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Uppingham-based Ukrainian mum grieves as husband is killed defending Donetsk region





The wife of a soldier who was killed earlier this year while defending Ukraine has said she still cannot accept that he is gone.

Vadym Boiko died on March 16 in the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine, as he entered Ukrainian army positions in the village of Rozdolivka.

It robbed Olena of her husband of 24 years, and deprived 16-year-old Ilya of his father.

The Boiko family - Ilya, Olena and Vadym - in peaceful times
The Boiko family - Ilya, Olena and Vadym - in peaceful times

Olena had left her Uppingham flat and was on her way to a fitness class when the news she had dreaded came through.

“I couldn't accept the fact that he had died, and I still can't,” she said.

“Even though he had been fighting for two years and had been wounded many times.

Vadym was seriously wounded twice during his two years of service with the Ukraine army
Vadym was seriously wounded twice during his two years of service with the Ukraine army

“Every time he entered and left the position, it was a very big risk, but this time I know that there was an assault on the position.

“Vadym didn't tell us about it.”

Olena and Ilya moved to Rutland in August 2022 to escape a war which turned Vadym from a highly skilled renovator and family man into a volunteer soldier.

Olena is unsure whether she will go back to Ukraine following Vadym’s death
Olena is unsure whether she will go back to Ukraine following Vadym’s death

This spring they returned home to Kyiv for a month, to say farewell and to find comfort and support from loved ones.

At Vadym’s funeral, Olena also took some solace from those with whom he had shared his final weeks and months.

“I was very pleased that his comrades found the opportunity to come to the farewell ceremony,” said Olena.

‘He loved me, he always said so’
‘He loved me, he always said so’

“They said very nice things about him.”

There she received another priceless link to Vadym - his phone.

As well as its value as a personal belonging of her husband, it contained online ‘chat’ groups which provided a moving insight into how Vadym served Ukraine and how he was regarded.

Ilya, who was 14 when he came to the UK with his mum, regrets not having talked more with his father Vadym
Ilya, who was 14 when he came to the UK with his mum, regrets not having talked more with his father Vadym

“I read the correspondence in those groups and they all spoke of Vadym with great respect and reverence,” Olena explained.

“For them, it is also a huge loss that has crippled their brigade.

“Vadym was very brave and he did things that other people were afraid to do. He carried the wounded under fire and desperately believed in victory.”

Vadym and Olena were married in 2000
Vadym and Olena were married in 2000

While still processing her own grief and shock, Olena must also continue to be mum to Ilya while he also navigates his way through bereavement.

She hopes that counselling will help him to open up and find his path.

“Ilya is having a hard time dealing with the loss of his father - he didn't have time to get everything he needed from him,” Olena said.

Vadym and Ilya on a family holiday last summer during leave from the fighting
Vadym and Ilya on a family holiday last summer during leave from the fighting

“He had not yet asked him all the questions he would like to ask.

“When the war started, Ilya was a child. Now he regrets that they didn't talk enough.

“He is not very open with me and does not want to talk about everything.”

Vadym was seriously wounded twice, most recently last November when he suffered shrapnel wounds and burns from a grenade.

Now Olena is angry that her husband, who joined up in March 2022, was pitched once again back into the frontline.

“After his last injury, I saw that he had no strength, he was exhausted,” she recalled.

“I blame the government for not preparing Ukraine for the war, for not having any rotation.

“A person cannot be at zero for two years without replacement.

“The government also did nothing to motivate people to mobilise.”

Vadym’s story and countless others like it have been repeated tens of thousands of times, in grieving homes all across Ukraine, since Russian troops invaded on February 24, 2022.

A hard-working civilian driven from home and into danger, death and conflict by a sense of duty to his country and his faith.

And a family torn apart by irreplaceable loss.

As it stands, many more such stories, of preventable and utterly needless loss, will need to be told before the fighting stops.

“It is incredibly painful for me to understand how Vadym spent the last two years,” Olena said.

“He was pure of heart and believed in goodness. He loved me, he always said so.

“Vadym made plans for the future - he believed that he would return.”

Olena, who continues to work remotely as a lawyer for a major international bank, is left with no choice but to rebuild her life.

A difficult task made tougher still by living in the short-term as a refugee.

Away from the foundations of a home whose future remains uncertain.

Olena does not know, for now, if she wants to go back one day to Ukraine.

Too many reminders, perhaps.

But here and now in Rutland, she is certain of what she must do.

“The most important thing I know is that I have to do everything I can to ensure that Ilya lives a peaceful life.

“If that means staying in Britain, then I will stay - I don't know when life in Ukraine will be safe.

“You have to live here and now, study, work, and make some plans for the future.

“We live with short-term plans - we don't have a special understanding of the future.”



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