Ukraine war: Refugee from Popasna spots looted possessions on Russian tank

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Russian tank in Popasna carrying boxes - 26 MayImage source, Reuters
Image caption,
Ms Koreniuk said the boxed boiler, bed linen and tablecloth were hers

A Ukrainian refugee in the UK says she recognises items apparently looted from her house sitting on top of a Russian tank in a recent photo.

Alina Koreniuk says the box in the photo contains a new boiler she planned to install before the war started.

She and her children left Ukraine on 8 April and are staying with a British couple in Nottinghamshire.

The picture, taken in late May, shows the tank moving past bombed residential buildings in the town of Popasna.

Russian forces have been in control of the town, in the Luhansk region, since 8 May.

Ms Koreniuk says the photo was taken on a street just five minutes away from her house.

It was originally spotted by her husband.

"He said: 'Do you notice anything strange about this photo,' and asked me if I saw what he saw in it," she told the BBC.

Apart from the boiler, other items on the tank include a tablecloth from the family's summer house, new Disney bedsheets for her children and a red blanket, she says.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Many residents of occupied towns have complained of Russian looting

The bed linen was used to cover something, Ms Koreniuk added, probably a TV or other electronic equipment, all of which had been left at the house when they were forced to leave.

But she wasn't surprised by what had happened.

"Our reaction was that whatever they hadn't destroyed they would steal," she said.

"We expected houses in Popasna to be looted, we'd been told many times about this."

Ms Koreniuk has been staying in Southwell, Nottinghamshire, with her daughters Kristina, 12, and Olha, eight, under the UK government's Homes for Ukraine scheme since leaving Ukraine.

Their hosts are thought to be among the first in the country to register for the scheme.

Image source, Alina Koreniuk
Image caption,
Alina (R) left Ukraine but her mother stayed behind at a relatively safe location

A policewoman and former child psychologist, Ms Koreniuk and her family left Popasna on 24 February when the invasion began. Shelling had already started in the area.

The family took very few of their possessions when they left. Her mother was forced to leave behind a pet dog, which was killed either by shrapnel or by the occupying forces.

Her mother, grandmother and husband are still in Ukraine but in relative safety.

Many residents of occupied areas of Ukraine have complained of looting by Russian troops.

Last week the independent Russian news site Mediazona published a report suggesting that Russian troops had sent home 58 tonnes of looted goods from areas close to the Ukrainian borders with Russia and Belarus since the start of the invasion.

The packages are said to contain items such as sneakers, canned food, TVs, car tyres and tents.

Russia has not responded to allegations of looting, but officials have accused Ukraine of filming fake videos to accuse Russia of looting.

They have also accused Ukraine of overseeing bands of looters in areas under its control.

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