KEY POINTS

  • Mykola Kulichenko and his brothers were blindfolded and shot by Russian soldiers
  • Kulichenko played dead after a bullet struck his cheek and exited near his right ear
  • He made it out of his grave and staggered to safety before making it back to his sister 

A Ukrainian man played dead and lived to tell the tale of how Russian forces shot him and his brothers and buried them together in a pit in the northern Chernihiv region.

Although his brothers didn't survive, the man was able to climb out of his grave and return to his sister.

“It's like being resurrected,” said Mykola Kulichenko, who believes he cheated death to speak for those who didn’t survive.

Since the war broke out in February, life had not changed much for the 33-year-old and his family even after Russian forces occupied their village of Dovzhyk. But things took a turn on March 18, Suspilne News reported.

Russian soldiers were on the lookout for those responsible for bombing a Russian column. They searched the wood-planked house where Kulichenko stayed with his two brothers and one sister.

The soldiers felt the brothers had something to hide and drove them to a basement, where they were questioned for days. The sister was not at home at the time.

“They beat my whole body with a metal rod, and they put the barrel of a gun inside my mouth," he told CNN.

Russian soldiers blindfolded them, taped up their hands and legs and drove them to an empty plot. They were then made to kneel, Kulichenko said.

He first heard a shot behind him and said his older brother, 36-year-old Dmytro, fell to the ground. He then felt Yevhen, his younger brother, drop beside him.

Kulichenko was next. But he miraculously survived after being shot in his cheek. The bullet had exited next to his right ear without striking any vital organs.

He played dead as the soldiers kicked the three brothers into a pit and covered them with dirt before leaving. Kulichenko can’t tell how long he lay buried alive. 

"It was hard for me to breathe, since Dima (Dmytro) was lying on top of me, 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,” he went on to say.

He made it through the fields and was taken in by a woman in the nearest house. He was eventually able to make it back to his sister, Iryna.

"I came home and there was Mykola. I looked at his eyes and asked where are the others? He said there are no others," Iryna told the outlet.

Russians began retreating from the Chernihiv region in early April. The Public Prosecutor of the Chernihiv District Prosecutor's Office Serhiy Khamayko confirmed that Kulichenko’s two brothers were found in the pit with gunshot wounds and their arms and legs bound.

"I was lucky... and now I have to just go on living," he said. "This story needs to be heard by everyone, not just in Ukraine, but around the world because these kind of things are happening and this is just one in a billion."

Kulichenko said he was able to lay his brothers to rest in a proper grave with elaborate tombstones on April 21. 

dirt-1835651_1280 Representative image Photo: Credit: Pixabay / Pexels