“Mother, they are killing me, goodbye…”

We publish here the translation of an article which appeared in the local publication Poltavska Dumka about the alleged killing of a soldier by his drunken commander. The article offers a glimpse about the conditions facing soldiers drafted into the Ukrainian army which have motivated a widespread protest movement by their relatives. 

Yesterday, the staff of Poltavska Dumka, myself personally, as the editor in chief Oleksandr Kulik, received a call from Galina Mikhailivna from Novyh Sanjar, who said that she had learnt from her grandaugher of a tragedy in Yaresky. The woman told me that her grandson knows the family of 25 year-old Vitali Dmitrentko, who at about 15h00 on September 9th in Kirovograd, was tortured to death by drunken commanders of the 42nd volunteer battalion of the regional defense forces, while he was undergoing training in the armed forces to be sent to fight in the ATO.

Vitali himself, in 2012, returned from military service in the Crimea, where he saw with his own eyes how commanders sold weapons, which are now aimed at our Ukrainian troops in the Donbas. This is why he knew of the incompetence and corruption of the Yanukovych regime’s security forces, not from someone else, but through having lived through all of that. Vitali decided to fight for Ukraine and responded to the summons by the Shishtsky area army commission in order to join the ranks of the armed forces who are fighting in the Donbas.

On September 3rd, he was send by the army to Kirovograd for what they said was military training. In the Yaresky sugar factory where he worked, they raised money for body armour, and gave it to his mother with the idea that he will stop by home and pick it up before going to the war zone. His mother also bought him a helmet in order to protect his head from the threat of bullets. It was thought that the boy would die sooner from a separatist bullet than a “drunken bullet”.

Recruits were held in Kirovograd for 6 days without any training and then sent to fight two days later. Vitali asked the commander, to ensure that in case of his death in the war, that his mother and grandmother (his only close relatives) would receive the appropriate state benefits. Vitali phoned his mother about this. The mother phoned the commander, asking for her son to be given a day off to go home in order to pick up the body armor and helmet, and requested all appropriate papers. Immediately after, the commander began to put “pressure” on Vitaly. His last words to his mother were: “Mom, why did you phone them, they are killing me here … Goodbye!” His mother overheard on the phone someone with her son yelling “snatch him by the throat.” She heard the phone fall from his hand, heard a muffled bang and someone’s commanding words: “Hide the evidence of the crime.” Then the phone was cutoff, it was about 14h00 in the day. Further communication with Vitali did not work. But his last words made ​​the mother of his cousin take action. That same evening, September 9, they again called Vitali phone number – and there was a reply – but it was a woman, a police investigator, who reported that Vitali had killed himself. She clearly did not know that his last words were heard not only by the killer; but also the mother.

Galina tells me that the whole town of Yaresky demanded that the murder be investigated and the perpetrators punished. Why are drunken commanders in charge of volunteer battalions? Why is the army a mess? … Of this article I am informing the Poltava prosecutors, army office and regional authorities of the facts. On the investigation, on the establishment of order in the volunteer battalions, I ask you to inform yourselves through the public services and through “Poltavska Dumka.”

Oleksandr Kulik editor of Poltavska Dumka (Poltava Opinion) September 11, 2014

Translated for SARU by Peter Mikhailenko

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