Russian grenade planted in Ukrainian 10-year-old’s piano: ‘They left a bombshell for a child’

27 May 2022, 14:02 | Updated: 27 May 2022, 14:12

Darynka at the piano with her many awards
Darynka at the piano with her many awards. Picture: Tatiana Monko

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

An explosive device was hidden in a Ukrainian family’s piano, targeting whoever next played the instrument.

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Darynka Monko is 10-year-old pianist from Bucha, Ukraine, who has won multiple awards for her musical, singing, and chess skills.

Along with her family, she was forced to flee her home just outside Kyiv for shelter in the centre of the country, at the start of the Russian invasion. Darynka escaped with her younger brother and mother Tatiana, as Bucha became one of the first cities to see Russian troops arrive during the early days of the war.

Returning home two months later for the first time, Darynka’s father came back to Bucha to find their flat in ruins. Russian soldiers had set up in the family’s home and destroyed their property on leaving.

This included trampling on the family’s traditional Ukrainian embroidered dresses, tearing down a poster with the autograph of Darynka’s favourite pop band, stealing an accordion, and placing a grenade in their piano.

Read more: Donbas music school destroyed by Russian shelling in Eastern Ukraine

A VOG-25P grenade was discovered inside Darynka’s piano
A VOG-25P grenade was discovered inside Darynka’s piano. Picture: Tatiana Monko

The VOG-25P is an explosion device which is self-triggered when it hits the ground. This type of grenade was placed among the hammers of Darynka’s piano, meaning that once released by playing the keys, the explosive would be triggered.

Despite Ukrainian ‘sappers’ (mine-clearance teams) already having combed the flat, this grenade was missed and was only found when Darynka’s father ran his fingers along the piano, and realised some of the keys wouldn’t sound.

Darynka’s mother, Tatiana, told Classic FM: “This act, the fact that they left a bombshell for a talented child – it speaks for itself.

“As a family, we feel devastated, because our lives were destroyed by this violent attack of the Russians. We raised our children in peace and love, and we cannot understand how in today’s world Russia can do such a despicable thing in front of the whole world.”

Darynka’s piano is not the only example of grenades being left for Ukrainians. In cities such as Bucha and beyond, mines and booby-traps have been left in civilian locations, with explosive devices even being left in household items such as washing machines.

Read more: Pianist plays beautiful melody in the ruins of Kharkiv, in a scene reminiscent of ‘The Pianist’

It’s still too dangerous for Darynka and her family to return to their home, but Tatiana says her daughter is “looking forward to returning to Bucha to resume her piano lessons with her teacher”.

Tatiana explained to Classic FM: “Unfortunately, since 24th of February 2022 and up to this time our family can not return to the house, where there is still an instrument, so daughter is still unable to play piano, but she spends more time doing other things – playing accordion, playing checkers and speedcubing.” [sic]

The family are unsure when they will be able to return to their home for good, but Tatiana hopes it will be soon.

“This war is about our right to live on our land,” she says. “That is why we are fighting today...

“And in the end we will win!”