“We couldn’t breathe normally in the bus, we had no idea where we were going, but knowing that we were going somewhere gave us relief.”
We publish the anonymous story of the citizen of Hostomel who managed to escape the city after two weeks of the blockade.
We spent two weeks in the basement. Once or twice a day we went out to watch the news and came back because there were bombings 24/7. When the Hostomel animal shelter was bombed, dogs ran out of there and started to wander around the city. After the explosions, we went out to look, and I saw a stray dog pulling the hand of a Russian soldier down the street.
When the evacuation from Hostomel was announced, we arrived at the spot. Dead bodies were lying everywhere, usually, of the Russians or civilians who were killed for nothing. There was a case when a woman was driving through the village with a child fastened behind her. She was shot and drove straight into a store. The child survived, but his fate is unknown. The woman’s husband explained that he did not want to go anywhere. So his wife got in the car alone with the child and was going to her mother. She was killed 700 meters away from her house.
For the evacuation, everyone wrapped in all the whites they could. My father and I gathered everyone who wanted to escape from this hell. 40-50 people went with us. We were told to go to one address. Then we were told that buses would not go here, and we were sent to the Bucha prison. That was another 7 km to go. 500 people gathered, but there were no coordinators. My father and I decided to take the initiative.
We came to the Bucha prison, and a Russian convoy approached us. The prison was already closed, but two guards were standing nearby, and there were already 700 of us at that time. We were waiting for 50 buses. Later we were told that there would be no buses on that day. We pressed the chief, and he let us spend the night in an abandoned colony.
Then we were promised to be evacuated again — from one place, then from another. We followed these 500 people after us when we found a State Emergency Services major in the crowd. I told her to call the boss, but she forgot his number. We called on seven or nine numbers, and then finally talked. I picked up the phone and told him to save us. Nine buses finally arrived for 500 people. We were told that about 100 people couldn’t be taken. I knew that that would be a crime against humanity. I entered the bus and saw complete chaos. I introduced a rule: 1 bag per person. Then I asked people to sit on each other. Nobody threw the animals away. We couldn’t normally breathe on the bus, everyone was feeling sick, and we didn’t understand where we were going, but the realization that we were going somewhere made it easier.
The route was drawn by pencil, we had to go through the villages, and no one knew which ones. That’s why we missed the turn to the village of Mriya. My uncle, the local, shouted: “Where are you going? We had to take a different way!” We stopped and saw a tank to our right, and our whole convoy of nine buses and the SES car was now on its way.
The driver asked not to shoot as there were women and children, ordinary civilians. They replied that we strayed from the route and that we had to escape quickly. That’s what we did. And that was when I saw through the crack [in a bus] many civilian cars in white rags with many holes from the shootings. I don’t understand why they were killed. They were just civilians who strayed from the route. There were men, women, and children.
Then my father was put in the SES car, and he commanded how we should drive. That’s how we got out. There was zero organization, and so was communication. Mostly old men and women remained in the city. There was no single day that I did not say goodbye to my life. It was really scary.