The identity of the Ukrainian soldier killed by a hail of bullets in an execution video that went viral and shocked the world has been confirmed as 42-year-old Oleksandr Ihorovych Matsievsky.
Ukraine's SBU security services said he was a sniper with the 163rd battalion of the territorial defence brigade in the Chernihiv region.
On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised Matsievsky's "bravery" in his daily address, awarding the soldier the Hero of Ukraine title.
Zelensky said Matsievsky was "a soldier, a person who will be remembered forever" by Ukrainians.
The soldier's identity had been unclear, with conflicting statements from the military, which initially named two different servicemen.
Last week Matsievsky’s mother Paraska Demchuk identified the man as her son. She confirmed that his body had already been returned to the family and buried in his native Nizhyn but the circumstances of his death had been a mystery until the release of the video.
A horrific video showing his execution went viral on March 6. In it, Matsievsky 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.”
"He is a true hero who, even in the face of death, has shown the whole world the character and how indomitable Ukrainians are," SBU chief Vasyl Malyouk said in a press release.
Malyouk added that the Ukrainian security services were working to identify the Russian soldiers who "committed this bloody crime".
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