New images show burned bodies at ruined nursing home in Luhansk region
The Washington Post verified the location of the new video and some of the images by comparing them with multiple prewar archive videos and photographs of the nursing home. Recent satellite photographs of the home, which is between the cities of Kreminna and Rubizhne, appear to show that it was burned and badly damaged last month.
The ruins shown in the new imagery also tally with descriptions given in recent weeks by both Ukrainian and Russian forces of a deadly incident at the nursing home, for which each side blames the other while offering little clear evidence. The home was near the front line of fighting in the area when it was destroyed.
Serhiy Haidai, the region’s Ukrainian governor, announced on March 12 that the facility was one of several local buildings shelled by Russian forces and pro-Russian separatists the previous day. Haidai later said a Russian tank “cynically and intentionally” fired on it, killing 56 people. He said 15 survivors had been captured by the Russians and taken about 40 miles north to the Russian-held city of Svatove.
On March 20, Ukraine’s prosecutor general and human rights commissioner reported preliminary findings that matched Haidai’s account, and which were reiterated by the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. The prosecutor general’s office announced war crimes charges against Russia for the alleged attack.
Efforts by The Post to reach the nursing home’s director and other staff were unsuccessful. A spokeswoman for Haidai said that the area was under Russian control and that Ukrainian authorities had been unable to access the site.
Pro-Russian forces in the region blamed Ukraine for the disaster, claiming Ukrainian troops had stationed themselves inside the nursing home and used the residents as shields and had shelled it on March 10 while Ukrainians were retreating from the area. The new video and images show what appear to be ammunition and weapons among the ruins, but it was not clear when those items first appeared there.
A March 13 satellite image of the site shows multiple vehicles on a dirt road running north from the home into Russian-held territory. The road separates farm fields and is rarely used by vehicles, according to several years of archived satellite images.
Viktoria Serdyukova, a former prosecutor who is now a human rights spokesperson for the Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR), a militant pro-Russian separatist group, said in a March 23 statement that survivors of the disaster, who were rehoused in a nursing home in Svatove, had supported this version of events in interviews with her. Serdyukova published photographs of herself with three elderly women but did not identify them. Serdyukova’s office did not respond to several interview requests.
Our Donbas, a campaign group allied with the LPR, previously published photographs and a video package that showed select areas of damage to the nursing home and stated that more than 60 people were killed there. The group’s video footage and images, which were also verified by The Post, did not show any bodies or weaponry.