President Volodymyr Zelensky has honoured a captured Ukrainian soldier who was filmed apparently being killed by Russian troops last week.
Oleksandr Matsievskiy was unarmed when he was videoed smoking a cigarette and shouting “Glory to Ukraine” before being gunned down.
The footage has seen Moscow faced with fresh allegations of war crimes.
On Sunday, President Zelensky awarded the 42-year-old with the Hero of Ukraine – the country’s highest honour.
“Today, I have bestowed the title of Hero of Ukraine on soldier Oleksandr Matsievskiy,” Mr Zelensky said in his nightly address from Kyiv.
“A man that all Ukrainians will know. A man who will be forever remembered. For his bravery, for his confidence in Ukraine and for his ‘Glory to Ukraine’.”
Matsievskiy, a sniper serving with a unit from the northern region of Chernihiv, is believed to have been killed at the end of last year while fighting in the eastern city of Bakhmut which Russia has been trying to capture for months in a grinding war of attrition.
The soldier’s final words, “Glory to Ukraine”, became popular among ordinary Ukrainians after Russia annexed Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula in 2014. It has seen a resurgence after Moscow’s full-scale invasion launched last year.
In the footage, one of the shooters – believed to be a Russian soldier – is heard saying “die” and using an expletive after the prisoner of war (POW) is shot dead.
Confusion initially reigned over the soldier’s identity, and he was initially misidentified by the Ukrainian military as Tymofiy Shadura, another missing soldier who had been fighting in Bakhmut
Ukraine’s authorities have said the killing is “another proof this war is genocidal” and launched a criminal investigation, vowing to hunt down the perpetrators.
Russia has not publicly commented on the video.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Moldovan foreign ministry said Matsievskiy was also a Moldovan citizen and condemned his killing, accusing Moscow of war committing war crimes.
Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Russian troops of committing mass war crimes – including torture, rape and murder – since President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion. Russia denies the allegations.
Last week, in an interview with the German newspaper Bild, Matsievskiy’s mother identified her son and said he had worked as an electrician in Ukrainian capital Kyiv before the war.
“He stood there without weapons, but at the same time, he was proud to be Ukrainian,” she told the newspaper.
“He was always incredibly courageous. At that moment, the only weapon with which he could defend himself was saying: Slava Ukraini [Glory to Ukraine]!”
Source : BBC