THE heartbroken mum of a Ukrainian prisoner killed by Russian troops after declaring “glory to Ukraine” insists Vladimir Putin should be tried for war crimes against her son.
Harrowing footage showed unarmed Oleksandr Matsievskyi, 42, being riddled with machine gun bullets after taking a final drag of his cigarette.
Moments before he was shot dead by Russian soldiers, Matsievskyi pronounced “Slava Ukraini”, which translates to “glory to Ukraine”.
Oleksandr’s devasted mother Paraska Demchuck, 67, told how she watched the footage – only to then realise the brave soldier was her son.
Paraska, from Nizhyn in northern Ukraine, told how she cried out in shock after seeing the last moments of her only son.
She told The Sun: “I was told in January that Oleksandr was missing.
“All I had been told was that there had been a fight with Russians and he had disappeared.
“His body was returned in early February as part of an exchange of the fallen soldiers at that was the first I knew of his death.
“And then, as if from heaven, that video turned up. And I cried out ‘Sasha, Sasha’ – my name for him.
“Everything came about like an epiphany – I wanted to know how my son died, and then I saw it.”
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Oleksandr and four colleagues engaged in combat with a larger Russian contingent near Soledar when he was captured on December 30.
He was filmed standing tall in a shallow trench, smoking, before being shot multiple times.
The cold-blooded shooting of Oleksandr, an electrician by trade, is now the subject of a war crimes investigation.
Paraska added: “When I saw his look in the video, I realised there was nothing he could do. He understood this was the end.
“We once made an agreement that if he was wounded and was bleeding to death, he would call me and tell me thrice: ‘Yes, yes, yes!’
“But in the video he said, ‘Glory to Ukraine!’ And God gave me the opportunity to hear these words.”
Oleksandr, described as a hard-working, principled and persistent by his mother, signed up to fight as soon as the war started.
She said: “Sasha said he could not sit back.
“His grandfather defended his homeland during World War Two. So he went to war without hesitation.
“The last time I spoke with him was on December 29 – he called me and said I should pick up a package with a new uniform he had been given.
“He never got to wear it.”
President Zelensky posthumously bestowed the Hero of Ukraine medal upon the sniper and handed Paraska her son’s Hero of Ukraine award in a ceremony in Kyiv.
He described Oleksandr in a nightly address as “’a man whom all Ukrainians will know. A man who will be remembered forever.”
‘PUTIN SHOULD FACE JUSTICE’
In Oleksandr’s hometown, Nizhyn, a plan is underway to name one of the streets after him. They also want to erect a monument to the brave soldier.
Paraska today welcomed the arrest warrant slapped on Putin for alleged war crimes – and said her son’s death should be added to the list.
The International Criminal Court has accused the Russian tyrant of the “unlawful deportation” of children from Ukraine – a war crime under the Geneva Convention.
But Paraska hopes that Putin will one day be called to face justice over her son’s murder.
She said: “My son has become a symbol of the indomitability of the Ukrainian people and for that I am extremely proud.
“We hope and believe that one day he will bear responsibility for all the war crimes committed, including the murder of Oleksandr.
“He is a war criminal and he should face justice.”
An investigation by The Sun into Ukraine’s missing children back in September revealed that thousands of children have been deported during Putin’s invasion.
Ukraine’s human rights chief, Dmytro Lubinets, has said 16,226 children were deported and the country has managed to bring back just 308 of them.
The Hague-based court has now said “there are reasonable grounds to believe that Mr Putin bears individual criminal responsibility” for the crimes.
Ukraine hailed the arrest warrant as an “historic decision”.
Moscow has repeatedly denied accusations of atrocities during its disastrous one-year invasion of Ukraine.
Despite the warrant, Putin today broke cover as he was spotted in Crimea.
The Russian President made an appearance in the disputed Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Putin’s forces in 2014.
In the short clip published on the Russian social media network VK, Putin, 70, can be seen walking stiffly with his head bowed.
He was shown opening an art school and a children’s centre in the port city of Sevastopol.