August 11, 2022


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‘They Have To Steal, Too?’ Ukrainian Household Acknowledges Their Possessions In Picture Of Russian Looting

Alina Korenyuk remembers precisely the place she was 100 days in the past when Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on February 24.

“That morning I awoke at 5:30 a.m. and a full-scale conflict was beneath approach,” stated the native of Popasna, a city within the Luhansk area. “We had been known as to a gathering at my work and every little thing was defined to us. Then my household made the choice to flee to [the central Ukrainian city of] Kryviy Rih. There was shelling as we drove out — I used to be driving one automobile and my husband adopted in his.”

“The children requested me to shut the home windows so that they couldn’t hear the explosions,” stated Korenyuk, who’s now a refugee in the UK. “However I needed to hold them open so I may hear what route the shelling was coming from.”

She nonetheless has issue believing that February 23 was the final evening she would spend in her house.

“I by no means thought that on February 24 we might collect up what we may and that I might find yourself with solely the issues I may take with me,” she informed Present Time, the Russian-language community run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA. “You make plans in your life…. We had plans. Now, I can’t say what’s going to come subsequent.”

Popasna was the scene of combating in 2014-15, when Russia seized Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and fomented a separatist battle within the a part of the japanese Ukrainian area referred to as the Donbas. Korenyuk’s mom’s house was badly broken at the moment.

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“However nobody left,” Korenyuk stated. “We rebuilt it and he or she stored residing there.”

Within the ensuing years, town started to rebuild, she stated. Streets had been repaired and improved. Fountains had been put in. Folks started planning for the longer term. Now, after 100 days of conflict, the city is in ruins, and the plans of its residents are in tatters.

Including Insult To Damage

For Korenyuk and her household, insult was added to damage once they noticed a Reuters {photograph} of a Russian tank bearing the Latin letter ‘Z,’ which has turn out to be the Russian authorities’s image for its so-called “particular navy operation in Ukraine, that was taken in Popasna on Might 26.

Extra particularly, it was the field, mattress linens, and different objects strapped to the highest of the tank that caught their consideration within the {photograph}, which they might inform had been taken a few five-minute drive from their house.

The Reuters photo of the Russian armored vehicle with what appear to be looted items in Popasna on May 26.
The Reuters picture of the Russian armored automobile with what seem like looted objects in Popasna on Might 26.

“My husband despatched me a message on WhatsApp saying: ‘Do you discover something unusual?’” Korenyuk stated. “I started to look rigorously. Naturally, I didn’t discover the field with the hot-water heater at first. The very first thing I noticed was the kids’s mattress linen, which we had by no means managed to make use of. They had been Disney sheets.”

By all appearances, the objects on the tank had been looted from the Korenyuk’s house. The field contained a hot-water heater that the household had bought round New Yr’s and deliberate to put in this 12 months once they renovated their kitchen.

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“Plus, after I regarded extra carefully on the {photograph}, I acknowledged an outdated bedcover that we used out within the yard and a inexperienced tablecloth that was within the cabinet in my kitchen,” she stated. “And there was one thing wrapped up in these items, however there isn’t any approach to inform what it may be. I believe it could possibly be our tv and different issues like that.”

Widespread Proof

There have been widespread stories and proof of Russian looting for the reason that early days of the conflict. In April, a Belarusian Telegram channel printed intensive video footage apparently displaying Russian troopers sending tons of parcels again to Russia. The journalists believed the parcels contained items stolen in Ukraine.


Ukrainian officers accused Russia of looting lots of of hundreds of tons of Ukrainian grain from the territory Moscow’s navy controls in southern and japanese Ukraine.

Final month, an opposition Telegram channel in Chechnya, 1ADAT, printed video purporting to indicate Russian troops from the North Caucasus area sending stolen Ukrainian agricultural gear again to Russia.

Looting throughout conflict time is prohibited by worldwide legislation and regarded a conflict crime.

Alina Korenyuk
Alina Korenyuk

“It was pure probability that my issues ended up in that {photograph},” Korenyuk stated. “There have been about 15,000 individuals residing in Popasna who are actually in roughly the identical state of affairs as I’m now. They don’t have any shelter, no possessions. Some have it even worse, with nothing however the garments they had been carrying. We not less than had been in a position to seize just a few issues, take our paperwork with us.”

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“It isn’t sufficient that they destroyed a lot — have they got to steal, too?” she added. “They’ve stolen each last item they didn’t destroy.”

Robert Coalson contributed to this report.