June 28, 2022

‘It’s like being resurrected’

A Ukrainian man who was buried alive after he and his brothers were shot by Russian troops managed to dig himself out of a grave and share his story with the world.

Mykola Kulichenko and his two brothers, Yevhen and Dmytro, were shot by the side of the road after being taken by Russian forces and interrogated in a basement for three days after being accused of assisting in blowing up an armoured convoy.

After having been beaten with “metal rods” and threatened at gunpoint, the three brothers were eventually driven to a roadside, blindfolded and made to kneel as the soldiers prepared a grave for their execution.

After hearing a gunshot and his brothers fall to the ground, Mykola was convinced he was next – but luckily the bullet only went through his cheek and exited next to his right ear.

Having narrowly avoided a fatal shot, the 33-year-old told CNN that he knew his only hope of survival at this point was to play dead as the soldiers proceeded to kick their bodies into the pit, cover them with dirt and move on.

Credit: CNN – The grave where the Kulichenko brothers were left to die

Thankfully, sister Iryna wasn’t home when Russians barged through the door and began questioning the brothers after their grandfather’s service medals and a military bag belonging to Yevhen (a former paratrooper) aroused suspicion.

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Mykola says he has no idea how long he was buried for but despite bleeding from his face and head, not to mention still being tied up, he managed to stay alive and wriggle his way out from underneath his eldest brother’s body.

Meanwhile, his sister still had no idea whether he and his brothers were alive or not.

Credit: CNN – Pictures of the Kulichenko family

“It was hard for me to breathe, since Dima [Dmytro] was lying on top of me”, he said, “but using my arms and knees, I was able to push my older brother off to the side of the pit, and then I climbed out.”

Managing to stagger in the dark, he found a nearby house where a woman took him in as he recuperated overnight and after praying for days that her brothers would come back, Mykola returned to Iryna. After asking “where are the others?”, he simply replied, “there are no others”.

Mykola knows how lucky he is to still be alive and says that stories like these need to be heard as he is not alone in his experience, remarking “this is just one in a billion.”

You can read the full CNN story along with Kulichenko’s extended interview here.

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