An explosion broke the dam at the entrance to the village of Demydiv, near the village of Kozarovychi, causing an outflow of the Irpin River to flood the area. This prevented the Russians from breaking through Ukrainian lines directly to the capital city of Kyiv.
NV found out how conditions in the flooded village are today.
On Feb. 25, the Armed Forces of Ukraine blew up a bridge across the Irpin River to prevent an enemy breakthrough toward Kyiv. At the same time, the military blew up a dam at the entrance to Demydiv, near the village of Kozarovychi. The dam controlled the entry of water to the Irpin River from the Kyiv Reservoir.
After the blast, the river overflowed its banks, creating a swamp. The village of Demydiv was flooded. Yet despite the fact that several dozen houses are flooded and gardens are still in the water here, most locals do not regret it. However, they do complain about the slow pumping away of water.
"The explosion stopped the Russians going directly to Kyiv. That’s because the bridge was blown up there, and there was no passage here either," says electrician Volodymyr Khorunzhiy.
"There were our defenders on this side of the river, and they stopped the Russians making pontoons across the blown bridge. Many of their vehicles were deployed near the bridge, later broken armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles. When they were dragged away, there were still dead Russians in those infantry fighting vehicles. In short, they (invaders) were not allowed to enter Kyiv due to the destruction of the dam and the bridge. If they went straight, they would already be at Kyiv's Shevchenko Square, the Minsk residential are a in an hour... It would be like in Bucha or Hostomel."
Khorunzhiy works at a pumping station near the village of Kozarovychi, which pumped water from the Irpin River into the Kyiv Sea – the water level in the river is six meters lower than the water level in the Kyiv Sea. Volodymyr himself is a native of Demydiv. He says that about 70 houses in the village remain flooded. Neighboring villages, such as Dymer and Kozarovychi, were more fortunate, as they are located above Demydiv.
"It was mostly the houses near the dam that were flooded in Demydiv," Khorunzhiy said.
"There is an additional protective dam near the village. There hasn't been such a flood for a long time."
According to Khorunzhiy, the water level in the Kyiv Sea has already stabilized.
"The Irpin River flows into the sea by gravity, so the level is now more or less stable. Partly the water has already fallen, but not so much that people can livethere as before. My brother also lives in the lowlands, the house seems to be dry, but the garden is full of water."
As soon as the Russian invaders left Kyiv Oblast, a temporary crossing was set up on the bridge across the Irpin River in Demydiv on March 31 so that people could return home or leave without hindrance. Khorunzhiy and other employees of the pumping station near Kozarovychi went to work on April 5.
He shows the office premises and says that the pumping station was knee-deep in water after the dam was blown up.
"We cleaned everything, pumped out the water, now we're drying it all, we're coming back to life," he says with a smile.
Another resident, 72-year-old Yeva Mykhailivna, lives in Demydiv, at 66 Kyivska Street. Her house is high, so it was not flooded. But on March 4, a Russian missile fell 15 meters from her home. Her house was affected as a wall fell in, aceiling fell down and the veranda was completely destroyed. The concrete fence was demolished by the blast wave. The woman barely got out of the collapsed house.
"The missile flew very low. The Russians launched it. Our military shot it down, and half of it fell here. It went to the house, I saw a wave of fire, I managed to jump into the bedroom and then everything fell down. The children thought I was gone. Everything collapsed in the house, and I couldn't get out. Later my son-in-law and daughter got me out," Mykhailivna recalls, and complains that she has almost lost her hearing after the blast.
Despite this, she is now happy that the invaders were expelled from Kyiv Oblast. She says she is grateful to the Armed Forces of Ukraine for blowing up the dam.
"It was very scary here. All tanks had been coming here since Feb. 24. But our guys are smart," she says.
"The bridge was blown up, the river flooded everything here. The Russians couldn't move. Our (military) also took down all the road signs, so (the Russians) did not know where to go, and wandered here a lot, looking for any road in the village to go to the town of Irpin."
"A month-and-a-half later, the Russians were driven out from Irpin to Chornobyl. They were hiding in the houses, took away our cars. And when our soldiers began to bomb them, they fled to Ivankiv, to Chornobyl. And only then did life become calmer for us."
During this one-and-a-half months under occupation, she lived with her children either in the basement or in a house. The family hardly ever went out.
"The Russians lived at my neighbours, they immediately told us not to go out, because they would not spare anyone," she tells.
"They came, took the boys' mobile phones and told them not to leave the basement."
Mykhailivna herself is of Belarusian origin. She was born in the village of Kopyshche on the border with Belarus. She believes that Belarusians are equally to blame as the Russians for the war.
"Putin has no pity because many are bullied, tortured and raped,” Mykhailivna says. “And Lukashenko knows what was happened during the Second World War (2,887 innocent locals, including 1,347 children, were tortured and burned alive by the Germans in Kopyshche on July 13, 1943). He knew what the war is, and he let this happen."
Information about the Russian war crimes in Vyshgorod district began to appear during the occupation of this territory. Locals who managed to escape said that the invaders had chained a man up in a parking lot, as well as the fact that Russian military equipment had driven into the yards of civilians. There were also reports of looting of homes and shops.
Khorunzhiy, who returned to Demydiv on Feb. 25, recalls how the Russians looted a local store.
"Alcohol sales were banned at that time, but alcohol remained there," he said."
I saw them come in an armored personnel carrier and load bottles of vodka into it. When the car ran out of space, they took out the spare wheel, put more bottles of vodka and left. And that wheel was lying there for a long time. Maybesomeone took it for a tractor."
It is still unknown how many people died in Demydiv during the occupation.
On March 9, the National Police reported the shelling of an evacuation convoy that killed police officer Oleksiy Ponomarenko.
On March 5, local resident Andriy Kostiuchenko was killed in Demydiv. He helped to transport people who had to be evacuated – mostly families with children.
Flooded houses now stand in a row in the heart of the village, on Nyzhniy Val Street, which is located near the protective dam. Here, on the dry part of the street, the locals held a memorial service.
A woman who asked not to disclose her name says that her cousin and classmate died during the occupation.
"We’re commemorating our relatives,” the woman said. “My cousin was shot by the Russians. Between Kozarovychi and Demydiv. He was just walking down the road. He was taken away, his fingers and arm were broken. And then a bullet in the back of the head. He was found on April 6. We recognized him by his tattoos, clothes. And my classmate was tortured. He was driving with binoculars, looking at their positions. He was found later, 16 bullets in his body."
The woman said that her house is still flooded, although her neighbor confirms that the water level is gradually falling.
"I have a flooded well, sewers, basements, everything,” the neighbor says. Now the water level has fallen a bit, but previously it was impossible to step on the place where we're standing now.”
There are motor pumps on the side of the protective dam. They are the ones that are pumping water from people's gardens through the river dam.
Serhiy, an employee of the State Emergency Service, is monitoring the pumps. According to his estimates, the pumping of the water could take about a month if there is fuel.
"The motor pumps are pumping water around the clock, day and night," he says.
"Our pump hasn't been working for a week, people have been pumping water with their little pumps for about three weeks. People can't even plant gardens until we pump out the water," he said, adding that he is going to keep the pumps working until all the water is gone.