Witness Accounts of Russians Deliberately Shooting at a Convoy of Civilians Near Davydiv Brid
Since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion, Russian troops in the Kherson region have robbed humanitarian cargo instead of allowing Ukrainian volunteers to deliver humanitarian aid. People were not allowed to leave the region but were shot instead. Those who attempted to return to the Kherson region were shot for “not showing respect”.
In May 2022, Ruslan from Kherson was returning home after sending his wife and daughter as far away from the “Russian world” as possible.
“We left Kherson on February 24, expecting it to get hot. At first, we stayed with our relatives in the region, because our experts assured us that all this would last for a day or two. Then, when we realized that it would be for a long time, we went to the west of the country to other relatives. We stayed there for some time and then decided that they – my wife and daughter – would go to my father in the Czech Republic (he was working there before the war). When my family left, I decided to return to Kherson – yes, occupation, enemy troops, but our home is there, and our business, such as it is,” explained Ruslan.
Ruslan arrived at the checkpoint near Davydiv Brid on May 14. However, the Russians did not let people through, so he had to wait in line for several days.
“When we arrived, the queue to enter was about 120 cars, and the exit queue was more than 1,000 cars. Until that day, the checkpoint was working both ways. The traffic was constant. But we were no longer allowed to either get through or come back,” Ruslan recalled.
This checkpoint was near a settlement, so at least people could avoid spending the night out in the open or in their cars.
“The village we were standing near was almost empty – most of the inhabitants had left, and only a few locals remained. Women helped us: they showed us where to get water, and where to spend the night. People, especially those with children, spent the night in those abandoned houses, and I slept in my SUV,” told Ruslan.
There were people in the queue who, like Ruslan, were just going home, so they did not have much food. But there were those who brought food – entrepreneurs, suppliers, volunteers.
“When they realized that we would be standing for a long time, some of them shared with those in the queue, while others sold the food,” the man said.
Russians counted people in the queue every day.
“They were constantly inventing new conditions: form a column of women and children, then a column of pensioners, a column of the sick. In the morning, at lunchtime, and in the evening, they made a roll call and counted again,” Ruslan said.
There were cases, even before the Grad shelling, when people were shot at with rifles to scare them.
“The signal at that place was very bad. People had to climb a hill to catch the Ukrainian network signal (it was possible to catch it from time to time) to inform their relatives. To as least tell them: “I’m alive”. The Russians did not allow leaving the column, especially during the curfew. They opened fire at those who went to the hill in the evening”, recalled Ruslan.
Within three meters of him, he heard bullets whistling:
“Why did they not let us pass and kept us at the checkpoint for several days? They gave strange reasons: either rotation or their leadership not giving the green light. No one told us the real reason”.
According to Ruslan, on the eve of the heavy shelling, a conflict erupted between the Russian military, who did not let people through the checkpoint, and a volunteer.
“This man was telling the Russian soldiers what inscriptions should be on the checkpoint, what documents they were allowed to check. He said that they should let him through. They quarreled so much that we had to calm this guy down so that he did not cause trouble. At the end of the quarrel, the soldier asked what this volunteer was driving, and he pointed to his Mercedes SUV,” Ruslan said.
According to him, this conflict occurred on May 17 around 2 p.m., and sometime after 6 p.m., a shell hit the place where the volunteer’s car was parked.
“The salvo was like a Grad launch: let’s say, a cluster bomb has around 12 submunitions. First, the first 12 hit, then the second 12, then the third. It wasn’t just one rocket hitting somewhere in the area. There were many. Of course, I can be mistaken that it was a Grad, I am not a military expert, but it looks like it was launched from one,” said Ruslan.
Approximately 65 cars and over 100 people were in the queue at that time.
“After the first volley, people fell to the ground, hid behind cars. Someone ran to hide in the basements of abandoned houses. A man died 5 meters from me, and I know of another person dying. There were many wounded, concussed. Between the volleys, we helped the wounded to go down to this basement. It was terrifying,” Ruslan recalled.
He was convinced that the Russian military was behind the shelling.
“Again, I am not a military expert, but it was flying from the side where the Russian soldiers were stationed,” Ruslan said.
Later, the Kherson Regional Prosecutor’s Office confirmed Ruslan’s suspicions about the perpetrators and their weapon of choice.
“On May 17, 2022, near the village of Davydiv Brid, Russian troops opened fire from a Grad multiple launch rocket system on a column of civilian cars with people inside, who were trying to get through to the Beryslav District of the Kherson Region. As a result of the shelling, at least three people were killed, and 6 people received injuries of varying nature and severity,” reported the Prosecutor’s Office.
After the shelling ended, people from the queue took the wounded to Kryvyi Rih in their cars:
“When we arrived in Kryvyi Rih, volunteers and doctors were already waiting for us”.
It took a while for Ruslan to recover from the experience. Yes, he survived unscathed, but he saw death, death from enemy rockets. He saw the wounded – people shredded by shrapnel. Civilians. He saw the concussed. He had to calm down a daughter, whose mother survived, however, her wounds necessitated intensive care. All this was burned into Ruslan’s memory.
“I was in shock for about a month; I was considering seeing a doctor because it was tough emotionally and mentally. I had to process this situation, I don’t know, maybe the soldiers are more stress-resistant, but I don’t have such training,” said Ruslan.
Kherson lawyer Kostiantyn Kaposhylin, who helps people who or whose relatives were affected by the Russians, believes that the shelling of the queue is plain old terrorism:
“The shelling of civilians near Davydiv Brid, which resulted in the deaths of people, and the refusal of the Russian side to create the humanitarian corridors for safe crossing, caused the death of civilians. This is a very real Russian terrorist act against Ukrainians”.
According to the prosecutors of the Kherson Regional Prosecutor’s Office, the actions of Russians near Davydiv Brid contradict the norms of international humanitarian law.
“International humanitarian law explicitly prohibits attacks on civilians and civilian objects,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in an official statement.
Currently, law enforcement authorities are conducting a pre-trial investigation as part of criminal proceedings on the violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder.
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.
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