A Ukrainian man learned of his family’s death from viral photos on Twitter

A Ukrainian man was anxiously awaiting news of his family members, who were evacuating their town near Kiev, when he saw their bodies in a photo on Twitter, he told The New York Times in an interview.

Footage circulating around the world shows four people lying bloodied and motionless on the sidewalk in Irpin, Ukraine, after being fired at by Russian troops.

Three of them were close to Serhiy Perebyinis: his wife, Tatiana, his 18-year-old son, Mykyta, and his 9-year-old daughter, Alisa. The fourth was Anatoly Berezhnyi, a 26-year-old church volunteer helping the family, according to the Times.

“I recognized the luggage and that’s how I knew,” Perebyinis told the newspaper.

Times photographer Lynsey Addario captured a widely seen image of the four civilians who featured on the front page of the newspaper.

Perebyinis, a computer programmer, was not with his family as he cared for his mother in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, he told The Washington Post. He said his two dogs were also dead.

“I lost everyone and lost the meaning of life,” he told the Post, calling what happened to his family a “war crime.”

Ukrainian servicemen help a woman carrying a small dog across the Irpin River on an improvised path while assisting people fleeing the city on Saturday.

Tatiana Perebyinis was the chief accountant of a London-based software company, SE Ranking. The company said Monday it was devastated to learn of his death.

“There are no words to describe our grief or to fix our pain,” the company said, adding that it was crucial for them that the family not become “statistics”.

“His family was the victim of unprovoked shooting of civilians, which under any law is a crime against humanity,” the statement said.

On Sunday, as residents of Irpin tried to flee the area, Russian forces fired mortar shells into the town, including a bridge used by evacuees, killing at least eight people, including Perebyinis’ family.

Video from the moment of the strike shows a Ukrainian soldier standing in front of a building before a sudden explosion. As the debris and dust clears, soldiers can be seen running towards a number of bodies on the ground. You can hear someone screaming for a doctor, and you can hear a dog barking and howling.

Serhiy Perebyinis' family and other civilians were killed by a Russian strike on Sunday.
Serhiy Perebyinis’ family and other civilians were killed by a Russian strike on Sunday.

Ukraine has accused Russia of indiscriminately bombing heavily populated areas and violating agreements on humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians. At least three people, including a child, were killed after a Russian airstrike on a hospital in the city of Mariupol on Wednesday, the city council said.

At least 549 civilians are believed to have been killed during the Russian invasion, although the true figure is likely higher, according to the United Nations.

Perebyinis told The Times that he felt it was important that the deaths of his family members be recorded on camera. “The whole world should know what’s going on here,” he said.

Read his story in the New York Times.


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