“I’ll introduce to you Oleh and his family that consists of his mom and dad, his wife, his 6-year-old daughter and a baby aged 1.5 months. Russians shot them all in a car when they attempted to leave the town of Nova Kakhovka in southern Ukraine. The adults died immediately, while the children screamed in the closed car for an hour and a half until they died.”
That’s an excerpt from Olena Zelenska’s speech in US Congress. She showed the American politicians a picture of patrol police officer Oleh Fedko’s family on a big screen.
Fedko is 28 years old. The Ukrainian Pravda talked to him about his life before the war, his tragic loss, and how he dealt with it.
The text was created with the support of the remembrance platform of Memorial. Everyone can join in, collecting the names of those killed in Russia’s war against Ukraine. To report Ukraine’s losses, fill in the forms for fallen military and civilian victims.
Oleh’s family was brutally murdered on the first day of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine:
father Oleh, 56 years old,
mother Anna, 56 years old,
wife Iryna, 27 years old,
daughter Sofia, 6 years old,
son Ivan, 1.5 months.
“When I found out about the deaths of my family, the first thing I did was discharge my gun and throw it away,” Oleh says. He has not visited his relatives’ graves till now.
The journalists began by expressing sympathy for Oleh Fedko. He constantly heard them after February 24. As a police officer, Oleh tries to give concise responses and answer questions clearly, weighing every word. The young man’s voice starts to tremble when he talks about losing loved ones.
Until February 24. “We used to get together on holidays and whenever we could otherwise.”
The Fedko family is from the village of Vesele, Kherson Region. Oleh spent his childhood and youth there. His mother, Anna, worked at a local school. His father, also named Oleh, is a driver with a lot of experience. Oleh had a very close relationship with his mother and father.
Fedko’s friend Anna often visited them for coffee. She says the family was a very positive, open, kind, and friendly.
“Anna Fedko, the mother, started working in our school in the 1990s. She was a primary school teacher, and for several years, she was a teacher-organizer and my son’s homeroom teacher. She always organized holidays for pupils and made competitions between classes. Children loved her very much,” Anna says.
Oleh Fedko Sr. worked as a driver, first in local municipal organizations and then for a private carrier. He operated his bus and drove passengers for living.
Oleh loved his wife very much. Together they kept the household.
He frequently went fishing at the reservoir of the Nova Kakhovka Dam. His sons Oleh and Denis continued this passion after him.
The brothers often visited their parents when they moved from Vesele. “We used to get together on holidays and for other any reason,” – the patrol policeman recalls.
Oleh met his beloved Iryna after entering college in Nova Kakhovka, where he studied to become an electrical technician. The couple has been together since 2011.
“We loved each other. Iryna represents beauty, kindness, and motherhood to me,” Oleh Fedko says.
The couple tried to spend all their free time together. Oleh recounts that there was complete harmony, support, and understanding between him and Iryna.
The couple moved to Kherson, and Oleh became a police patrol officer. He worked from dawn to dusk, and Iryna was a homemaker for time being.
Their daughter Sofia was a great gift although the couple did not plan on having a baby.
“When my wife became pregnant for the first time, I told everyone in anticipation that I would have a daughter. When she got pregnant again, we told Sofia she would get a baby brother. My daughter said that she wanted a little brother because she would teach him everything,” Oleh recalls with warmth.
Little Sofia was supposed to become a first grader this year. Oleh and his wife chose a lyceum for her and attended a prep course together. The girl had been attending dancing classes for three years and enjoyed them very much, especially hip-hop.
“She’d play with dolls together with her mother and then she’d say: ‘Dad, let’s go fishing!’ Without asking, she was opening the car and putting in the fishing equipment, and then we’d leave. Imagine, she could even hook a worm on the hook and take off the fish when she caught it,” says Oleh Fedko.
The family was spending a week on the Ukrainian coast for their annual vacation. The Fedkos desired to buy a house in Kherson and had a few leads. Sofia accompanied her parents for the house viewings. She’d look at houses and condos on the market and comment what she liked.
Thanks to Sofia, her mother, Iryna found her best friend Svitlana. The woman is now in the occupied Kherson, so for security, we do not show her photo and do not give her last name.
“Six years ago, Iryna and I were brought together by our children. We exchanged phone numbers, and later became family friends. We often met. Iryna and Oleh loved each other, one could read it in their eyes. They never quarreled. We planned that our children will go to school together. My husband was the godfather of their son Ivan,” Svitlana says.
According to a friend, Iryna was a generous and lovely woman. Also, she was very creative. She created unique piñata boxes using candy and festive decorations for children’s birthday parties.
“It was her hobby. She enjoyed painting by numbers. I still have one of her unfinished paintings with a Christmas theme. She was a huge fan of the winter season. She will no longer celebrate them in the future “, Svitlana says sobbing. She shows the picture where there is a lot of white space, and only a fireplace, a Christmas wreath, and a Christmas sock are complete.
Svitlana was the last person Iryna spoke to.
24 February. The last thing Iryna said was, “Dad!”
Iryna fed young Ivan on February 24 at about 5am. Oleh was the one who heard a combat alert. He was given orders to arrive at his police station.
“I got ready and left for work. My wife and kids stayed at home in Kherson. We were in contact all the time. She asked about the news and our plan of action. My father called me at about 9:30 or 10:00 am and offered to take them to the village. And he did take them,” – the patrol officer remembers.
Oleh’s unit received the order to evacuate to Mykolaiv around 13:00.
Oleh and Iryna’s parents and other relatives decided to leave Vesele when Russian troops entered the village.
They drove in two vehicles in the direction of Nova Kakhovka. Iryna’s parents, Oleh’s aunt, uncle, and cousins were in the first vehicle. Parents of the patrol policeman, his wife, and children were in the second one, a minibus. They were driving along the Nova Kakhovka Dam, already controlled by the Russian military.
The first car crossed the invaders’ checkpoint. Denys, Oleh’s brother, communicated with the bus, where Oleh’s parents’ children and wife were. At 17:13, he called his mother. Instead of going to Nova Kakhovka, he told her to join him in Odesa.
Then Denys heard a scream: “My God, it’s a child. How can you do this?”. The shooting started. Denys heard that the car stopped, and the door opened. Then, Ivan’s crying. He cried for a very long time.
“Then I heard more shots,” Denys says.
Iryna called her friend Svitlana at that exact moment.
I heard screams and shots. Iryna said the last word, “Daddy!!!!” And that was it. The connection was cut. There was silence. I screamed in pain. I ran to my husband and said: “Iryna is gone”, – Svitlana recalls.
Meanwhile, Anna Fedko’s sister, riding in the first car, tried to call her relatives. There was no connection. Iryna Fedko’s parents and the aunt of Oleh and Denys returned to the checkpoint 15 minutes later. They asked the armed Russians about the family. “The driver did not obey the order and almost ran over the officer,” the Russian soldier said, pointing to the ditch.
At first, no one could approach the vehicle. Then two soldiers came to the car. Aunt Iryna and her husband Oleksandr followed them. According to them, the car was pierced by bullets from all sides. One of the soldiers pulled out the still-alive Ivan – the boy was crying.
Oleksandr, Iryna’s husband, saw that the child’s ear was wounded, and the bullet passed through the back of the head. The relatives took the children to their car. They rushed to the Nova Kakhovka hospital’s intensive care unit. But they could not save Ivan.
The doctor who examined the boy and the girl said they died because of multiple gunshot wounds. If you had brought them to me earlier, I could try saving them.
Next day the Russian military allowed to take the bodies of Oleh Fedko’s parents and wife. When the patrolman found out what had happened, he unloaded his weapon and threw it away.
“I appreciate the friends and coworkers that stood by me during this trying time and kept me from going mad. They stood by me,” added the policeman.
After February 24. “Emptiness is the worst thing.”
The Fedkos’ bodies were taken by relatives, who then interred the dead in Nova Kakhovka’s cemetery. Father Iryna remained to live there. Her mother then traveled to Germany to join her younger daughter, who had born a girl two weeks earlier.
Anna, a family friend who frequently came to the Fedkos’ home for coffee, is no longer living in Vesele. The worst thing, according to her, is returning to the Fedkos’ house and finding it empty.
Oleh could not say goodbye to his wife, children, and parents. He didn’t go to their graves. The policeman has been working in Mykolaiv since February 24.
He often sees family videos and photo albums. The worst emotion a person might experience after a relative’s death, according to him, is emptiness.
“Every day, I remind myself that I have no right to give up. Since I have five guardian angels, they will not let me do it…” Oleh says.
Source: Ukrainian Pravda Live