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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 3

“Where did he get so much courage not to give in?” Searching for a teenager who was killed by terrorists. Part 3

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.

“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 2


It took Stepan’s mother more than a month to take his body home. DNA expertise, which had been conducted in Rostov-on-Don (the Russian Federation) had already proved that the remains belonged to Stepan. By the way, that expertise gave rise to wild conjectures that terrorists send Stepan’s head to his parents separately, there were rumours that it had been taken for the expertise. Stalyna refutes these rumours.



“We took Stepan home on November 6. It was incredibly hard. You can imagine. It had been a month since the exhumation. All the time after that my son’s body was kept in a switched off refrigerator... But, you know, even that was better than uncertainty we had gone though before. When you sit down to eat and you cannot swallow even a tiny piece as you keep thinking that your child can be hungry... When you go to bed and you cannot sleep as you do not know whether your child has a place to sleep and a blanket... Even now, every night I am with my son, going through the last moments of his life”.

Stalyna Chubenko was already aware of the fact that her son had been shot dead when unknown people started telephoning her on her mobile. They would tell her that they knew where her son was, that he was safe and sound and that for several thousand hryvnyas they would help them to bring him back home. As the law enforcers found out later, one of the telephone calls was made from a prison.
Now, Stepan Chubenko’s mother knows that her son was tortured and killed by three militants from “Kerch” battalion. Unfortunately, currently, only one of the murderers can be punished for what he did. He is waiting for the court in Donetsk prison. Stalyna went there to see him face o face. When she found out that he hardly got any food in prison, she gathered some for him.

I was asked: “Are you mad? Are you going to feed this bastard? And do you think he will eat what you are going to give him?” Of course, I did not think so. I just wanted him to remember the last hours of my son’s life... I even wanted to tell him during that meeting that his children were fine, that they “ran away when there was a mortar shelling”... The murderer would have understood what I meant. Maybe, he would have betrayed himself and stopped denying what he did..."

Two other murderers are hiding in the Crimea now. Stalyna says, at the beginning, she was ready to tear them limb to limb with her bare hands. However, now she does not want to kill them any more.

“After our son’s death, my husband took off the cross he was wearing on his body. He is angry with the God because He let them do that to our son. As for me, faith is my consolation now. Only faith helps me not to think about the desire to see the death of those people who killed Stepan. What if they would be executed and that would be a kind of atonement for them? But they should definitely be imprisoned. This will not bring my son back, but maybe it will help protect the lives of those who they can kill in the future...”

When Stalyna Chubenko speaks about her son, she hardly ever uses the past tense.  She says that she still feels Stepan’s support. The boy’s friends do not forget him either. For example, they organized a football tournament “In Memory of Stepan Chubenko” on his birthday. As for Stalyna, with her own money she published several copies of a book containing Stepans poems and poems devoted to him.

“Stepan was not an angel he could misbehave sometimes. There used to be a lot of occasions when we had to worry about him. But he was very kind. And very active... Stepan’s friends of different age still visit us and all of them say that he was a very interesting person. He loved children very much. Together with his friends from “ultras” (football fans) he helped kids from an orphanage and they visited the place very often. One day he told his girlfriend: “Yulya, when we get married, we will have one own child and two adopted ones...”

“Stepan was buried on November 8. It was a strange coincidence that the funeral took place on the International KVN Day (a popular humorous game for students which Stepan liked very much)... I was deprived of an opportunity to organize a splendid school-leaving party and a wonderful wedding for my son, instead of this I could only gather all his friends for the funeral. A lot of people who wanted to support us and commemorate him came there.

I keep thinking: It is impossible that Stepan’s death was meaningless. Maybe, there was some reason of what happened to him? Maybe, his death hepled to make the moment when peace will come back to Ukraine a little closer?..



P.S. As Andriy Boechko, one of co-founders of “People’s Hero” Order informed “The Obozrevatel” correspondent, Stepan Chubenko has been nominated for this award recently. And, if the Ukrainian people decide so, this boy who was so brutally murdered, will join the group of people’s heroes. Posthumously.

Liliya Rahutska, obozrevatel.com

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