Bucha, a small city northwest of Kyiv, is a place whose name will be remembered long after the war in Ukraine ends. Like Guernica or My Lai, it has become an emblem of atrocity. When it was liberated at the end of March after more than a month of occupation by Russian forces, the bodies of local residents were found lying on the streets or inside their houses and yards. Many of them showed signs of torture. About half of them had been shot. Behind Saint Andrew’s Church, a mass grave with more than a hundred bodies was discovered. When these photographs were taken in April, hundreds of survivors were still living in shelters without water or electricity. Some of them remained in the shelters because their houses had been destroyed. The following photographs show the carnage and destruction the Russian forces left behind and how the population began rebuilding their town and recovering their lives after a month spent living in hell.

The view from a window in a house that was occupied by Russian troops. The glass is broken where a Russian soldier pointed a machine gun at Yablunska Street.

A local woman in her thirties found dead with a gunshot wound to the head. The police say she had been forced to live in a basement during the occupation.

A group of older women who remained in Bucha during its occupation wait for a food distribution. Most of the local residents who stayed in the city are older.

More than four hundred people lived in this basement shelter, located under a nursery, during Russia’s occupation of Bucha.

A woman named Olga is comforted by her son-in-law, who arrived with a friend to repair a fence knocked down by Russian troops. Olga is eighty years old and spent the entire occupation at home in Bucha. She could not flee because her husband is blind and has reduced mobility.

The Villa San Marino, once a place of recreation for local families, was destroyed by Russian attacks. A trench was dug in its garden.

In the days following Bucha’s liberation, volunteers and cemetery workers collected hundreds of bodies in streets and houses throughout the city.

The bound feet of a Ukrainian man whose body was found in a forest in the outskirts of Bucha. He was shot in the head.

The funeral of a man named Andriy at Bucha Cemetery Three.

Anna Surinyach is a Spanish freelance photojournalist based in Barcelona who focuses on migration, refugees, and human-rights issues. Her work has appeared in Revista 5W, NPR, and the Los Angeles Times, among others.

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Published in the June 2022 issue: View Contents
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