The manicure that became a symbol of Ukraine's war

STORY: Her bright red painted nails were what gave her identity away.

Iryna Filkina was 52 when she was killed in Bucha at the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

But it wasn’t until weeks later when images of her lifeless hand started circulating online that those who knew her could be sure that she had died.

It was Iryna’s beautician, Anastasiia Subacheva, who first clocked her distinctive manicure, featuring a tiny purple heart.

"It was a regular evening. My family and I have just finished dinner and were about to go to bed. But then, when I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, I saw a post with pictures of Iryna and the picture of the hand. I stopped breathing. This is what I felt. I could not breathe, I could not sit, I could not move."

A year on from the start of the war, the shocking photograph remains a potent symbol of the horrors of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Russia first launched what it calls a ‘special military operation’ on February 24, 2022.

The suburb of Bucha lay on the Russians' path to the prize capital city of Kyiv.

They were eventually pushed back,

but Russian troops left reminders of their deadly occupation for all the world to see.

Videos and photos emerged in April showing bodies of dozens of civilians strewn along Yablunska Street.

The mayor of Bucha says more than 400 civilians were killed there by Russian forces,

some gunned down with their hands tied behind their backs.

Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of war crimes in Bucha, an allegation the Kremlin denies.

It has claimed images of dead bodies on Bucha's streets were fake.

Filkina's family say she was shot on March 5, while riding her bicycle through town to get home.

Reuters could not independently verify that account.

"For me the world ended on March 5."

Filkina's older sister Svitlana Safonova regularly visits her resting place.

"During the day, when one is working, doing something, caring for children and grandchildren, it gets a bit easier. But with the night comes fear. At night I keep thinking about her, about what we could have done, how we could have rescued her and why we haven’t. Why did it happen? And it is very difficult, it weighs heavy on my heart.”

Filkina worked as a heating operator at a popular Kyiv shopping mall at the time of her death.

Her beautician Subacheva says she had been training to be a makeup artist.

"Iryna was a great person, a lovely person. When I think of her I want to smile. She inspired me to live my life to the full. Because she was so full of life, she was shining."

A year on from the full-scale invasion, Filkina's family and friends have parted ways, their lives upended by the conflict.

But they remain united in grief for a woman whose death still seems to them so pointless.

"I just want to tell her I love her very much. And that I feel so sorry. I torment myself for not having been able to save her, to protect her. This is the worst.”