towards Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city.

Fifty-three civilians had been killed in the city the day before, Reuters reported. Russia denies targeting civilians.

Kulichenko told CNN that the soldiers were seeking retribution for the Ukrainian bombing of a Russian tank column.

Searching the home, which the brothers shared with their sister Iryna, the soldiers found the army uniform of Yevhen, one of the brothers who had previously been a paratrooper, and their grandfather’s war medals, Kulichenko told the outlet.

Iryna was not at home when the soldiers arrived, and so she survived, CNN reported.

Convinced they had made a connection, the soldiers took Kulichenko, Yevhen and the third brother Dmytro to a basement for three days’ interrogation, Kulichenko said.

The basement location was later confirmed as being part of a sawmill in Vyshneve, a town 35km north of Chernihiv’s center, that was being used to interrogate Ukrainians, Suspilne reported.

Kulichenko said he passed out after being tortured and beaten. When he awoke, five soldiers drove the three brothers — blindfolded and bound with tape — to a plot of land, he told CNN.

They were made to kneel by a freshly-dug pit, he told CNN. He said he heard the soldiers shoot Dmytro and Yevhen. But when his turn came, the bullet passed through his cheek and grazed his ear, and he decided he had to play dead, he told CNN.

He told the outlet that the soldiers kicked all three into the pit and covered them with earth, where he lay under Dmytro’s body.

“It was hard for me to breathe, since [Dmytro] was lying on top of me, but using my arms and knees, I was able to push my older brother off to the side of the pit, and then I climbed out,” he told CNN.

From there, he managed to reach a nearby house, where a woman tended his wounds, he said.

Insider was unable to verify Kulichenko’s story, which is one among thousands of claims of civilian attacks by Russia’s invading soldiers. The targeting of civilians during wartime is a war crime.

Chernihiv Public Prosecutor Serhiy Khamayko later visited the site of the burial pit, and confirmed the brothers had been shot in the head and had been tied up, Suspilne reported. According to both CNN and Suspilne, Kulichenko still has a visible scar in his cheek.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Irina Venedyktova told Sky News that her office is investigating 10,700 alleged instances of attacks on civilians.

The first of these reached court on Friday, with the murder trial of Vadim Shysimarin, a Russian soldier accused of shooting an w.

Mia Jankowicz is a news reporter at Insider’s London office.

Written By

Mia Jankowicz is a news reporter at Insider's London office.