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Mariupol ‘cemetery’

The exact number of civilians killed in Mariupol is unknown. The unidentified victims were buried in graves that stretched as far as the eye could see

From Mariupol, Ukraine Angelica Medvedeva He lost both his son and his wife in a matter of seconds. His son is dying from a gunshot wound Denisi trying to save Andrey He was shot and fell to his son.

“I couldn’t believe they were both dead and I couldn’t do anything to save them.” – Medvedeva told RFE / RL’s Ukrainian Service correspondent Inna Kuznetsova. Medvedev’s bride Valeria and a 16-month-old grandson Carolina currently living in Lithuania.

The tragedy of this family is now repeated every day in Ukraine. Russia has been launching a full-scale attack on Ukraine for almost four months. Civilians are killed in the war, and the survivors are driven from their homes.

The end

Before the war, the port city of Mariupol, with a population of more than 400,000, was reduced to rubble. The city fell to Russian forces last month. President of Russia Vladimir Putin By capturing Mariupol, he wanted to build a “land bridge” to the Crimean peninsula, which he annexed in 2014.

About 20,000 Russian troops were involved in the Battle of Mariupol, and the city was bombed day and night. Numerous residential buildings, hospitals, and a theater where hundreds of people, including children, took refuge were set on fire.

For about a month, the Medvedevs took refuge in Denis’ apartment in the center of Mariupol, thinking it was safer than the outskirts of the city where Angelica and Andrei lived.

As the city’s shelling intensified in mid-March, Denis told his mother that “This is the end, we will not be able to survive.”

When the building adjacent to theirs was destroyed in the fighting, the family prepared cloth and water kits to cover their faces if they had to flee in the smoke.

Andrey and Denis formed a group of volunteers with the rest of the residents of the building and tried to be vigilant about possible fires. The fire could quickly engulf the building as many residents left due to the occupation.

Walk down the street

The Medvedevs knew it was dangerous to walk outside. They saw many civilian corpses on the streets, and sometimes did not talk about what they saw at home.

People in Mariupol and elsewhere say Russian forces have accused Ukrainian men, in particular, of collaborating with local self-defense groups, passing information to the army, and abducting them from the streets for questioning. In some cases, they kill them.

One day, Denis suspects a fire in the building, wakes Andrey up, and they go to find out what apartment the fire broke out in.

In this case, the bullets allegedly fired by a Russian sniper hit Denis.

The exact number of civilians killed in Mariupol is unknown. The unidentified victims were buried in graves that stretched as far as the eye could see. Russia does not allow international organizations into the city, which is currently under its control.

Kyiv, Western governments and human rights groups have accused Russia of committing war crimes in the city and elsewhere.

Mariupol was “becoming more beautiful”

Medvedeva, 49, grew up in a family in Armenia’s southern Krasnodar region of Armenian and Ukrainian descent and lived in Mariupol for nearly 30 years.

He said life in the Donbas had improved in 2014 despite a war between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed separatists. At that time, Russian-backed forces were unable to capture Mariupol, the second largest city in the Donetsk region.

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