It has been about six weeks since Russian troops left the Kyiv region. They left not only destroyed towns and villages but also more than a thousand innocent victims. The bodies of some of them are still being found and tried to identify. Half a thousand civilians were killed in the Russian-occupied town of Bucha, where Russian soldiers shot and tortured those with tattoos; those who seemed suspicious, inconvenient, or simply became trapped by their wild instincts.
Since then, many international experts, politicians and even artists have visited Bucha, and interest in the place has even begun to weaken. However, local residents are now just at the beginning of realizing the full dimension of the tragedy that happened to them. Thus, Bucha resident Tetiana Monko finally came back home and found not only a mess but also a “musical surprise” that Russian soldiers had left in her daughter’s instrument.
Before the war
Tetiana’s daughter, ten-year-old Darynka Monko, lived a happy life, full of joy, creativity and music.
“At the age of 6, she started singing and playing chess, visits the theatre studio and last year she took fourth place in the regional chess tournament. She played cameo roles in TV series, and for the last two years, she has started playing the piano and accordion. We support the desire of our children to try different activities so that they can develop in areas that are closest to their heart”, Darynka’s mother said.
Awards from numerous competitions the girl has participated in were proudly exhibited in the forefront of the flat, right on top of the piano. And how strange is the fact that it saved the family’s life.
When the war started,
the parents of Darynka with her and her younger brother fled for the central region of Ukraine. Their house in Bucha wasn’t so lucky – in addition to the fact that explosions shook the window panes, Russian soldiers set up in their flat. Where the Russian military had been living the longest, they had left the most destruction and killings.
After the Russians left Bucha, Darynka’s father arrived home and saw a sad picture there – the Russians who lived in their flat had destroyed and smashed everything on their property. The special attention the Russian military had paid to cultural issues – trampled on traditional Ukrainian embroidered dresses at the centre of the room; tore a poster with the autograph of Darynka’s favorite pop band; stole an accordion and… put the grenade in the piano.
“The husband brought the sappers twice, and they checked the apartment and the piano, but found nothing. And when I arrived on May 7, later I was about to go back but went to the instrument. I don’t play the piano, Darynka plays. I just touched the white keys, reached the middle, and couldn’t press them. I told my husband that there is something there. We had suspicions about mines before – the husband noticed that the awards on the top of the piano were placed incorrectly.”
The sappers, who could barely be found in the evening before the weekend, removed a VOG grenade from under the child’s piano hammers.
Why the Russians did it, who decided to leave such a deadly surprise for the residents of the flat, and who is now playing Darynka’s stolen accordion – we can only guess. Here, obviously, the same glorious “great Russian culture” and some very perverted desire for beauty appeared.
Darynka and her family are not safe now because Russia is launching missiles at all regions of Ukraine, and now there is no safe place.
“I feel that attention to the war and help to Ukrainians has weakened. I want the whole world to know what these scoundrels are doing. My Darynka sings and recites poems, but just at the moment she recalls Bucha and her happy life that the Russians ruined, she becomes sad and can’t even talk about it, she cries”, says Tetiana.
We do not know how many talented young Ukrainian children will be threatened by this war. Also, we don’t know how many of them were forcibly relocated to their territory, killed or kidnapped by the Russians in Mariupol.
But we want to shout to the whole world: use all possible means to stop this. Isolate Russia, isolate its culture and figures, because everything it does to preserve the image of a civilized state carries fatal imperial narratives inside as it is with the same grenade in the piano.
• Statement from the musicological community of Ukraine
• Violinist Anastasia Poludenna: “Until we undergo treatment, we are allergic to Russian culture”