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Bucha gets a remake, but pain lingers behind the facade.

There is a line of tidy houses on Vokzalna Street, where crumbling homes once lined a roadway littered with burned-out Russian tanks. There are neat sidewalks and fresh pavement with blue and yellow bunting hanging overhead. And there are backhoes and bulldozers plowing across a construction site where a new home goods store will replace a previous one that was burned to the ground.

They are remaking Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv that became synonymous with Russian atrocities in the earliest days of the invasion of Ukraine, where civilians were tortured, raped or executed, their bodies left to rot in the streets.

More than a year after Ukrainian forces wrested back Bucha from Russian troops, the town has drawn international investment that has physically transformed it, and it has become a stopping point for delegations of foreign leaders who come through almost weekly.

And yet behind the veneer of revitalization, the pain that suffused Bucha during its month of horror under Russian occupation still lingers.

The remains of at least 80 people killed in Bucha during the occupation in March 2022 have not been officially identified, local officials said. This month, the town unveiled a memorial with the names of 501 people killed during that occupation, with an official acknowledgment that the list was incomplete.

That juxtaposition — jarring in its contrasts — now defines life in Bucha.

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Mohammad SHiblu

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