Missile attack survivor eager to rebuild Ukrainian cities

June 24,2022 353
Missile attack survivor eager to rebuild Ukrainian cities

Yelyzaveta Kozlenko and her ex-husband Ihor miraculously survived Russia’s attack on the Kyiv TV tower. Since then, the clinical research monitor turned into an information war fighter, making the best of her knowledge, skills, and talents for the sake of future Ukrainian victory.

On March 1, they were passing the tower in their car the very moment the Russians hit it with two cruise missiles. Liza rushed out, ordering Ihor to do the same, and dropped to the ground amid dead bodies under the downpour of missile fragments and debris. Following instructions from earlier training, she covered her head with her hands and opened her mouth, watching the fragments falling, hissing, and exploding just near her. Then they ran to a safer place, as the “downpour” was continuing.

Liza was lucky to avoid any injury but Ihor was wounded, seriously bleeding. While instructing her ex on how to stop the bleeding, she tried to call the ambulance but failed as she could not provide the exact address. People told her the address of the nearby hospital, and she ran to stop a car that went just toward the dangerous site (her car was seriously damaged). That car carried Ihor to the hospital, where doctors removed the splinters from his body, and he stayed there overnight in the resuscitation ward.

Two weeks before the full-scale war, Liza decided that she would not leave Kyiv. When Russia invaded, she volunteered with the Red Cross, donated, delivered medicines and other essentials, and helped the territorial defense. But what happened on the first spring day somehow scared her. The war, a probability of being raped, taken captive, deported to Russia… She also felt insecure in her apartment, waiting in suspense for the next strike. So when a friend of hers told her that there was a press officer vacancy in the territorial defense, she happily packed her backpack and left in 30 minutes.

Her duties in the territorial defense included relations with the foreign media, taking and giving interviews, making translations (she is fluent in English, speaks Spanish and Portuguese at a medium level, and has a basic command of Polish), and doing whatever else that came with these duties. In addition, Liza also used her knowledge of English to help Hospitallers, a volunteer medical battalion, and the NarodViysko (PeopleArmy) initiative.

With the liberation of Kyiv Oblast from the orcs, Liza returned to her apartment. She is still formally with the territorial defense’s Ukrainian Volunteer Army but now acts as a volunteer fighter on the journalistic and humanitarian fronts. She also continues what she began while being the active press officer – working with John Sweeney, British investigative journalist and writer, on his projects. (Sweeney’s book on Putin “Killer In The Kremlin” is coming Jul. 21).

“I use my knowledge of English for the benefit of Ukraine wherever I can,” says Liza. “There is no single place I’d like to go to after the war. No, now I want so much to stay in Ukraine. To get down to rebuilding Kyiv and other cities.”

Based on a story in Zmina and personal communication.

Photo Credit: Giuseppe Attard

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