A Ukrainian mother has identified the POW killed in a shocking execution video as her son, Olexander Matsievsky.
In an interview with Suspilne media, Paraska Demchuk confirmed that his body had already been returned to the family and buried in his native Nizhyn, in the Chernihiv region. The circumstances of his death, however, had been a mystery until earlier this week.
A horrific video showing his execution went viral on March 6. In it, the POW whom Demchuk believes to be her son is shown smoking a cigarette before being mown down by automatic gunfire after saying the words “Slava Ukraini” (Glory to Ukraine).
The video spread quickly across social media, becoming the latest symbol of Ukrainian resistance to Russian aggression.
“I even felt a sort of lightness when I saw how my son died,” Demchuk said. “It’s very hard, but it’s true, I saw it. That was his character steady unbreakable.”
Before the Russian invasion, Matsievsky worked as an electrician in Kyiv. When the full-scale invasion started, he volunteered for the territorial defense of Nizhyn, in the Chernihiv region.
The Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine has stressed however that the soldier's identity has yet to be offcially confirmed.
Speaking to Kyiv Post, Andriy Yermak said: "The name of the killed soldier has not been officially established.
"An examination is being conducted. The SBU or the Prosecutor General’s Office will confirm the name."
But identification of Olexander was supported by the commander of the unit in which he served, who told Suspline media: “I have no doubt it was Olexander… he was captured by the Russian military. Given that he’s standing in a pit with no weapons, they must have forced him to dig his own grave. They gave him a last cigarette.”
According to the Territorial Defense Forces “North” of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, on December 30, 2022, Matsievsky and his four comrades were engaged in battle with superior Russian forces near Soledar in the Donetsk Region.
Communication with them was lost, and reinforcements could not come because of the intense fire. Further details of this battle are unknown, particularly how exactly Matsievsky was captured. His colleagues were either killed or went missing.
There has been some confusion over the identity of the POW – the Armed Forces of Ukraine earlier said the video likely showed Timofey Shadura, a soldier of the 30th Separate mechanized Brigade who went missing on Feb. 3, 2023.
While tentatively supporting Paraska Demchuk’s identification of her son, the Regional Management of the Territorial Defense Forces “North” stressed that it did not constitute a final ID, saying: “The information published earlier on the page of the regional administration regarding the execution of the Ukrainian defender after the words ‘Glory to Ukraine’ is not the final identification of the person of Olexander Matsievsky.”
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