The brutal killing of nine families as they slept in their home underscores the continuing danger Ukrainians face in Russian-occupied territories, where the rule of law has been replaced by the “rule of a machine gun” under the work authority. The investigation continues into the killing of nine people who were shot dead last Friday in the city of Volnovakha, Donetsk region. “According to preliminary data, the occupiers killed the entire Kapkanets family, who were celebrating their birthday and refused to give their house to the occupiers,” said Ukrainian ombudsman Dmitro Lubinets.
Among the victims were three women and two children, Mikita, 5, and Nastia, 9. Pictures of the massacre, released by the Prosecutor General’s Office in Donetsk, show the victims lying in their beds. with blood splattered on their walls. They had many head and body injuries. Others hugged each other. They were asleep when they were killed, investigators said.
“It was a clear liquidation operation: all nine bodies were shot, and most of them were hit in the head,” said Petro Andryushchenko, an adviser to the mayor of Mariupol.
According to the neighbors, no valuables were missing from the house. You can still see in the same room where the bodies are the flowers that the owner, Natalia Kapkanets, received for her birthday.
Neighbors also noticed that uniformed and armed Russian soldiers had visited the family’s home in the past. They ordered the owners to leave it so that the Russian military could use it as their own quarters. After the Kapkanets family refused, the soldiers allegedly threatened the family with retaliation and left. They came home at night. No one heard the shot. The bodies were found only after their relatives were alerted.
Russian authorities have confirmed that the killing took place and arrested two soldiers suspected of carrying it out. Both are from the Far East and serve as volunteers in the Russian Army. According to various sources, the soldiers want to avenge what they consider insults to many family members.
Cases of forced occupation of private homes by Russian soldiers are common in many Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the town of Volnovakha, which Russia captured in March 2022.
If they want a house, the Russians evict the residents and move in themselves. They move into empty houses, and if there is none, they find a small excuse to evict the owners,” explained Ivan Lubinets, head of the local administration, to Suspilne.Donbas media.
According to him, about 2,500 residents remained in the city of 30,000 before the Russian invasion. “Those who don’t have the resources to leave will stay there,” Lubinets reported. Some are too weak to leave, while others stay to care for them. Others are trying to adapt as much as they can, while many hope for peace and the eventual return under Ukrainian control, not wanting to leave their homes unprotected by Russian soldiers.
“The Russians call it ‘protection of the Russian-speaking population of Donbas,'” Oleg Baturin, a Ukrainian journalist who monitors the situation in the occupied territories, wrote about the killing. “The photos from Volnovaja are no different from those from Israeli settlements, where Hamas entered homes in the same way and shot whole families with children,” wrote his colleague Denys Kazanski.
According to Kazanski, there is “a complete absence of the rule of law” in the area. “What can you do if they have guns and you don’t? “Who do you turn to?” asked Denis, a resident of the occupied territories who had recently left there. Threats were made against those who refused to give up their Ukrainian passports and apply for Russian citizenship. An order signed by Vladimir Putin allows the deportation of people from their homes. In some areas, they do not have medical services, such as access to insulin. At the same time, children are forced to attend schools where they are fed Russian propaganda. They are militarized and ready to become fighters of the Russian Army.