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Victims ‘burned alive’ in deadly Russian strike on Vinnytsia, says local prosecutor

July 15, 2022 2:13 amby Anna Myroniuk
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Victims ‘burned alive’ in deadly Russian strike on Vinnytsia, says local prosecutorThe site of the heaviest Russian airstrike on Vinnytsia is seen from a window of one of the victims on July 14. (Anna Myroniuk)

VINNYTSIA – Andrii Artymovych felt that he needed a lazy start to his day. The 34-year-old IT specialist spent the day working from home in bed with his laptop. 

That decision nearly cost him his life. 

An hour into his slow morning, Artymovych heard a loud noise. The sound of warplanes overhead had become a regular component of his work day.

“Military (planes) fly here all the time, but this was something unusual,” he told the Kyiv Independent. 

Seconds later, three missiles hit the city square just steps away from his home.

“The glass shattered and I rolled out of bed. There was glass everywhere,” Artymovych recounted, standing in his practically ravaged bedroom.

Andrii Artymovych stands in his demolished apartment in Vinnytsia on the day of a Russian air strike on the city on July 14. (Anna Myroniuk)

Artymovych escaped with a couple of bumps on his head and several cuts on his back and temple. The doctors told him he would be fine.

“They have people to take care of and that’s not me,” he said.

The Russian missile strike on Vinnytsia hit civilian infrastructure in the city’s center, killing at least 23 people and injuring 117. The number of casualties has yet to stabilize. 

The first attack of that magnitude on Vinnytsia, it brought to a horrifying end the city’s perception as a relatively safe haven from Russian aggression in Ukraine. Many Ukrainians have sought refuge in the city after having fled from more dangerous regions. 

Saving lives

Hospitals around Vinnytsia have admitted 66 patients injured in the morning attack thus far, five of whom are in critical condition. 

“There is a young woman, a 20-year-old who was brought to us today. Her injuries are incompatible with life,” Vasyl Nahaichuk, the deputy chief of the Vinnytsia Oblast Hospital’s burn unit, told the Kyiv Independent. 

“Her burns cover 98% of her body and they are deep burns,” he continued. According to Nahaichuk, deep burns covering 30% of the body are usually a death sentence. 

The young woman is not the only patient admitted with severe burns, he says. 

“We also admitted a 60-year-old woman. Her burns cover 80% of her body, but they are not as deep as those of that young woman. Their age differs, however, and it matters,” Nahaichuk said.

He says his colleagues had been working nonstop from 11 a.m. until late on July 14. Their ward alone admitted nine people injured in the Russian missile attack on the city.

Russian culpability

As of late afternoon on July 14, around 250 emergency responders and hundreds of law enforcement officers have been working at the scene of the attack in downtown Vinnytsia.

“We have opened a case into the violation of the rules and customs of war because this missile attack targeted a civilian site,” Kostiantyn Gozdyp, a prosecutor with Vinnytsia Oblast’s Prosecutor’s Office, said in an interview with the Kyiv Independent.

Kostiantyn Gozdyp, a prosecutor with Vinnytsia Oblast’s Prosecutor’s Office, stands at a Russian air strike site on July 14. (Anna Myroniuk)

Forensic experts have managed to identify only 13 of the 23 people that have been killed thus far. Many of the victims’ bodies were severely burned in the attack, making identification difficult. 

“Some of the bodies can’t be identified in any manner but through a genetic examination,” Gozdyp said. “Many of them are like this. There are children burned alive, adults burned alive.”

Anna Myroniuk
Author: Anna Myroniuk

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, and the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize.

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