4-year-old boy dies in Russian attack in Vinnytsia

Iryna Dmytriyeva posted a video early Thursday of her 4-year-old daughter, Liza, wearing green sneakers and happily pushing a pink stroller as they stroll in the central town of Vinnytsia Ukraine. Soon after, Russian missiles struck.

Ukrainian officials on Friday confirmed that Liza was among 23 people killed in a Russian attack on Thursday that left her mother in a critical condition, as images circulated on social media of her life. them and her final moments captured global attention and transcended the all-too-familiar drumming of everyday violence. during the nearly five-month war in Moscow.

Ms Dmytriyeva and her daughter had an appointment that morning with a speech therapist, who taught Liza, who has Down syndrome, how to pronounce her first words. Hours after Dmytriyeva posted the video on Instagram, a salvo of Russian missiles hit the city center, hitting a shopping mall, a dance studio and a center for mentally disabled children. terrible.

Picture share online of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and verified by The New York Times, appears to show Liza’s lifeless body next to the overturned trolley, covered in blood.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian Security Service in Vinnytsia, Denys Zakabluk, confirmed in a phone interview that Liza was dead.

As Ms Dmytriyeva recovered in hospital – of the 80 people treated for injuries in the attack, Ukrainian officials said – her story, and her relationship with her daughter, was carefully documented on the account. Her Instagram, is a stinging reminder of how much Russian indiscriminate attacks are impacting on Ukrainian civilians.

Ms Dmytriyeva’s Instagram feed is a testament to her love for Liza, reflected in posts depicting milestones, struggles and words of encouragement for the parents. other mother.

“You have to educate yourself. The more resources the parent has, the more the child gets,” she said wrote in a post one day before the attack. “Make your own dreams come true!”

Dmytriyeva moved with Liza from Kyiv to Vinnytsia earlier this year and enrolled her in speech therapy classes at a center called Logoclub. Always smiling, Liza is nicknamed “Sunflower” at the center, her therapist, Alyona Korol, said in an interview.

As news of the Russian attack reverberated around the world on Thursday, Korol said she noticed a familiar pair of green sneakers in photographs taken at the scene.

“When I saw those shoes, I recognized them,” Ms. Korol said. “I know it’s our Liza.”

Credit…Logoclub Children’s Center, via Reuters

Images of sneakers and strollers, which began circulating on social media hours after the attack, were held up by Ukraine’s leaders as an example of Russia’s disregard for civilian life. .

The First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, said in a Posts on Twitter on Friday that she recognized Liza from a Christmas video she shot with children in 2021. “The little girl tried to dye not only herself, her outfit, but also her outfit. all the other kids, me, the cameraman and the director in just half an hour,” she wrote, sharing the video. “Look at her, alive, please.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening speech, “The child is four years old!” and accused Russia of atrocities.

“There is no country in the world that allows itself to destroy peaceful cities and normal human life with cruise missiles and rocket artillery every day,” he said.

Russia has claimed that it only attacks sites of military value – although some, like Vinnytsia, are hundreds of miles from the front lines in eastern and southern Ukraine. In a statement on Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said it had targeted an office building in Vinnytsia, where members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine were meeting with “representatives of arms suppliers foreign gas”, adding that the attack resulted in the “removal of conference participants. “Its account could not be verified.

On Friday, people placed flowers and a teddy bear at the place where Liza was killed. A wave of grief flooded social media. A support group that helps connect families with children with Down syndrome posted an update on Ms Dmytriyeva’s condition on Facebook and linked to a family fundraiser.

“Today, our hearts are bleeding and our eyes are full of tears, because our family of many thousands has lost one of its own,” the post read. “They just found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

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