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“Where did he get so much courage not to give in?” Searching for a teenager who was killed by terrorists. Part 1

“Where did he get so much courage not to give in?” Searching for a teenager who was killed by terrorists. Part 1

They say, two most difficult things are uncertainty and having to bury your own child. The Chubenkos family has to go through both of them. 

Sixteen-year-old Stepan Chubenko was kidnapped by terrorists in Donetsk in July 2014. While in captivity, he was first tortured and after that shot dead for his patriotic views. A large-scale campaign aimed at finding him gradually turned into a large-scale campaign to return his body to his parents
.

A year and a half after his death, Stepan’s parents decided to erect a monument on his grave. As members of the devastated family can count on themselves only, Stalyna Chubenko, Stepan’s mother, arrived in Korostyshev, where monuments are cheaper than in the Donbas. She agreed to meet “The Obozrevatel” correspondent and tell her about her child and about what she and her husband had to go through to bring their son back home.

“You know, I still cannot understand where he got so much will and so much courage from? He went through all that and he did not give in... There was no one beside him on his last days who could appreciate his bravery and his refusal to betray Ukraine. And there was no one beside him who would condemn his desire to do everything to save his life... While I was looking for Stepan, I was gathering information piece by  piece and I know now WHAT he had to go through. I know how terribly he was tortured before they killed him. A child was tortured... I have never told anyone about what I learnt as it is too horrible.

Stalyna, Stepan Chubenko’s, mother does not cry any more when she is telling me this, the mother of a sixteen-year-old Kramatorsk resident who was killed by terrorists really wants to understand. She still blames herself for not being able to save her child though she tried really hard.



Stepan was the goalkeeper of “Avant Guard”, a local football team, he took part in school performances and sketches and he was very popular at his school. When the war in the Donbas broke out, he became extremely patriotic. Together with his mates from football “ultras”, he went to all pro-Ukrainian rallies in the town. And with the emotions which characterize his young age, he tried to prove everyone that Kramatorsk was Ukraine.

“He would go to all pro-Ukrainian rallies. I remember, I got a telephone call from the local police station and they told me: “Come here, take your son”. It turned out that boys were detained after the rally and taken to the police. Stepan went there himself, he said that his friends had been captured so why shouldn’t he go with them?.. When I arrived, he was sitting comfortably on a chair and explaining those police officers what Motherland meant... I remember there was that young police officer with a very serious face who was standing a bit aside... Later, I learnt that he was one of those who tried to shoot at terrorists when they were seizing the police department. I used to think that maybe Stepan’s words influenced him in such a way”.

Those boys did so many things... Stepan used to help retirees go downstairs to bomb shelters during shellings... He brought water to old people when our town was cut off water supply during several weeks... They also conducted some guerrilla warfare in their own way. One day, I came home from work and saw “DPR” flag in out toilet.  “Stepan, what it is?”, I asked him. “Nothing, just some rag”, answered he.... Later, I learnt that he went to the square where pro-Russians gathered, said that he was one of them and, when he had an opportunity, he stole that hoisted flag...

Of course, in Kramatorsk which had been seized by terrorists, such kind of activity could not remain unnoticed for a long time. When people with pro-Russian views started threatening Stepan, his parents decided to take him to Russia, to Stalyna’s parents. The Chubenkos thought as many other people did at that time: law and order would be restored in the Donbas in no time. So, they asked their son to live at his grandfather’s  till everything calmed down.

Still, on May 27, Stepan returned home without warning his parents in advance. He said: “My Motherland is in danger and I am not going to sit in the rear”.

At the beginning of July, after his parents had been asking him for a long time to leave the town, Stepan asked them to let him to go Kyiv, to visit his friends.  And shortly after the liberation of Kramatorsk, he decided to return home. He left Kyiv on July 23, but he decided to surprise his parents and did not tell them when he was going to come back.

Liliya Rahutska, obozrevatel.com

New service "Explain Ukraine". This is a daily mailout of three articles which were written about the situation in the Donbas by Donbas journalists and translated into English. Honest vision of people who work in the field is unbiased and fresh which is crucial in the world which is full of desinformation and propaganda. We try to share this vision in out daily mailout.  You can subscribe here.

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