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Fate of former "Ukrainsky Tyzhden" employee Oleksandr Zhylinsky, who was at Azovstal, still unknown

21.09.2023, 17:19
Photo: Oleksandr Zhylinsky on Facebook
Photo: Oleksandr Zhylinsky on Facebook

"Ukrainsky Tyzhden" reports that their former employee Oleksandr Zhylinsky (call sign "Kyian"), a soldier of the Azov Regiment who officially went missing at "Azovstal" in Mariupol in May 2022, is missing to this day. His relatives have heard varying accounts of his fate – that he died or has been taken prisoner – but his exact whereabouts are still unknown.

The news outlet writes this in their article released on September 21, 2023.

Oleksandr Zhylinsky worked at "Ukrainsky Tyzhden" for 11 years before resigning in February 2021. He is a lawyer by education and worked for the outlet as a marketing expert.

In early 2022, Oleksandr Zhylinsky, a member of the Azov Regiment, ended up in Mariupol along with several other Ukrainian military units. In March, Russian troops surrounded the city.

As Oleksandr's sister Natalia says, on May 14, during the siege of Mariupol, Oleksandr agreed to go on a combat mission. He warned her that he would be on a position without mobile connection. That was the last time she spoke to him.

On May 16, the Kyiv command order the commanders at Azovstal to preserve the lives of their personnel. In the evening of the same day, the evacuation of the garrison from the plant and to a Russian prison began.

Oleksandr's relatives were able to find out some things about him thanks to his fellow soldiers who were later released from captivity.

They know that Zhylinsky was wounded during the last combat sortie on May 14. Medics from "Azovstal" have said that one of the last surgeries was serious. They do not know the names or callsigns of those they were operating on. But they remember the details of the wound: a fragment got under his body armor and hit the liver and spleen. After the surgery, Zhylinsky (alive) was moved to the "iron room" – an makeshift hospital underground. The next morning, on May 15, a soldier told the commander that Kyian's heart had stopped. The fighter who witnessed this will not be able to confirm these words, as he died later in the mass murder of prisoners in Olenivka, Donetsk oblast, where the Russians held a part of the Mariupol garrison.

Oleksandr's sister Natalya was told twice (in the army unit and in the Azov patronage service) that he had died. However, the National Information Bureau reported that Oleksandr was alive and had left Azovstal.

In June, Natalya and her mother reported this to the police and submitted DNA samples. Zhylinsky had two tattoos. The investigator said that no one among the dead matched the description.

Later, Natalya started receiving many messages from an unknown profile in a messenger app, who sent a photo of the tattoos and asked if they were her brother's. However, these were not Oleksandr's tattoos.

The person told Natalya that the dead soldier had a tag with Zhylinsky's name. The date of death was listed as May 15.

"This tag caused even more pain. We did realize that a mistake could have happened. But if there was a tag, then there was a body. On the other hand, they could have mistook him for another fallen soldier. Everyone was already exhausted by May," Natalya said.

Since then, the family has not received a certain answer on whether Oleksandr is alive or dead. As of mid-August 2023, Oleksandr was officially listed as a POW. "And may God let it be so," she added.

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