No word from the missing Ukrainian Azovstal defenders, some families say
“I have not been in contact with my husband or received any information about him recently,” said Anna Ivleeva, wife of Anton, a marine who was seriously wounded during Russia’s siege of the plant in Mariupol.
It’s been over a month since I spoke to him.
“The last time we spoke was on April 13,” Ivleeva said. “After that, his brothers in arms sent me texts that he was still alive.”
Although Ukrainian government officials are in contact with them, she “does not have any information” about where the Azovstal fighters are being held and under what circumstances, she told CNN.
However she hopes that her husband will survive, even if he is in captivity.
“We all — families, wives and mothers of the Marines — hold on to each other, and we’re always in touch with each other 24/7,” she said. “We always share whatever news is available, we are like family.”
After a long siege, the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol fell under full Russian control earlier this month with the surrender of Azovstal, the city’s last Ukrainian defense stronghold.
Russian government propaganda has demonized Azovstal defenders as “Nazis”, raising serious concerns about how they will be treated in captivity.
Another woman named Yana — her Marine boyfriend who was in Azovstal — spoke to CNN on the condition of anonymity, citing security concerns.
“I haven’t heard from him or anything about him,” she said. “The last time we were in contact was on May 11.”
She said the Ukrainian government has not provided any information about her boyfriend’s whereabouts.
“My friend’s mother has been contacted [the International Committee of the Red Cross]She said, “I don’t remember when exactly. They just told her he’s alive, that’s it.”
The ICRC has been participating in the registration of combatants leaving the Azovstal factory since 17 May – in part in order to help prisoners of war to keep in touch with their families. The organization has been operating in Ukraine since 2014, when the war began in the Ukrainian Donbass region.
Another wife of an Azovstal defender, Titiana, said her husband managed to call her from an unknown number after the surrender and said some of his comrades were being held in a town in the separatist-controlled Donetsk region. CNN agreed not to report her nickname for the same reasons.
“His voice was calm and confident,” she said. “He said the conditions being kept are fine. He said it might be possible in the future that they will be allowed to receive some packages.”
Tetiana said she spoke with her husband for about ten minutes, and that her husband said he would try to call again.
But she hasn’t heard anything since.
“That’s it, no more calls or news,” she said.