“Better dead than caught”: the pain of the mother of a Ukrainian soldier killed in a siege on the Azovstal pavement


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Artem, 22, was crushed to death in a landslide at his shelter in Mariupol.

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In a photo provided by the family of a soldier killed in Azovstal, Artem poses with a cat.AFP
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for about two and a half months, Irina Yegorchenko pray for your son arteomOne of the Ukrainian soldiers guards a huge steel plant azovastal in Mariupol, the last part of the resistance encircled by the Russian army, escaped safely. The news fell like a knife on Wednesday: arteom22, is dead.

devastated, Irina He confesses that he’s also felt a certain relief: at least the Russians won’t hold his son. Nor do they know that many of their companions have hunger or wounds.

“All of a sudden I felt relieved. It’s easier to know that your son is dead than to find out that they’ve held him or that he’s injured or crying from hunger,” explains this 43-year-old woman who lives in New York. Is. Phone. Kyiv,

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Artem posing with his family.AFP

Now that all civilians have been taken off the sidewalk azovastal thanks for a mission Red Cross and of ONUInside the factory are only Ukrainian fighters who take refuge in a labyrinth of endless passageways and Soviet bunkers.

On the surface, the Russians control almost all of this great port. sea ​​of ​​azov,

arteom, a short-looking young man who was an avid boxer, entered the pavement in early March. There he would have spent 74 days from the outside with only one means of communication: Telegram and Instagram.

“I couldn’t call, I wrote a + when I asked if he was alive”

“He wasn’t allowed to call. Sometimes I’d just type + when I asked if he was alive,” he says. Irina Yegorchenko, a psychologist by profession, who also has a 20-year-old daughter and two other adopted children. and six years.

arteom He’d always tell her he was fine, but he was more open with his friends, Mom realized now. “He wrote to them that their days were numbered, that they would not make it,” he says, his voice filled with emotion. He also told them how they faced the death of an ally every day, and had broken into the premises of a Russian tank factory.

I last spoke to him on 7th May. On the 11th, he received the message: His son was crushed to death by a landslide. “At least it didn’t hurt. It was all too fast,” he sighs. “Now he is with God.”

Irina is very worried about the fate of the remaining Ukrainian troops azovastal, Those seriously injured or at risk of falling into Russian hands.

“Every minute a new life is lost”

After weeks of fierce fighting, soldiers trapped inside azovastalincluding those of Battle AzoviThey desperately ask for help on social networks. This week, one of the commanders, Sergei Volina, has described the living conditions inside the factory as “inhuman”. “Every minute a new life is lost,” he said.

Your appeal is addressed Pope Franciscoto western leaders and even to millionaires Elon Musk, from whom he seeks “immediate” help. His message finds a strong resonance in the families of soldiers.

war ukraine russia
Artem stands next to several Ukrainian military vehicles.AFP

“My son is in hell” azovastal“, launched during a press conference on Thursday Yevgen Sukharikovthe father of a fighter Battle AzoviWho fears a “genocide” if the soldiers still trapped on the sidewalk are not rescued. Mariupol, “Either we risk it (to save them), or the whole world will see them slaughtered,” he pleaded.

Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Irina Vereshchuksaid on Thursday that conversation with musk About their evacuation was unsuccessful. “They will let them go only when they surrender. Our boys will not agree to lay down their arms,” ​​he said.

the city of Mariupol and steel company azovastal have become a symbol of fierce resistance in Ukraine against the Russian invaders. and to Irina YegorchenkoThe fact that your son died defending his country is a source of great pride. “He lived a good life, he protected his family. He deserves his place in heaven,” he says.

Irina does not know whether she will be able to get her body back when the fight is over. Anyway, he does not want to see his son in the coffin. “It pains me so much, even physical, to know that he is no longer with us. I would have liked to see what his future would have been like if it had not been this war, what my grandchildren would have been,” he said. laments.

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