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Russian Red Cross admits that it has missing Ukrainian man Yevhen Kulakivska

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It all started when the Russians began capturing areas in and around Bucha in an attempt to encircle Kyiv in late February. The battle for Bucha, a Kyiv satellite city of about 37,000 residents, was raging by early March and nobody could find out anything. Fearing the worst, Kulakivska and her husband evacuated their two children with a stranger.

Natalia Kulakivska doesn’t know how to take the news that her husband has been reported alive.Credit:Kate Geraghty

Kulakivska’s sister’s husband Serhiy Lyubych, 37, had gone to collect water for neighbours on March 7, as the town was already cut off from electricity, gas and running water. He never came back, leaving his wife Snizhana wondering what happened to him.

Then Russian soldiers then came for Yevhen, 42, knocking down their front gate and storming into their house with guns on March 18.

The soldiers pointed at Kulakivska while questioning Yevhen. She believes the soldiers were threatening they would do something to her unless he started talking.

Shortly afterwards, they took her husband away, and she hasn’t seen him since.

She hopes Yevhen will be released as part of a prisoner exchange.

She hopes Yevhen will be released as part of a prisoner exchange.Credit:Kate Geraghty

According to the Ukrainian Red Cross, he is listed in Russia as a normal prisoner rather than a military prisoner. She believes he is being held in a prison in the Russian town of Novozybkov, and hopes he can be released as part of a prisoner exchange between the two countries.

Kulakivska wants to go to the prison herself, but Ukrainian and Russian human rights activists told her that it’s too dangerous. She might not come back.

She wants the Russian Red Cross to go to the prison to confirm her husband is alive, but she has been told they can’t.

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She points out that the Ukrainian Red Cross has visited Russian prisoners of war in Ukraine, but it appears no one is allowed to visit her husband.

“Why can they visit Russian POWs in Ukraine but can’t visit Ukrainian prisoners in Russia?”

Asked to confirm whether her husband was alive, the Russian Red Cross said its mandate was limited and referred this masthead to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC said its teams have been able to access some POWs in Russia, “but not all”.



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