“They Drove Into the Yard and Shot the House at Close Range”: Tragedy in Chernihiv Region


The village of Velyka Doroha, Chernihiv Region, sits along the highway, which made it a transit point for the invaders immediately after the beginning of Russia’s full-scale offensive against Ukraine. Life here has always moved along with the flow of cars, but on February 25, this movement was cut off by columns of Russian military vehicles. 

Perhaps to some extent we were lucky. Of course, there were countless invaders here. Tanks, APCs, and trucks with soldiers were passing here by the hundreds. But at least the residents were not tortured, as in other villages,” says Kateryna Podolianko, head of the Velyha Doroha starosta district. 

According to the woman, the first invaders entered the outskirts of the village on February 25. Immediately after that followed a long column of vehicles, which was left here for repair, from time to time some were just abandoned, or dragged into the yards of locals. 

Kateryna Podolianko told journalists the story of the life of Velyka Doroha during the occupation. The woman witnessed numerous Russian war crimes. In particular, she saw with her own eyes how the invaders shot up a house with civilians, killing three people.

One day, two tanks and two armored personnel carriers drove into the yard of the house at 91 Gogol Street, aimed and shot up the house at close range. At that moment, there were three adults and two teenagers inside, girls aged 14 and 18.”

The house caught fire and began to fall apart, but all five of them managed to get out of it. They were severely burned, with shrapnel wounds, but still alive. The Russians took no notice of them, turned their vehicles around, and drove toward the neighboring houses. 

Of course, no ambulance would have reached us, so the victims were taken to the Losynivka hospital by foot, and from there they were evacuated to Nizhyn. Unfortunately, three adults, Olha Ochul, Valentyn and Lyudmila Semenovs, died in the hospital from their injuries. The girls were more fortunate, they managed to survive, and are now undergoing rehabilitation.

Russians also robbed local residents, intimidated and drove them out of their homes: 

They looted rampantly. They took food, equipment, and whatever jewelry there was. They occupied houses, and the villagers were driven out into the street. Fortunately, fellow villagers took them in, otherwise, of course, they would have frozen. In the beginning, there was nowhere to go – Russian patrols were constantly driving along the road. They set up their checkpoints. As if they had a transport interchange here. They drove in hundreds to Losynivka, Monastyryshche, and Talalaivka. 

They set up their field hospital here in our school. After the liberation, when we got to clean up there, we saw what they had done – everything was wrecked, filthy. IV drips everywhere, blood everywhere, dirt, rags. Windows, tables, cabinets – everything was smashed. We don’t know why they did it, because they were spending their time there, they made it into a kind of headquarters”. 

The Russians turned the schoolyard into a mini-base for their vehicles. They set up repair workshops, positions where they hid Smerchs and Grads, and just “parking lots” for the vehicles that delivered soldiers and officers. 

They treated the villagers with some kind of superiority. Not so much with aggression, but rather with things that could be simply tossed aside if necessary. They drove their tanks right into the yard and it became clear that it was better to get out of the house quickly if you did not want it to be worse,” Kateryna Podolianko recalled.

The starosta emphasized that in the first weeks, the Russians acted with confidence like they would be staying there for a few days and then going to Kyiv. But with time, it was becoming more and more clear that there was nowhere to go. The vehicles were returning burnt and beaten, and there were already enough wounded to fill a hospital.

On March 31, the Russians began to retreat. Until three o’clock in the afternoon, they were still shooting. Tanks were driving back and forth, some guns were firing, and rockets were launched. Then, at some point, everything stopped, and the remnants of the invaders quickly gathered and left. Furthermore, they left via the same road that they came to us, toward Komarivka, Bakayivka, Andriivka, and further to Pryputni”

The invaders completely burned down 15 houses in the village, according to Kateryna Podolianko. Shells and bullets damaged a further 44.

After the liberation of Velyka Doroha, restoration began. New windows were installed, holes were patched, and broken roofs were mended where possible: 

In fact, almost all people have returned. Except, of course, for those who had only walls left of their houses, those did not come back, they have nowhere to. So, all our people are with us. Life gradually returned to Velyka Doroha.” 

Pavlo Lisnychenko

This article was created by Bihus.Info as part of the project “EU Urgent Support for Civil Society” implemented by ISAR Ednannia with the financial support of the European Union. The content of the article is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.


Over the past six months, thousands of dolphins have died in the Black Sea, probably one-fifth of their total population. Carcasses emerge near the Odesa Region and the occupied Crimea, as well as on the coasts of neighboring countries. Experts believe that the deaths are being caused by sonars on Russian ships, which disorients animals. As a result, they can not find food and die of hunger or get beached. Ukrainian experts are already considering a plan to restore their population after the end of the war, and law enforcement officers have opened criminal proceedings for ecocide.

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