Punish Putin’s Russia for killing family members: family from Irpin and UHHRU (Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union) will appeal to the international court

The family, twice refugees, ask for help from UHHRU – in 2014, the spouses Yarovoy Mykhaylo and Marina with their son and daughter left Donetsk and moved to Irpin. Here they became happy grandparents – the daughter Yana gave birth to a grandson. This year the war not only forced the family to leave their home again, but also took away the most important: after the attack of Russian missile into their house Mikhail Yarovoy and his son Serhiy died. We share women’s testimonies about those tragic events and share our plans for legal support to punish the perpetrators.

Recalling the first days of the war in Kyiv region, Mrs. Marina notes that despite the burning one-story buildings and the broken walls of high-rise buildings, it was hard to believe that Russian troops were firing on civilians and the infrastructure of a city where there were no Ukrainian troops. After a bridge was blown up on February 25, which was a way to leave the city by car, and the railway station was bombed on March 5, the evacuation was possible only by foot or by car through the village of Stoyanka. However, the family did not risk trying this way, as the occupiers cynically shot cars with people trying to leave the dangerous area.

All this time the family lived in the parking lot, which became a shelter, sometimes they were going back to their apartment.

 “Every day the intensity of the fighting was increasing, from the window of the apartment you could see more and more fires and partially or completely destroyed houses. The roof of the school №2 on Turgenivska Street, which served as a bomb shelter for people, was burning in front of our windows, and black smoke swirled on the left over the city polyclinic at 38 Sadovaya Street,” Yana Yarova recalls.

On the evening of March 6, the family went home to bathe their three-year-old grandson. Mrs. Marina, her husband and son were sitting in the kitchen, daughter was in the bedroom putting little Mykhayluk to sleep. And at that moment, their lives changed forever: a Russian missile flew into the house. After a loud explosion, Yana with a child in her arms immediately jumped out of the apartment into a common corridor. Unfortunately, Mykhaylo Yarovoy died on the spot.

Serhiy had a torn abdominal wound and broken legs. He died a few hours later in the arms of his own mother.

I would very much like to ask Putin, what would he do in my place? If his child had been killed, would he have smiled and made bizarre excuses for his war? I was born and raised in Donetsk. I am a Russian-speaking person who has always communicated only in Russian and have never encountered any problems in my life because of the language I speak.  From whom I was saved and released – from my happy life? From my beloved husband and sonny? My relatives were killed by the hands of Russian immoral soldiers, so I blame Russia as the aggressor. He`s a murderer!” said Marina Yarova.

After the death of relatives, the women, in order to save their grandson, decided to evacuate. Near the extraction point, they were approached by journalists of the French TV channel TF1, who then filmed a lengthy story about the tragedy of the family. BBC News UK journalists in Ukraine also joined the media workers. This is how the civilized world learned about Russian crimes against the Yarov family. Now the daughter with a child and mother live abroad together, but being the refugees twice they do not forgive the murder of their relatives and fight to punish Russia for crimes: the women applied with the Ukrainian Helsinki human rights Union to file a lawsuit to the European Court of human rights at the end of March, and also documented the war crimes of the Russian army in the Kyiv region thanks to the “Ukraine 5 AM Coalition”.

Our human rights organization considers the Yarov family`s case to be strategic nowadays. Lawyer Vitalia Lebed explains why it is important.

Unfortunately, this case is one of the thousands of such cases because Russia carried out mass bombardments on civilian objects as a result of which civilians were killed. In my opinion, all cases related to the armed conflict can be considered strategic, because they are evidence of Russia`s war crimes against humanity. Therefore, the main strategy in conducting such cases is, first of all, to prove Russia`s responsibility at the international level, and in the future — to bring to justice those who committed such crimes and gave orders to commit them,” the representative of the UHHRU notes.

Our organization has collected the necessary evidence to defend the interests of the victims, prepared an appeal to law enforcement agencies to initiate an investigation, and plans to monitor its progress of it in the future. We will make efforts to ensure that the family receives compensation for the damage caused. For this purpose, an application is being prepared to the ECHR regarding the violation of the right to life and, accordingly, the suffering caused to the relatives of the victims, as well as the violation of property rights, because the apartment and all property were completely destroyed as a result of a missile strike.

 “In this case we see a violation of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life in relation to the dead relatives and the applicants themselves because they were in a situation of a serious threat to their lives and only a few seconds saved a mother, a daughter and a little granddaughter from the death. Also, Article 3 of the Convention on Prohibition Of Tortures: relatives of victims suffered a lot because of a loss of close family members; Article 8 – a violation of the right to respect for their private life: the family became homeless and had to flee a country to find a safe place to stay. Article 13 of the Convention: the lack of effective means of protection at the national level, i.e. in russia. In addition, Article 1 of Protocol 1 to the Convention on the violation of the right of Property: their apartment and all property in it has been destroyed“, explains Vitaliia Lebid.

The representative of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union also reminds us that the bombing of civilians by russian troops took place in the Chechen war, so this is not the first time that russia is using such methods of warfare. The EСHR has repeatedly convicted russia guilty of air bombing civilians in Chechen cities. For example, such cases as “Isaev against Russia” and “Isaev, Yusupov and Bazaev against Russia“.  As a result, hundreds of people, who tried to evacuate from a war zone, were killed, including children. The court found that the Russian troops did not take measures to protect and avoid the deaths of civilians during the military operation.

What are the victims expecting? Victims of the conflict are seeking justice first of all. Everyone can put their own understanding into this concept, but for the majority, of course, it is the responsibility for committing crimes.

“None crime should be forgotten and this is a task of our lawyers and the whole judicial system of Ukraine to do everything possible to punish criminals”, the lawyer says.

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