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Ukrainian Mother said Russian Soldiers Hid a Grenade in Daughter’s Piano

Russian Army. Image: Creative Commons.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been brutal beyond wordsA Ukrainian family who returned to their plundered home in Bucha following the departure of Russian forces earlier this year discovered what could have been a deadly surprise left behind by enemy soldiers.

When Russian troops descended upon Bucha in late February, Tatiana Monko and her husband were forced to take their two young children and flee, Monko told The Claquers, a Ukrainian arts publication. The family headed for central Ukraine, unsure of when, or if, they would be able to return home.

“As for the war, we feel devastated, because this vile treacherous attack by the Russians has ruined our lives,” Tatiana Monko told Insider.

Bucha, located to the northwest of Ukraine’s capital city Kyiv, became the site of devastation and destruction as Russian forces laid siege to the city in a violent occupation that lasted through the month of March. Early evidence from the ransacked city suggests hundreds of civilians were killed during Russia’s occupation.

The Russians withdrew from the city in late March, leaving behind a trail of alleged war crimes and thousands of unexploded mines and missiles, according to officials.

“We raised our children in peace and love, and we do not understand how in today’s world Russia can do such horrible things while the whole world is watching,” Monko said.

When Monko and her family finally returned home, they said they discovered their apartment had been occupied by Russian soldiers who left the residence in shambles. Monko told The Claquers that the troops had trampled on traditional Ukrainian embroidered shirts in the home, tore down a poster in their daughter’s bedroom, and stolen an accordion belonging to the young girl.

Ukrainian military officials came by to check the home for any explosives, Monko told the outlet. They searched the entire apartment twice — including a piano belonging to Monko’s daughter, Dashunya — but found nothing.

The instrument, which sits center stage in the Monkos’ home, was a favorite among the young girl’s musical collection, her mother told The Claquers. Before the war came to Ukraine, Monko said her daughter was a dedicated piano student who competed in regional chess tournaments and booked cameo roles on TV series.

An array of awards Dashunya has won throughout the years sit proudly displayed atop her piano.

After the Ukrainian troops completed their inspection of the home, Monko said she approached the piano and began playing through all the white keys from left to right. When she reached the middle of the instrument, the keys no longer pressed down.

“I tell my husband, ‘there is something there.’ We had suspicions about them planting bombs before — my husband mentioned that the awards on the shelf were placed in the wrong order,” Monko told The Claquers.

When the military inspectors returned at her request, they discovered and removed a VOG-25P grenade launcher round from Dashunya’s piano.

“This photo symbolizes the ugliness of those who attacked us,” Monko told Insider. “And…not only the leaders of their state, because it was done by ordinary people who enjoy the murders of Ukrainians. This is a real genocide.”

“It is horrible that the world is trying to bargain with Russia, not realizing that their price is our lives. This act — that they left an explosive for a talented child — it speaks for itself,” she added.

But despite the devastation of her country, Monko remains confident that Ukraine will prevail.

“This war is for our right to live on our land,” she said. “That is what we are fighting for today…And in the end, we will win!”

Translations by Nikita Ilyich Angarski.

Erin Snodgrass is a junior reporter for Insider.

Taiyler Mitchell is an HBCU graduate reporting on general news with an interest in social issues and politics. 

Erin Snodgrass is a junior reporter for Insider. Before joining Insider. Taiyler Simone Mitchell is an HBCU graduate reporting on general news with an interest in social issues and politics.