Warning

Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Bucha Massacre Victim: Oleg Abramov

< Bucha Massacre: Victim Oleg Abramov

June 26. 2022

(slightly rough)

This victim of the "Bucha Massacre" is already the subject of an early post here, by blog member Petri Krohn: Monitor on Massacre Marketing: Who killed Oleg Abramov?. (BTW membership and blog authoring here is still possible, I think - so long as I approve it.)  This post will take a deeper dive into this sub-story.  

Petri raised a lot of questions, some of which weren't well-founded, or have been answered since. Others remain. For example, he saw no sign of decay, and took that as meaning a death well after the reported March 5. But it's quite hard to say much about the signs from the one low-resolution view we have, and under refrigeration or winter conditions, these signs can come on quite slowly. Inconclusive. A visual match with one of the victims at 144 Yablunska looked decent by photos, but is probably wrong; those men all have alternate identifications, and Petri didn't realize there probably was a shirtless victim right where Oleg was said to be and where a bloodstain could be seen later. 

Petri asked "Why would [the Russians] target Russian-speakers?" I'm not sure what that was based on - a misread video caption had given me that impression. But in my digging, I found Iryna saying to NBC news of the Russian people, including the occupying soldiers: "I always thought they were our bothers. I'm half-Russian myself." As such, Ukrainian ultranationalists likely had better motive to cause the family harm than the Russians would. This suspicious kind of irony - the Russians opting to burn bridges and kill "their own" as much as possible - keeps popping up with other Bucha Massacre victims: 

* Pro-Russian and anti-Fascist politician Oleksandr Rzhavsky allegedly killed by Russian invaders he was hosting when he poured the vodka too slowly, 3 years after someone murdered his son and had it called suicide. 

* Ethnic Russian Karina Yershova from Donbas who willingly climbed into a V-marked car before she disappeared March 6.

*Zoreslav Zamoysky, the Jewish journalist who remembered the massacre in Odessa, worried about Nazis, and was seen by some as "a supporter of the Russian world."

The same kind of "irony" played heavily in prior incidents like a January, 2015 rocket attack on Vostochniy, Mariupol. And for what it's worth, neo-Nazi thug Serhiy "Botsman" Korotkikh of the infamous Azov Battalion was involved both in that and, at a higher level, in Bucha. In Mariupol, he was amused at how "supporters of the Russian world" just midlessly killed each other. His men in Bucha - the "Botsman Boys" -  on April 2 openly discussed executing locals lacking the approved blue armbands (see here and note Korotkikh's response was that HE wasn't there, but off fighting on the Belarus border). 

Any such killings Azov or the Botsman Boys or their ilk carried out in Bucha would wind up blamed on the Russians, just like Mr. Abramov's killing was.

Intro

Oleg Oleksandrovych  Abramov, age 40, was a welder by profession. He lived with his wife Iryna Abramova (48), in a subdivided house owned by Iryna's father Volodmyr Abramov (72) on the SW corner of Yablunska and Vokzalna streets in Bucha. Igor (or Ihor) took Iryna's last name when they married, the New York Times reported, following on several interviews with Abramova. "They never had children, but Iryna said they had the perfect family: the two of them." 

According to Iryna and her father, Oleg was killed by Russian soldiers on the morning of March 5 2022 just days shy of his 41st birthday (3 sources specify morning, but none gives a more specific time). This is probably the date of a drone video showing a column of at least 19 tanks/AFVs and 3 support trucks stopped in southern Bucha. This was probably released by Azov's recon guy, Serhiy Korotkikh. It was first publicized as a March 3 video, when Kiev's forces claimed control of Bucha. But that may have just been a typo, as March 5 is a better fit in several ways.

The vehicles are presumably, but not certainly, Russian, judging by markings (some with a V, some apparently without), by their number and their movements, and by how they aren't attacked. They were headed west on Yablunska and had mainly turned north towards city center, one block west of Vokzalna. A forward set of two tanks was positioned a bit east of the rest on Yablunska, less than a block from the Abramov's house, when they were seen opening fire on a bicyclist, identified as Irina Filkina, as she rounded their corner (see here). To HRW, Iryna "said that she saw the body of a woman lying next to a bicycle a few meters from their gate, just after Russian forces shot and killed her husband." This helps time the killing of Irina Filkina - verbally, at any rate - as even earlier on the morning of the 5th. 

One of these may be the single tank said to bring death to the Abramov's home shortly thereafter. New York Times: "Ruslan Kravchenko, one of the prosecutors, said different Russian units divided up control of Bucha and he believed members of Russia’s 76th Air Assault Brigade killed Oleh, based on video footage the Ukrainians obtained of Russian troop movements from that time."

Human Rights Watch

Iryna, 48, said that Russian soldiers shot at her two-story, multi-unit house on the corner of Yablunska and Vokzalna Streets at the start of their occupation on March 5. 

The soldiers said they were there to free them from the “Nazis” and demanded to know where the Nazis were hiding.“The soldiers accused us of killing people in Donbas,” Iryna said. “They accused us of killing the Berkut in Maidan as well [referring to the since-dissolved riot police unit that killed dozens of protesters during the 2014 Maidan protests in Kyiv]. They concluded that we were guilty and should be punished.” 

As consistently told, the soldiers took Oleg to the corner, stripped off his sweater, made him kneel, and shot him in the head, blowing off the right side. 

HRW: "She said a group of soldiers was standing no more than five meters away, “watching the event as if they thought it was theater.” Richard Engel, NBC News: "She thinks they did it to scare others in Bucha into submission." 

HRW: "Soldiers then told Iryna and Volodymyr to leave or they would be shot. ...  Russian forces ... ordered her to walk southeast down Yablunska Street." It seems thetwo sheltered somewhere else during to occupation, and they lived to tell this tale, quite a few times to a lot of journalists. Below: Volodomyr and Iryna Abramov returned to the scene, from a well-made Hromadske video

Oleg's body would remain at the corner until the end of March or early April, after the Russians had left the entire city. A possibly shirtless body seems to appear in a close-up drone video of March 25 (at right w/labels), We can see his head and/or the dark blood near it, what seems like a bare, bent arm, and nothing else clear, as the body seems to be mostly covered with a torn-down banner. 

After that, bloodstains and maybe small bits of brain matter can be seen in that same spot, along with the banner (NBC News videdo). Below: Iryna Abramova standing at the same corner (Hromadske video). Note the holes poked in the fence. We'll come back to that below (see House Notes)


Only in April, after the Russians had left the entire city, was the body moved a bit south on that sidewalk and briefly seen on video (below) just before it's bagged up and removed. This is the best view we have of his body. It's not even clear from this that he has much of his head missing, but it seems likely (and the rest seems a bit darkened with decay) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Idux4708A5Y - https://twitter.com/StratcomCentre/status/1511582282708135938

Story Inconsistencies? 

A few important story variations could all be down to mistranslation and erred inference. But they are notable, and might indicate a partly fictional story with inadequate coaching. 

BBC Indonesia: "A Russian tank pulled up outside. Their home was shelled. As it was burning," the soldiers ordered Oleg to come outside. This is the only version where shelling is blamed, rather than a grenade.

BBC: "The soldiers took Oleg out beyond the gate on to the pavement, Volodymyr said, and threw a grenade in through the front door of the house that exploded with a deafening bang and set the house on fire." That sounds like the grenade was tossed after everyone was out. Otherwise, the explosion came first.

NYT: "On the morning of March 5, Iryna said, Russian soldiers attacked her house. They threw a grenade through the window, which started an enormous fire, and marched her and Oleh outside at gunpoint."

"On the night of March 4, they heard huge trucks passing in the road. The next morning, their house was rocked by a grenade, which set off a fire. Gunshots rang out. Their gate was blasted open. Four Russian paratroopers stormed in, she said. Three were young, maybe 20, and the commander was in his 30s."

Whose trucks were driving which way the night before?

Hromadske video: Abramova: "...on the morning of March 5, noise and explosions were heard. A grenade was thrown at our window, and immediately the shooting started at the windows and doors." 

Richard Engel, NBC: "Russian soldiers threw a grenade through the window, and set fire to the house."

To Ukrainian "Vadim" (standing in front of Oleg's body, moved to the shack along the southeast of the main house: "March 5, morning - we were sitting at home.  We have a house split in half - we were sitting in this part and we heard an explosion. Our half exploded. then the shooting in the windows. ..."

When the house "explodes" with them inside, it's possible one of them would be killed. But allegedly, all three were able to walk out, only for one of them to then be shot. 

"...they took me aside, and the house caught fire. Oleg ran to put it out, but they wouldn't let him" 

HRW: "After an explosion and gunfire, the house caught fire. ... Four soldiers ordered them to come out of the house with their hands above their heads. The soldiers ordered Oleh, 40, and Volodymyr, a pensioner, to extinguish the fire. One soldier continued to question Iryna while three others took Oleh and Volodymyr to the northeast corner of the fenced-in yard. Volodymyr told Human Rights Watch that two soldiers then took Oleh out of the yard. Volodymyr said he pleaded for them to let Oleh come back to help put out the fire. One soldier went to look for Oleh outside the gate, but returned and said, “Oleh will not return.”"

Was he ordered to put out the fire, or prevented from doing so? Logically, it sounds like both. That is possible.

If they mean to say this grenade-triggered fire is the explanation for the house damage we see, that's a serious inconsistency. As it is, they don't specify if this is the case, or if the house was shelled later. No such thing is mentioned. But as I show below, the roof and much of the upper walls are blown off the house and a small barn, an area about 18m square, and the surrounding fences are heavily marked and punctured all across by explosive fragments. 

House Notes 
This house is labeled 342 Yablunska st. on Google Maps. 2015 street views seem to give the address as 342 Kirova street. Was it renamed? That plaque is on the gate to the left, which we see through above. In 2022, there's a sign saying Yablunska. Some photos taken by a Milwaukee Independent reporter show signs giving both names still exist. The possibly related business shack on the side still has the same sign in 2022 post-massacre videos. 


It seems the house was expanded after this view to include a taller portion to the south - 2 stories and an attic that would appear as a triangle above, if it existed. At right is a closer view from the south, looking up Vokzalna st.,\That's the house's final form in the drone video just minutes to hours before the described incident. 

And by the way, why was there no publicized footage from that incident?

The entire sizeable house is seen later fully blown up, along with an apparent pigpen or barn for smaller animals, where the blast(s) removed the roof and upper walls of an area about 18 by 20 meters. Below is based on a March 25 Azov Battalion drone view. 


That view was part of a batch of videos spanning March 23 to 30 released April 7 via Meduza: "These videos were given to Meduza by Belarusian neo-Nazi Serhii “Botsman” Korotkykh, whose combat group is fighting on the Ukrainian side. Korotkykh claims that his fellow combatants regularly filmed Russian positions in Bucha’s southern districts using their own drone." Later they would publish more footage covering March 12-13, via CNN (with the probably neo-Nazi source protected for his "safety"). As Bellingcat found (Twitter) the house  was pretty well destroyed by the time of a March 11 satellite view from Planet.com. Still we haven't seen any footage from the execution, grenade attack, or fire reported here March 5, and nothing between the 5th and the 12th.

The story includes a single grenade and general gunfire, except in one BBC telling where the house was "shelled" by the arriving tank. It would be sometime later, in most cases, when the house was also hit with a powerful artillery strike, maybe even a missile. Unless this exact damage is what the story means by a grenade blowing up and fire. I've seen no mention of it suffering later damage; they mention the grenade as if that's all we need to know. 

To me, it seems the house was impacted in the middle with a powerful shell/rocket/missile, or maybe 2+ of them - the way the north wall was obliterated and the peaked, south-facing wall and north-south walls were left more intact might suggest an incoming angle from the south-southeast. Other clues are less clear so far. It was probably just passive collapse when the peak of the south wall crumbled between 3/25 and 3/28 drone views.

The fence all along is pockmarked - on the right is the body of Irina Filkina and some denser marks seeming partly related to the tank shelling of the downed light pole, but surely including more fragments spreading out from the house. All of this could use more review to see which marks are made from this side vs. the other. 

The NE corner fence in more detail: some random punctures, probably explosive fragments, puncturing sharply from the inside, and some weaker bullets in less random patterns denting the fence from this side, exactly where an unclear banner had been. 

Was there something written across that part of the banner someone didn't like? The same kind of people who would swap in @vshop_18 instead? That obscure reference seemed linked to some high-paying, maybe criminal, "courier" service in Ukrainian cities, especially Odessa. These are the kind of background details we don't know, but that could really matter. Just across the street was spray-pained 1488, well-known "White Power" code referring to David Lane and Adolf Hitler.

Mystery Bodies

Another body (white armband) would appear later on the street in front of the Abarmov house, visible covered in white by March 12/13 (between March 5 and 12, during which there are no drone views available, and during which satellite views mostly see ~100% cloud cover or are unclear) - the same on March 21 (satellite) and March 23 (drone), then uncovered 3/25 and on April 2, then moved to the sidewalk - as seen below - next to an apparent shell impact at the stairs by the front gate. 

Stepping out of that gate later, Iryina said, “I looked to the left. Nothing. I look to the right. I see my husband on the ground,” she said. “I see lots of blood. I see part of his head is gone. Later I see other dead people, in different poses.” (NYT) She mentioned the other Iryna/irina next to her bicycle. And she says "bodies," presumably including this unidentified man. He's not visible in the 3/5 drone video, but probably wouldn't be from the angle. He might connect to the shelled or crushed car that was already there at the intersection as that video was recorded.

Another body would be seen just inside the gate, which Iryna definitely didn't mention. The story would say he died after Iryna and Volodomyr were forced to leave. That's likely enough. It seems to be a young male, in a dark jacket and pants, seen next to a fairly intact motorcycle with sidecar, cover in place and not shredded = likely brought here after that shelling, and before the man's death, in some later shooting or shelling. 


Conclusion
The story lodged by Iryna Abramova and her father is fairly detailed and consistent, aside from perhaps the grenade vs. shelling issue. Their telling is convincing, if unusually eager and copious. But it's so full of propagandistic points against the Russians that it raises suspicions. 

A woman who "always thought [the Russians] were our bothers," and who lived at an important intersection for keeping the Russians contained, had her (likeminded?) husband killed and the house destroyed, compelling her and her (all-Russian?) father to change their mind and hate the Russians. And the Russians explicitly connected this to their Donbas-Russian-liberation and Ukro-Nazi-hunting themes, which the Ukrainian Nazis are keen to demonize. They had some help here.

Hromadske video: Iryna recalls a Soldier saying: "You are to blame for everything. People are dying in Donbas because of you. Where are the Nazis?" The excange continued: "I said there are no Nazis." "No, give me the address of the Nazis." "I said there are no Nazis! What kind of Nazis can there be?" She says somehow this interrogation went on for three hours as the house burned. They may have turned to other subjects eventually. 

To the New York Times, Abramova has the soldiers saying: "“We have come here to die, and our wives are waiting for us and you started this war. You elected this Nazi government.” (“They love the word Nazi, for some reason,” she added.)" She's learning that the Russians are the real Nazis and all that - Ukrainian nationalist propaganda, here written by the Russians themselves? 

"She thinks they [executed Oleg] to scare others in Bucha into submission." (NBC) They would be worried about very patriotic, anti-Russian fighters operating amidst the civilians. And the Russians thought they could deter them by executing ... a man who didn't resist, who had never served in the military, and was married to a half-Russian woman who used to like Russians. At least Iryna thought they would think this, because she now realizes what brutal Nazi morons they really are? 

It is possible, but I wonder if she's been put under compulsion to speak these lines. But better yet, Ukrainian forces could - potentially - have compelled her and her father with real-world theatrics. with a certain unit using stolen Russian uniforms and equipment, speaking Ukrainian propaganda out loud, in Russian, the whole way picking off their own enemies and potential traitors. If that happened, the victims might play along because they were genuinely fooled, or out of terror at the effort and what it means. 

This would require some 22+ Ukrainian-operated military vehicles in just this part of town, to the zero we know of in all Bucha at the time. The prosecutor investigating Oleg's death "said there were only Russian soldiers, not Ukrainian, in Bucha at the time." (NYT) We know Ukrainian forces were there on Feb. 27 to March 1, driving away seized Russian V tanks. There likely had been some on the 3rd, as part of the government show of force and control, raising the flag at city hall and declaring victory. These may have entirely left by the 5th, or maybe some stayed in a different capacity. We probably wouldn't know about any false-flag unit, even if we knew of their handiwork, all attributed to the Russians they seemed to be, even to the people on the ground.

I was initially quite suspicious Mr. Abramov was killed in a false flag murder. More reasons have emerged to think these were Russian forces after all, but deception still seems possible and worth keeping in mind. I have cast a wide net for this sort of thing, and I'm still catching and sorting. I don't yet have a great case to make yet, but eventually, I aim to have one assembled from the smaller pieces like the killing of Mr. Abramov. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Shelling in the Novus District, 2/27-28

Death in Bucha's Gray Zone, Part 4: Shelling in the Novus District, 2/27-28

June 19, 2022

(rough, incomplete)

Part 3 covered the destruction of a Russian armored column on southern Vokzalna street on the morning of February 27. ... this post covers other shelling on northern Vokzalna the same and/or the next day. It's a bit jumbled, and also doesn't seem as crucial as other reports - therefore, it's optional slogging. 

101 Vokzalna
In another development on the morning of the 27th, Ukraine's State Emergency Services reported "at 08:20 in Bucha on Vokzalna Street 101 a projectile hit a nine-story residential building with subsequent fire. The fire was localized. There were no casualties. 5 people and 1 unit were involved from the SES. units of the SES left the scene in connection with the shelling." (my.ua

Widely published images were easily geolocated to the south end of 101 Vokzalna, overlooking the column's route some 1.2km north of the attack site. The first and most common view is at right, showing thick smoke from floors 7-9, with a cross-and-circle impact mark at floor 8. 

Below is a more detailed composite view from a Radio Svoboda video widely cited in this post. Here we can see many little impacts to the south-facing walls and possibly to the eastern face. We can also see unreported damage to the neighboring building to the south - #2 Energetykiv St, which includes the "Portal Bucha" co-working space. Its south face and possibly east face have taken hits, its peaked roof and balcony housing on the east side seem to be totally missing from this angle (compare 2015 street view). Also noting a light pole was damaged, perhaps by a direct shell impact.

Ukrinform.net reported for the morning of the 27th: "Bucha - a missile hits a 9-story residential building." If this were a missile ...  it came in fairly horizontal, at a final angle from the southeast. There's no evidence the Russian column in Bucha that day had any missile launchers to do this with, even if they could reach the right spot. Considering the Russian advance was hit to the south, there may have been complementary strikes further up and earlier - if fired from a distance, that would be from Kiev or Irpin. SE, and might overshoot and hit the building , although to hit it that high on accident would be less likely. 

As far as I know, the worst of this could be from some kind of tank shelling, and the damage came probably in 2+ rounds - some simple gunfire, perhaps, chipped the walls in spots clearly after the fire has coated it with smoke. The armor convoy that did stretch to the southeast, and the part that survived the attack probably passed here again on their way back north. On both passes, they may have reason to fire back at a sniper, and an upper level hits make sense for that.

Russia was widely blamed. "Russian airstrike" (IndiaToday) - "Russian killers bombing civil buildings" (MALTESE ASSISTANCE SERVICE Ivano-Frankivsk on Facebook) - "Russian army shelled a residential building" (The Centre for Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy of Ukraine, on Twitter) - "Russian shell." (Aleph on Telegram and on Twitter)  - "cannon shells fired by #RussianArmy tanks."  (Babak Taghvaee) - "Russians have just shelled the apartment building in Bucha. Russian tanks trying to break into the city." (Oleksandra Matviichuk). None of these suggests there might be a legitimate reason the jets or tanks might strike the upper floors of a tall building overlooking the route of a Russian military column.

The most widely-seen image of the apartment building, with internal fires just taking off, appear mainly just after 9am, but appear as early as 8:44 (noted by Val). But it was reported as happening at 8:20, and a less-seen  view was posted 8:19 AM, showing a slightly later scene with fires well-developed. So it probably happened around 8:15-8:17, or nearly an hour before the big attack on south Vokzalna at 9:10. Initial reports said there were no injuries in that attack, and that was never updated that I've seen. 2 Energetykiv hasn't lost its roof or balconies at this time - that must have happened later in the day.

Note: this photo also shows a faint plume of white smoke rising to the right. It seems limited,  like exhaust from an rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) fired from there.


Other Shelling Around the Novus Store

(Twitter, 2/27, 4:58 PM "Fighting continues in Bucha: one missile hit a residential building, a shopping center - a spokeswoman for the SES." "Shopping center" could mean the Giraffe Mall in Irpin, but might mean - for example - the Novus supermarket not far from 101 Vokzalna, as said "in Bucha." A bit to the north, another residential building, a retail building, and the Novus were all hit with some kind of artillery shells, perhaps at the same basic time or at least by early on the 28th. See mappings below.

The store was damaged by the morning of the 28th, so probably the day before. Ukrainian Pravda posted a photo-heavy report then: "the central district also suffered because on the "Warsaw" (highway to Kiev) the enemy column tried to break into the capital. The Russian military was stopped by Ukrainian defenders." The Warsaw Highway mentioned is the E373 inside city limits, which runs just south of Novus. It's also called Nove highway. On that street, just west of Vokzalna, barricades were made of tires, trash bins, and a shelled car, with Molotov cocktails prepared inside the covered walkways at this weird little base. Locals hurling these at Russian invaders is something that was reported, but may have never happened, or had little relevance.

Other photos show damage to Novus, a neighboring building (104-B Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St.) in morning sunlight, solar azimuth about 140 degrees = around 9:45 AM per NOAA solar calculator. One photo inside the store showed "probably blood" on the floor. As shown below, it does look like that.

Investigation-Info wrote "The Russian military aimed directly at the entrance of the Novus supermarket." Tanks were seen shooting at the monument just after they passed the store. Someone there was likely shooting at the Russians first, perhaps from windows behind that monument, or from the store. 

At least one interesting Ukrainian fighter - Volodymyr Kovalsky - was reportedly killed in action on the 27th, in some fighting "near Novus" in Bucha. Olga Klymenko on Twitter, morning of the 28th: "Volodymyr Kovalsky was #KIA near Novus in #Bucha. Participant of #Maidan he joined UAF in 2015 and fought in the #Donbas. In 2016 he stumbled on a land mine and lost both legs. Went through rehabilitation and started his own business, doing sports. 🇺🇦 Enternal memory to the Hero!"  UkrArmyBlog 🇺🇦 on Twitter also announced this on the afternoon of the 28th, but specified Kovalsky was killed "yesterday." No further info yet on just what he was doing for whom and how he was killed.

In nearby strikes that seem related but aren't reported until the next day, two Russian AFVs and a military-looking truck were also destroyed, and another buildings west of Novus was also damaged. The Radio Svoboda video filmed late afternoon on the 28th gives much detail on damage in what's called the Novus district. I geolocated using Google maps street view (only the northern AFV was a bit tricky to place). By now, these also have dates attached - to be explained.


The southern tank was really flattened and melted, and looks a lot different at different times and angles. Here's an April view that shows a burned out civilian car next to it. Буча - зачистка міста від окупантів спецпризначенцями Національної поліції - YouTube Note the location: in front of that home with the columns and balcony, tall trees to the right, a tiny house behind a wall to the left. This is how it was placed on the above map. 


A video posted and dated February 28 seems to show that "tank "being hit, filmed from the Novus parking lot at a bit past solar noon - "Russian BMP in #Bucha, telling civilians to remain calm, blown up by a Ukrainian territorial defense member with an RPG" (28 FEB)" A tweet to explore this. Hedges block an actual view of the BMP, but the smoke from its hit is very nearby, roughly in front of that tiny house seen above, or about where the southern wreck was seen.


A short video dated Feb. 28 shows the northern tank burning hot (right), also in early afternoon sunlight. A photo dated Feb. 28 shows it just smoking, diffusing the sunlight (inset below). A distance photo dated Feb. 28 (I noted the date but lost the link) shows smoke rising from two spots - one corresponding with the northern tank, one close to the south one. That's early afternoon sun like in the other images. See below. 

As for the difference with the southern plume - a late-afternoon photo by Maksim Levin (R.I.P.) dated Feb. 28 has the southern tank right there at the corner, and more intact than we'd later see. (inset below) 

Later it's been moved a bit south and been more fully melted. Some images around show it left some treads, there's a new totally crushed car where it was, and some powerful force has cut down a larger tree (me on Twitter). The crushed car, in turn, is next to another crushed car (video, opening moments) that contained the driver (tweet

The Novus store was damage in at least 2 spots. Here in a morning photo from Ukrainian Pravda, the south corner with shrapnel damage and door blown open. Another impact at the far corner was just inside the glass - exact damage and impact points unclear, may include breaking and looting by locals or fighters, alcohol smashing, etc. but it appears at least partly explosive in nature, affecting this SE-facing side. 

The two buildings damaged just west of the store also seem to be hit from the southeast, just behind a burned out truck. It's not clear whose this was, but quite likely not Russian - maybe used by Ukrainian fighters, or just a larger civilian truck - I don't know my vehicles, really. It's in the south part of the Novus parking lot, aligned in a parking space as if parked. 

To the west is a 5 story building, 104-B Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St. It seems residential, but includes "Hazeta Buchansʹki Novyny," newspaper publishers. The east end was impacted, with fires on all floors right there, but widely just on the top floor (left photo shows the building's south face). No reports on casualties or losses. 


The next building to the southwest is a 9-story commercial building, address apparently 104 Kyjevo-Myrots'ka St. - maybe part residential, but including a door store.  Val on Twitter - It was impacts at least 4 distinct times, at least one in a window causing some serious fires. east or ESE-facing walls, including a sharp cutoff at the north corner suggests the fire came fairly straight in, but with a trend to the right or north, Tank shells may be the best explanation or a bit from the left = from the southeast, broadly speaking. Likewise, no reports on casualties.


Not Quite Novus District
Another building worth considering isn't quite in the Novus district, but a ways south,  more in the middle span of Vokzalna street. 2a Ostrovs'koho st. is seen in the first 20 seconds of the Radio Svoboda video. Again with no reported casualties, something came in from above and blew the roof wide open. Directions not clear. Filmed late afternoon 2/28, still smoldering as fire crews wrap up their work. this building was probably damaged on the 28th; there's also a lack of smoke right there on the 27th (white star below) - geolocated by me from a video posted 12:20 PM on the 27th - 
improved version here, and note the north smoke (lime green) is probably at the Antonov airport in Hostomel, some 8km from the camera. By this, there seem to be fires at Novus, at least one of the west buildings, perhaps the truck, 101 Vokzalna, and at the bend of Vokzalna. No smoke is seen at 2a Ostrovs'koho, nor at the southern tank (the northern one being hard to tell from Novus smoke). But to be fair, the video is from before noon, and the tanks were hit early afternoon, possibly on the 27th. But if so, no one mentioned or showed it until the next day.
There's also a photo of 2a Ostrovs'koho burning (and 101 Vokzalna in the distance done burning), but it's posed as a March photo in this BBC article about a baby born in Bucha. "When they did finally try to escape by car," maybe on Feb. 28, "they had had to turn back when they heard that a column of Russian military vehicles was heading their way." So they stayed until the baby was born on March 8 and an evacuation corridor was announced 2 days later. The photo is captioned "Driving out of Bucha, Anna and Volodymyr saw the destruction caused by Russian strikes." They drove out March 11, with a 3-day old baby girl. 

Dates compared by Collapse Into Now: note the roof corner is still intact in the fire scene, burned away late on the 28th. The photo is misattributed. Solar time: azimuth somewhere between 188 and 226 = around 12:30PM to 3PM, favoring the later half. Sunset, a bit before which the fire was contained = 5:39 PM. (NOAA)

confirms other locales hit on the 27th (a missile hits 9-storey residential building - On Novoye highway, the roof of a residential building is on fire), skips the massive fires on Vokzalna, adds "33 residential building set on fire as a result of shelling" at places we don't know - on: Novoyablonksa (far southeast) - Voiniv Internatsionalistiv st. (far northwest) and Dachna, (not shown here, running parallel on block west of that) - and Tarasivska st. east of the column attack is where "a projectile hit production workshop 32 of the Institute of Fibergalss and a fuel and lubricants warehouse -  likely spot found by Collapse Into Now using labels on Google Maps - confirmed with a view of its smoke in the afternoon from the west - again with a view before 11:32 from the north - all 3 added in pink to the map above -  Zhovtneva (where Vokzalna bends east - smoke may be seen there - red line above).

Review: What, When, Who
2/27-28 Incidents Review...the impact at 101 Vokzalna, the Novus, on the Nove Highway ... happened partly or all as Russian vehicles passed down that street to that massive defeat, with some of this shelling around an hour before that - Russian tank fire against sniper positions makes the most sense, and it would be predicated on attacks launched from these civilian places, as Ukraine's "total defense" policy openly encourages. Otherwise, some of the damage could be caused by more Ukrainian artillery, rockets, mortars, RPGs against moving forces, on the 27th or the 28th. That's not terribly specific, but it's what I can say.

Russian bombs, tank or missile fire against innocents for no reason was alleged or implied. 

The date of all we can see on Feb. 28 has been questioned; it makes the most sense with known incursion on the 27th, and it's unclear what they'd be trying to do on the 28th. Bucha Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said in an interview with Ukrainian Pravda: "Do you remember the broken column at the station? In fact, it stretched across Bucha all the way to Gostomel. Such bravado they went to Kiev." These tanks could be part of the same column, attacked at a different point. And we have tanks shooting at the monument area and likely taking fire at other moments, the store and neighboring building damaged, likely the other one too and a truck, all hit the 27th. 

But another try the very next day it just might be, because 2 tanks were destroyed. Five images of disparate sources all show parts of the same two attacks. All claim it's the 28th, and no images or reports of such tank destructions near the Novus store appear prior to that, including in the detailed U.P. report from the morning of the 28th. We also see no smoke from these spots in the 27th noon view. The evidence suggests these all happened after noon, perhaps on the 27th, but then it seems the column's remnants were leaving Bucha around 10 am that day, so either way, they'd have to come back for more, and the following day makes more sense than the same day.

Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk said "The participants in the territorial defense who were on the lists received 6 Kalashnikov rifles. But when the military registration and enlistment office left, he took it away. That is, even those who were ready to defend the city were left without weapons." Most state agencies including "military enlistment office" left on Feb. 25, he says. (UP interview)
... but someone here was armed on the 27th and 28th - them man firing an RPG on the 28th, probably Mr. Kovalsky killed the day before, and others yet, likely shooting at Russians from residential buildings, like Vokzalna 101, Vodoprovidna 62 ...  one man seen in the Radio Svoboda video near Novus carries what seems to be some kind of anti-tank weapon, late afternoon on the 28th.  We can see Right Sector flags erected at attack sites on the edges of Bucha, but it's not clear who these inside the city were fighting with.

Who Killed Irina Filkina?

June 19, 2022

(rough, incomplete)

updated June 26

3/3 or 3/5 tank incident - uncertainty over the date and thus the victims, and also uncertainty as to whose tanks those were, what else might play into the situation, go into deciding what her killing means. It definitely requires a dedicated post. and a better intro, some cleanup, etc. But it's good enough to show.

Intro

Irina (or Iryna) Filkina had always lived for others, as people say. But as her 53rd birthday approached, she had decided to live more for herself in 2022. As CNN reported, citing local makeup artist Anastasia Subacheva, "[Irina] even got a cherry red manicure for Valentines' Day, drawing "a heart on her finger because she started to love herself," Just recently, she had seen an ocean for the first time, on a trip to Egypt. Just recently, she had taken to wearing makeup, and even caring about how, taking a cosmetics course. 

But she never got the time to get far down that happy road. or I probably wouldn't be writing about her here. Russian forces soon invaded. As CNN reported, "Her daughters decided to cross the border into Poland, but Filkina stayed back to help people. She spent a week at the Epicenter shopping center" - in western Kiev, not in Bucha as CNN heard - "feeding people who were sheltering there and cooking for the Ukrainian military, according to her daughter."

Kholod Magainze reported the location, at the Lavina Mall ("on Berkovetskaya Street on the outskirts of Kiev") and that there was shelling of the area Irina and the rest hid from in the basement. This was likely in response to Ukrainian shelling from the mall or nearby. Irina thought it was safe there, but "they already began to shoot strongly, it became unsafe in the Epicenter" and, "after other employees began to evacuate from there, the woman decided to go home as well." It was the 5th of March. She couldn't secure a ride with others and finally "was the only one left at Epicenter," according to her daughter Olga, Irina had to set out on her own. 

CNN: "One of Filkina's daughters, 26-year-old Olga Shchyruk, said she begged her mother not to ride her black bike home that day. She asked her to take the train out of the city instead. ... It was the last conversation they had. Filkina never made it home that day. ... the Ukrainian military [told] the family on March 5 that she had died." That heart-marked fingernail signaling self-love would be seen again almost a month later, by the whole world, covered in the grime of war.

Video Proof, With a Shifting Date

A different date - March 3 - was ascribed to the first video we would see from a drone Azov Battalion regularly flew over southern Bucha. This showed a Russian tank (or more exactly a BMD) firing on a bicyclist now assumed to be Mrs. Filkina, as she rounds the corner of Yablunska and Vokzalna streets. That was first released on April 4 by Ukrainian Pravda, explaining "the video was shot by aerial reconnaissance of Azov fighters on March 3, 2022 in Bucha, showing Russian equipment, VoxCheck analysts confirm in cooperation with the Public." No specifics on the victim were offered.

It's not clear why it wasn't released earlier, considering what it shows. A column of at least 19 tanks/AFVs and three support trucks coming from the west is stopped in the midst of a turn to the north, up the un-blocked Vodoprovidna street. Several soldiers and possibly locals stand around talking, as 2 leading tanks seem to stand guard to the east. It's these that open fire; the lead one fires an apparent warning shot as the bicyclist approaches the corner, then 4 more after she comes into view. The other tank fires once later on (at 2:28), seeming to finally hit the light pole's concrete base, or something that kicks up a lot of dust along the fence. 

My own scene analysis, referred to below:

Daily Mail Online April 5 "In the first video, captured on March 5, the drone appears to be watching the Russian tank column, but the footage also tracks the person as he is walking up the road that runs through a neighbourhood of destroyed or damaged buildings." Here, the victim is referred to as "he," but the date is different - allowing a match-up with Mrs. Filkina. 

A New York Times article would make that connection, but seemingly aware of the date ambiguity, they only said the video was "recorded by Ukraine’s military in early March." CNN would likewise say only that it was  filmed "before March 10" meaning on or before March 10; as their favored experts Bellingcat found, a March 11 satellite view from Planet.com showed a house that was still intact in the bicyclist video had been destroyed in the interim. (Twitter

The Daily Mail directly cited Bellingcat: "However, another video taken on the street - shared by investigative agency Bellingcat and captured some time later - reportedly showed the same junction after the attack. A person, said to be the same as in the first video, can be seen dead - slumped on the side of the road with his bicycle." Indeed ... here with an Azov Battalion drone view of March 25. Notice the downed light pole and damaged fence. The destroyed house behind the fence is a later development, but considered below.

I was able to show how the pattern of damage to the fence reflects a certain angle of fire, where the pole absorbing fragments left a "shadow" of less damage to the fence. The actual angle is more from the right than I drew it there, but still maybe not quite the angle we see in that video. 

In fact, it's not clear the pole is downed in that video. Comparing different, especially aerial views to set the pole relative to the house, I think the yellow box here shows where the pole would be visible if it were still standing. It's never visible, although it might have been just too short to see. (another pole to the right is remains upright the whole time, and even after the house was destroyed.) 

Bellingcat would keep being called on - not because they're Western intelligence cut-outs who can be counted on the deliver the politically correct findings, but because they're so amazingly through and balanced and 100% independent (or so we are to believe).  To illustrate Bellingcat's powers on 60 Minutes Overtime in May  (segment on Youtube). founder Eliot Higgins used this video from Azov Battalion ("a nearby Ukrainian unit") from "the center of Bucha" (actually its southern edge) "on March 3rd" (not the 5th? Then how does he know that's the woman seen, rather than the man seen more right at the corner?) - to help Pelley conclude "this video before the Ukrainian troops entered proves that they" - meaning Irina and others seen along Yablunska street, some next the impact craters of mortar shells fired from the Ukrainian-held southeast, and most of them it turns out were killed early on this same day (March 5) - "had to have been killed by the Russians." Eliot knows however much of this he does, and concurs with this reading passed on to millions by the venerable 60 Minutes. He didn't even have to mention the V markings! 

March 3, or March 5? It's still not certain, but the latter seems to have won as a best bet. The bicyclist is widely accepted as a woman, Irina Filkina, who was reportedly killed by tank fire in Bucha on March 5, as she pedaled home on this route, minutes after a final contact with her daughter. The body nearest a bicycle at the corner in question was identified as Filkina. The NYT report, co-authored by Malachy Browne, even thinks "The person’s clothing — a dark blue top and lighter pants — matches the cyclist’s attire." The latter is not even clear enough to actually say. But the unique manicure shared by Irina and that body - as noted in the CNN report and many others - is fairly conclusive (see comparison below).

Questions: considering the date issues, that may have always been a different bicyclist on March 3, with Irina's killing just not recorded - not clear if Irina really died on the 5th - plump pink fingers show none of the usual shriveling or darkening at the tips (presumably from frostbite) that are seen on most bodies killed that early, but the plumpness alone might explain that. Her serious leg wound also lacks the expected blackening, but later predation might explain that and its over-seriousness (stray dogs were starving - it happens). 

But otherwise, March 5 seems to line up, so maybe those points are just an anomalous or explained as I now suggest. Either way, she went out of contact on March 5, and unless someone copied her manicure, she wound up dead at the same site a bicyclist was seemingly killed by Russian tanks, probably on March 5. We'll come back to those question after considering a few more details.

Account Details

https://click-clicker.com/2022/04/07/who-is-irina-filkina-and-how-did-she-die-in-bucha/

On April 6, 2022, the Epicenter K company, where Irina Filkina worked, reported the details of the death of a woman.

“The war took her life, and a photo of a hand with a red manicure and a heart on her ring finger hit the front pages of the world media. On March 5, Irina got in touch with her family for the last time. And already on March 6, eyewitnesses told Irina’s daughter: the woman was shot by the Russian invaders when she was riding a bicycle home. Irina was also recognized by her blue jacket with the emblem of the Epicenter…” the company wrote on Facebook.

“The final confirmation of the murder of Irina Filkina in the form of a photo appeared on April 1, on the birthday of the deceased. Irina’s relatives couldn’t believe it: “It’s so hard to imagine why they fired so many bullets at her?” adds Epicenter K. (mistaking shell fragments for bullets)

Kholod Magazine ran a detailed article I coped over, but that doesn't load now. https://holod.media/2022/04/08/irina-filkina/

On the morning of February 24, 52-year-old Irina Filkina went to Kiev to work in the Epicenter shopping complex, located about 25 km from her house in the village of Mikhailovka-Rubezhovka. There she worked as a boiler room operator.

Because of the war, she had to stay in the mall for a week. Her daughters went to Poland to help Ukrainian refugees there. And she waited out the shelling in the basement of Epicenter on Berkovetskaya Street on the outskirts of Kiev and, if possible, tried to help Kievans and the Ukrainian military - Irina cooked food for them, her youngest daughter, 26-year-old Olga Shchiruk, tells Kholod.

As cited above, there was a growing danger from shelling, at which time everyone at Epicenter evacuated, with Irina going last. Her daughters tried to secure someone to give her a lift, but the best shot was only able to try it two days later. Failing to get one in time, "Irina Filkina drove to the nearest village, where someone gave her a bicycle, and she drove it home." She either drove a car then switched to a bike, or drove a bike and then switched bikes, at the "nearest village. That sounds strange, but the best reading is she drove a car to Romanivka, where the bridge was destroyed - probably by Ukrainian forces and for no good, legitimate reason - early on Feb. 25. She should have been able to carry or walk a bicycle across the plank bridge, but perhaps not. She'd have to leave any car, as she crossed on foot, maybe coordinating with Ukrainian security forces running the awkward crossing.  

If she hopped in a car of her own and drove away, that raises the question why she waited so long to get a ride with others. Maybe none were headed the right direction - Irina's daughters wanted her back home eventually, or further west in Poland with them - somewhere less shelled than that mall. Others might retreat into Kiev, but there were fears about its future, by which west seemed a good direction. Maybe there was even a ride west Filkina couldn't squeeze into. Maybe it was the plans or special routes others had that she wasn't as good with. But anyway, what good is going with a bunch of people in a car you just have to leave at Romanivka, and then, what? find a bunch of bicycles? 

She would be headed to Mikhailovka-Rubezhovka - listed a bit differently on Google Maps, about 15km west of the mall, as the crow flies. From the crossing to Irpin, she should go west, probably following the P30 up to Pushinska street, then maybe zig-zagging up to Zakhidna at Irpin's rim, then southwest to home. Maybe this wasn't permitted due to the military situation; maybe she was warned not to go that way or Russians would kill her. Instead, she chose to ride, or was directed, north towards Bucha, putting her far off course to get home. And of course it led to her death as well.

All of this would take a lot of the day - trying to get a ride, finally driving her own car or a first bike, having to leave it and cross the river on foot, maybe waiting for clearance, instructions, etc., securing a bicycle and pedaling through the war zone of Irpin. It likely would be late afternoon after all that. As Kholod reported: "Having reached the center of Irpin, from where she had 15 minutes to get home, Irina called her daughter." The only time limit I can think of is a 5PM curfew imposed on Bucha by Ukrainian authorities, effective March 3.  The same probably applied in Irpin and everywhere else on her route.

Irina did check in with Olga, who told CNN “I told her it was not safe there [in Bucha]. Russia occupied the entire village, people were killed,” Olga said. “Don’t you know your mom? I can move mountains!” Irina replied. It was their last conversation." (CNN) As Kholod related it, she was advised basically to reverse course and get "evacuated" back out of Irpin too, back to the car or bike she left, and to any plan that would be better than the one she was going by.

Irina called her daughter. "I told her: 'Mom, there is an evacuation from Irpin now, everyone is being evacuated. Throw big, run to the river, now they will take you. Don't go home,'" Olga recalls their conversation. She says that she read telegram channels that day in the morning and knew about the fighting and occupation. "Everything, daughter, mom loves you, bye. It's hard for me to pedal, I'll call back," Irina replied to Olga. But she never called back.

CNN reported in error how "the Ukrainian military [told] the family on March 5 that she had died." Polish News, part of a series oddly titled “Ukraine fights – civilians" reported "In an interview with “Fakty” TVN, Irina’s daughter confirmed that she received the first information about her mother’s death on March 6." 

Kholod: "[Olga] began to write in social networks that she was looking for her mother. The next day, a man from Irpin wrote to her on Facebook. He described the appearance of the woman he saw: blond-haired, middle-aged, wearing a blue jacket with the emblem of "Epicenter". According to him, she rode a bicycle through the "Ukrainsky" checkpoint in the Buchansky district, turned around the corner, and the Russian military shot at her."

That sounds like she was waved through by the Ukrainian checkpoint near the bridge in northern Irpin - or perhaps one established IN Buchansky district (the city plus a strip of outskirts including the Bucha river and the bridge) at the time. It was apparently just minutes before local curfew. Tanks parked just around the corner then killed her, after a Ukrainian drone tracked her up the street.  

she'd see a wrecked, flattened car ahead, and perhaps the body of Oleg Abramov. She would hear the warning shot - and the person on video seems to pause for a moment, then proceeds, maybe thinking no way they're firing at her - must be some fighting she wanted to size up. Who was shooting? She didn't know. Even now, we shouldn't be too sure about that.

Whose Tank Column, on What Day?

The armored column was identified as Russian by the apparent V markings seen on two of the units. https://df.news/en/2022/04/12/busted-lying-about-russian-atrocities-in-bucha-peskov-exposed-in-live-interview/
"The Kremlin spokesman cast doubt on the claim that the armored vehicle was manned by the Russian military. In response, the host demonstrated a zoomed-in snapshot clearly showing that the armored vehicle in question has the letter “V” inscribed on it." And thus, Dmitry Peskov was "caught lying." 

The apparent lack of a V on other units suggests those ones are not Russian. And as Deus Abscondis noted a double-stripe marking might mean that one is Ukrainian, and the camouflage style of another might say the same. And so we have a less clear mix of both sides' tanks - clearly one set in possession of the other. We know Ukraine captured several V-marked tanks in the days before this, and that it's not that hard to paint a V on. Nor is it that hard to paint a V out, and for all we know, the Russians had seized some Ukrainian AFVs by then too. So whose mixed force was this? The question is glossed over as non-existent. 

Depending whose tanks these were, they might be headed north towards city council to establish or to challenge Ukrainian control. The scene was originally reported as March 3 when Ukrainian forces were claiming control of Bucha, but as many sources agree the Russians were just starting to establish control  - sources agree March 5 is when the Russians established control in this area of Yablunska street. Thus March 5 is the better fit to blame the Russians. It also seems to fit with Filkina's narrative and the presence of her body at this corner 

From what I've been establishing, working with others, Russian forces were pushing this way from the southwestern Sklovodska district by late on March 3, as other Russians came from the east, presumably after looping around from the same area. It was in the pincer of that 8 or so civilian or militant men were apparently executed on March 3,4, or 5 (accounts vary) - to be covered in a stalled post I still haven't come back to. It seems unlikely they'd also be pushing this far east at this same time, on the 3rd. But they likely would be by the 5th. The two days could be told apart by the signs of the attacks reportedly early on the 5th - the closest thing we might see is the blackened asphalt around the burned-out van, but the drone view just barely avoids showing that area to confirm if this is present or absent 

depending which day this really is, it could fit with the Russian push or perhaps with a murkier force pushed ahead of them - Ukrainian forces might be present on the 3rd, maybe with some captured Russian tanks, in use by them - maybe a false flag unit in operation or preparing - caught here with an escort of proper Ukrainian units, was a bit embarrassing and so not published at the time - only when there was a well-known Russian massacre story to plug it into.  

Some clues consistent with this being a Ukrainian outfit: lingering as they do - men standing around, possibly including locals, almost as if they're waiting for something slow - and suffering no attack from surrounding building or from drones or artillery, even as they gun down civilians ... the drone watching Irina is Ukrainian - it might be communicating with the tanks, and hence the warning shots before she even appears. The killing could hardly be a surprised accident in that case, and the only clear motive is to have one more death to pin on the Russians. That seems plausible enough to me, but it won't be very compelling to most people, and a lot argue against it.

On the other hand, the Russians might well be at this corner by March 5 with a force about like this, which is also bigger than anything Kiev was known to have in place at the time (not that much is known). The Russians might be able to linger because Kiev was scaling back hostilities with an eye to minimizing collateral damage, after overdoing it on Vokzalna. These Russians would have no drone feed, but might have another way to know the bicyclist was coming and to fire a warning shot. But when someone comes pedaling up from the Ukrainian checkpoint and insists on getting too close, the Russian tank might open fire without waiting to see what weapon this stranger might have, and might be real quick with. 

That would be tragic, but is it really the epic war crime people pretend it is? No - especially when we consider the other factors, including Kiev's security forces, that effectively steered Irina right in front of the Russian cannons. They just pretend it's so damning because it's also on video so it's all proven, extra clear cut in being on some March day, with mixed Russian-Ukrainian armor, possibly coordinating with a Ukrainian drone or even checkpoint, and enforcing Ukraine's curfew, ...  Thomas van Linge declared that, as of April 5, "This is by far the clearest evidence of Russian war crimes in #Ukraine" - in the whole country, not just in Bucha. He had his bar set really low back then. 

Update June 26: The time of this incident is unclear - the case for around 5PM is made above and makes sense, but Iryna Abramova says her husband Oleg was killed on the morning of March 5, and she saw "the body of a woman lying next to a bicycle a few meters from their gate." By this, the other Irina was killed even earlier in the morning. Section "The House Behind" deleted, analysis replaced with a better version included at that link. And noting the first tank doesn't shoot at her but up the street a ways, as I trace it, at the tree that does seem downed by tank fire, likely killing 1-2 (see forthcoming post). This was happening as she rolled up, so no 'warning shot" or mysterious knowledge is required. It seems only the second tank actually shoots towards Irina.