EMOTIONAL tributes were paid yesterday to a combat medic mother of 12 who gave her life on the front line fighting Vladimir Putin’s invaders.
Heroic Olga Semidyanova — who carried a weapon — was fatally wounded as she continued to battle Russian forces when most of her unit had been killed.
The 48-year-old was hit in the stomach during a fierce fire fight near Donetsk in the south.
Her body has not yet been recovered because of continued battles in the area — leaving her heartbroken family a painful wait before they can bury her.
Her daughter, Julia, said: “She saved the soldiers to the last. We have photos from the place of death — but due to heavy fighting we still can’t bury my mother.”
The Ukrainian government led tributes to selfless Olga.
Anton Gerashchenko, an adviser to the country’s Interior Ministry, said: “She was slain in a confrontation with Russian thugs.
“Even when she believed her regiment might not survive, she emphasised her desire to protect the country until the end. She is a national hero. She is a hero to me.”
Olga lived in the city of Marhanets about 150 miles from where she died.
She had previously been awarded the title Mother Heroine, given to mums who have more than five children.
As well as her own six children, Olga had adopted six orphans from her local orphanage. Grateful Ukrainians flooded social media with tributes to Olga, who was killed during fighting on March 3.
Marina Ivanchenko said on Facebook: “This Ukrainian woman is truly a hero.” Another user said: “RIP Olga Semidyanova, hero of Ukraine defender of Europe.”
Chuk Towers posted: “Olga Semidyanova fought till the end for her country. RIP hero.” And Stewart Merritt said: “Heroes do not die.”
Other Ukrainian war victims were hailed yesterday. They included two men killed in Sunday’s cruise missile attack on a military base used for Nato drills about 12 miles from the Polish border.
Heartbroken women wept over soldiers Roman Rak and Mykola Mykytiuk who were laid to rest in coffins lined with white fabric.
Hundreds paid their respects — fellow soldiers, relatives and neighbours packing the church. One casket was open for part of the service, the other closed.
Deacon Taras Hlova said: “These guys were like angels for us. They died protecting us. They are heroes. Our heroes. Ukraine’s heroes. The people’s heroes. Heroes never die.”
The men’s comrades carried the flag-draped coffins out of the church in Starychi for the burial.
The church is near the base at Yavoriv, 12 miles from the border, where the men, in their 40s and 50s, were among 35 people killed. A further 135 were injured.
In the besieged city of Mariupol, meanwhile, doctors and nurses continued to treat their patients in a hospital which has been occupied by Russian forces.
They were, in effect, being held hostage after Russian troops took over the site to use as a firing position to target Ukrainian forces.
Regional leader Pavlo Kyrylenko said the soldiers forced about 400 people from nearby homes into the Regional Intensive Care Hospital to use them as human shields along with about 100 patients and staff.
Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk expressed dismay at the situation.
Doctors from other Mariupol hospitals made a video to tell the world about the horrors they had witnessed in the continuing onslaught on the city. One said: “We don’t want to be heroes and martyrs posthumously.”
She said the injuries medics were having to deal with were appalling.
She said: “It’s torn-off arms and legs, gouged-out eyes, bodies torn into fragments, insides falling out.”
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