In Bucha, a Summer Camp Became a Torture Chamber

'Time' journalist visits crime scene in Kyiv suburb
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 14, 2022 3:38 PM CDT
In Bucha, a Summer Camp Became a Torture Chamber
Men wearing protective gear exhume the bodies of civilians killed during the Russian occupation in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Bucha, once considered one of Kyiv's most attractive suburbs, is now a "byword for war crimes, like Srebrenica or My Lai," writes Simon Shuster at Time, who viewed chilling evidence of atrocities at what used to be a children's summer camp. Residents say the Russian troops who occupied the town for around four weeks used the camp as a base, sometimes firing at passersby—and bringing prisoners down to the basement. The basement, Shuster writes "resembled a series of torture chambers divided by concrete walls. There was a room that appeared to be used for executions at the front, its walls pocked with bullet holes."

Shuster says he also saw what Ukrainian investigators believe is evidence of torture—signs that prisoners were waterboarded, and metal bedsprings prisoners were allegedly tied to for interrogation. The town's deputy mayor says after Russian troops departed, the bodies of five civilian men were found in the basement, with "burns, bruises, lacerations." Shuster says what he saw supports residents' accounts there was a total breakdown in military discipline. "Empty liquor bottles lay among snipers' nests dug beside a playground," he writes. The bodies of hundreds of civilians, most of them shot at close range, have been found in mass graves in Bucha.

Reports have also emerged of sexual violence, including mass rapes. Shuster says he spoke to a man who lives across the street from the edge of the camp and risked his life to bury a neighbor who'd been shot dead after approaching Russian forces on foot. He says that when the man spoke about grandchildren he'd been unable to contact in a Russian-occupied part of eastern Ukraine, he tried to reassure the man by saying they might be able to play at the summer camp when the war is over. "Better to raze the place," the man told Shuster. "It's a place of killing now." Click for the full piece. (More Bucha stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.