‘Bukvy’ has joined the effort to gather evidence regarding the war crimes of the Russian military in Mariupol, including killing of civilians. Each story of the death of Mariupol residents is confirmed by their acquaintances and relatives.
Valentyna Slyvchenko (November 1, 1934 – April 10-11, 2022) died due to cold, lack of food and horror from the shelling, which she had to endure for the second time in her life.
‘Grandma was very kind and cheerful. I don’t know how she managed to be so cheerful, because her life was difficult. She was born in Kharkiv. Before the Communists, our family was quite wealthy. Then everything changed, the family was dispossessed’, said Valentyna’s granddaughter Victoria.
Little Valentyna grew up in a loving family. But one day everything changed. Her father was sentenced to 10 years in prison for anti-communist remarks. He could not return home for another 10 years after imprisonment.
With the outbreak of World War II, when Soviet troops retreated from Kharkiv, they blew up a house where my grandmother and mother lived. Then my grandmother’s mother went to the Far East of Russia (or she was forcibly sent there, I do not know for sure). My grandmother remained in Kharkiv as a homeless child’, said Valentyna’s granddaughter.
After the war, she went to the Far East to find her mother. She worked in the library in the military unit, where she met my grandfather. My grandfather was a military pilot from Odessa. They married, and later my father was born into their family. After the announcement of demobilization, they went to Mariupol, where his grandfather’s parents lived. My grandmother always said that her main goal was to return to Ukraine’, said the granddaughter.
‘My grandmother was always very thrifty, she hid everything. Victoria remembers from childhood how daggers were wrapped in newspapers in all her grandmother’s rooms. Because of memories of the war that affected her later life. Valentina was afraid that someone might come again and take everything from her’.
‘It used to seem ridiculous to us. But not now! She raised my father in the spirit of freedom and love for Ukraine. My sister and I were also always told that communists are criminals, she hated them more than Germans’, said Valentyna’s granddaughter.
‘On March 6, constant Grad shelling and airstrikes began in our district. Dad tried several times to reach grandma. However, it was too dangerous because of the shelling and airstrikes. Only on May 25, my parents managed to leave Mariupol. And the grandmother stayed in her apartment…’, adds the granddaughter.
Victoria learned from neighbors that on March 6, shelling caused fire in the kitchen and windows were broken. One of the neighbors broke down the door and managed to put out the fire. He later brought Valentyna tea and food. He said that she did not complain about anything.
‘Then she stopped getting out of bed and died on April 10-11. Neighbors buried my grandmother in front of the house. They made a cross out of boards and even found a flower.’
‘I understand that my grandmother was already quite old. But she certainly did not deserve such a death. She should not have died alone, in the cold and hunger. She had to be surrounded by her family! And the damned Russian fascists did not allow her to live her life to the end. And we were not given the opportunity to say goodbye and bury her humanely’, said Valentyna’s granddaughter.
Russia killed Valentyna Slyvchenko and dozens of thousands other Mariupol residents.
‘Bukvy’ will continue documenting Russian war crimes against civilian population to make the aggressors accountable.