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“We had to drink water from the heating pipes”

The pictures of March 9th went around the world.

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“We had to drink water from the heating pipes”

The pictures of March 9th went around the world. A heavily pregnant woman is carried on a stretcher by four soldiers from the Mariupol Maternity Hospital. The building is completely destroyed, rubble is everywhere. The Russian army had bombed it. "It was pure Armageddon," says Boris Yakovenko, a former resident of Mariupol in the documentary The Wiping of a City. He drove to the hospital after the explosion and reports what he found there. "A woman came up to me," he says, "she said, 'don't go there, there are only dead bodies'".

In the film by director Yelyzaveta Tatarinova, eyewitnesses tell for the first time what they experienced during the Russian attacks on the city. Just days after the attack, Moscow began shelling and encircling the city. Nobody could leave her, not even Mykola Asichenko. He tells of a humanitarian tragedy that took place there. “Water was the most precious thing. We drained water from the heaters. You shouldn't drink that, but if you don't have anything else, you drink that."

The devastating attack left deep trauma in the residents. "We saw how the house next door was hit," reports Kateryna Ryabtseva. She was sitting in her apartment with her children when the Russian army launched airstrikes in early March. "The ninth floor was on fire and in one apartment there were six children and two adults. It was said that it was impossible to save all the children."

This helplessness also left its mark on Nikita Krasilov. His anger towards Russia is huge. “Our house was hit by an incendiary bomb. And Russian propaganda wants to tell us that we will be 'liberated'. Did they intend to liberate us with firebombs?”

The brutality with which Russian soldiers acted in the city becomes clear in the documentation. Footage shows a Russian tank, for example, rushing unchecked through the city, sweeping over park fences, benches and lanterns. Another aims directly at a residential building - and shoots.

Targeting civilian buildings meets the objective criteria of genocide, say renowned international law experts. The shelling of such facilities and the destruction of supply lines in Mariupol "doesn't seem to be a coincidence to me," said expert Christian Tomuschat to WELT AM SONNTAG in March.

According to the international law expert, this reveals a “military strategy”. “Mariupol is to be starved. The civilian population is apparently going to perish because of this." One could therefore come to the conclusion "that the intention behind this is to wipe out this part of the Ukrainian population in the course of the conquest of the city".

A few days earlier, Russia had bombed the city theater. "We thought that was the safest place, because in front of the theater it said in big letters: 'Children'," says Olena Khvalyu. She hid in the building along with 1,200 other people. "There was an explosion and everything collapsed." Around 600 people died. Khvalyu survived and was able to escape into the open. “People were buried under rubble. A man lay there with half his face showing and the other half missing."

Those who made it out alive can tell their story today. When the war is over and Mariupol has been liberated by Ukraine, Evgeny Tuzov does not hope for the city's reconstruction. "Mariupol should become a museum for the horrors of war," he says. "So that people can come and see this and no one ever wants to go to war again."

The documentary "Mariupol - The Obliteration of a City" will be broadcast on August 27, 2022 at 8:05 p.m. and on August 28, 2022 at 1:05 a.m. on the news channel WELT.

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