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Suspilne presents "Notes Under a Cherry Tree", an investigation into Volodymyr Vakulenko's murder

30.12.2022, 15:09
Photo: Suspilne
Photo: Suspilne

"Suspilne Novyny" presented "Notes Under a Cherry Tree" – a journalist investigation about the search for children's author Volodymyr Vakulenko, kidnapped and murdered in Kharkiv oblast. The documentary premiered on December 29 on the broadcaster's YouTube channel, according to Suspilne's corporate website.

The title of the film refers to the diary that Volodymyr kept during the occupation and buried in his backyard under a cherry tree. He asked his father to give the notes to "our guys, when they come."

Volodymyr Vakulenko is a children's author and a father to a disabled boy. He was born in Kapytolivka village, near Izyum; there, he lived with his son. Shortly after Kharkiv oblast was occupied, the man was kidnapped. In late March, five soldiers of the aggressor's army took him away from his house, not even allowing him to change – he was wearing an old sweater, jeans, and house slippers. His family never saw him again.

One of Volodymyr's notes reads as follows: "Before the full-scale war, I appreciated every day and was happy to be living them peacefully. I have seen war before all this, I saw what it leads to. First, Russia destroys residential areas along with the people in them, and then it pretends to be kind."

After Izyum and the nearby villages were liberated, Suspilne journalists went there in search for Volodymyr. They managed to find some witnesses and figure out the eerie details of the writer's disappearance; in the film, they also relay the events preceding his abduction, which they learned through his diary entries.

"While we were staying in the de-occupied Kharkiv oblast, which had been mutilated by the Russian army, the question became more acute with each trip: how do we show this reality of the occupation so that the world realizes its utter ugliness? In his diary, which Volodymyr Vakuleko buried under a cherry tree, the writer himself managed to do so as truthfully as possible. This is a film about the humiliation and extermination suffered by Ukrainian citizens at the hands of the Russian regime, shown through the tragic story of a children's writer," said Kateryna Lyhoglyad, the author of the film.

As IMI reported, journalists from Suspilne's investigation department received photo evidence and DNA examination results which indicate that children's author Volodymyr Vakulenko was killed in Kharkiv oblast during the occupation.

According to the police, the Russians killed Vakulenko with a Makarov pistol; two bullets were found in his body.

Vakulenko was buried in Kharkiv on December 6.

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