Soldier who Died in Captivity in Donetsk Laid to Rest in Homeland
Ukrainian soldier Roman Bespaliy was recently laid to rest in his native village in Eastern Ukraine
Ukrainian soldier Roman Bespaliy was recently laid to rest in his native village in Eastern Ukraine. He died in captivity in occupied Donetsk. But an error surrounding the return of his remains shocked his family.
Soldiers gathered in Bespaliy’s home. They came to say goodbye to their brother in arms, who died in captivity in occupied Donetsk. They told the story of how Roman and seven other Ukrainian soldiers were transporting documents from Mariupol to Kostiantynivka when they got lost and ended up on non-government controlled territory.
“We didn’t hear about the guys in more than six months. They were cut off from communication, and in October, one of them committed suicide. At first they didn’t release the name, but then they said it was Roman Bespaliy,” press officer for the 53rd brigade, Tetiana Zema said.
Bespaliy’s body was only handed over a few weeks after his death. No internal organs were left in his body after an autopsy was done in Donetsk, and no documents or personal items were returned with him.
Bespaliy was a professional soldier. He served in the Army for 18 years, and was on the front line from the very beginning of Russia’s war in the Donbas. It was there that he met his wife. They got married on paper, but had their wedding two years later, in a town near the front.
“Just the day before he was captured, I held the crown above his wife’s head in the church at their wedding. Even at war, life continued. There was some hope,” 53rd brigade volunteer, Daria Andrusenko-Yakotiuk said.
None of Bespaliy’s brothers in arms believe the story that he hung himself in his cell.
“He could never have done that. He had a different attitude. He was a different kind of person. He was a warrior in the full sense of the word. It’s more likely that he didn’t give into the occupiers, and that later, I think, they tortured him to death,” said Yevhen Shlyakhoviy, who served alongside Roman Bespaliy.
Bespaliy’s body was so disfigured that neither his wife, nor his father could recognize him. They were forced to confirm his identity with a DNA test. The results came back 99% positive. But Anzhela still doesn’t believe that it was her husband that was buried. Especially because only a day before she claimed Roman’s body, the militants handed over the wrong remains, under his last name.
“It was a mess. There wasn’t anything there. What remains? I can show you the video. I filmed it all. I called the police, and the police recorded it too. The remains weren’t his. The doctor says it was human error. I don’t believe that,” Anzhela Bespalaya said.
After the emotional ordeal, Anzhela was eventually given her husband’s body, but only a couple of hours before his burial. She says that she will do another, independent DNA test soon. She says that she can’t stop believing that Roman is still alive, and that he’ll come home one day.