Bombs, Death and a Downed Pilot. Three Days of Air Raids on Chernihiv in March 2022
“Dad, I’m scared of the plane” whispers the two-year-old Kira and snuggles against her father. Her longing for protection fills my heart with pain. I dreamed that our baby girl would associate airplanes with travel and leisure while enjoying a relaxed and prosperous life. Instead, airplanes have come to mean death.
A joint project of TEXTY and "Vist" newspaper (Chernihiv)
The girl who was terrified by the Russian SU-34 attack aircraft is the daughter of Yulia Semenets, the author of this project. On March 5, her daughter and her mother and she were finally able to leave the basement of their house in Nova Podusivka which had provided them shelter during the air raids. They heard a roar, saw a plume of thick gray smoke and saw a fiery crash of a SU-34 just 500 m away.
Olha Makukha, another contributor to this project, barely escaped death in her flat in Chornovola Street in Chernihiv during an air rad on March 3. Once the sirens went silent, she spent hours cleaning the shards of glass and chips of wood that used to be her windows and doors, the remnants of her peaceful life. This emotional story contains some very personal details. These feelings went through flesh and bone, pumped through the heart and ended up in the brain forever etched as painful memories.
That March, the children of Chernihiv would wake up in tears in the middle of the night relieving the terrors of what they had seen and seeking whatever protection their parents could offer. The adults were just as terrified. Russian attack aircraft zoomed low over the city dropping bombs on apartment buildings, flats and hospitals.
On March 5, a missile from “Igla” MANPADS (a shoulder-fired weapon) put an end to the mission flown by a 36-year-old Oleksandr Krasnoyartsev. To be more precise, there were two “Igla” launches as well as rounds fired from a ZU-23-2 twin automatic cannon. The SU-34 was downed, the pilot who had attacked civilian targets was captured, and his navigator was shot dead.
An entire city watched the bloody action in sheer excitement while some of the residents got directly involved. However, all of that happened after the horrors of March 3 and 4.
Two Russian warplanes dropped 12 bombs on the city
March 3, residential districts in the center of Chernihiv
Chernihiv still has gas, electricity and water. An ATB supermarket in 11A Chornovola Street, a pharmacy in number 13 and “Myasna Kukhnya” butcher’s all open as usual. Customers stop by numerous kiosk outlets nestled between the ATB supermarket and the pharmacy: a tobacco shop, a pet shop, a bakery, a butcher's, a fishmonger's and many others.
People flock to school No. 21 in 5 Tsymbalista Street bringing essentials and humanitarian aid such as clothes, footwear, socks and underwear as well as food supplies for the army and the Territorial Defense Forces. The city is turning into a fortress that will not go down without a fight.
A Territorial Defense Forces headquarters is operational at school 18 (24 Haharina Str). The school teachers and the canteen staff are cooking meals. The members of the territorial defense forces are setting up quarters in the classrooms and the school gym.
Territorial Defense Forces headquarters are operational at schools 18 and 21 (5 Tsymbalista Street)
The sound of an air raid alert fills the air. A dozen members of staff of the heart disease
A Russian SU-35 multirole fighter flies over Stara Podusivka and Nova Podusivka.
A jet whooshes overhead. It is a SU-34 two-seat fighter-bomber which heads towards Chornovola Street in the center of Chernihiv. The plane is being piloted by Oleksandr Krasnoyartsev (registered at 31V 40-richya Peremohy Street, apt. 168, Chelyabinsk, Russia) who is being assisted by his navigator Kostyantyn Krivolapov.
Russian warplanes bomb civilian facilities in Chernihiv.
SU-34 — 6 bombs 500 kg each:
— 17-floor apartment building (15A Chornovola Street);
— 9-floor apartment building (15A Chornovola Street);
— pharmacy (13 Chornovola Street);
— heart disease treatment and prevention center (8 Chornovola Street);
— blast damage to 9-floor apartment building (44 Bohuna Street). .
SU-35 — 6 bombs 250 kg each:
— school No. 18 (24 Haharina Street);
— school No. 21 (5 Tsymbalista Street);
— courtyard of the Zheldak residence (7 Biloruskiy Drive);
— other houses in Biloruskiy Drive.
“The clocks stopped at 12.17”
March 3, 15A Chornovola Street
The air strike caught Olena Yurikova, homeowners’ association chairman for the 17-floor apartment building in 15A Chornovola Street and owner of an apartment on the seventh floor, and her neighbor from the eleventh floor Anna Kalyuzhna in the hallway on the seventh floor as they hadn't had the time to reach the safety of the basement.
“And then kaboom!” recalls Olena Surikova. “Everything turned gray, entrance doors to apartments collapsed into the hallway — even floor tiles jumped as if from an earthquake. The power went out and the reserve line kicked in. And then another explosion. The air filled with the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The door to my apartment twisted into an eight. Dust was everywhere, I couldn't breathe. Good that we all kept surgical masks in our pockets as Covid protocols were still followed. They did help us to breathe. Later, we noticed that all the clocks in the building had stopped at 12.17”.
Olena Surikova in the flat of her neighbor, Alla Pustovoyt
We finally got outside.
The first thing that Olena saw was the asphalt strewn with shards of glass. Debris from windows, balconies and metal profile ripped out with vicious force. Almost all the apartments outlooking the heart disease treatment and prevention center were missing window panes or frames. She also saw the ruins of the pharmacy and a fire raging in the neighboring building in 15 Chornovola Street. The victims of the blast with limbs missing were scattered round.
A member of Territorial Defense Forces kneels near a dog that died in the air strike. The building in 15A Chornovola Street is visible in the background.
“It was just like in a horror movie”, she recalls. “Rescue teams and paramedics arrived immediately. We were later told that 47 people had died in and around the building across the street in 15 Chornovola Street Luckily, but our building was spared with neither dead nor seriously injured. It is rather new and has a monolithic structure. The one across the street, however, is a Soviet-era concrete panel building”.
The apartment building in 15A Chornovola Street after Russian air strike
The effects of the missile attack on a residential area in the center of Chernihiv:
However, at least 10 apartments were completely destroyed in the apartment building in 15A Chornovola Street. An intermediate concrete slab sagged over the twelfth floor. Floors 13, 15 and 16 collapsed from a shock wave. What used to be an apartment in the fourteenth floor is now a gapping black hole. Luckily, the apartment owner and her 4-year-old son had left the city earlier.
“The basement shook all over”
March 3, 15A Chornovola Street
In the first days of war, the residents of Chernihiv responded to the air raid sirens with mixed reactions. Some hurried to the basements and stayed there until the sirens went off while some ignored the warnings and stayed in their homes.
When the bomb exploded, the 49-year-old Vitaliy Shereshtan and his sister, the 54-year-old Svitlana Shereshtan from the apartment building in 15 Chernovola Street were hiding in the basement of the first entrance.
Apartment building in 15 Chornovola Street after being hit by a Russian bomb
“It felt like an earthquake!”, recalls Vitaliy. “The men shouted: “Stay inside, beware of falling glass!”
They went outside when the first responders arrived and helped them to carry the dead and the wounded, and search for survivors under the rubble.
“We managed to dig out five people right after the explosion. They had got trapped under concrete debris”, adds Vitaliy.
The brother and the sister made the basement their home for six months. Each settled in a small space. The basement had electricity, volunteers helped with food and brought meals every day, and they even brought them an electric stove. The two used to it cook meals and boil water to have a makeshift shower and wash their clothes. When autumn came, they moved to a small room in a hostel.
Two entrances of the apartment building in 15 Chornovola Street where they had their parents’ two-bedroom apartment had been declared to be damaged beyond repair. This part of the building will be demolished.
47 DEAD IN THE APARTMENT BUILDINGS AND NEAR THE PHARMACY
The air strike performed by a SU-34 aircraft on March 3 at 12.15 killed 47 people near the pharmacy in 13 Chornovola Street and in the 9-floor apartment building in 15 Chornovola Street. Twenty-three people were killed on the spot or died from sustained injuries at hospitals on the same day (see the surnames below). 24 names were added to the death toll later as people had died in hospitals and bodies had been recovered from the rubble by the rescue teams.
Many died while waiting in the bread line
March 3, 15A Chornovola Street and 13 Chornovola Street
After the bread delivery at about 12:00 people were waiting in line at “Myasna Kukhnya” shop. People also lined up outside the pharmacy in 13 Chornovola Street as no more than one or two people were allowed inside at the same time. The 45-year-old Denys Rekhovsky was on his way to get bread, but stopped for a quick chat with a neighbor. This choice saved his life, he says. Many died while waiting in the bread line.
“When the bomb exploded, my ear started to bleed”, he recalls. “Everything was covered in smoke and dust. The cars outside the pharmacy were on fire”.
Olha Alimova, a Chernihiv resident, sustained an injury to her right arm as she was walking past the building in 15 Chornovola Street to a local pet shop to buy kibble for her cat Kuzya.
Olha Alimova shows her injured arm after extensive treatment (October 19)
“First, I heard “Grad” explosions. And then, all of a sudden, I saw a plane”, she remembers. “I froze, looked at it and opened my mouth in disbelief as the plane was flying very low, almost scratching the 17-floor apartment building. And then kaboom! I was thrown to the ground and lay there senseless for I don't know how long. When I opened my eyes and scrambled to my feet, I couldn't stand straight. I could not hear anything. There was only one thought through my mind: “I am alive”. My right arm seemed to be dangling somewhere near my knee like a handbag, and my shoulder hurt as if burned by a hot iron.
Strangely, I felt no pain. I got up and screamed: “Help me to get to the bomb shelter!”. Who was I talking to? I have no idea. I looked up and saw the green concrete panel building all covered in smoke, it was on fire. A black SUV pulled up — its driver rushed to me, helped me into his car and drove me to a hospital. They said they could have had to amputate my arm if not for his timely help.
Broken glass rained down and doors and staircases were twisted in the building
March 3, 44 Bohuna Street
One of the bombs fell near the entrance to the apartment building in 44 Bohuna Street where Denys Rekhovsky lived and where he had started his walk to the shop to get bread. His 75-year-old father stayed at home. That is why Denys hurried to check on him as soon as the dust settled.
“I ran into the entrance hallway. A woman was being bandaged on the stairs at the third floor. Her vein had been severed. She was bleeding profusely. When I finally made it into our apartment, I saw a ruptured gas pipe and my dad frozen like a statue in front of the stove where he had been warming up a meal. I made sure that he was all right and ran back outside”.
Denys Rekhovsky in his apartment in 44 Bohuna Street
Two entrances to the nearby concrete panel building in 15 Chornovola Street had collapsed and some apartments had caught fire. Denys joined the members of Territorial Defense Forces to search the entrances which were still intact for survivors.
Two bombs fell near the entrance to the heart disease treatment and prevention center
March 3, 8 Chornovola Street
An explosion ripped windows and doors from the building of Chernihiv regional cardiology clinic.
“All the patients who were seriously ill were moved to the regional hospital”, says Valerii Chobitko, the chief medical officer of “Chernihiv Regional Hospital” communal non-profit enterprise. “Some of the medical staff were also transfered to our facility. He struggles to rationalize the Russian attack on the cardiology clinic.
The building was not used the military — neither by the army nor the Territorial Defense Forces. The only thing that comes to mind is that it used to be a medical center for the Communist elite from the regional political committee and the regional executive committee.
Russian propagandists ran numerous stories about dedicated health and spa facilities for Ukrainian officials and loved to contrast their lifestyle to that of the ordinary people. Perhaps, they did it for so long that they started to believe that it was actually a specialized clinic for the elite, just like in the Soviet times”.
The windows of the heart disease treatment and prevention center after the Russian air strike
The health center survived the bombing and is due to be restored.
School No. 18 as territorial defense forces headquarters
March 3, 24 Haharina Street
The school had been converted to a Territorial Defense Forces headquarters. On that day, there were some 300 people who were mostly armed with assault rifles. People were bringing empty glass bottles and flammable liquids to the school to be used as ingredients for Molotov cocktails. Those who were inside during the air strike agree that somebody must have disclosed that information to the Russians. The bomb struck the third floor and exploded in the chemistry lab. The walls collapsed burying the people inside. About 50 people could have been killed in schools No. 18 and No. 21, but the exact number is still unknown.
The ruins of school No. 18 after the Russian air strik. Rescue teams are clearing the debris.
“I was lucky: no injuries, not even a scratch”, says primary school teacher Nataliya Vasylchenko. She was in the canteen on the second floor when she heard a rumble in the sky. “I saw something in the sky out of the corner of my eye. I turned my head and realized it was an airplane. It was coming in low, just over the poplar tree outside the school. The plane suddenly pulled up just in front of the building. I could clearly see its belly. And then somebody screamed: “Get down!”. Everyone fell to the floor. The explosion sent a shock wave through the building knocking out windows and doors and causing the walls to collapse. And then I felt the back draft sucking out the air around me. Somebody yelled again: “Out, everyone out!”.О
Children and parents survived the air strike in the basement of school No. 21
March 3, 5 Tsymbalista Street
During the bomb attack, there were local residents in the school who were trying to help the military and members of the Territorial Defense Forces. They also suspect that the coordinates of the school were reported to the enemy by traitors. Some of them died there as well. Miraculously, the children who had taken shelter in the school basement with their parents were not hurt.
Director of studies Svitlana Ivanova and Headmistress Inna Levchenko were in the hall when the bomb exploded. Both sustained serious injuries to the left side of the body. Neither can see with her left eye. Although the women received medical treatment outside Ukraine, it didn't help to restore their eyesight.
Main entrance to school No. 21
Svitlana Zheldak lost her husband, her children and her grandmother
March 3, 7 Biloruskiy Drive
Five people died in a house in a narrow street near school No. 21: out of the large family only Svitlana Zheldak and her mother Valentyna Vasylchenko survived the attack. A Russian pilot dropped at least four bombs on their residence. One of the fragments reads “250” — most likely, this is the weight of the bomb which exploded outside the bedroom window. The house belonged to Svetlana’s mother and had a basement. It was for that very reason that the family came there on February 24. On that day, however, they hadn't gone underground. The 16-year-old Hlib had an severe episode of asthma: the attacks grew more frequent and the medical supplies were running out.
Svitlana Zheldak (center), her son Hlib (left), her daughter Polina (right) and her husband Mykhaylo Zheldak (back). Of all the people in the photo only Svitlana is still alive.
“He could only last 5-10 minutes without suffocating”, recalls Hlib's mother. “He had to be given inhalations 3-4 times a day. However, the medicine was only safe to administer twice a day. We made runs to the pharmacy hoping to resupply, but they were sold out.
When the bombs fell, Svitalana was at the most dangerous place in the house (at least, she thought so): the entrance to the corridor between two doors and a window. Her husband Mykhaylo, her daughter Polina and her son-in-law Yevhen were sitting just a meter away. Her son Hlib and Svetlana's mother and grandmother were in the family room.
“I did not hear the incoming plane because the siren was howling nearby. I only felt the shock and that was it. The walls and the ceiling crumbled upon us. I was not contused or deafened. My mind was clear. I groped for my phone, found it on the floor, wiped it from the dust with my T-shirt and started calling friends for help. I heard Misha's phone ringing — it was his mother”.
After the air strike the military arrived at the house and started clearing the debris. They heard Svitlana’s voice and got her out first.
“I felt their footsteps and yelled: “You are treading on me, I’m here!”, recalls the woman. Then she told the soldiers where to look for the rest of the family. When they got to her son, he was still breathing, but, unfortunately, he didn’t survive.
“Hlib was sitting on a sofa in the family room, sobs Svitlana as she relives the painful memory. “Grandma was in her easychair and that's where she died. I could hear Misha struggling for breath under the rubble as he was trying to free himself. Polina was crying loudly, but then, all of a sudden, it all stopped.
The funeral was held much later, on March 31 after the Russian forces had retreated from the city. The deceased were buried in Zabarivske cemetary in a family grave.
Svitlana left for Ivano-Frankivsk region in the early March and returned to Chernihiv at the end of May. Her house lies in ruin, she is haunted by horrible nightmares and blames herself for not having insisted on going to her mother-in-law’s as they had planned on that fateful day.
Clearing the debris. The guy that survived.
March 4, 24 Haharina Street (school No.18)
7:00 AM–5:00 PM
The city is still under fire, but first responders have already started clearing the debris. They stop from time to time to listen for sounds from survivors buried under the rubble. Paramedics check the recovered for the vital signs to separate those in need of medical assistance from the dead. When darkness falls at 5pm, the search and rescue operation is suspended. The curfew begins.
— They found a survivor under the rubble of school No. 18: the guy managed to stick four fingers into a split between the slabs, says Maksym Zhylko, deputy head of Chernihiv unit of SESU. — We had to dig him out with bare hands. As soon as we brought him to the medics, an artillery barrage began so we returned to base. We had to work quickly during the 2-hour intervals between the barrages.
The “guy” who survived was a 38-year-old Mykola Topol from 46 Bohuna Street. It turned out that he had come to the school to join the Territorial Defense Forces together with two friends. They also survived the bombing attack. Mykola proved to be extremely lucky: not a single bone was broken!
Mykola Topol shows the place where he had been rescued from under the debris left after the bombing of school No. 18
“When the bomb exploded, I got trapped”, he remembers. “The slabs pressed hard on my chest. My mouth and nose were full of dust. I remember shouting at the top of my lungs: “Somebody save me!”. Nobody came. I stayed there trapped under the concrete all night. I heard the dying breaths of the others. When the morning came, I was completely exhausted. By that time my mouth had gone very dry. I continued yelling — not for help, but for a sip of water. Luckily, I was heard and rescued.
The revenge. Captain Chyzhykov’s fine shot.
March 4, 1 Oleha Koshovoho Street
Serhii Chyzhykov, a Ukrposhta manager, shot down a SU-35 fighter from an “Igla” MANPADS.
The 55-year old Serhii Chyzhykov, AFU captain with the First Tank Brigade, shot down a SU-35 fighter from an “Igla” shoulder-fired weapon. The launch was made from the roof of a workshop of plant 171 (1 Oleha Koshovoho Street). The rooftop with a cell tower provided an excellent vantage point.
The building with Chyzhykov's rooftop position where he took the lucky shot at the enemy plane
It was a single-seat aircraft, and the pilot must have died in midair. The plane crashed between the city and the villages of Shevchenko and Polubotky in Oleksandrivska Street near Pivtsi airfield. The aircraft was making a combat turn near Chyzhykov's position to bug out from the city.
Serhii Chyzhykov graduated from Poltava Higher Anti-Aircraft Missile Command School in 1989. After military service, he joined the reserve in 1993. Later, he got two higher degrees and worked in banking for 20 years.
Serhii was mobilized in 2014 as part of the first wave. On 19 March 2014 he joined “Strila-10” Anti-Aircraft Missile Artillery Battalion of the 1st Tank Brigade stationed in Honcharivske as platoon commander. His combat tour lasted one year.
From 2017 till February 23 2022 he worked as a manager at Chernihiv directorate of Ukrposhta at the corporate business development department. On February 24, he went straight to the local military recruitment office.
“In the evening on that day I was already in Honcharivske (home to the military training grounds — editor’s note). I was issued a uniform and a weapon. You know, a weapon in hand makes worries go away”, jokes Chyzhykov.
The news about a plane shot down over Chernihiv went viral causing jubilation and giving rise to memes comparing a humble Ukrposhta manager to a Marvel avenger.
According to brigade commander Leonid Khoda, the anti-aircraft missile artillery battalion of the 1st Tank Brigade was officially credited with 10 downed aircraft and 4 unconfirmed kills between March 4 and April 1. All of them were shot down over Chernihiv. The aircraft were downed by “Igla” and “Stinger” MANPADS operators as well as a ZU-23-2 crew. The soldiers of the First Tank Brigade speak highly of the “Igla”.
“Igla” prick for pilot Krasnoyartsev
March 5, Stara Podusivka and Masany residential areas
A large number of the city has no power, water or gas supply. The ATB supermarket as well as other shops and pharmacies in Chornovola Street have closed as well as almost all the shops and services in the city center. The terrified people keep to basements leaving them only for emergency needs. The story of Chyzhykov's lucky shot at a SU-34 fills them with hope. However, enemy planes can still be heard overhead.
Oleksandr Krasnoyartsev takes off on a mission to bomb targets in Stara Podusivka and Masany residential area.
The SU-34 piloted by Krasnoyartsev is shot down by the service members of the air defense artillery division of the 1st Severia Tank Brigade. There are two launches from “Igla” MANPADS as well as shots fired by a ZU-23-2 crew (Soviet-made 23mm twin anti-aircraft cannon).
11:00 AM Oleksandr Krasnoyartsev takes off on a mission to bomb the city: Stara Podusivka and Masany residential area.
11:30 AM The residents of Masany and Podusivka fire everything they had at the SU-34. The 72-year-old Valerii Zyuzko who had a hunting rifle is among the shooters. He came to his daughter’s apartment to help her take out broken glass from her balcony.
“We were busy cleaning and then suddenly there was a roar in sky! We rushed to the balcony and there it was, coming towards us from the border guards (the detachment headquarters in Masany). I snapped ten rounds into the carbine and let loose — bang, bang, bang! I wasn't alone. It sounded like at least a hundred guns or more. Everyone was shooting: from the checkpoints, from the building entrance, from behind a kiosk. But the bastard got away flying low over the copse, the newly built apartment blocks, the building cranes... well, at least we tried! Andriyko and I went back to cleaning the balcony. And then it comes back for another pass. Coming in towards us from “Chermet” factory. I put another ten rounds into the magazine. Everybody opened fire at the plane from all directions. We gave him everything we had. Even my nephew took a shot at it from a pistol. And then suddenly the plane let out smoke”.
When the siren started howling, the 66-year-old Nina Sulima ran to the neighbors’ and hid in the basement. Her husband, however, stayed at home. He almost never left the house for his legs were very weak from an illness.
— “If only I had known, I would have carried Misha to safety on my back”, she sighs. “I barely made it to the neighbor’s house when I felt a violent impact. I turned around and saw my house on fire. A pillar of fire was rising toward the sky”.
Her husband was burned alive on the mattress set up for him in the corridor which the family considered the safest part of the house. A giant fireball of a plane wiped off their little house.
The fire spread onto utility structures and the nearby houses. The aircraft wing clipped and destroyed the second floor of the house of Yulia Hrebnyeva, people’s deputy to Chernihiv regional council, who was hiding in the basement with her family. A fragment of the wing flew into the house of her neighbor Oksana Shurpa. Her two children and she were hiding in the basement at their neighbors’.
Five 500-kilogram bombs that the plane was carrying were scattered by the explosion, but, luckily, none of them exploded. They were lated defused and removed by demolition specialists.
The pilot made a hole in a roof slate upon landing and cracked a few others. The emergency beacon, which transmits the pilot’s landing location to the base and looks like a log 15-20 cm long, fell onto the roof ridge.
Krasnoyartsev got off the roof quickly, freed himself from the parachute, crossed a fence and hid in the yard of the house in 9 Rudnyeva Street.
His parachute had clung to the porch of the house that belonged to Vitalii Serhiyenko (9 Rudnyeva Street) and his sister Svitlana Voyteshenko.
“We saw the plane go down and the cloud of black smoke from the crash site through our window”, recounts Svitlana. Then they heard a noise just outside. Her husband and brother looked out and saw the Russian pilot unbuckle his parachute and run away.
They chased and tried to surround him. Serhii, Svitlana’s husband, heard shots and took cover behind the corner.
Later he found out that Krasnoyartsev had killed Vitalii by shooting him in the head, throat and chest. Vitalii was lying face down near the chicken coup. A crowd started gathering near the yard.
“There were about 30 people in military uniforms. And at least the same number of bystanders”, remembers Serhii. “Mr. Chaus (the head of the Regional Military Administration — author’s note) carrying an assault rifle was there, too”.
Before the war, Pavlo was a long-haul trucker. On that day, the roaring flight of the bomber caught him near a market in Masany residential area. He saw the plane get hit and the pilot and the navigator descend with parachutes under ground fire.
When the aircraft crashed, they ran toward the burning houses in Krasnosilskoho Street. The body of the Russian navigator (Kostyantyn Krivolapov) fell on the house opposite the children’s clinic (73A Krasnosilskoho Street). People shouted that the pilot had landed somewhere further ahead. The men who had gathered in the street yelled: “He is round here! Hey, Russian, come out and save yourself! Come peacefully or we shoot!”.
The members of the Terrotorial Defense Forces noticed a bright orange box with a beacon on one of the roofs (Mykola Kulinich’s house) and tried to break their way into the yard of the house. The owners came to meet them and said that the pilot was hiding in the neighbors’ yard. When they went in, they saw the body of Vitalii Serhiyenko who had been shot by Krasnoyartsev. The pilot who was hiding in the chicken coup had killed Vitalii as soon as he saw him open the door. After that, Krasnoyartsev ran off and hid in the neighbors’ yard (Natalia Avramenko's residence).
“Then Pasha shouted to the others not to shoot and went round the house”, recollects Ivan. “while I approached the Avramenkos’ shed. I heard a voice from the inside: “Don't shoot, I’m coming out”. I opened the door and found him sitting in a corner next to the firewood. The Russian got to his feet and came out. More people ran to me, they were tankers from the 1st Tank Brigade. The brigade commander Leonid Khoda was with them. Pavlo and I put Krasnoyartsev to the ground. We removed his PM pistol with one round remaining. We also found an empty shell.
The further fate of Oleksandr Krasnoyartsev
At the end of April, Krasnoyartsev was traded for five Ukrainian pilots. The official announcement came from Kyrylo Budanov, the Chief of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Can he still come back and drop more bombs on Ukraine?
Yuri Horbunov, a former military aviator from Chernihiv, believes that this is possible:
“I saw Krasnoyartsev on TV a few times after he had been captured. He does not look like somebody suffering from a back injury”, says our townsman. “He is as strong as a bull. Even if he did sustain injuries upon ejection, they will hardly be a problem. I know many pilots who ejected from planes unharmed”.
Schools No. 18 and No. 21 remain closed. The staff and the pupils were transferred elsewhere. The apartment buildings in 15A Chornovola Street and 44 Bohuna Street are being restored. Two entrances to the 9-floor concrete panel apartment building in 15 Chornovola Street are to due to be demolished. There are still ruins at the aircraft crash site. The Sulim family moved to Poland. The SESU member Maksym Zhurko continues to do his job rescuing people.
Prepared by Yulia Semenets and Olha Makukha (“Vist” newspaper, Chernihiv), and Petro Bodnar, Inna Gadzynska, Nadia Kelm, and Yevheniia Drozdova. Photos by Yulia Semenets, Olha Makukha, from the SESU archives, and by Valerii Chobitko and Pavlo Koval.
The material was prepared with the support of the Media Development Fund Program of the U.S. Embassy in Ukraine. The grant provider is not responsivle for the ideas and the information presented in the text.