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Ukraine war: Gruesome evidence points to war crimes on road outside Kyiv

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soldier stands by car and corpse (not shown)IMAGE SOURCE,JEREMY BOWEN

Image caption,

Corpses and burned out cars litter this stretch of the E-40 highway

Footage of Russian troops shooting a man with his hands up on a highway outside Kyiv at the beginning of March was shared around the world. Now the Russians have been pushed out of the area and the BBC's Jeremy Bowen has been to see the grim aftermath of their short-lived occupation.

This report contains material some viewers will find disturbing

We counted 13 bodies on a nightmarish stretch of road not much more than 200 yards long, between Mria and Myla, villages whose Ukrainian names translate as Dream and Sweetheart.

Two of the dead are confirmed as Ukrainian civilians who were killed by the Russians. The others have not been identified yet - they lie where they were killed - but only two are wearing recognisable Ukrainian military uniforms.

Our BBC team was able to get to the area, on the main E-40 highway as it approaches Kyiv, because Ukrainian forces had captured the sector only 10 hours earlier.

The marks of battle and of heavy shelling were everywhere. Petrol stations and a hotel that was well-known for its spa and restaurant were in ruins. Shell holes and craters pockmarked both carriageways.


Ukrainian troops changing a wheel in the ruins of a roadside garage said the Russians were about 4km (2.5 miles) away and had pulled their remaining men and armour back after a hard fight, lasting several days, in the early hours of the morning.

Warning: Graphic image ahead

Left behind in the heart of the desolation were the dead bodies, and a mass of questions and concerns about who they were and how they died.

Unidentified body on roadIMAGE SOURCE,KATHY LONG

Image caption,

The BBC saw numerous dead bodies along the stretch of highway, hours after Russian forces were ousted from the area

Some answers already exist for a couple who were killed by the Russians and left to decompose on 7 March. Their rusty, shrapnel riddled car lies in the road next to one of the petrol stations, reduced to a shell by fire. Next to it are the burnt and twisted remains of a body that is just about recognisable as the remains of a man. A wedding ring is still on the corpse's finger. Stretched out inside the hulk of their car is what is left of the incinerated body of a woman, the mouth opened in what looks like a scream.

Their deaths were filmed by a Ukrainian drone on 7 March, operated by the Bugatti unit of Territorial Defence. The unit released the video, which was republished by news organisations around the world. It caused outrage because it showed the cold-blooded killing of a man who had raised his arms to show he was harmless, in the classic gesture of surrender.

The bodies, the BBC discovered in an investigation this month, are of Maksim Iowenko and his wife Ksjena. They were part of a convoy of 10 civilian vehicles who were trying to escape the Russians and get to Kyiv.


Maksym and Ksjena IowenkoIMAGE SOURCE,SUPPLIED

Image caption,

Ksjena and Maksim Iowenko were civilians and should have been protected

As they drove down the road, they spotted a Russian tank in position, dug into the grass verge. The drone video shows it was clearly marked with the letter V, one of the identifiers used by the Russian armed forces. The other cars did quick U-turns and drove away at speed. But Maksim's car stopped, most likely because it was hit.

As soon as the car stopped, Maksim leapt out and raised his hands. Within seconds he was shot dead. His wife was killed in the car. Also in the car were their six-year-old son and the elderly mother of one of Maksim's friends. Both of them survived and were eventually released by the Russian soldiers.

They were found walking back down the road, and the woman told her family that Maksim was shouting that a child was in the car when he was killed. Both survivors, according to the Bugatti drone unit, are now safe but deeply traumatised.

Warning: Graphic images ahead

The car is now burnt out, but it was not on fire after the attack. One hypothesis must be that the bodies and the car were set on fire by the Russians to destroy the evidence of what they had done. The Bugatti Unit has submitted its drone video to the Ukrainian authorities and to the Metropolitan Police in London.

More burnt cars and dead bodies line the road for the next few hundred yards. No video has emerged to show what happened. A credible working assumption for any investigation must be that the other dead people were killed by the tank crew, or other Russian soldiers.



Image caption,

Some of the evidence the BBC gathered is too disturbing to show in full. Here a dead man has been covered by rubber tyres


Image caption,

Here a Ukrainian soldier gestures towards sets of charred human remains by a burned out vehicle

Attempts have been made to destroy the other bodies. Some have been left to rot where they were killed. But other corpses have been piled up and surrounded by tyres. Charred clothing indicates attempts were made to set fires around them. Tyres are flammable and must have been placed there as an accelerant.

The emplacement where the tank was dug in has a clear arc of fire across the area where the 13 bodies are lying. The tank has gone but debris was left by the its crew, including Russian army field rations. In the woods nearby is at least one other tank, which has been burnt out after being hit by anti-tank missile.

A Ukrainian soldier produced a wallet he had found in the tank. He emptied out Russian identity papers, bank notes in the Russian currency, the rouble, and small change in Belorussian coppers. The major thrust to the north-west of Kyiv came from invaders who had crossed the border from Belarus, Moscow's ally.

Close by the knocked out tank are the remains of a chaotic camp, with dugouts, chairs and a long table piled high with the remains of food and drink. They are all surrounded by big piles of garbage, rotten food and empty bottles of alcohol. Ukrainian soldiers said shops at the petrol stations were looted.

Ukrainian soldier examines stuff left behind by Russian troops

Image caption,

An abandoned Russian camp: the soldiers are said to have looted petrol stations

Next to the table is a large pair of bolt-cutters. Piles of unburied rubbish scattered in a forward position are usually a sign of undisciplined soldiers.

We decided to drive two or three kilometres further down the road, after Ukrainian soldiers said more Russian armour had been destroyed.

In a small village, a Russian tank and two armoured personnel carriers were broken and burnt. Some of the wreckage was still smoking. The force of weapon that destroyed the tank blew off its turret and main gun, which lay upside down and half buried in a crater around 15 yards away.

In the pine woods on either side of the road Ukrainian soldiers were digging trenches and fox holes with shovels. Others were patrolling. It was far too early to say whether the Russians were gone for good, or whether they would be back.

What is clear though is that Russian forces, under continued pressure from Ukrainian soldiers, have been forced to yield strategic territory around Kyiv. Every time they move back, the Ukrainian capital and its people become a little safer.

Media caption,

Video captured by a Ukrainian aerial reconnaissance group appears to show Russian forces shooting at civilians

As and when the Russians leave, more evidence is likely to emerge of civilians having been killed - backing up the many stories that have emerged of such incidents.

The gruesome scenes on the road were more than simply the terrible deaths of human beings who had become victims of President Putin's decision to invade. It is also a crime scene, with evidence that should be collected and preserved for an investigation whenever this war ends.

Under the laws of war civilians are protected, and when they are killed in defiance of those laws, their deaths amount to war crimes.


War in Ukraine: More coverage

posted Apr 1 by Henry Browning

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Image shows Vira's back with messageIMAGE SOURCE,SASHA MAKOVIY

A mother who scrawled contact details on her two-year-old daughter's back while fleeing Ukraine has described to the BBC her desperation in that moment.

Sasha Makoviy said she wrote little Vira's name, age and some phone numbers on her, in case the family were separated or killed while fleeing Kyiv.

"In case of our death, she could be found and would know who she is," Ms Makoviy explained.

The family are now in France where they feel "surrounded with love and care".

After arriving, Ms Makoviy posted a photo of the writing on Vira's back to Instagram, and the image has since gone viral.

"It was the first day of the war, and we were preparing everything to flee from Kyiv and I was just not sure if it was safe," Ms Makoviy told The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4.

Packing their belongings under the sound of falling bombs and with little information available, she said she "wasn't sure if we would come outside our house and be attacked by rockets".

"It was my biggest fear that Vira gets lost or that we become dead and she never finds out who she is, or what family she is from," Ms Makoviy said.

Image shows mother holding daughter in Kyiv

Image caption,

Sasha Makoviy holds her two year old daughter Vira at their home in Kyiv last Christmas

Short presentational transparent line

Worried that her daughter might live but have no surviving family members, Ms Makoviy hoped that at least Vira would one day be able to look up her mother's social media accounts to know what she looked like.

"I thought that she can find some information from the internet, maybe find my account on Instagram - and maybe she could see her parents," she said.

Having finally reached the safety of France after a long escape through Moldova, Romania and Belgium, Ms Makoviy says she is mentally "crushed".

The war was so traumatic, she says, that simply walking outside is frightening, because she mistakes stones for landmines.


"Vira is fine. She is too small to understand what is going on. She can feel something from me, but she is too small to understand. I'm really happy about her age. Really happy."


War in Ukraine: More coverage

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Thousands of studies and web-pages devoted to how yoga keeps the body’s systems more fluid, and how meditation reduces blood pressure and stress, which is considered to be the main thing that breaks down health and life.

That said, the original purpose of both yoga and meditation was to realize our true nature and true flow in this life, and live those qualities every day, even if our lives ended up being short. More quality, less quantity.

As a teacher of both yoga and meditation for about 45 years, I’ve had the good fortune to watch thousands make both of them a regular part of their daily regimen. Just from sheer numbers & percentages, I’ve also had the opportunity to watch many of them end their lives at a relatively young age - their 30s, 40s, 50, and 60s - from something yoga & meditation could not predict or avoid. Car accidents. Cancers. Violence in their city or overseas. And other unforeseen maladies and calamities.

I felt sad for those who thought yoga and meditation were going to prolong their life, and used them mainly to achieve more health and longevity. It ended up not being much help when they got ovarian cancer and died at 34 (happened to a close friend and student.)

So, while there’s nothing wrong with using yoga & meditation to be healthier and possibly live longer, I always recommend looking at the quality of our life, and the self-realization these practices can lead to, that make life truly worth living, beyond health and longevity. I can say without hesitation, the moment meditation, mindfulness and other ‘letting go’s’ brought me to that self-realization, I truly could die that day, or this moment, and no qualms or feelings of incompletion about it whatsoever.

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Are you thinking of buying your first home, and you want to understand when and how to pay the registration tax? If so, you've come to the right article, because here we explain everything you need to know about first home registration tax.

1. What is the First Home Registration Tax?

The registration tax is an indirect tax, payable to the state for the registration of any type of deed, both public and private. The amount of the tax is calculated on the basis of percentage rates, which are applied to the value of the contract.

If you are buying your first home, the registration tax will be paid on the value of the property, since the value expressed in the contract is precisely the price you pay to obtain ownership of the apartment.

2. What is the First Home Registry Tax Rate?

If at this point you are already starting to worry about all the money you will have to spend, in addition to the mortgage and notary fees, we have good news. There are various concessions on the first home, and some of these concessions also concern the registration tax.

If you buy a house from a private individual, the registration tax rate is 2%. If this rate still seems too high to you, consider that it is a reduced rate. In fact, until 2013 the rate was 3%.

This rate is also lower than the rates due for those who buy a house from other subjects. If you buy a house from a company with sales subject to VAT, in fact you will have to pay 4% of the price of the property.

These are also reduced rates compared to the rates for second homes. If you want to make a comparison, to understand how much you save, read our article on the registration tax on the second home.

3. Who is entitled to the benefits on the first home?

You are entitled to benefits on the purchase of your first home if you answer yes to each of the three questions below:

  • are you buying a civil type home, or alternatively one that falls into the categories of economic, popular, ultra-popular, rural, detached houses, or in the category of homes and lodgings typical of the places?
  • Is the house located in the territory of the municipality where you have established your residence?
  • Don't you own any other property, not even co-owned, or by way of usufruct, use or home, or bare ownership?

If you answered yes to all the questions, you are entitled to the benefits on the first home. If you answered no to even one of these questions, unfortunately you will not be able to access these benefits, and therefore the registration tax to be paid will be calculated differently.

Description: Registration-Tax-on-the-First-House

To know the rates that apply in your case, we recommend that you read our article on the registration tax on the second home.

4. I am buying a new house, and soon after I will sell the old one. Can I access the Registration Tax Benefits?

Yes, because you actually only own one house. The concessions on the first home, which also cover the registration tax, also apply to those who:

  • is already the owner of a property, purchased with the benefits for the first home?
  • is buying a second home
  • will sell the old house within 12 months of purchasing the new property

5. I have received an Inheritance Apartment. What is the Percentage of the Registration Tax?

If you have received an apartment as an inheritance, you will be able to pay the registration tax in the amount of 2%. Also in this case the concessions provided for the first home apply. So within 12 months you will have to:

  • sell the property you received as a donation
  • sell the property where you live now

6. I received an apartment as a donation. How do I calculate the registration tax?

In the case of free donations, the tax must be calculated at the rate of 2%, provided that you:

  • sell the property received as a donation within 12 months
  • sell the property where you live within the same period of time

7. What Happens If I Can't Sell the Property Within 12 Months?

Unfortunately, this is an eventuality that can happen, given the crisis in the real estate market. In general, in the deed of sale of the new apartment, or even in the declaration of succession or in the deed of donation, we undertake to sell the house within one year.

If this does not happen, unfortunately the benefits on the registration tax are lost. So you will have to pay the registration tax for second homes, and also pay a fine of 30%. The only way to avoid paying the penalty is to immediately declare the forfeiture of the concession to the Revenue Agency.

So as soon as you realize that you will not be able to sell your first home within a year, you will have to immediately file an application at the Revenue Agency office where you registered the purchase agreement. You will still have to pay the registration tax for second homes, plus interest. But at least you will avoid the 30% penalty.

8. What Happens If I Sell My First Home, and Buy Another Within 12 Months?

If you have sold your first home, to buy another within 12 months, you will be entitled to a tax credit. The tax credit is equal to the registration tax you paid on the purchase of your first home. You can use this tax credit:

  • to reduce the amount of registration tax payable on your new first home
  • to reduce the amount of mortgage tax, or other taxes
  • to reduce personal income tax, or even other taxes to be paid with the F24 model

The code to be used to enjoy the tax credit is the tax code 6602.

9. What happens if I give the property in exchange?

The rules that we have summarized for you above apply not only to traditional buying and selling, but also to real estate exchange.

10. I was told that the registration tax is also due on the preliminary sale. It is true?

Yes. The preliminary sales contact must in any case be registered within 20 days of signing. Therefore, the registration tax will also be paid on this contract. On the preliminary, however, a registration tax of a fixed amount of 200 euros is due, regardless of the price of the property.

But be careful, because this rule is valid only if the preliminary sale does not provide for any payment. If the transfer of a sum takes place both as a confirmatory deposit and as an advance on the price of the apartment, the registration tax is due on these sums. Here are the rates

  • on the sums paid as a deposit, a rate of 0.50% is applied
  • on the sums paid as an advance, a rate of 3% is applied

The amounts of the registration tax on the preliminary sale of the first home will be deducted from the registration tax that you will pay at the conclusion of the final contract.

In some cases, these amounts can even be repaid. This is the case in which the registration tax you paid for the confirmatory deposit or even for the down payment is higher than the tax to be paid for the definitive contract.

11. What happens if the preliminary procedure concerns a contract subject to VAT?

If you are buying a house from a company with sales subject to VAT, for example a construction company, the registration tax on the preliminary sale is as follows:

  • if you pay a deposit on the price of the property, the registration tax on the preliminary is due in the fixed amount of 200 euros
  • on the confirmatory deposit the registration tax is calculated proportionally, applying a rate of 0.50%

12. How do you pay the registration tax?

The registration tax must be paid directly to the notary, at the time of the deed. Your notary will then pay it to the state.

In this article, we've answered the 12 most common questions about first home registration tax. The Gromia Blog offers useful information for those seeking to navigate the real estate and rental market. If you have any other doubts, or even if you need tax or legal advice, contact your accountant or even your trusted lawyer.



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