My dear friends, I wholeheartedly hope you are doing well. As I begin this week’s column, I must warn this isn’t going to be an easy read. Even though this text will not offer the solace of good news, speaking up and sharing the truth is the bare minimum one can offer in the war of Russian aggression and propaganda that thrives on misinformation.
With all that’s going on in the world right now, in our days filled with turmoil, devastation and hurt, I often find myself feeling hopeless.
As what you’re going to read contains information and descriptions related to a recent horrific Russian terrorist attack on Ukrainian civilians, it is fair to warn you in advance. While I strongly believe in sharing the reality of a horrific attack, it is still extremely upsetting.
Today I want to tell you about Hroza, a village in Ukraine that is now almost empty, as every fourth person in there was killed in a Russian missile strike.
A bit more than two weeks ago, on 5 October, the Russians launched an attack on a small village in Kharkiv region. It was quickly classified as one of the bloodiest during the entire invasion. The village itself previously endured a seven-month occupation, survived and was freed by the Ukrainian troops last year. Hroza is still trembling at the scale of the tragedy that struck nearly every family during the missile strike. It hit a café where people had gathered after the burial of Andriy Kozyr, who died in the early months of the war.
The strike wasn’t accidental; Russia apparently planned it to coincide with the memorial for the fallen soldier, when all of the villagers were going to be in the café and then launched an Iskander ballistic missile.
Russia’s representative to the UN confirmed that they purposely hit that café during a memorial service. During the meeting of the Security Council on Monday, 9 October, he stated that the funeral of a “high-ranking Ukrainian nationalist” was being held in the village of Hroza in Kharkiv Oblast when the Russian missile strike that killed 56 people was launched.
I’m going to include many photos today so you can see those “high-ranking” officials for yourself.
Russian terrorists killed 56 villagers, just because they could. They launched a ballistic missile because they are betting on people giving up the fight because of life under constant terror.
Watching interviews with those who survived the attack is heartbreaking. Some of the families lost up to four of their loved ones. Most were never given a chance to say a goodbye.
The impact from the ballistic missile was so powerful that it was not immediately possible to identify all the bodies. Journalists and specialists on the site said that work was only completed on 12 October. One of the deceased, a 60-year-old man, was identified by forensic experts through 20 body parts.
Several people are still in intensive care and a couple of people are considered missing as the identification of body parts using DNA testing is ongoing.
Recently, a woman who was injured in the attack died in the hospital.
Before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Hroza, a village near the conflict zone, had a population of roughly 500 residents. The exact number of people who remained in the village after 24 February 2022, is unclear. Wikipedia and President Zelensky estimate the population at around 330, but according to locals interviewed by a journalist, the number was lower.
After every massive Russian terrorist attack on civilians, there’s always something that is so heartbreaking that just etches into your brain and stays with you forever … The attack on the packet railway station in Kramatorsk, where 63 civilians perished and 150 were wounded, has left us with images of the puddles of blood and toys…
Then there were the screams from under the rubble of a big apartment building in Dnipro, which was hit over a weekend, when everyone was at home.
And the photo of a young girl, during winter, sitting in just a T-shirt near a bathtub in a room with destroyed walls.
And Hroza … Hroza will stay with us forever with the ringing of mobile phones. There are so many videos of bodies lying still and multiple mobile phones keep ringing in their pockets, on the ground, in the grass … with their families and friends desperately calling … and calling…
There’s one video at nighttime, when all went quiet and the bodies of Hroza villagers were already in white body bags and one phone kept ringing from one of them. With a ringtone of a Ukrainian song that in the beginning of the war became the symbol of our resistance – Oi u luzi chervona kalyna.
Heartbreaking. I’m with every single Hroza family. Russia will pay for its terror.
Fifty-nine innocent people were killed by Russia in the village of Hroza on 5 October (56 deaths are confirmed, the rest are still considered missing as there are no body parts).
Below is the list and photos of our beautiful people that Russian terrorists in the UN called “Nazis and a legitimate target”. Teachers, nurses, retirees, entire families…
- Denys KOZYR (24), a former serviceman, who lived in Kharkiv;
- His sister, Lisa KOZYR (22), who lived in Poland, but came to Ukraine with her mother a day before her father’s funeral;
- His mother, Alina KOZYR (44), who worked abroad in Poland, but came to Ukraine a day before her husband’s funeral;
- His grandfather, Mykola HRYB (66), a retiree (Alina Kozyr’s father);
- His grandmother Nina HRYB, (64), a retiree (Alina Kozyr’s mother);
- His wife Nina KOZYR (20), who worked as a lab assistant and studied at Kharkiv Humanitarian-Pedagogical Academy;
- Nina’s mother, Lyudmyla CHEHODAYEVA (40), an organiser of cultural and leisure activities at Groza Village Club and a volunteer;
- Nina’s grandmother, Kilyzayda TARAN, (63), a retiree (Lyudmyla Chehodayeva’s mother);
- Anatoliy KOZYR (69), a retiree and Andriy Kozyr’s paternal uncle;
- His daughter Olga PASCHENKO-KOZYR (34), Andriy Kozyr’s second cousin (a minor son now left without a mother);
- His son Igor KOZYR (36), a volunteer, a builder and Andriy Kozyr’s second cousin. He came with his wife, who survived, but their son perished;
- Ivan KOZYR (8);
- Maxim SIROKUROV (25), a private entrepreneur, Denys and Lisa Kozyr’s third cousin;
- His wife Alina SIROKUROVA (23), a lash-extension master. They raised two sons, two and four years old, and lived in the neighbouring town of Shevchenkove.
- His grandmother Halyna HRYB (65), a retiree;
- His grandfather Ivan HRYB (68), a retiree and Andriy Kozyr’s father-in-law.
- Eva YAREMENKO (70) a retiree, Andriy Kozyr’s father-in-law’s sister;
- Her son Ivan YAREMENKO
- Her daughter Halyna MALYKOVA (35);
- Volodymyr MUKHOVATYY (47), a teacher of informatics and physics;
- His wife, Svitlana MUKHOVATA (43)
- His mother, Tetiana MUKHOVATA;
- Tetiana ANDROSOVYCH (60), a retiree;
- Her husband, Mykola ANDROSOVYCH, (63), a worker at the municipal enterprise Aqua;
- Julia BARDAS (36), a mother of two sons, aged 10 and 13;
- Her mother, Raissa BARDAS (72);
- Anatoliy PANTELIEYEV (42);
- His wife, Olga PANTELIEYEVA-KOZYR (38);
- His mother, Iryna PANTELIEYEVA, (62);
- His father, Valeriy PANTELIEYEV (63);
- Tetiana KHARBAKA (53);
- Iryna KHARBAKA (57);
- Anatoliy PONOMAROV (70);
- His wife, Natalia MAMON (56);
- Oleksandr PYROZHOK (65);
- Tetiana PYROZHOK (62);
- Victor CHEPIL (69), a retiree;
- Lyubov CHEPIL (61);
- Svitlana PLATONENKO (45);
- Her father, Oleksandr HLUSHKO (69);
- Tamara SOLYANYK, a maths teacher;
- Hanna CHYKALO (61), an accountant at the Grozianske village club;
- Olena KRYSEVYCH (60), a retired teacher;
- Oleksandr NECHVOLOD (60), the headman of the Petroville community;
- Valentyna KORKH (55), a nurse from the neighbouring town of Shevchenkove, who was invited in case someone felt unwell at the memorial service;
- Victoria SAPACH (47), a younger nurse at the Shevchenkove Cuprian emergency medical department;
- Oleg SAPACH, who worked in agriculture;
- Volodymyr DOLHANIN (53), a machinist at the Shebelynka gas extraction unit;
- Svitlana OSYPOVA (50), who prepared the memorial dinner;
- Vitaliy BILUS (44);
- Oleksandr KHODAK (70), a retiree;
- Lyubov KOTENKO (50);
- Angelika HERASIMENKO (47), a private entrepreneur who ran a flower shop;
- Olga PILHUY (48), a teacher at the lyceum;
- Valeriy ANDROSOVYCH (59);
- Hryhoriy KOVALENKO (59);
- Zoya NECHEPURENKO (58), who’d just gone to buy bread at the store. DM