Wives of Ukrainian soldiers trapped in Mariupol steel plant beg Pope Francis for help
The wives of two Ukrainian soldiers left trapped in Mariupol’s steel plant today begged the Pope for help.
On a visit to the Vatican, Kateryna Prokopenko, 27, and Yuliya Fedosiuk, 29, asked Pope Francis to demand clemency for their husbands from Vladimir Putin.
Mrs Propopenko told the Pope: “You are our last hope, I hope you can save their lives. Please don’t let them die.”
Officials described the underground bolthole as a disease-ridden “medieval ghetto” containing rotting flesh and unburied bodies. The women said soldiers at the Azovstal plant lack food, water and medicine.
Mrs Prokopenko said Russian captivity “is not an option” for the soldiers as they face almost certain execution.
The Pope said he would do everything possible for Lt Col Denis Prokopenko and Sgt Arseniy Fedosiuk, and pray for them.
Mariupol mayoral aide Petro Andryushchenko today claimed that “at least 100 civilians” remain in the “hell on earth” Azovstal shelters, which were still under attack. It was previously claimed that all civilians had been evacuated.
Human rights ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova urged the UN and Red Cross to help evacuate wounded fighters, with amputations taking place on even minor injuries to prevent infections.
War crime investigations against Russians are gathering pace, with an indictment accusing army commander Vaidm Shishimarin, 21, of murdering an unarmed cyclist in the Sumy region.
A captured Russian conscript, Alexander Martynenko, 18, accused Putin of forcing “children” to the front line.
Wounded Martynenko, who was sent 6,000 miles to fight, said in a video: “It is not only contract officers who fight here, but also children like myself, conscripts.”
Putin promised in March: “Conscripts will not be engaged in military actions.”