«This Is Blood Hatred Towards Russians — For a Killed Father»: the Chief Police Officer of Kostyantynivka on Survival in the Besieged Mariupol and the Columns of Civilians Shot from Tanks

Already a few days after the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine, people in Mariupol did not have time to bury the bodies or parts of the corpses — heavy shelling did not stop: missiles, aerial bombs, and aircrafts of the occupiers flew overhead…

In March 2022, Mariupol policeman Dmytro Kirdyapkin left the surrounded city, risking his life, passed through Russian checkpoints, and continued to defend his native Donetsk oblast.

Currently, Police Lieutenant Colonel Dmytro Kirdyapkin is the head of the Police Department of the front-line city of Kostyantynivka (Donetsk oblast of Ukraine). Before he took this position, Dmytro had to start a lot from scratch — when in 2014 the Russian Federation seized part of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

«I am from Horlivka, where I have all my life left… In 2014, I chose my side and remained loyal to the oath and the people of Ukraine, and with the command of the leadership, I left for the territory controlled by Ukraine. At that time, there was no official occupation yet, but Russia was already capturing the cities. The last time I was at home was on July 2, 2014. Then I served in the Department of Criminal Investigation, took part in police operations in the cities of Debaltseve, Avdiivka, and Mariinka in 2014 and 2015, and in 2021 became the former head of the Police Station No. 3 (Primorskyi district) of the Mariupol District Police Department of the Main Department of the National Police in Donetsk oblast,» Dmytro recalls.

The first explosions in Mariupol were heard already at two o’clock in the morning. The border guards who were the first to meet the column of the Russian tanks and armored vehicles, were captured or killed. In the next few hours, Mariupol began to be surrounded, and shelling from artillery and aircraft began. The Russians only stopped for a day in February to let people know they were in a trap. Soon, a large part of the city, thousands of people, will die — praying, crying, or hugging frightened children under constant fire from the occupiers, Dmytro Kirdyapkin admits in an interview with «Vchasno».

Yevhen Sosnovskyi’s photo, taken on March 27 in Mariupol in a yard on Yevpatoriiska Street — 1,200 meters from the Azovstal plant. Only two or three intact houses remained there. And the bodies and parts of the bodies of the dead people laid in the remains of the houses. The man buried in this photo did not survive after a shell hit his house.

«On the day when the beasts fired at the maternity hospital, a man’s arm was torn off before my eyes»: how the Russians attacked Mariupol

The policeman recalls that Mariupol has been under blockade since the end of February 2022. Already in those days, any attempts to leave were fatal, and the words about «green corridors» became nothing more than rumors and delusions of the townspeople. There were no more or less shelled districts — every Mariupol resident was not safe in any house or basement. Especially in the middle of the street, where people were targets for missiles, artillery, mortar fire, and airstrikes.

«At the end of February, the city was already surrounded, blockaded. From the first days, the bastards destroyed all the critical infrastructure in the city, including electricity and gas substations. Take a break for one day. At this moment, it is freezing outside, and people are without water, gas, or electricity, and mobile communication is immediately lost. We had to collect and melt the snow to drink it or at least flush the toilet. And after that day, the Russians began chaotical shelling of Mariupol. Explosions are constant, and you get used to them more than silence. Because when there are no shelling, it means that twice as much will occur later, as „compensation“ for this lull,» Dmytro Kirdyapkin recalls.

After what he experienced in Mariupol, Dmytro drove for half a year in a car without music and with the window down so that he could hear the buzz of the aircraft. It would mean that he must stop the car urgently and run away from it and lie down in a hole or go to the basement — to wait out two explosions there. Because the plane had to «unload» twice.

«The shelling took place as follows: the aircraft took off from the area of the towns of Taganrog or Yeisk, located in the Russian Federation approximately 30 kilometers from Mariupol, and dropped aerial bombs on high-rise buildings, private houses, hospitals, the maternity hospital and other infrastructure of the city… The shelling were also carried out from the sea: at the beginning of March, I climbed onto the roof of a nine-story building and saw them — two large ships and three small landing ships patrolling the coastal zone of Mariupol. They also shelled the city and later Azovstal», the policeman recalls.

The Russian occupiers shelled the maternity hospital on March 9. Screenshot from Dmytro Kirdyapkin’s body camera footage. He was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy.

The Russian occupiers shelled the maternity hospital on March 9. Screenshot from Dmytro Kirdyapkin’s body camera footage. He was one of the first to arrive at the scene of the tragedy.

Police Lieutenant Colonel Dmytro Kirdyapkin / photo by «Vchasno»

On March 9, the Russian military shelled a children’s hospital and a maternity hospital in Mariupol.

One of the injured woman was taken to another hospital, closer to the front line, where doctors tried to save her. Realizing she was losing her baby, medics said, she had cried out to them, «Kill me now!»

Dr. Timur Marin said to AP that the woman’s pelvis had been crushed and her hip detached. Her baby was delivered via cesarean section but showed «no signs of life,» he said. They tried to save the woman, and «more than 30 minutes of resuscitation of the mother didn’t produce results,» Marin said. «Both died.» In the chaos after the airstrike, medical workers did not get her name before her husband and father took away her body.

Even staying in the basement of the building did not save some of the wounded and dead — because the aerial bomb (FAB) fired at them left almost no chance. Its potential damage radius is 46 meters, and the radius of debris dispersion is 260 meters. In addition, FABs are guided. The Russians knew where the missiles were launched. They deliberately killed unborn Ukrainians with the most destructive bomb.

A cynical shelling of a maternity hospital took the life of an unborn child / photo from open sources

The only thing that saved the women was that on the eve of the shelling, given the constant danger, they were asked to go down to the basement / photo from open sources

After the shelling, the maternity ward, as well as the children’s hospital, which is located nearby, can’t be restored / photo from open sources

That day, March 9, Dmytro Kirdyapkin was one of the first to arrive at the site of the attack. The whole tragedy unfolded before his eyes.

«On the day when the occupiers fired at the maternity hospital in Mariupol, before the airstrike there was shelling from „Grads“. When I heard the explosions, I drove there, but there were already three dead people, and one more was completely torn apart. Nearby there was a man with torn off arm — I ran up to him, loaded him into the car, into the back seat. I arrived at the territory of the hospital to pass the man to the medics, and the mortar shelling of the hospital began. Then I jumped out of the car — lay down under a tree, lay in the mud… And then I remember that the man is in the backseat — I rush to pull him out. Two „Azov“ fighters saw me in the basement nearby — they started waving for me to drag the man to them in the shelter. The shelling, I drag the man on me, run to the basement… And that’s all — in seconds. Only when I gave the injured man away and left for the center, the beasts attacked the maternity hospital with an aerial bomb. I arrived at the place immediately after the airstrike,» the policeman recalls.

Already in less than 100 hours after the start of the full-scale invasion, in Mariupol it was impossible to bury the killed people in a civilized way, in the cemetery. People were killed on the streets simply during the so-called burial — when relatives were buried near houses or just under the windows of high-rise buildings / photo from open sources

«Bodies were lying on the road, on sidewalks, benches, in apartments, near basements… Everywhere. Thousands of bodies»

Already a few days after the beginning of the Russian invasion, it became impossible to collect dead bodies from the streets of Mariupol. In just one day of shelling in the city in March, it was possible to count more than a hundred killed, several hundred wounded… and dozens mutilated.

«At first we collected the bodies everywhere, but after a few days, it became impossible to do it in some places. One day we counted 120 new killed in the city. These are those whose death neighbors knew about or whom we saw personally. Therefore, the police collected information about the bodies (where they were, how many, etc.), but there were many people. They were lying on the road, on the sidewalks, on the benches, in their apartments, near the basements… Everywhere. Thousands of bodies. We entered this information into a joint list. And the list grew literally every minute because the shelling did not stop: „Grads“, mines, FABs. The whole city was on fire,» Dmytro Kirdyapkin recalls.

When there was no communication with the outside world, and everything around was bursting and exploding, people, according to the law enforcement officer, actually went crazy. They robbed shops, stealing everything they saw.

«I remember how from a store with cosmetics, some old woman was carrying a pile of white slippers, some unnecessary trifles. I ask her what all this is for, and she has no explanation — she just needs to steal something, bring something home. And there are about 50 such people, a mass, in every store. Everyone is stealing something… Stores were emptied, and police officers everywhere tried to stop this arbitrariness at that time,» Dmytro recalls.

Because of this, the shop owners asked the law enforcement officers to protect their goods — in exchange for the fact that the policemen would be able to eat and take the necessities. Instead, the police gave the goods that were really in demand to the civilian population, especially hygiene items.

Very soon, in the damaged city, all the store shelves were empty — there was absolutely nothing left, including dishes or appliances, which were still unable to work properly due to the lack of electricity in the houses. Photo by Yevhen Sosnovskyi

​At the same time, there were «unfortunate cases» in the ranks of the police, connected with the fear of employees to leave… safe basements. Dmytro Kirdyapkin admits that it was constant shelling that best showed the characters of subordinates.

«I had a guy under my command — an investigator, a young lieutenant, very thin… His people were pricked because of this. But when the invasion began, he went to work according to the schedule, stepped into the outfits, and did not miss a single one. And when the FAB arrived at the maternity ward, I flew to the ward and asked the boys who would run there with me, because it was necessary to evacuate the girls with their children, help the medical staff, etc. So it was this boy — the smallest of all — without a second’s thought that he was coming with me. And the bold policemen, the shouldered ones, who were carrying iron, were afraid to go out into the street,» the policeman says.

During the interview, the policeman emphasizes that he is proud of those who stayed side by side with him in the surrounded city, and those who are now performing their duties in extremely difficult conditions and standing side by side with the servicemen of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.

«I stayed in Mariupol because I understood that I was a leader. And I have to be responsible for my staff, I have to be there. We had no option but to turn around and run away. People counted on us — and we tried to do everything we could,» he says.

In particular, for him, there were completely unexpected traitors in the ranks of the Mariupol police. Many of them disappeared in the first days of the invasion — they hid in the basements and came out already when the city was occupied. In particular, the most «Ukrainized» employees are among the traitors. One of them is a Ukrainian-speaking policewoman, who actively wore embroidery, and sang in a Ukrainian choir with her daughter. When the national anthem of Ukraine played, she put her fist to the heart, not her palm.

«In words, she was such an ideological patriot that there was never a thought that it could be otherwise. Only Ukraine. But on the very first day, when the bastards lined up the police traitors, she was already on video — with the lists. I felt nothing about it—no shame for them, no regret that they had betrayed their oath. This is their choice. And we will see how quickly they will run away to Siberia when we return,» the policeman adds.

The traitors of Mariupol and Ukraine are the policemen who chose the side of the enemy, and in the propaganda media, they lied that the law enforcement officers had left the city and abandoned the locals on the eve of the invasion. Screenshot from a video of propaganda media.

On June 29, 2022, the Russian propaganda media reported that the occupiers hired a total of 160 Ukrainian traitors — former law enforcement officers of Mariupol. Instead, the adviser to the mayor of Mariupol, Petro Andryushchenko, announced the number of 90 traitors.

All the policemen who remained in the territories temporarily occupied by the Russian Federation were dismissed from the department. Some of the workers wrote reports that they could not leave this territory for objective reasons — sick relatives, health problems, etc. But they were fired anyway.

Since 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Dmytro Kirdyapkin has been wanted in the occupied territory and the territory of the Russian Federation, allegedly «for treason.»

«What state are we talking about? It even sounds absurd, because I did not betray Ukraine. Because what has arisen in the occupied Ukrainian territories is a quasi-state with representatives who have previously been repeatedly held criminally liable for committing crimes, and we definitely should go separate ways,» he says.

One of the hundreds of Mariupol houses damaged, demolished and burned by the Russian army. In some places, the locals even stayed in burned apartments because they understood that the Russians would still kill them even in the basements.

Photo by Dmytro Kirdyapkin

«No one thought that these beasts would come close and then start burning the city, destroying it with aerial bombs»

Dmytro Kyrdyapkin tells journalists that he sent his beloved wife and daughter to Dnipro from Mariupol almost immediately — and above all, he is glad that they did not saw what he witnessed. Moreover, he would not be able to manage the personnel, knowing that his family is located under one of the houses that the missile hit.

«None of the residents of Mariupol thought that these beasts would come close and then start destroying the city with aerial bombs. Moreover, no one ever thought that they would see the nine-story building in which they lived burn to black walls. And there already was nothing for extinguishing houses — there was no water from the first days. While they were still paying attention to the fire, the rescuers asked the locals if anyone was in the house. If no one was there, it was a good thing, because it meant that no one had to climb into the fire to pull the living out of it. But in the end, on March 10, the Russians dropped the FAB at the fire station — in the middle of the day. They destroyed it,» the Police Lieutenant Colonel recalls.

The policeman himself left the city at the end of March — almost three weeks after the beginning of the invasion.

«At the beginning of March, a rumor spread on the radio that the occupiers had organized a „humanitarian corridor“ in Zaporizhzhia. Allegedly, civilians will be allowed through, they will be able to leave safely. We understood that it was a farce, but when we arrived at the place, people had already gathered on the highway at the exit from Mariupol in the direction of Mangush. It was a column of cars… But instead of passing, several tanks roll out from the side of the occupiers and start shooting at the column. Many people died immediately. The rest begin to return to the city; chaos all around. A guy is running towards us — his car is all over in debris, inside — a mother with an injured hand and a girlfriend whose head has been cut open, she is covered in blood. And he was wearing a down jacket. And I see holes in it cut by debris. And fluff crawled out of them. Perhaps it was the only thing that saved him,» Dmytro Kirdyapkin says.

The inscriptions «children» on cars leaving the blockaded Mariupol did not stop occupiers from shelling the vehicles / photo from open sources

For each column, the tanks of the Russian Federation had shells — so that adults, children, and newborn babies did not leave the city they destroyed / photo from open sources

Shelling of «humanitarian corridors» for the occupiers was common practice and continued almost from the first week of the blockade. In particular, the Ukrainian authorities agreed on the «green corridor», for example, on March 5, 6, 7 and 8 in a row. Every day, the Russians tacitly or directly agreed to release civilians. And every day, as soon as people started to leave, they were shot from tanks and artillery.

«We will never know the real number of how many people died because of Russia»: the policeman about the blood hatred towards the occupiers and the prospect of returning to live in the liberated Mariupol

Since the beginning of the war, the Russians took away from Dmytro Kirdyapkin a loved one — his father, to whom the policeman did not even have the opportunity to say goodbye. Then, on June 3, 2015, the occupiers tried to capture Mariinka by attack suddenly «pushing» on the settlement from Donetsk. The Russians didn’t succeed and left. But they took the life of Dmytro’s father…

«That day my dad went from Horlivka to Donetsk to order goods. At one of the checkpoints in the Kyiv district of Donetsk, his car was fired at without warning. Dad died in it. That’s why I have blood hatred for the Russians, I will never forgive them for this. And I will not forgive the fact that my child has been a migrant for the ninth year: from one city to another, from one district to another. My daughter sleeps in the bathroom on the floor at night, not in the bed, because the bastards are shelling the city. This is not childhood; it shouldn’t be that way. Therefore, I will never forgive the Russians for my father’s death, my daughter’s lost childhood, and the fact that my family is not around because of the danger,» the police officer says.

Dmytro admits that looking at the ruins that Russian soldiers turned Mariupol into, everything inside him turns upside down. The same applies to Donetsk. Although he is an optimist and believes that Ukraine will take all its own — Horlivka, Mariupol, Donetsk, and Kuban. But most of all, he just wants to visit his father at the cemetery where he is buried and spend a few hours with him.

Because of what he saw in the besieged Mariupol, the Police Lieutenant Colonel emphasizes that he respects all the cities where the foot of the occupier has walked. However, in his opinion, the most painful point on the map of Ukraine is Mariupol. The number of dead in the city is close to a hundred thousand. But he is sure: we will never know the real number.

«Many people were left in the rubbles, the remains that these beasts took away, burned, concreted. Because these are the traces of their crime. Therefore, when we liberate Mariupol, Donetsk, I will definitely come to work there. But living there is a no for me. I simply won’t be able to build a future on the streets where I saw dead bodies or human remains,» Dmytro Kirdyapkin says.

A picture familiar to Mariupol residents during the blockade of the city. The whole city was on fire at any moment: day and night.

Photo by Yevhen Sosnovskyi

The ruins of the former living city haunted people on every street and in every yard. Not a single surviving house remained in Mariupol without the consequences of shelling.

Photo by Yevhen Sosnovskyi

«I have 56 flags in my office, but the very first flag is of the servicemen of the „Azov“ brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine. Along with them, as well as other soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and law enforcement officers, we defended our Ukrainian Mariupol,» Dmytro Kirdyapkin says.

Author: Alina Yevych

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