Well-known Ukrainian volunteer and paramedic Yuliya Payevska was reportedly captured on March 16 by Russian occupiers during evacuation of injured people from the combat zone. There has been no contact with her since then and her fate is unknown. Russian occupying forces have not included her on their list of captives.

Yuliya Payevska, whose call sign is “Tayra”, was captured by Russian forces along with her driver in Mariupol on March 16, says fellow volunteer Nataly Voronkova.

“One of the drivers called his family and said that ‘Tayra’ had been captured. According to their data, she was captured on March 15. The last time I spoke with ‘Tayra’ was at 12.00 on March 15. She was going to take injured civilians when the occupiers captured her. They have this chat. They showed it on NTV. In the last few days ‘Tayra’ pulled out 66 civilian women, children and old people from under rubble in Mariupol,” Oksana Korchynska, famous volunteer, medical coordinator and a friend of “Tayra” told the Kyiv Post. Korchynska helps to evacuate injured people from Zaporizhzhya Region.


“Tayra” served as a medic on Maidan in 2014 and then began to teach tactical medicine in her two projects, “People’s reservist” and “Protect patriots”.

After Maidan she went to the front, evacuating injured people from the combat zone. In 2014, she founded and headed a medical-evacuation unit that rescued injured troops and civilians. One driver jokingly called their group “Tayra’s Angels”, an analogy of “Charlie’s Angels.”

Yuliya “Tayra” Payevska on March 3, 2022. (Photo Credit: Yuliya Payevska Facebook account)

Well, the “Tayra’s Angels” unit has saved the lives of more than 500 Ukrainian defenders since 2014. The paramedic was present in fighting at Svitlodarska Duha and Shyrokyne. “Tayra” is recognized and respected by Ukrainian veterans and serving military alike.

She was also a member of the National Team of Ukraine at the 2018 Invictus Games. The games are for athletes who received injuries fulfilling tasks or duties in wartime. “Tayra” suffered injuries in war, which meant her hip joints had to be replaced with artificial joints. She won a gold medal in swimming and a bronze medal in archery at the 2018 Invictus Games.


“All that we know now is that ‘Tayra’ is alive. We always call her. Her husband, a famous aikido trainer, provided dozens of different interviews. Her 17-year-old daughter went to the 2018 Invictus Games instead of her. She won the bronze medal in archery. We are proud of her…’Tayra’s’ daughter met  Prince Charles and his wife. They were also shocked by the capture of ‘Tayra'”,  Oksana Korchynska added.

Yuliya Payevska at the 2020 Invictus Games (Photo Credit: Invictus Games)

Her family and volunteers are greatly concerned for her safety and well-being. The first piece of proof that Russian occupiers had captured her appeared in a TV program broadcast by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russia-supported and financed enclave the Donetsk People’s Republic. She was recently spotted on a TV program aired by Russia’s NTV Channel.

From those TV images it appeared that “Tayra” had been tortured. She requires medical treatment too. “She has a hard form of asthma. The conditions in which she finds herself now are not only harming her; they’re killing her,”  Korchynska added.


”Iryna Vereshchuk, Minister for Reintegration of Temporary Occupied Territories, confirmed that ‘Tayra’ wasn’t exchanged because the Federal Security Service of the RF was holding her. So, only vast publicity and international press can help to save her life. This was on the 30th day of her captivity. Then, an awful film was released on NTV called ‘A woman with an animal’s name’, in which Russian occupiers equate her to a Nazi…She definitely can’t be a Nazi because she is a very democratic person,” Korchynska underlined.

“They are preparing false charges and a trial. They are not exchanging her. Vereshchuk confirmed this several times. But we, volunteers of Ukraine and more than 700 injured people who ‘Tayra’ has saved, hope that there’s a chance to exchange the traitor Medvedchuk for such people like ‘Tayra’ because ‘Tayra’ is a symbol of volunteering, paramedics, and Paralympians. The only hope we have is our media and international partners who are also shocked by this situation,” she added.



Anna-Sophia Puzanova, daughter of Yuliya Payevska, with her bronze medal in the newcomers category at the Invictus Games held in April 2022. Anna is holding a plate with her mother’s name on it to demonstrate that her mother is absent, having been captured by Russian occupiers. (Photo Credit: Invictus Games)

Ukrainian activists continue to demand that the international community pay attention to ‘Tayra’s kidnapping by Russian occupying forces and help to get her released.

Anna-Sophia Puzanova (second R), daughter of Yuliya Payevska at the Invictus Games, April 2022. (Photo Credit: Invictus Games)





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