Ukraine war: ‘I want to believe in a miracle’, says mother of one of thousands missing | World News

The last time Tetiana Popovych spoke to her son was in early March.

Vlad Popovych, 29, was taking shelter in the basement of a school in his village just outside Kyiv when the Russians attacked.

“He said to me, ‘Mother don’t come here. Something terrible is about to begin. This is not like in the movies. This was a terrible war,” recalled Tetiana.

The next day, he tries to escape but is shot and wounded – and then disappears, leaving his family bewildered.

They are one of thousands of families torn apart by Russia’s war, with loved ones buried in the rubble of buildings, wounded and unable to be contacted or even raped by Russian soldiers. forced to move to Russia, Belarus or occupied territory in eastern Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Interior Ministry says police have received more than 7,000 reports of missing people since the Russian invasion began. Only about half have been located.

Tetiana, 52, spends her days searching for her son, holding on to the hope that her only child is still alive.

“That was the hardest thing,” she said, in the town of Bucha, where she lives with her mother. It was a mile from the village of Blystavytsya, where her son was staying with his father – Tetiana’s ex-husband – and stepmother.

“If only I had some information about what happened to him. I never thought I would need to know if my son was alive or dead,” she said.

Tetiana Popovych hasn't spoken to her missing son since early March
Tetiana Popovych hasn’t spoken to her missing son since early March

Vlad tried to escape his village with his stepmother Polina Chervakova, 47, on their minibus on March 2, Tetiana explained.

However, when they reached a bridge, they were shot from Russian soldiers.

The couple jumped out of the car and tried to hide down a grassy road but Polina was shot in the jaw. She told Vlad she could keep walking, but then he was shot in the leg. Polina turns around and helps him, but she is shot through the shoulder again.

She collapsed, unconscious. When Polina turned around, Vlad was nowhere to be found.

“She tried to find him but it was already dark… She was in shock,” Tetiana said.

Vlad Popovych has been missing since March 2
Vlad Popovych was shot and wounded while trying to flee from Russian soldiers

Severely wounded, Polina knocked on the door of a nearby house. The Russian soldiers were inside and told her to go away. She survived for several days in the freezing cold before returning home to her family and husband.

“She eats snow and drinks water from a puddle [to survive]”, said Tetiana.

By that time, Russian forces were in control of the area.

Tetiana was living in a different part of the country at the time and was unable to search for her son until late March when the Russian army was finally repelled.

Since that time, she has done nothing but search for Vlad, posting posters of him, with her cell phone number, outside buildings and on fences in the local area. direction.

She’s sure he’s alive. “I have no other considerations,” said Tetiana.

“I’m thinking he’s in captivity or has amnesia. Maybe he’s somewhere in the hospital because now we have a huge confusion with the documents because [Russian soldiers] She said she destroyed all lists and notes of the injured.

Anna Kotlyarova with daughter Inga Levko and son-in-law Andrii Geleta
Anna Kotlyarova with daughter Inga Levko and son-in-law Andrii Geleta

Another mother is suffering from a similar pain.

Anna Kotlyarova, who lives in Kyiv, has not heard from her daughter, Inga Levko, and her daughter’s husband, Andrii Geleta, since the March 4 text message exchange.

The couple were remodeling their new home in the village of Kolonschyna, just outside the capital, and were living with a neighbor next door when Russian troops overran the area.

The neighbor’s house was demolished, while the couple’s house was still standing, but was temporarily taken over by Russian soldiers until they were towed back in late March.

“On April 7, when we first got here with the police and criminal investigators, they couldn’t find the body,” Anna said as she stood outside the couple’s home and by the wreckage. of the neighbor’s house. “They only found burnt phones and maybe some animal bones.”

Inga Levko and Andrii Geleta
Anna hasn’t heard from Inga and Andrii since March 4

She also hopes that her daughter and husband are still alive.

“You know… I’m telling myself it’s her. I want to believe in a miracle.”

When asked what she misses most about her daughter, Anna said: “We were two inseparable parts… We were on the same wavelength. I don’t know anymore… Feelings like losing half of yourself or even losing all of yourself.”

Anna will also never give up until she finds the answer.

“I’m trying to stay strong,” she said. “If something happens to me, no one will look for them.”

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