Andriy Eider, Youngest of Released Captive Sailors Plans to Marry
While in captivity he missed fast food, read a lot, and dreamed of reuniting with his girlfriend. Andriy Eider, the youngest of 24 sailors captured by Russia, celebrated his 19th birthday in prison. His return home means he can finally plan his future
After nine months of captivity, Eider prefers being outside in the fresh air versus confined within walls.
“This was drawn by a child. His name is Zakhar. His parents sent me this. Drawings like this really helped me,” Eider said.
Eider carefully unpacked a parcel. It contained thousands of letters from all over the world. Some of the letters were sent from Russia. There are long letters, children’s drawings, and postcards. All of them include words of support.
“They wished me to get well and to get home soon. They were sending greetings from all around the world. They all wished my incarceration would end soon. Some wrote about some more mundane things, like how they spent their day, which was also good. It was an important distraction for me. Many sent me postcards. And I’m also grateful for those. Because postcards are nice. They are pleasing to look at and better than staring at a grey prison door,” Eider said.
Aside from the letters, Eider also received books. He said that in captivity he read more books than he has throughout his whole life. His biggest dream, while in captivity, was to eat some of his favorite comfort food.
“I wanted to eat some fast food. Which in the end, I did. I really missed fried food, because they had nothing fried there. Only a few cooks would add some fried onion to the boiled fish,” Eider said.
Maryna, Eider’s fiancee, is standing next to him. She holds his hand and supports him, just as she did during the previous nine months.
“I persevered only because he himself showed me how by personal example,”
The first thing Eider did after he was released proposed to Maryna. Her ring was chosen by his mom and it was sent to the pre-trial detention center by his lawyer.
“It was in the hospital. It happened right there. Not quite how it was intended. His plan was to propose near the airplane when they landed. But it happened in the hospital,” Maryna said.
Now Eider is undergoing rehabilitation. The injuries he suffered during the Russian ambush require him to stick to a strict schedule. He jokes that for him going to the hospital has become like a regular job.
“I wake up early in the morning as if I’m commuting to work and come back as if I am coming from work. After that, I have energy left over only for going to the store. It’s not like I have a hard time walking, but there is a limit to my strength. The problem is not in my head but in my legs. When I walk too much I start limping,” Eider said.
The many months in captivity and his injury couldn’t break Eider’s spirit. He is getting ready to become an officer and plans to continue his studies. In a year he and his bride-to-be will finally celebrate their wedding.