Russia Killed Them: Ukrainian athletes who died due to the war

Russia Killed Them: Ukrainian athletes who died due to the war

With the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the ABO media development agency created the project "Memorial: Killed by Russia." The Memorial preserves the names and faces of civilians and military personnel who died as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Svidomi, in collaboration with "Memorial: Killed by Russia," tells about athletes killed by Russia.

In the village of Boromlia in the Sumy region, the Russian military killed 30-year-old Serhii Pronevych. He was a runner and Ukrainian record holder. Serhii was tortured and then shot dead. His body was found after the liberation of Boromlia.

Serhii's friends say that after the start of the full-scale invasion, he would make Molotov cocktails and run around the neighbourhood at night to investigate the locations of Russian equipment.

On March 11, Serhii went on a mission to retrieve several assault rifles for territorial defence from a hiding place outside the village. He came across a Russian checkpoint. He and his companion stopped and waited for the moment when they could sneak through unnoticed.

"Suddenly, when the Russian cars drove away, Serhii jumped out and ran to the other side by himself," his companion recalls. "About 20 metres ahead, Russian soldiers came out of the cars and opened fire in his direction. I heard screams."

On March 27, Serhii was found a few kilometres from Boromlia. There was a mark from a blow on his right temple. He had rope or handcuff marks on his hands. His relatives assume that he was held captive. During the autopsy, a bullet was found in his body.

In 2019, Serhii set a record when he ran over 42 kilometres in 4 hours and 36 minutes in military gear. He has been doing athletics since the eighth grade.

"He was self-confident since childhood. His character was not easy, but he always confidently pursued his goals," said Antonina, the victim's mother.

Footballer Oleksandr Sukhenko, 25, was found in a mass grave in Motyzhyn, Kyiv region, together with his father and mother, who was the village head. It is not known for certain when Oleksandr died. There is information that the whole family was abducted by Russians on March 23.

On May 24, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine reported that the murder of the family of the Motyzhyn's village head had been solved. Investigators identified five members of the Russian Armed Forces and three mercenaries of the Wagner PMC involved in the murder.  

Oleksandr Sukhenko was a professional football player. He began his career with the local FC Kolos and was a champion of the Makariv District Football Cup.

During 2018-2019, he played for Chaika from Petropavlivska Borshchahivka, Kyiv region. Later, he played for the amateur football club Kudrivka, winning gold in the Kyiv-Sviatoshynskyi district championship and the Kyiv region championship. He also played for Sokil from Mykhailivka-Rubezhivka, winning the Kyiv Region Cup.

At the beginning of the Russian full-scale invasion, Oleksandr Sukhenko became a volunteer, distributing and delivering medicine in Motyzhyn.

Oleksandr Herasymenko, 31, died on March 5, 2022, in the village of Berestianka in the Kyiv region. He was cycling from his parents' house to the village of Borodianka, where he lived. Less than 500 metres from his parents' house at a checkpoint, he was shot dead by the Russian military. Oleksandr's body, with gunshot wounds to the chest and head, was found on May 6.

Oleksandr Herasymenko loved football, he said it was his life. He did not go to a sports school, he was a self-taught left-footed footballer. He travelled all over Ukraine with the teams Nove Zalissia, Kolos (Nove Zalissia), Rubin (Piskivka), and Borodianka. He won cups and diplomas, playing as a central midfielder.

"Sasha read a lot, he loved history. He was interested in the chronicles of his native land, collected coins, and wrote poetry. In the tenth grade, he was diagnosed with Osgood–Schlatter disease, a сhondropathy. Due to the disease and injury, he was forced to give up football," recalled Oleksandr's mother, Liudmyla.  

He graduated from the National University of Life and Environmental Sciences of Ukraine. He worked at the Borodianka Excavator Plant. However, his heart belonged only to football.

"Sashko was honest and fair. We taught him that honesty is the best policy. He was sociable, ready to help. Once, in the cold, he came home not wearing boots but the sneakers he was carrying with him. It turned out that he had met a former classmate on the way, who was from a large family and unemployed. My son gave him his shoes," said the mother.

Anastasiia Honcharova, 21, died on February 28, 2022, as a result of a Russian missile attack on Kharkiv.

Anastasiia was born and raised in the Kharkiv region. She was an athlete, an award-winning Ukrainian cycling. She held the title of master of sports. In 2020, she graduated from the Kharkiv Professional College of Sports. She worked as a coach at the Derhachi Children's and Youth Sports School and taught physical education at the Slatyne Lyceum. Her pupils adored her, and her colleagues respected her.

"She was a bright and kind person and had big plans for the future in sports," said Anastasiia's uncle, Vasyl Zhylin.

"Nastia, my young colleague. So many plans, hopes, and expectations. In love and happy. The cursed war took away everything. Eternal memory to her, restless, bright, and always young in our hearts," wrote Anastasia's colleague Zinaiida.

Ihor Didkivskyi, 42, was shot dead by Russians in Bucha, Kyiv region. The man joined a civilian resistance group. The last task he set himself was to blow up a Russian tank.

Ihor Didkivskyi was an athlete and participated in mixed martial arts competitions.

From the first day of the full-scale war, he came to the defence of the country — on February 24, he came to the headquarters of the Buchanska Varta civilian formation and offered his help.

In early March, when Russian troops were already on Yablunska Street in Bucha, Ihor Didkivskyi had to carry out a task to destroy Russian equipment. The man planned to blow up a tank himself. It was his personal decision to do so, and he informed the head of the Buchanska Varta, Bohdan Yavorskyi, about it. The latter asked him to be careful. After that, the man never came in touch again.

After the de-occupation of Bucha, the man's body was found in a mass grave near the church. According to the death certificate, Ihor died on March 5, 2022, due to a gunshot wound.