A Ukrainian refugee mourns the dead in Bucha, while sending aid to the living

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LVIV, Ukraine, April 4 (Reuters) - Bucha lies heavy on Luidmyla Nazarova's mind these last few days, as she stacks humanitarian aid bound for the devastated Ukrainian city where, she just learned, her uncle was killed by Russian troops.

A refugee herself, the 45-year-old political consultant said she fled Kyiv when the war started and on Monday was volunteering in St. George's Cathedral in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, unpacking truckloads of aid sent from churches around Europe and sending it on to wartorn cities in Ukraine.

For a month she has worked in gloomy subterranean basements of the baroque Ukrainian Greek Catholic cathedral - boxes of food, medicine and clothing piled above her head - worrying about family in areas still under threat after the Feb. 24 Russian invasion.

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A few days ago her fears were realised - relatives told her that her 62-year-old uncle Oleksandr, a father of three, was killed in Bucha, a town outside Kyiv where the discovery of a mass grave and bodies shot at close range has caused international outrage. read more

Nazarova said the relatives told her that Russian troops shot her uncle at his house on March 27. Reuters was unable to independently verify Nazarova's account.

The Kremlin categorically denies any accusations related to the murder of civilians, including in Bucha.

"What we saw in Bucha causes constant tears. I thought tears might run out, but they continued to flow," Nazarova told Reuters at the cathedral on Monday, as she directed volunteers unloading boxes of aid from Slovakia.

Close to tears as she stood before an icon of the Virgin Mary on a hilltop overlooking Lviv, Nazarova said:

"The world should know that it is deliberate cruelty against Ukrainians. This is the genocide of Ukrainians. This is the destruction of my people. They say it is 'to destroy the Nazis' but there are no Nazis in diapers. The world needs to know that Putin and Russia are murderers."

Russia's defence ministry said on Sunday that all photographs and videos published by the Ukrainian authorities alleging 'crimes' by Russian troops in Bucha were a "provocation," and no resident of Bucha suffered violence at the hands of Russian troops.

Churches were uniquely able to provide aid quickly, said Lviv organiser Olena Karnaukh, because of their network of religious contacts across Europe and the world.

Karnaukh, of the charity organisation 'Foundation of Spiritual Renaissance', said that clothes, blankets, diapers, medical supplies and food flooded in from churches, humanitarian groups and individuals across Europe when the war began, then tailed off.

But as she directed the unloading of supplies destined for Bucha, Irpin, Kharkiv and other cities, she said she expected the global coverage of the destruction being uncovered in Russian-occupied areas to result in another surge in offerings - indeed she had already received messages of support from France and Portugal.

"This weekend has triggered emotions again," she told Reuters on Monday. "We saw the liberated Bucha, but unfortunately it was the postwar Bucha. A lot of casualties, a lot of pain, a lot of suffering.

"We see a new flow of refugees from these areas (and) from near Mariupol, so that's why we will need this aid."

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Reporting by Stephen Farrell and Vira Labych in Lviv, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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