Miss­ing: Ga­lyna and Ana­toliy Obruch

Kyiv Post - - National -

Ga­lyna Obruch, 65, and Ana­toliy Obruch, 67, re­tired vol­un­teers, went miss­ing af­ter they trav­eled on Nov. 12, 2014, from their home in the city of Slavu­tych in north­ern Ukraine to eastern Ukraine, with clothes and med­i­ca­tion for Ukrainian sol­diers. They were re­port­edly ar­rested by Rus­sian-backed fighters in the city of Donetsk, but the oc­cu­py­ing author­i­ties in con­trol of the city have not con­firmed this.

Their story was told by their grand­son, Vy­ach­eslav Kryvopalen­ko, 27, in Kyiv. He has been look­ing for them since they dis­ap­peared. The fol­low­ing are his words, recorded and trans­lated by the Kyiv Post.

My grand­par­ents were much in­volved in the EuroMaidan protests — they came there from Slavu­tych ev­ery week. My grandma worked in a kitchen, and my grandpa helped as a Maidan guard.

They wor­ried a lot about the an­nex­a­tion of Crimea. My grandma is Rus­sian by na­tion­al­ity, and she started ar­gu­ing with her sis­ter Nadya be­cause of all that.

When the war in Don­bas started my grand­par­ents vowed to help our sol­diers.

They loaded their KIA Cer­ato car with medicines, warm clothes, blan­kets, bis­cuits, pasta and also some home­made canned veg­eta­bles and set out on a jour­ney. It was Nov. 10, 2014, when I saw them in Slavu­tych for the last time.

They told me they would take their stuff to Mar­i­upol, the city where they met each other, and hand it over to lo­cal vol­un­teers. I didn’t know then that they had rather dif­fer­ent plans.

Last con­ver­sa­tion

My grandma called me on Nov. 12, 2014, at about 2 p.m. She told me they were at a Ukrainian check­point, that all was fine but she couldn’t talk for long and promised to call me back in the evening.

I called them both at 5 p.m., then at 6 p.m. but with­out any re­sponse. Then me, my aunt and my sis­ter were call­ing them for the next three days, ev­ery 20 min­utes. Then we re­ported them as miss­ing to the po­lice and the SBU se­cu­rity ser­vice.

It was only in June 2015, when the po­lice gave us a print­out of their phone con­ver­sa­tions, (that I found out) that my grandma had ac­tu­ally called me on Nov. 12 from the city of Donetsk, on Hurova Ave. They ar­rived there in the morn­ing, the mo­bile sig­nal records showed.

Apart from calls to fam­ily mem­bers, they called two un­known phone num­bers. I called them and found out the real story.

Risky trip

My grand­par­ents had de­cided to help some sol­diers from Slavu­tych that were fight­ing in Pisky, near Donetsk air­port.

They con­tacted a man in Donetsk called Ser­hiy and asked him to guide them to Pisky. When they met up, Ser­hiy told them it was too dan­ger­ous and tried to guide them out of the (Rus­sian-oc­cu­pied) city. And on the way out, on Hurova Ave., he told me they were ar­rested by the Oplot bat­tal­ion.

They saw a li­cense plate of a car is­sued in Kyiv, and my grand­par­ents also had a Ukrainian flag in their car. Ser­hiy said they were ac­cused of be­ing the spot­ters for Ukrainian army. My grandma tried to calm them down, telling them she was eth­nic Rus­sian her­self.

The fighters took Ser­hiy to jail and handed over my grand­par­ents to the MGB (the Rus­sian oc­cu­pa­tion author­i­ties’ se­cu­rity ser­vice.) Ser­hiy told me he spent one month in prison be­fore be­ing re­leased. He didn’t know what had hap­pened to my grand­par­ents.

I called him back in a year, early in 2016. I tried to make him understand our grief. In May 2016, dur­ing our last con­ver­sa­tion he told me: “You don’t need to look for them. They are no longer alive.” He didn’t ex­plain to me what hap­pened.

No search

There were four changes in the po­lice de­tec­tives in charge of this case over the years. I wanted to com­plain about the po­lice and pros­e­cu­tion, but they even didn’t show me the crim­i­nal case re­gard­ing the search for my grand­par­ents.

In­stead, there were more than 20 cases of fraud­sters de­mand­ing money from me for in­for­ma­tion about my grand­par­ents. I gave in­for­ma­tion about those fraud­sters to the po­lice and SBU. But the po­lice found noth­ing.

In the win­ter of 2015, I filed a law­suit with the Euro­pean Court of Hu­man Rights, com­plain­ing that Ukraine’s law en­force­ment bod­ies weren’t search­ing for them.

Un­cer­tainty

My grand­par­ents went to Slavu­tych af­ter the Chornobyl catas­tro­phe and worked at the nu­clear power plant. Just like my grand­fa­ther, I’m an atomic elec­tric engi­neer.

I want to have some clar­ity on what hap­pened to them. If they’re alive, then I want to be able to get them back. If not, then I want at least there to be a grave to visit.

This un­cer­tainty is painful. I even try not to go to Slavu­tych, be­cause I may ac­ci­den­tally pass by their win­dows and start re­mem­ber­ing them.

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