A 75-year-old resident of Rubizhne told Vostok SOS documentaries her story – how the war came to a peaceful city, how Chechens settled in her house and how she finally managed to leave the besieged city.
For Valentyna Danylova (the name was changed for the safety of the respondent), as well as for other residents of Rubizhne, the full-scale invasion began on February 24 at 5 am with loud explosions on the outskirts of the city. However, very soon not only the suburbs, but also all Rubizhne came under fire – the enemy inflicted indiscriminate artillery strikes on houses, schools and shops.
From the first days of the war, the city lost electricity, gas and water. The shops and pharmacies were smashed.
“They started firing from microdistrict 8”, – Valentyna recalls with tears in her eyes. “They fired on the house №1 on the roundabout and went around the city. And from that day we no longer knew peace – neither day nor night. We were fired so hard that we could not stay at home – the windows flew out, the doors flew out … Such a wave was from [ammunition] that exploded overhead. Shards flew in all directions, killing people, people were lying near the porches. I did not see the Ukrainian military in the city, I saw the people of LPR came in, then the Chechens came”. The Chechen military settled in apartments, the owners of which had left, right in the house where Valentyna lived. Afterwards, mobile phones were collected from all those who remained in the house
and SIM cards were taken out of them. Some, including Valentyna herself, have their phones returned, some have not. The best models were taken away, Valentyna saw later how they were photographed on these phones.
The woman describes how the new neighbors behaved:
“Chechens were on every floor in our porch. We saw them. We crossed sometimes, because as soon as you started to leave the house, they said: “Sit at home, there will be shelling”. And they really were … I didn’t see them stealing anything from us, but sometimes they, especially young people, had fun… He picked the machine gun up in the middle of the day and shot it up… It was shooting around, and he was shooting near the houses! Terrible! We saw them riding bicycles as well. People left, bicycles were left in apartments. They took bicycles, were riding. Then they stole, took away the cars and crashed into a tree on a high speed, smashed them, then threw the brokencars”.
Only two months later, Valentyna was able to leave Rubizhne. At that time the city was surrounded, and the woman had to go first to Starobilsk, then to Europe via russia. From there to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. In her words about her hometown, it is full of pain and hopelessness: “There is no border, the city is dead, because there are almost no houses left in it.”
The destruction of a city and the robbery or destruction of the property of its inhabitants not due to military necessity in accordance with the Rome Statute is a war crime, which qualifies under paragraph IV of Art. 8 and describes it as “illegal, senseless and large-scale destruction or misappropriation of property not caused by military necessity.”
Although the Rome Statute has not yet been ratified in Ukraine, Ukraine nevertheless recognized the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court ad hoc (ie “for a specific case”) in 2014. The Office of the Prosecutor is already actively collecting information on the most serious crimes throughout Ukraine.