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The Russians are trying to break into the territory of the Azovstal plant, which is now called the last bastion of Mariupol. Among the fighters who remain trapped at the plant is 26-year-old Sviatoslav Siryi – a Lviv defender from the Azov Regiment and a pupil of the «Dudaryk» Music School. Sviatoslav is wounded. He has not been in touch with his family since May 5.
Sviatoslav went to the front in the spring of 2020. He signed a contract with the Azov Regiment and has been defending Mariupol from the Russians ever since. The war caught him there.
Sviatoslav’s mother, Dana Labinska, says he was active and vigilant from an early age. At the age of 9, he became the youngest member of the «Dudaryk» and performed Mozart’s «Requiem» in German on the stages of Vienna and Paris. Then, for the first time, he went on a two-week tour without his parents. Mother remembers how after this trip, on the parents’ meeting in the Cathedral of St. Lazarus, the founder of the choir «Dudaryk», Mykola Katsal, took Sviatoslav in his arms, raised him high and said: «Now look – it’s the very vigilance!»
«Yes, he was very attentive. When crossing the street, he always stopped, looked around, and then took a step. I told him during the war: «Be vigilant and God will help you! «, – shares mother.
«Dudaryk» became a good school for Sviatoslav. He graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy of the Ivan Franko University in Lviv with a degree in psychology, and then made a choice – he said he was going to military service.
Dana says that her son has been friends with the Azov movement for a long time, that’s why he signed a contract with the Regiment. The boy passed an intensive course of the young fighter, which lasted 9 weeks, and in April 2020 was already on the battlefield.
Svyatoslav is an artillerist. He always did well in mathematics, and thus quickly became the commander of the cannon, keeping all the calculations in his head or on a war-torn sheet of paper. Every shot of artillery follows his calculations, says Dana Labinska.
Sviatoslav Siryi, Azov fighter
«He has been serving for three years now. Was based in the vicinity of Mariupol since the beginning of the war. Sviatoslav knew where he was going, the guys guessed that Mariupol would be targeted because it was too close – «DNR», the border with Russia, the sea… but such battles still became a shock,» – said the fighter’s mother.
The last time Sviatoslav came home was in December last year – for St. Nicholas Day. Already in January, it became clear that a full-scale war might begin. The connection with the «Azov» was not stable – once in 3-5 days, they passed a little news to their relatives.
«The firing did not stop there. In the beginning, our guys gave a decent rebuff when they had ammunition. During the first 30 hours of the war, Sviatoslav slept for only 50 minutes on a box with shells in full readiness. They have always held on to the defence and continue doing it,» – the mother narrates.
Sviatoslav was injured on Good Friday. Fortunately, antibiotic pills were still present in the hospital at the time. The last time the wounded were evacuated from Azovstal was in March.
«On April 23, my son received a shrapnel wound to his legs. He is very strong and said that he could move. 9 fragments got into his legs and could not be removed, the deepest near the thigh. That’s why all the iron that arrived is still in him,» – says the mother.
Dana told her son, in case they would run out of water, how to collect condensate so that they can wet their lips, how to use nettles, quinoa. But there are only stones, earth and metal...
The woman started going to rallies in Lviv with other families, calling for a petition to save the soldiers. «I now believe only in prayer and that people should save people. The civilized world must help: the UN, presidents, the Pope… Because this is no longer a war, but experiment and hunting: how long without food, water and medicine they will survive, how long they will be able to endure the bombing. I know they will fight as long as they can. Because there is death, and there is a terrible death, which is captivity», – says Dana Labinska.
Sviatoslav’s sister Dzvinka Sira during the rally in Lviv
Recently, hope appeared that Azovstal’s badly wounded defenders could be exchanged for captured Russian servicemen. Sviatoslav’s mother says that everyone should be taken away.
«The hardest thing is to negotiate with the embittered and unwise. Because you negotiate a price with a miser. Everyone must be taken away, because these are inhumane conditions. The same Russian horde came there, as long ago, but the horses are different now – iron ones. They came, destroyed, raped… The main thing for us is to pull out the guys and then win,» – said the fighter’s mother.
«Azov» fighters with open wounds, without necessary medicines and even food
Dana has four children, Sviatoslav is the eldest. «He is everything to our family. He would always talk wisely, and we listen. He is our last resort, not for nothing that he graduated in psychology – he knows how to help and decide. When Sviatoslav was a child, he always had to have a few coins on the way from kindergarten, because he gave them to a grandmother, who was standing with a glass. He had to throw a penny, never passed by,» – Dana recalls with a smile.
Thus, a boy who threw a penny to his grandmother and sang in «Dudaryk», today proves in Mariupol that the Ukrainian military is made of steel and that «the righteous city of Mary will stand forever until the sun rises over the proud Azov.»
P.S. An hour after the conversation, Sviatoslav’s mother received a short message for 30 seconds that her son was alive… He should have a wedding in the summer, so there is not enough time for him to get out of the last bastion and hug his wife before God, who will witness the victory of Ukraine.
Khrystyna Hogol, translated by Vitalii Holich
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