KHARKIV, Ukraine — During his videotaped interrogation with Ukraine’s state safety bureau, the injured Russian soldier seemed nervous.
Breathing closely as he responded to questions, the younger prisoner defined his commander’s orders on the first day of the Russian invasion.
After crossing the border that morning in an armoured column, his unit was on the ring street that encircles Kharkiv metropolis when a visitors jam fashioned, he mentioned.
“The political officer got tired of it, and he said to us, ‘Shoot the civilians,’” the prisoner mentioned in a video of his interrogation, obtained by Global News.
The commander’s lethal order initiated a sequence of occasions that defies easy narratives about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Unwilling to kill innocents, two Russian troopers disobeyed and tried to save a lady and her daughter. When Russian troops opened hearth, the girl was killed.
So was one in all the insubordinate troopers. The different was badly wounded and it could take one other act of humanity to save his life.
The girl who got here to his rescue was a Kharkiv lawyer named Karolina Perlifon, the passenger in the automobile whom the defiant Russians tried to save.
In an interview at the residence she shares with the canine she inherited from her mom Iryna, she recalled her ethical dilemma.
“It was my choice to save him or not to save him,” she mentioned. “And I said to him that he will be able to live, and I will save him.”
“He’s a human who was just a hostage of the situation,” she defined. “He directly didn’t do anything bad, and for me personally it was a pity for him.”
On Feb. 24, she and her mom woke early in Bobrivka, their village northeast of Kharkiv, to the sound of explosions and information of the Russian invasions.
Uncertain what the future held, they drove into Kharkiv to top off on pet food and provides.
They have been heading again to Bobrivka after they came across Russian tanks blocking the ring street.
And then the Russians began taking pictures at vehicles.
Terrified, Iryna turned her automobile round and stopped. She switched off the automobile and two Russian troopers got here working over.
“They told us it’s not safe to be in the car, so we should get out of the car. We ran out of the car and we were hiding with them,” Perlifon mentioned.
The 4 of them hid whereas the Russian troops on the street shot at the vehicles. Perlifon phoned her father to inform him what was taking place.
“The bullets were flying all around us,” she mentioned.
Her mom was the first of the 4 to get hit. One of the disobedient Russian troopers threw Perlifon to the floor.
He stood to inform his colleagues to cease taking pictures, that they have been Russians too.
But then he fell. He had been shot. He tried to draw his gun to hearth again however was shot once more and died.
Perlifon tried to shake her mom awake till she realized she had been shot in the head and was useless. The second Russian soldier was not transferring both.
Convinced this was the finish, Perlifon hid behind a wall and recorded a video in which she thanked her mother and father for the life they’d given her.
Forty minutes handed, perhaps an hour. She realized she wanted to get away so she went to the automobile however the Russian soldier woke. He had been shot in each legs.
She understood the troublesome determination she had to make: To go away a person to die or to spare a soldier who had simply invaded her nation.
He crawled to the automobile. She helped him lie down in the backseat. She realized her mom had the keys. She discovered them in Iryna’s hand and mentioned her goodbyes.
“I just hugged her and kissed her,” Perlifon mentioned. “I said to her that I love her, and I ran to the car to drive out of there.”
She drove quick, her palms shaking, and phoned her father to inform him she had escaped.
“And I said to him, ‘I have a Russian soldier in my car who is wounded,’” she recalled.
The soldier was in and out of consciousness. There was blood throughout the again seat. He was affected by delusions.
“He asked me to drive him home, but I said to him, ‘I can’t drive you home,’” she mentioned.
He informed her he wanted a drink. She stopped for water and known as an ambulance. It arrived 5 to 10 minutes later.
She by no means noticed him once more, the Russian soldier who owes his life to her, and to whom she owes hers.
Perlifon has watched his videotaped confession and mentioned it was correct.
“The lieutenant colonel gave the order to shoot civilians,” the captured soldier mentioned in the recording.
In the 5-minute model of the video obtained by Global News, he mentioned that when the taking pictures started, he and his lieutenant, Ivan Minkov, decided “to save civilians.”
“The lieutenant ran to them, started pulling them out of the car and shouting, ‘Come here.’” he recalled in the video.
He recounted that he joined his colleague they usually hid with the two girls. But their commander, a lieutenant colonel, “managed to see that we are saving civilians and he gave an order to shoot us.”
“We were seated, with the daughter behind the garage until everything was calm,” he mentioned. “The daughter proposed to drive me from there and call the ambulance.”
“Then she walked to her mother,” he mentioned. “She took the key. She was crawling to the car. She pushed me in the car in the back seat, turned on the car.”
The commander who gave the order to shoot has been recognized as Lt. Col. Yevgeny Alexandrovic Zelenov, Commander of the 74th Separate Guards Motorized Rifle Brigade.
Kharkiv conflict crimes prosecutors mentioned this was the first case to maintain a Russian commander accountable for ordering the killing of civilians.
“That is our goal, to go to the top of the commanders,” Andrii Kravchenko of the Kharkiv area prosecution service informed Global News.
A web site that tracks the killings of senior Russian officers in Ukraine lists him as useless on March 17. Global News was unable to affirm that.
Zolonov was honoured by Russia for supposed “heroic actions” in March. The quotation mentioned regardless of being badly injured, he destroyed an armored personnel provider and captured 11 “nationalists.”
Following the lack of her mom, Perlifon returned residence to Bobrivka to look after the canine. She survived a month beneath Russian occupation.
Without warmth or electrical energy, she ate porridge cooked over the hearth and slept at evening with the canine on her mattress to maintain her heat.
Her mom beloved canine a lot that after finding out music and aviation, she opened a breeding kennel in Bobrivka.
“My mom for me was everything,” Perlifon mentioned. “And when she was killed, it was like they killed me in reality.
“I want people to know how she died and what kind of person she was, and I don’t want her death to be in vain.”
She helps Ukraine’s try to prosecute the commander who gave the order to shoot.
But she doesn’t imagine the soldier who helped her must be charged. For the second, prosecutors suppose in any other case. He stays a prisoner of conflict.
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