Woman in Bucha, Ukraine, desperately searches for missing husband

Hiroto Sekiguchi / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Galyna Mushta sits with her family album at her house in Bucha, Ukraine. Her husband Oleksandr has been missing since the start of the Russian invasion three months ago.

BUCHA, Ukraine — Tuesday marked three months since Russia started its invasion of Ukraine. In the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where many civilian bodies were found after the withdrawal of the occupying Russian forces, a woman is desperately looking for her husband, from whom she was separated on the first day of the invasion.

“I want to see him again,” said Galyna Mushta, 57, on Monday at her house in Bucha. She now spends many hours of her day gazing at the front door, hoping her husband Oleksandr might show up.

When the attacks started on Feb. 24, Oleksandr told Mushta and their son and his wife, who lived next door, to evacuate. Then, the 59-year-old left the house, saying, “I will join the territorial defense force.” His whereabouts since are unknown.

“Apparently he was turned down by the defense force because of his age,” said one acquaintance, while another said, “I saw him on the outskirts of the town on Feb. 26.”

 Soon, attacks on Bucha intensified, and Mushta had to take refuge in an underground shelter at their house without being able to contact her husband. On March 6, she fled to Poland.

Mushta returned to Bucha in early April, soon after the withdrawal of the Russian troops. The town, previously filled with greenery, was in ruins. A street strewn with dead bodies was called the “street of death.”

Mushta first met Oleksandr about 40 years ago. He sat across the table from her at a party of a common friend. They hit it off, and married a month later. They were blessed with a son and a daughter.

Oleksandr worked for an electronics manufacturer before setting up his own business. He expanded his business to cover neighboring towns and villages.

“He is a strong-minded person who could accomplish everything on his own, trusted by everyone,” Mushta said.

On April 10, she found a clue that could lead to her husband. Oleksandr’s car could be seen in a video posted on a social media website where people share images and information about discovered bodies and their locations.

The place where his car was found was along a road on the outskirt of Bucha. Its windshield was broken and its tires were missing. There was a trench used by Russian soldiers in the vicinity, with items such as preserved food, camouflage clothing and sleeping bags scattered around.

No bloodstains were found inside the car, but the search area could not be widened because mines were likely to be buried around the area.

“He was obsessed with work, so I feel like he might still be working somewhere,” said Mushta.

Oleksandr had printed thousands of business cards for his work. Mushta wrote details including his date of birth on the back of the cards and has been handing them out in a search for information about him.

Recently, she started to visit morgues in Bucha. She also submitted DNA samples from herself and other family members to a hospital in Kyiv for matching with unidentified bodies.

Three months have passed since she last saw her husband. “I don’t want to give up, but the mental burden has been high,” Mushta said. “It’s all because of the war. Please let me see my husband again, no matter in what form.”