They are desperate. They are sure that the country has forgotten about their sons, husbands, brothers and fathers – heroes. After all, a year and a half has passed since the day when the defenders of Mariupol, who heroically held the besieged city for 86 days, left “Azovstal” steel plant by order of the higher command.

 Zaporizhzhia’s residents gathered for a rally in support of the “Azovstal” prisoners of war in order to draw attention to the problem.

 Zaporizhzhia’s residents formed a live chain on the central avenue of the city. The participants of the rally held placards with the inscriptions “Save Azovstal defenders”, “Freedom to the defenders of Mariupol”, “Do not be silent – captivity kills”, “You are looking forward to holidays – they are looking forward to exchanges” and others. They chanted “Ukraine is waiting for heroes!”, “Don’t be silent – captivity kills!”

Relatives of prisoners of war from the Mariupol garrison – the “Azov” brigade, units 3029, 3033, 3057 of the National Guard, the 55th Artillery Brigade, units of the Marine Corps, border detachments, etc. gathered on Heroes’ Square.

“My husband Petro is a defender of “Azovstal”. He was captured on May 20 last year. I have not heard from him for a year and a half. We know only from the Russian social media that he is alive. We know he’s alive because we’ve seen the photo in public chat. In addition, his friend, who was exchanged, said that he was sending his greetings to me, because they had agreed in advance that if someone were exchanged, he would contact the family.

During the defense of Mariupol, in particular the blockade of “Azovstal”, we kept in touch with him once a week. We have two children – 11 years old and 8. They haven’t seen their father for a year and a half,” says his wife Oksana.

“I am a military serviceman myself from the 3rd assault brigade. My friends from “Azovstal” were captured just after the exchange in Olenivka, after they surrendered. Five of my friends died and seven more are currently in captivity. Unfortunately, we haven’t received any information for the last six months, so I don’t know if they are alive or not. I went to this rally in order to show our activism, to draw attention to the problem, because this is the life of people – our defenders. I really want our government to show at least some effort to return the guys. I understand that Russia does not want to give them back, but I see that our authorities are silent on this matter – they are doing nothing,” says Vladyslav.

Of the 2,500 soldiers captured in Mariupol, only 20% have so far been returned home.

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Від Eva Mironova