Body of 'kidnapped' Ukrainian footballer found in 'Russian death pit' –

A talented footballer who ‘helped to the end’ is among civilians said to have been massacred by Russian forces in Ukraine amid mounting reports of war crimes.
Oleksandr Sukhenko and his parents were reportedly ‘kidnapped’ from their home before their bodies were found in a shallow grave just outside Motyzhyn, 31 miles to the west of Kyiv.
The 25-year-old’s mother, Olha, was the village head and her husband, Igor, was also actively involved in community life through football.
Discovered in a forest after the village was recaptured by Ukrainian forces, the grave contained the bodies of around 30 civilians, according to a regional football organisation.
In a statement on Facebook, Kyiv-Svyatoshinsky Football described the family as ‘exemplary’ and said: ‘They desperately defended their native village when the hour of trouble came, and died like heroes.’
Igor was described as a ‘knowledgeable entrepreneur’ and the co-president of the rural Kolos football club, who worked to develop young players.
The post goes on to say that Oleksandr helped many people to escape the village while it was under occupation by Russian forces, whose withdrawal from population centres on the approaches to Kyiv last week has left behind evidence of horrific war crimes.
The family was the victim of a ‘violent kidnapping’ before their deaths, according to the organisation.
Turning to his playing career, it describes him as a forward and winger who went from a ‘rural footballer to a professional master’, winning many trophies during a career marked with ‘bright victories and beautiful goals’.
Oleksandr had played for regional side FC Kudrivka, which helped share an appeal for information after he and his parents went missing on March 23.
The star player leaves behind a sister, named on social media as Radchenko Olena Igorivna, who is the focus of an appeal for financial support.
Oleksandr Bruy, of the club’s press service, told ‘The management and players of our club sympathize with Oleksandr’s sister and all relatives of the Sukhenko family.
‘The actions of the Russian occupiers cannot be justified, this is a real tragedy for Ukraine.
‘We are doing everything to help find the guilty Russians and punish them.’
The club shared images of the forward and his parents under the dedication, ‘eternal memory and the kingdom of heaven’.
A family friend had issued a desperate appeal for information about the trio’s whereabouts, saying that they had been taken by Russian troops, who were also said to have stolen a phone and Oleksandr’s Toyota car.
Daria Belenitsyna wrote: ‘This is my second family, they helped people to the end, carried medicines, groceries. They were taken from their own house.’
Vladimir Putin and Russia have been accused of a litany of war crimes and atrocities, including civilian executions, rape and systematic looting.
In Bucha, on the northern outskirts of Kyiv, graphic video and photographs showed corpses of people killed with their hands tied behind their backs.
The evidence emerged after Russian forces pulled out of towns and villages around the capital, leading Ukraine to push for war crimes investigations.
Joe Biden today joined calls to put Putin on trial, saying ‘you saw what happened in Bucha’, and calling the Russian president a ‘war criminal’.
The family was said to have been ‘tortured and murdered’ by the invaders, according to a Ukrainian interior ministry adviser who spoke to Reuters.
Anton Herashchenko said: ‘The occupiers suspected they were collaborating with our military, giving us locations of where to target our artillery.
‘These scum tortured, slaughtered and killed the whole family. They will be responsible for this.’
The bodies, said by AP journalists to have been bound and blindfolded, were found as Ukrainian personnel cleared the area on Saturday.
The victims are believed to have been shot at close range. A fourth body close by in the sand has not been identified.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk further confirmed that the village head was killed while being held by Russian troops.
Mr Herashchenko showed the news agency their partially-covered bodies lying in the pit near a farm, which had been virtually destroyed.
Photographs showed two of the corpses lying uncovered on the ground and another in an open sewage pipe.
Reuters could not immediately verify who was responsible for the killings.
Olha, 50, was the starosta of the village, which has around 1,010 residents, making her the equivalent of a mayor or a council leader.
According to a Ukrainian news and media channel, she and her husband were taken after a search of their home.
The Russian troops apparently promised Oleksandr that they would be returned alive, but ‘after some time’ he was taken too, TRS Boryspil said.
In a post on Facebook, the channel said were ‘tortured and killed by the Russians’ before being dumped in the mass grave.
Moscow has denied committing war crimes and has said reports of civilians being killed are fabrications aimed at smearing Russia.
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