A Ukrainian woman spoke about the horrors she went through and saw during the Russian siege of the Ukrainian city of Mariupol last year.
The woman named Alyona, who now lives in the Russian capital, Moscow, spent 100 days under siege with her two daughters until the last Ukrainian soldier from the area surrendered.
The 35-year-old woman described the scene of dozens of corpses buried hastily in the courtyards of residential buildings in the city during the siege.
“The stench, the sights, the flatulence (decomposing corpses). One will never forget that,” she told AFP.
She recounted how her daughter saw a dog eating a corpse, saying, “My daughter asked me, my mother, what’s going on? Why does a dog eat a man?” “And I still don’t know what to tell her,” she added, crying.
Mariupol residents who survived had to spend two months in basements without water, electricity, heat or phone signal, cut off from the world in freezing temperatures.
Alyona said she could hear the cries of the wounded. “But we couldn’t do anything. We couldn’t get out from the basements. We were torn to pieces.”
Alyona had to hold her own to protect her daughters psychologically: “I was a wolf, an iron lady. But during the night, I screamed my heart out on my hands and knees. I screamed so much. It was terrible. We wanted to survive.”
Alyona took refuge in Russia, fearing the consequences if someone recognized her in Ukraine, whose authorities she accuses of abandoning the people of Mariupol and not evacuating them in time.
“My army didn’t save me,” she said. “My country abandoned me.”