World News

“I do not believe in the world after seeing what is happening in Ukraine”

Kira was injured by a mine explosion as she tried to escape on foot from besieged Mariupol. (Courtesy of Alexander Obedinski)

Before Russia’s war against Ukraine began, Kira Obedinsky was a happy, beloved 12-year-old girl. Now orphaned, wounded and alone in a Russian-controlled hospital in eastern Ukraine, she has become an involuntary pawn in Moscow’s information war.

Obedinski’s mother died when she was a baby. Her father, Eugene Obedinsky, a former captain of Ukraine’s national water polo team, was shot and killed as Russian forces made their way to the southeastern city of Mariupol on March 17th.

Days later, Kira and her father’s friend tried to flee the city on foot with neighbors. But after being injured in a mine blast, Kira was taken to a hospital in the Donetsk region, which is controlled by Moscow-backed separatists.

Alexander Obedinsky with his granddaughter Kira before the Russian invasion of Ukraine. He fears he will never see her again. (Courtesy of Alexander Obedinski)

Now Kira’s grandfather, Alexander, fears he will never see her again. He said an official from the breakaway government in Donetsk called and invited him to go there to pick her up, which is impossible due to the war.

He says he spoke to the hospital and was told that Kira would eventually be sent to an orphanage in Russia. They took away her documents, he said, and told her that Kira would be given new ones in Russia.

The Russian government has said it has helped move at least 60,000 Ukrainians safely across the Russian border. The Ukrainian government said about 40,000 had been relocated against their will, describing it as abduction and forced deportation.

Russian media, which have repeatedly downplayed the brutality of the conflict in Ukraine, showed a video of Kira happily telling how she was sometimes allowed to call her grandfather.

This is “proof” that she was not abducted, according to a Russian TV presenter, who called the allegation another “Ukrainian forgery”.

Meanwhile, Alexander received an audio message from Kira telling him not to cry. But the young girl, who lost her family, her freedom and her home in Russia’s war, cannot stop her own tears.

“I haven’t seen you in so long,” she says. “I want to cry.”

Kira in Mariupol, before the war. (Courtesy of Alexander Obedinski)