The New York TimesThe New York Times

'We Are Still in Shock': A Month Trapped by Russian Forces in a Basement

By Valerie Hopkins

10 Jun 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

One man was ordered by Russian troops to dig a ditch. He thought he was digging his grave. A harrowing New York Times report from a Ukrainian village that endured occupation.

YAHIDNE, Ukraine — More than two months after the residents of Yahidne kicked down the bolted basement door where the Russian army had held them hostage, the village is being rebuilt but the memories remain fresh — and deeply painful.

On March 3, eight days after the full-scale invasion began, Russian forces swept into Yahidne, a village on the main road north of Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv. For nearly a month, until March 31, when Ukrainian troops liberated the town, more than 300 people, 77 of them children, were imprisoned in several rooms in the dank basement of the village school — a human shield for the Russian troops based there. Ten of the captives died. Among those held inside were a baby and a 93-year-old, Ukrainian prosecutors said.

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