Virtual museum of Russian aggression.

Virtual museum of Russian aggression.



Old and new traditions of Motyzhyn residents

The village of Motyzhyn is located in the Kyiv region at the head of the Bucha river. About a thousand people live here today, but people have inhabited this area since long before Birth of Christ. Remnants of ancient farming cultures and settlements from the times of Kyivan Rus are found here, and the village also has a glorious history of defense that dates back to the 12th century. Researchers believe that it was here that the historical settlement of Mutyzhyr was located, as mentioned in Ukrainian chronicles. 

The modern era of Motyzhyn's development is closely associated with the Sukhenko family. Olha Sukhenko had tried her hand at various professions, including baking. However, she devoted most of her time to public work in Motyzhyn. In 2002, she was first elected secretary of the local village council. In 2006, she was elected to head the village. Local government in Ukraine then went through considerable reforms, and Olha once again assumed the position of mayor in December 2020.

The villagers valued their leader, because in Motyzhyn "they renovated a school, a cultural center, built a kindergarten, a hospital, paved the roads, put in some landscaping - everything was done thanks to Olha Petrivna. Olha took care to preserve the history of the area and its tourist attractions, organize local holidays and acknowledge local veterans. She also started the tradition of handing out symbolic awards for the most beautiful street and house in the village. Friends say that it was Olha who became the "locomotive” of Motyzhyn and turned the village into a "flower beautiful, well-groomed, and clean".

Olha's husband was a businessman, also actively took part in the development of Motyzhyn. Ihor Sukhenko, together with a group of like-minded peers, founded the local football club "Kolos", which competes in district tournaments. Their son Oleksandr started playing football when he was 9 years old. Oleksandr spent most of his time at the amateur level, but from 2018 to 2020 he played for a second league professional club by the name of "Chaika", starting in 21 matches and scoring 3 goals. In addition to football, he was very fond of history, and he always wanted to live his life in such a way as to leave something memorable behind.

Daria, Oleksandr's girlfriend, only has good things to say about him: "So honest and loyal that, in my opinion, people like him embody all of Ukraine." Olha and Ihor's daughter, Olena, remembers a special atmosphere in her house while growing up. Her parents did their best, became real friends for their children, and served as the soul of the family and the support of the entire village of Motyzhyn.

Sukhenkos protecting their community

After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion, the residents of Motyzhyn hoped that active hostilities would bypass the village, just as they once had during the Second World War. In the early days, many people had come to the village from Kyiv in search of refuge. Up to 4,000 people had gathered there, including the Sukhenko children. 25-year-old Oleksandr deliberately went to Motyzhyn to help his mother carry out her duties as the mayor and support her in the difficult times ahead. When the local territorial defense forces began to form on  25.02.2022, he and his father enrolled in its ranks. Lacking weapons of any kind, the men carried out day and night watch shifts around the village. 

However, within a few days it became clear that the Russian occupiers were significantly different from the German ones of the previous century. A column of Russian vehicles entered the village in the evening of 27.02.2022, as the Russians were attempting to surround the capital. On that very same day, the residents of Motyzhyn suffered their first losses. One of the local territorial defense fighters, a man named Leus, tried to resist, but was mortally wounded. Leus’ son and a doctor named Serhii Holovan, also died while trying to evacuate Leus for medical treatment.

A nightmare was unfolding in Motyzhyn. The Russian troops decided to remain in the village, which made attempts to flee dangerous - several cars in the area had already been shot at and damaged in the early days of the occupation. The shelling continued and the village was being destroyed. Several houses were destroyed entirely. In the first days of the occupation, the village lost electricity. And later, a gas pipeline was damaged and all gas supply was stopped. 

On the very first day of the occupation, Olga openly warns the community about the danger, in particular, she does not choose her words in social networks.

Considering the occupiers' interest in representatives of local government bodies, it was dangerous for the Sukhenko family to stay there. On  04.03.2022, Olena Sukhenko, her husband and 3-year-old daughter had an opportunity to leave Motyzhyn. However, Olha, Ihor and Oleksandr decided to stay with their community and continue to provide confidence and support for their fellow villagers.

In the first half of March, the Sukhenkos organized evacuation convoys from Motyzhyn. Olha Sukhenko oversaw the delivery of foodstuffs and other essential goods while stockpiles still remained. Ihor took foodstuffs from his own store and distributed them to the residents of Motyzhyn. Oleksandr distributed medicines to the community. They also maintained contact with other volunteers such as Serhii Kubrushko and Andrii Shostak, his father-in-law, who brought food and medicine to Motyzhyn and evacuated people.  

The Sukhenkos also provided a generator in their house to fellow villagers so that they could charge their devices. Several neighbors whose houses had been damaged by shelling also stayed at their home. The family served as a rock of stability around which the community gathered. 

Eminent Ukrainian politician Roman Bezsmertny, Sukhenko family friend and fellow countryman, was also living under occupation in Motyzhyn. Thanks to the Sukhenkos, he was provided with basic living needs while hiding from the occupiers with his mother and a few other people. Ihor brought firewood and fuel for the generator to Bezsmertny on a regular basis, providing energy that allowed Roman to secure a connection with Kyiv.

The struggle of the Motyzhyn residents and Russian punitive measures

The Sukhenko family did much more than distribute humanitarian aid. Motyzhyn residents also provided all kinds of support to the Ukrainian army. The Russian occupiers were not welcome there. Mykola Kurach, head of Motyzhyn’s volunteer self-defense unit, was hiding out with his family in Sukhenkos’ house after their own home had been shelled. Along with Ihor Sukhenko, they recorded the positions of the Russian military and passed the information on to Ukrainian units. 

This work was of great importance. The front line passed very close to Motyzhyn itself, and there were artillery positions near the village from which Russian troops launched attacks on Bucha and Makariv. 

The Russian military, which had suffered significant losses since the beginning of the occupation, met the resistance of the local population and was hostile towards it. On 18.03.2022, the occupiers struck in Motyzhyn itself and active fighting was taking place near the stadium. The Ukrainian military had set up an ambush and destroyed a Russian armored car, as well as a truck with anti-tank weapons.

The occupiers began to retaliate against the residents of the village. They looked for people who were in contact with the Armed Forces. Russian soldiers were driving around Motyzhyn, shooting at houses and cars that contained people who were trying to evacuate. They killed 67-year-old Alla Loboda and 42-year-old Yaroslava Lytvynenko, who happened to be passing by. Over time, the situation only grew worse.

After every fight that took place in the village, whether due to the arrival of a reconnaissance group or somebody else, they made a detour, burned houses and shot people

Roman Bezsmertnyi, interview to Tatyana Nikolayenko

Eventually, the occupiers managed to track local resistance efforts. On the morning of 23.03.2022, the Russian military came to the Sukhenkos’ home in search of Kurach, who had left only a few minutes earlier. What happened during that first visit was recorded by Oleksandr’s sister, who called the family around 10:20 a.m. The occupiers searched the house, destroyed some of the phones, and took Oleksandr's car. In that instance, they did not detain anyone. 

Ihor Sukhenko was aware of the danger. He still managed to move his friends around and continued to meet with Roman Bezsmertny. Sukhenko asked him to convey information about the severity of the situation in Motyzhyn to the Ukrainian command. In response, the politician asked the Sukhenkos to move to his house, where similar searches had already taken place at that time.

However, the Russians returned to the Sukhenko residence at around noon and took Olha and Ihor away. Their neighbors wrote Olena to inform her of this development. She tried to contact her relatives, but their phones no longer worked. At around 2:00 p.m., she managed to get through to her brother again, and he confirmed that their parents had been abducted. Oleksandr was promised that they would be released soon. However, the Russians returned to abduct him as well. Olena received one final message from her brother at 3:36 p.m. - he texted her saying that everything would be fine. That evening, the neighbors reported over the phone that Oleksandr had also been taken away by the occupiers. 

In the following days, no one knew exactly what was happening to the family. Authorities of the prosecutor's office opened criminal proceedings in the case of violation of the laws and customs of war (art. 438 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine). The Ukrainian side included the famous Motyzhyn family in lists for prisoner exchange. Relatives of the Sukhenkos still held out hope for their release.

The fate of the family was revealed only after the village was liberated in the wake of the Russian retreat on 28.03.2022.. At first, there were only rumors - people released from Russian captivity heard from Russian occupiers that their mayor had been executed. On 02.04.2022, soldiers from the "Crimea" volunteer battalion found a mass grave with the bodies of four people in a forest near Motyzhyn. 

Three were quickly identified - Olha, Ihor and Oleksandr Sukhenko. The fact that their hands were tied and the nature of their injuries indicated that the occupiers deliberately executed these people. Oleksandr had the most severe injuries, as it’s likely that the Russian military tortured him in order to pressure his parents. Witnesses also confirmed that torture took place. Mykola Lytvynenko, who was also held captive by the Russians, heard how the occupiers beat the Sukhenkos in a nearby room.

They are heroes. An example of how real patriots act during a war. They were killed because they were Ukrainians

Olena Radchenko (Sukhenko), interview with Tetyana Kovtunovych, Ukrainian Institute of National Remembrance, 30.06.2022.

The body of Serhiy Kubrushko was also found in the mass grave. On 11.04ю2022, Andrii Shostak was also found murdered in Motyzhyn. These volunteers were last contacted on the morning of 23.03.2022. It’s likely that the occupiers captured them first and then began to look for contacts among local residents. The Russians abducted people at the first hint of suspicion. Around the same time, they detained a local pastor, Oleh Bondarenko, because they believed that a group of Ukrainian intelligence officers was hiding in the rehabilitation center that was under his control. 

According to a subsequent medical examination, the Sukhenkos were killed shortly after their abduction, likely on 24.03.2022. As a result of the investigation conducted under the procedural leadership of the Kyiv Regional Prosecutor's Office and the Kyiv-Sviatoshin District Prosecutor's Office, the identities of five servicemen of the 37th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces and three mercenaries from the so-called Wagner Group, who are suspected of committing this crime, were established. Currently, it is only possible to inform them of their indictment in absentia.


Olha, Ihor and Oleksandr Sukhenko were buried in Motyzhyn on April 7. 

Despite the difficult everyday realities of the war, about 300 villagers will come to the funeral.

The murder of the family is a devastating blow to the community and yet another example of the large-scale criminal activity of the Russian military in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. These actions constitute crimes against local government representatives, Ukrainian activists, and ordinary citizens who held a patriotic stance. These crimes will be repeated in different regions of Ukraine, wherever the Russian military goes. These crimes are being recorded today by international courts and appropriate human rights organizations. 

The people of Motyzhyn will remember the Sukhenkos’ loyalty and kindness, as well as the terrible fate that the Russian "liberators" prepared for the family. The community will demand justice and punishment for the criminals who brought such devastation to its centuries-old lands. The Makarov village council will initiate a petition to award Olha Sukhenko with the Order "For Courage" of the III degree - "for indomitable strength of spirit, patriotism, active public position, personal courage and dedication, heroism shown in saving people, as well as in the performance of official and civic duties".

By Decree of the President of Ukraine No. 593/2022 dated August 23, 2022, Olga Petrivna Sukhenko was awarded the Order of Courage of 3rd degree (2022, posthumously) for her significant services in strengthening Ukrainian statehood, courage and self-sacrifice in the defense of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity,  significant personal contribution to the development of various spheres of social life, defense of the national interests of the Ukrainian state, conscientious performance of professional duties

Published on 2022-07-01

Mykola Zamikula

Donetsk Local Non-profit Organization "Center for International Security"


Analytical Report: Evidence of war crimes and serious violations of international humanitarian law committed during Russia’s military aggression against Ukraine (22 March – 5 April 2022). International Partnership for Human Rights, 19.04.2022. Graham-Harrison, Emma; Koshiw, Isobel; Tondo, Lorenzo. How the barbaric lessons learned in Syria came to haunt one small Ukrainian village. The Guardian, 30.04.2022. Marson, James. Execution of Village Mayor Becomes Symbol of Russian Brutality in Ukraine. The Wall Street Journal, 05.04.2022. Ukraine: Executions, Torture During Russian Occupation. Apparent War Crimes in Kyiv, Chernihiv Regions. Human Rights Watch, 18.05.2022. Барановський, Олексій. Воєнні злочини росіян у Мотижині: як убивали старосту села та мирних мешканців. Новинарня, 08.04.2022. Біографія Ольги Сухенко на веб-сайті Макарівської селищної ради. Букет, Євген. До проблеми датування населених пунктів на території сучасного Макарівського району Київської області. Краєзнавство, 2016. 3/4. С. 63-75. Вбивство старости села Мотижин та смертельні катування мирних мешканців окупованої Київщини – встановлено п’ять військовослужбовців РФ та трьох «вагнерівців». Офіс Генерального Прокурора, 24.05.2022. Викрадення російськими окупантами старости села Мотижин на Київщині - розпочато провадження. Офіс Генерального Прокурора, 26.03.2022. Відео похорону родини Сухенків в Мотижині, 7 квітня 2022 року. Сторінка Наталії Гуменюк в соціальній мережі Facebook, 07.04.2022. Галка, Нікіта. "Не було виходу. Він вибирав врятувати поранену людину" - історія родини зі звільненого Мотижина. Суспільне. Новини, 08.04.2022. Гришина, Даша. Герой нашого часу: волонтера-розвідника розстріляли за допомогу мешканцям Мотижина. Вечірній Київ, 12.04.2022. До последнего говорил, что все будет хорошо. История семьи Сухенко, убитых в селе Мотыжин в Киевской области. Настоящее Время, 07.04.2022. Інтерв’ю Олени Радченко (Сухенко), надане Тетяні Ковтунович, Український інститут національної пам’яті, 30.06.2022. Микитюк, Вікторія. «Здається, цей біль ми не витримаємо»: рашисти вбили волонтера, який возив в окуповані села хліб та продукти. Факти, 27.04.2022. Ніколаєнко, Тетяна. Роман Безсмертний: Вони мене ставили до стінки розстрілювати і вимагали сказати, "хто в селі цар". Цензор, 14.05.2022. Реплянчук, Дмитро. «Де вбивали, там і жерли»: у Мотижині жертви впізнали своїх катів. СлідствоІнфо, 01.06.2022. Семенова, Інна. Розстріл родини Сухенків в Мотижині. Односельці вбитої голови сільради розповідають про її допомогу ЗСУ, загибель та звірства окупантів. Новое Время, 06.04.2022. Срібнянська, Ксенія. Після катувань застрелили з автомата: історія про волонтера, вбитого рашистами у Мотижині. Апостроф, 26.04.2022. Сторінка Ольги Сухенко в соціальній мережі Facebook, 27.02.2022. Сторінка Романа Безсмертного в соціальній мережі Facebook, 04.04.2022. Сухенко О.П. Мотижин. Енциклопедія Сучасної України: електронна версія [онлайн]. гол. редкол.: І. М. Дзюба, А. І. Жуковський, М. Г. Железняк та ін.; НАН України, НТШ. Київ: Інститут енциклопедичних досліджень НАН України, 2019. Указ Президента України від 23 серпня 2022 року № 593/2022 «Про відзначення державними нагородами України з нагоди Дня Незалежності України»
Show all