During a working trip to the Chernihiv region, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, together with Vice Chancellor, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Action of Germany Robert Habeck and Secretary General of the Council of Europe Marija Pejčinović Burić saw the consequences of the occupation of the village of Yahidne by Russian troops and the war crimes committed by them.
The Head of State, together with foreign guests, visited the school, in the basement of which the occupiers kept 367 civilians in unsanitary conditions, without water and food, from March 3 to March 30, 2022. Among the hostages were 50 children, including several babies - the youngest was one and a half months old. 11 people died, unable to withstand the inhumane conditions. Ten were shot by Russian invaders.
The President of Ukraine and the European guests talked with the villagers who were kept in the basement of the school.
"Thank you for the fact that you survived, managed to wait for our warriors and to tell the whole world about the tragedy that the Russian Federation, the Russian military, together with their leadership, their President, have brought to our land," Volodymyr Zelenskyy emphasized.
The Head of State noted that the residents of Yahidne have lived through terrible ordeals. According to him, about 400 people lived in this village before the occupation, and almost 370 people were kept in the school basement with an area of less than 200 square meters.
"They have been kept in the basement for 27 days. They survived – standing and sitting. 11 people, unfortunately, died. And all these people somehow lived in the dark and waited for the return of Ukraine," he said.
The President said that the prisoners wrote the names and dates of death of fellow villagers on the walls in the dark so as not to forget. And the children wrote the lines of the national anthem of Ukraine.
"It is extremely important that these people survived. It is extremely important that our troops de-occupy such settlements with real heroes every day," added Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Head of State emphasized the importance of the presence of representatives of our partners in the liberated territories of Ukraine, who can see everything with their own eyes.
"It is important to be in such basements in order to understand, in order to help Ukraine. To think about how to find a way to talk with the Russian Federation," the President noted.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy also thanked the local residents and the authorities who fought for their lives every day during the Russian occupation.
As a result of military aggression, all 173 houses in the village of Yahidne were damaged, 16 of them were destroyed. In addition, the communal property was destroyed - a cultural center and a first aid station. The school building was heavily damaged.
According to Vyacheslav Chaus, Head of the Chernihiv Regional Military Administration, thanks to funding from the state and regional budgets, thanks to volunteers and the Latvian government, which allocated funds for building materials and reconstruction, more than 100 houses were reconstructed last year.