President Volodymyr Zelenskyy bestowed posthumously the “Hero of Ukraine” honour on a soldier who defiantly said “Glory to Ukraine” before being shot dead in a volley of gunfire, an incident shown in a video posted on social media.
Ukraine’s military, on its Telegram channel, confirmed the identity of the soldier as Oleksandr Matsievskyy – a sniper with a unit from the northern region of Chernihiv.
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“Today, I have bestowed the title of Hero of Ukraine on soldier Oleksandr Matsievskyy,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address on Sunday.
“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.'”
The man in a uniform with a Ukrainian flag insignia on his arm was shown smoking a cigarette and saying “Slava Ukraini” before being shot dead. A voice off camera then says in Russian, “Die b**ch.”
Germany’s Bild newspaper said its reporter spoke to Matsievekiy’s mother, Paraska, who said: “He stood there unarmed but proud to be Ukrainian. He was always incredibly brave. At this moment, the only weapon he could defend himself with was to say: ‘Slava Ukraini.'”
The term “Glory to Ukraine” is more than a century old but came into general use after Ukraine won independence from Soviet rule.
It has been in widespread use as a greeting during the war, always drawing the response “Heroyam Slava” – “Glory to the Heroes”.