Ukraine Stories #Week19: Shelling in Odesa kills dozens of civilians

Photo from the children's camp official website (Credit:

In this live blog, at the heart of our project we’ve called “Ukraine Stories”, Ukrainian and Russian journalists write about the harsh living conditions that the Russian invasion has inflicted on them. We cannot always verify the events described in their articles, but their short reports and feature stories describe two countries in the turmoil of war. This blog is also available in Ukrainian and Russian.

Shelling in Odesa kills dozens of civilians

On the night of 30 June, Russian troops fired rocketson the resort town of Sergeevka, 80 kilometers from Odesa. 21 people have died, including one child. Journalist Tatiana Bezhenar reports on the attack.

by Tatiana Bezhenar, 01.07.2022

The night of 30 June was a real hell for the residents of Sergeevka, in the district of Bilhorod-Dnistrovsky in southern Ukraine. The Russian occupiers fired rockets at a building and two recreation centres. The attack has killed 21 and wounded 40 people. Search and rescue operations continue.

“The rescuers will work until we know for sure that no one is under the rubble, and that there is no threat to people's lives and health”, said the spokeswoman of the Department of State Emergency Services in the Odesa Region, Maryna Martynenko. 

One rocket targeted  a nine-story residential building at around one am, hitting  the second and fourth floors. Debris fell on on the floors below and started a fire.

“Pieces of walls flew, furniture began to fall. The wardrobe fell on the floor, and the refrigerator fell on me. The children were barely pulled out, there was a small space which I pushed them through. But I couldn't get through, said local resident Kateryna Orekhova. At my daughter's request, rescuemen helped me get out from under the refrigerator. The flat’s metal entrance doorwas completely torn off. I don't know what the state of the apartment is now. I haven't been back because I am afraid. But I need to at least take my important documents.” 

Rescuers had to simultaneously extinguish the fire and search for people under the rubble. Eight people were found alive, while 21 were already dead. Over 35 wounded with shrapnel cuts, blast injuries and contusions were taken to the hospital. Two of them are in critical condition, they were operated on.

Law enforcement officers are currently collecting rocket fragments throughout the village, but it’s already known that  they are from Soviet Х-22 missiles launched from enemy planes flying over occupied Crimea. There are no military or critical infrastructure facilities nearby, and experts believe this is revenge for Ukraine’s liberation of Zmiiny Island on which Russian troops were. This enemy strategy is to demoralize the civilian population.

In addition to the targets, recreation centers and a nine-story building in the resort village, all neighbouring houses, the local market and a large number of small shops were damaged.

“Our worst nightmare became a reality. We talked about this and warned officialsafter the liberation of Zmiiny Island, says Serhii Bratchuk, the spokesman of Odesa military regional administration. This is yet another terrorist act. This is exactly the kind of weapon that the enemy uses to attack peaceful subjects.” 

Ukrainian children found in Russia

The independent Russian newspaper Verstka published an article about Ukrainian children in Russia. Most have parents in the war, are orphans or children in boarding school.

According to the deputy mayor of Mariupol, Pyotr Andryushchenko, about 270 children were transferred from the Ukrainian portal city to a centre in the village of Zolotaya Kosa, about 100 km east, on the Russian side.

Representatives of Russia's Rostov region, where the centre is located, are open about the fact that they have taken in children. However, they maintain they are all orphans from the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Lugansk and Donetsk (LPR and DPR), Russia’s allies.

According to Verstka’s sources, over 400 Ukrainian children aged between 2 and 18 are now placed there. The centre was previously a sports complex for Russian youth from the region. It has been converted into a temporary accommodation centre.

According to the authors of the article, Anna Ryzhkova and Petra Prokhazkova, the centre in has two large swimming pools, and pitches for basketball, volleyball and football. In addition, parties are organised for teenagers and some children receive psychological support.

Many of the children want to go home, according to the testimony of one of the centre's volunteers, but this is not planned.

In Moscow, 27 children transferred on 23 April from the self-proclaimed DPR were temporarily placed with foster families. But the region's governor, Andrey Vorobyov, has said he wants to legalise their adoption. In addition, on 30 May, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree simplifying the process for orphans from DPR, LPR or Ukraine to obtain Russian citizenship. This would facilitate the adoption process.

In times of war, it is forbidden to transfer children from attacked territories to those of the aggressor state. According to the Geneva Convention, this constitutes a war crime. According to the Minister of Social Policy in Ukraine, Maryna Lazebna, about 7,000 orphans have been evacuated from conflict zones to Poland, Germany, Italy and Spain, but some have not been able to benefit from humanitarian corridors.

“If Russia had shown a little humanity, it would have at least said to us: 'We have taken these children from Mariupol. Let's talk about what's going to happen to them next,” says Maryna Lazebna. “But they don't communicate with us at all.”

According to the media, over 2,000 children have been transferred to Russia.

On their end, Russian authorities insist they are rescuing children from Ukrainian forces. In early April, Anna Kuznetsova, the deputy speaker of the State Duma, the Russian parliament, said that “not a day has gone by” without Russian families writing to offer their help and welcome them in their homes.

Buryat women want their husbands to return from Ukraine

The wives of Buryat soldiers, an ethnic minority in Siberia, are demanding the return of their husbands and sons who left for the front over four months ago. They published a video on social media on Tuesday 28 June, in which they appeal to Alexei Tsydenov, the leader of the Republic of Buryatia.

“May the death of every soldier in this unjust war be on your conscience! We demand the return of our sons and husbands to their homeland,” wrote Vera Partilkhaeva, one of the wives, on her Instagram account. “Alexei Tsydenov, it is with your tacit consent that our children are murdered!”

Vera added that her husband left in January for a military exercise and has been in Ukraine, serving with Tatsinsky’s Fifth Tank Brigade since then. Her Instagram account is now deleted and there is no news of her, according to the independent media People of Baikal.

Later in the day, a local media outlet reported that the leader had contacted the women to find a solution, but the news was quickly deleted. The video of the wives was also removed.

The army is one of the few economic opportunities for the Buryats, who come from one of the poorest regions in Russia. According to unofficial data, they are therefore the biggest casualties among the Russian military.