Two best friends lived on Myru Street in the village of Zdvyzhivka in the Kiev region: Pavlo Kholodenko and Viktor Balay. They have been together since childhood: they went to kindergarten, school. Together they went on the counter-terrorism operation. In 2014-15, they defended Ukraine in Donbass as part of the Kiev Region Police Battalion. As soon as Russia launched a full-scale war in February, Paul and Victor gave up everything and went to the military office. But in early March, communication with them was cut off. The ATO veterans were found only after the Russian troops retreated to one of their trenches – tortured, mutilated, shot in the head.
“They were best friends, very close. “We were always together,” he recalls Tatiana HolodenkoPaul’s mother.
In May 2014 Pavlo Kholodenko and Victor Balay voluntarily underwent military training and in mid-June entered the anti-terrorist operation zone as part of the Kyivshchyna police battalion: “He was in Donbas for a whole year. “We went home on vacation together and returned to the counter-terrorism operation together.”
When it started in late February, Paul and Victor went to the military office in neighboring Borodyanka: “Granddaughter, do not go. You have already fought! – remembers the last conversation with his grandson Olga Dovgolap. “Victor told me that he had sworn and could not stay at home at such a time!”
“Everyone does not have weapons”
Arriving on February 25 from Zdvizhivka’s hometown of Borodyanka, the boys were unable to join any defensive forces.
That day, as many eyewitnesses told Radio Svoboda, there were many people who were willing to take up arms in Borodyanka but were no longer at the military registration office. The local small Guard Company, according to the appointed staff, was already fully staffed. The next day the military registry office was evacuated from the village. So Paul and Victor, unarmed, went to the local church to spend the night.
That same night, Zdvizhivka came under Russian occupation. It was on the outskirts of this village in the forest that the Russian army soon set up a large-scale camp to attack Kyiv.
Here you can still see a huge number of trenches, dugouts, trenches. According to eyewitnesses, thousands of Russian soldiers were on the outskirts of Zdvizhivka, along with a pile of equipment.
“In just two hours, I counted from my yard about half a thousand units of various Russian vehicles, which were moving in the village during the first days of the war. And so many times “, Paul’s brother remembers Ivan Holodenko.
“They ran home”
After spending the night in Borodyanka, at noon on February 26, Pavlo Kholodenko called his brother from Babyntsi, a village near Zdvizhivka. The boys were forced to stay there with friends because their village was already occupied.
“You better not go to Zdvizhivka – there are a lot of Russian troops, equipment, checkpoints. “Who will let you in here?” – Ivan’s brother remembers a phone conversation with Pavel. As it turned out – it was the last.
Pavlo and Viktor were very worried about their relatives who were in the Russian occupation of Zdvizhivka. “The boys were running home,” recalls a friend who last saw the boys. How the locals Pavlo and Viktor decided to try to reach their hometown in the surrounding area – through the forest.
After that, from March 4-5, there was no more news about Pavel Kholodenko and Viktor Balay. It was not possible to find out exactly if they had fighter certificates at the time.
Foot in the Russian moat
On March 15, when Zdvizhivka was still under the control of the Russian army, a local resident Igor together with his neighbor, they searched the forest for mobile communications and the remains of Russian soldiers: “On our way back, we came across many of their trenches. I looked carefully and saw that in one of them comes out part of the foot with rubber shoes. The trench was covered with sand. We could not see anything in more detail. “
Throughout the occupation, Igor did not abandon the idea that the corpses should be exhumed. In early April, when Russian troops left Zdvizhivka, Igor brought a local UOC priest there. Father Basil along with several excavators:
“After carefully digging up the bodies, I realized that these were our boys. I recognized Victor from his clothes and had doubts about Paul. However, I assumed that one could not exist without the other. “
Relatives soon confirmed that Pavlo Kholodenko and Viktor Balay had been found dead in a Russian ditch. “They both had their hands tied behind their backs and Victor’s eyes were also tied,” says Father Vassil. “The boys were mutilated – they were bullied and tortured.”
“The bodies were blue from the beatings, the teeth were broken,” Igor goes on to describe what he saw. “Two guys were shot in the head.”
This is evidenced by death certificates issued to families by the Kyiv Regional Forensic Bureau after exhumation: “Shot in the head. Conditions of death – military attack of the Russian Federation “.
Radio Svoboda also has many photos of the bodies of Pavel Kholodenko and Viktor Belay, which also show that the men were tortured and shot in the head.
“Dream, my son!”
“I’m still waiting for Paul to come home. I believe it now more than it no longer exists. – says brother Ivan. – In the first days after the funeral he dreamed of me. He said that he was fighting and defending our land. He asked me for cigarettes. “
Every night, Paul’s mother looks at the two photos of her son that she has left, and asks him to come to her in her dreams: “Dream, son! Tell us how it happened? How long did they hold you, torture you… It is very difficult that Paul and Victor spent their whole lives together, torturing them together and burying them together in a pit.
Pavel Kholodenko and Viktor Balay were buried in Zdvizhivka, but in different cemeteries. They were both 28 years old.
Investigations are ongoing.
Russia’s large-scale war against Ukraine
February 24, 2022 Russia Ukraine on land and in the air along the common border. Belarusian territory was used to invade the Kiev region with the aim of occupying the capital. In the south, the Russian army, in particular, occupied part of the Zaporizhia and Kherson regions, and in the north – the Sumy and Chernihiv regions.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called the large-scale invasion a “special operation.” Initially, its purpose was defined as “demilitarization and demilitarization” – “protection of Donbass”.
Russian authorities say the army is not attacking civilian targets. At the same time, Russian aircraft, missiles, naval and artillery bombs Ukrainian cities daily. Destruction of residential buildings and objects of political infrastructure in Mariupol, Kharkov, Chernihiv, Zhytomyr, Sheverodonetsk, as well as in Kyiv and other cities and villages of Ukraine.
In early April, Ukraine and Western countries estimated Russia’s losses in the war as dead. The Kremlin says the number is ten times lower, although Putin’s spokesman acknowledged the losses were “significant”. In March, Ukraine demanded 1,300 dead defenders. President Zelensky said the ratio of casualties between Ukraine and Russia in this war was “one in ten”.
Unable to overcome the resistance of the Armed Forces, the Russian units survived in early April from the territory of Kiev, Chernihiv and Sumy regions.
After the liberation of Kiev by Russian troops in the cities of Bucha, Irpin, Gostomel and villages in the region, the events of mass killings, torture and civilians, including children, were revealed. Ukrainian authorities have said Russia is committing genocide. Western countries are involved in confirming the massacres. Russia has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s foreign policy have been made more than once.
Later, the facts of torture and murder of Ukrainian citizens began to be revealed in almost all settlements under Russian occupation.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights was able to confirm the deaths of 3,942 (258 children) and the injuries of 4,591 civilians due to full-scale injuries. This is from February 24 to midnight on May 23, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
source: radio svoboda