“Why are you crying? We have freed you.” The story of a resident of Mariupol, who lost her husband and son

“We were happy. We were going to travel to Europe this year. For children, this was their first love – they dated for four years, then lived together for another four years. We dreamed of a child, and a year ago my granddaughter was born. And then February 24th came…”

On March 20, in front of the eyes of a Mariupol resident Anzhelika Medvedeva, her husband and son were killed. Angelica told NEWSru.co.il about their deaths and how they fled the occupied city with her daughter-in-law and one-year-old granddaughter.

Anzhelika recalls being awakened at 2:35 am on February 24 by distant explosions. She and her husband lived in the Vostochny microdistrict, and her son and his family lived in the city center, about a kilometer from the Azovstal plant. From the window of their apartment, as Angelica says, they could see the bridge.

On the very first day of the war, Angelica, her husband and her son’s family stocked up on food and withdrew money. Then Angelica spent several days at home, on the floor in the corridor, because the shooting was continuous and “it was so scary that she could not get up from the floor.” And then the family convinced her to move to her son in the city center.

“We were told for so many years that the city is perfectly fortified and no one will break through here. And they did not believe that they would shell the center.”

Anzhelika took with her a supply of things for a couple of days. A few days later, her husband came to their son’s apartment by foot.

The family lived in the apartment for several more weeks, not going down to the basement, because, as Anzhelika says, street battles were constantly going on in the area, the shooting was continuous and in the basement, where there were windows at ground level so it was impossible to breathe.

“On March 19, when heavy shelling of Azovstal began, everything around began to burn. A wall of fire simply stood around the house, shells flew into the apartments. We moved around the apartment crawling, shaking in animal horror. That evening, all the neighbors agreed that they would be on guard all night and take shifts because the fire was getting very close to the house. Her husband and son replaced each other at night, my daughter-in-law and I also did not sleep. Around noon on March 20, we sat down to eat and I told my husband and son that I love them very much and that Valeria and I are very proud of them, but we ask them to take care of themselves, because without them we will not survive. And Denis said that it’s better to run under the shells than to sit and wait for his child to burn alive.”

Anzhelika says that her daughter-in-law, who did not sleep all night, fell asleep with her child on the floor in the corridor, and she herself began to collect glass on the floor in the apartment, when her son told his father that the fire had spread to the roof of their house, and they ran out .

“A few minutes later I heard the cry: “Denis was killed”. With a cry, I rushed down the stairs and saw Denis lying on the ground at the open door of the entrance. My husband shouted “Anzhelika, help, he must be dragged into the house,” I rushed to him, but then I heard a wild cry “Don’t leave me alone” and saw my daughter-in-law, who was running towards us with the child, and bullets were whistling around. I grabbed her and pushed her into the corner behind the elevator, turned to Andrei, who was trying to drag his son to the entrance, and saw how two bullets hit him and he fell.

Anzhelika says that one of the neighbors slammed  the entrance door and pushed her into the same corner behind the elevator where Valeria was already sitting.

“Denis and Andrei remained on the ground outside the door, and my daughter-in-law and I sat and cried behind the elevator. The house was shaking, everything was rattling around, and we sat there for a very long time in some kind of stupor.

After some time, Anzhelika and Valeria with little Karolina went up to the apartment, took diapers and some baby things, and the neighbors placed them in the basement.

“Karolina was crying all the time and couldn’t sleep. She used to fall asleep to lullabies, which Denis sang to her every evening with a guitar. And I sat down to sing her a lullaby. And then I realized that I was crazy. It seemed to me that I was looking at myself from the outside and that consciousness would never return to me again. I stopped talking, handed Karolina to my daughter-in-law. And our basement life began.”

Anzhelika, Valeria and Karolina lived in the basement until the first of April. With a small candle, “like during the war years.” The neighbors taught them how to make a candle – pour oil into a jar, make a wick from cotton wool. Denis and Andrei were never buried.

“I understood that they needed to be buried, but there were shelling all the time. In addition, I understood that if I bury my husband and son with my own hands, I would go crazy. And it was cold outside, and they were lying right in the cold, and I kept thinking that I need to protect them from the cold.”

On March 28, the shooting died down and Anzhelika heard her neighbors calling her outside.

“I stepped out of the basement into daylight for the first time in a long time. As I came out and freaked out. I did not recognize the yard, it was littered with burnt corpses. There was a truck nearby, half-loaded with bodies, stacked there like firewood. There were about 15 soldiers in the yard, they spoke Russian. They asked me, pointing to Denis and Andrei: “Are these yours?” I said yes. I was asked for their documents. I said everything is in their pockets. The soldiers searched the pockets, found documents and phones, and one of them said: “You are all witnesses that I gave things to the wife and mother.” And my brain just refused to believe what was happening. I looked at this man and thought only that he would remember my eyes for the rest of his life, that he would see them in his dreams all his life. Then Denis and Andrei were put in a truck with the others, and they left. I cried then for several hours. I cried so much that I thought I would never be able to even speak again. And then Valeria and I decided that it was no longer possible to be in the basement and we had to leave. The baby had a fever she was blue from the cold.

How to escape from the city, the women did not know. Both were very weak, Anzhelika had an injured leg, and Valeria, due to weakness, could not even hold the child in her arms. Neighbors said that it was necessary to get to the outskirts of the city, from where volunteers take people to Nikolskoye, to the refugee camp.

“I left the house, saw the car of the Red Cross, started waving at it, but they drove by – apparently they didn’t understand. There were rumors that journalists go from house to house, bring bread and take people out. I began to walk around the neighboring yards and at some point I really saw American journalists. I rushed to them, but I do not know English, and they did not understand me. They patted me on the shoulder and left. So I did that for two more days. And on the night of April 1, I woke up from a very strange dream, I still remember it vividly. I dreamed that I was called somewhere and lured into a trap, into some kind of a cell. And I laughed and smashed the walls with my foot, which turned out to be made of cardboard. I broke all the walls, broke free and ran out to the mountain, which had a beautiful view of the pine forest. And my laughter was so jubilant that I woke up from it. I could not fall asleep until the morning, and in the morning I told Valeria that either we would leave today, or we would simply die here. Karolina already had a fever of 39C (102°F). That morning, I walked around the neighboring yards and streets for three hours and realized that, apparently, this was the end. But suddenly I saw some kind of car with the inscription “Press” slowly driving along Metallurgov Avenue. I rushed in front of the car, started banging on the hood and crying. A young girl got out of the car and said that if we come to the same place in 20 minutes, they will take us out.”

Medvedeva says that she rushed to the basement, forgetting about her injured leg. A neighbor helped them with Valeria to carry things, Anzhelika was carrying the baby in her arms. They made it, the car was waiting for them. When they were already settled in the back seat, a military man approached the car.

“The neighbors called these bearded military neighbors Chechens. I don’t know who they really were. Karolina screamed, Valeria and I cried from constant horror. And he saw the inscription “Press” on the car, came up to us and said so affectionately: “Well, what are you crying about? All is well now, we’ve delivered you.”

Anzhelika says that she did not even know who they were traveling with, what kind of journalists they were. I just heard that they speak Russian. (According to NEWSru.co.il, we are talking about journalist Anna Dolgareva, who reported on April 1, 2022 that she had taken a mother with a little girl, Lera and Karolina, out from Mariupol.) First, the journalist asked Angelica and Valeria questions about how they lived in the basement, but then left them alone and began to quietly talk with the driver. There were many roadblocks along the way. According to Medvedeva, they were stopped all the time, and journalists said that they were taking acquaintances out of the city. When the car reached the point where, as Anzhelika was told, the residents were being taken out by volunteers, the Medvedevs saw a huge crowd of children, women and the elderly. The journalists said that they would not drop them off here, and would take them to Nikolskoye.

“In Nikolskoye, too, there was a huge queue to register and spend the night at a local school. It was pointless to explain that we have a sick child, everyone was there with children. I went into the school to see what it looked like, and I saw people lying on the bare floor – on sheets, there weren’t even mattresses. The girl who drove us said that we couldn’t stay there, and they would take us to Donetsk. And we went to Donetsk. They tried not to let us into Donetsk. At the checkpoint they said that those who did not pass the filtration were not allowed in. And then this girl began to say that she was a Moscow journalist, show her ID and tell the military what kind of heroes-liberators they are. After another 15 minutes of this nonsense, they let us go through.”

In Donetsk, the journalist rented a room for Medvedev and brought food. There they were able to wash and clean themselves up for the first time in all this time. Then Angelica discovered that she had turned gray. There was wifi in the apartment, and Anzhelika began to write to acquaintances in Kyiv to understand how they could get out of Donetsk. Everyone said that the only way to leave was through Russia. Anzhelika’s parents live in the Krasnodar Territory. The woman called them for the first time in months to let them know she was alive. And that Denis and Andrei were killed.

“My dad is Armenian and my mother is Ukrainian. We spoke with them via video call, our relatives were visiting there. The first time I saw my daddy cry. We agreed that we would break through to Rostov, and from there they would take us.”

Anzhelika says that at that time she did not know anything about filtration, but her Kyiv friends explained that she needed to remove the contacts of people who support Ukraine from her phone, clean up Facebook, and delete all instant messengers. The next day, the Medvedevs went to the police station for filtration. At the filtration they were interrogated for a long time, they demanded the contacts of people who “supported the nationalists.” According to Anzhelika, there was a lot of screaming, swearing and pressure. But in the end they were given documents, and from there they immediately went to the station and bought tickets to Rostov. From Rostov, their acquaintances took them directly to Anzhelika’s parents. In the meantime, relatives collected money for their journey, and the women with the child reached Vilnius via Moscow, St. Petersburg and Tallinn.

Now Anzhelika , Valeria and Karolina are in Vilnius. Anzhelika has already found a job. She does not know where Denis and Andrey are buried and whether they are buried.

The material was prepared by Alla Gavrilova / newsru.co.il

Source: https://ieshua.org/chto-zhe-vy-plachete-my-vas-osvobodili-rasskaz-zhitelnitsy-mariupolya-poteryavshej-muzha-i-syna.htm

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