A heroic dad who helped hundreds of American families adopt Ukrainian children in the past has become the latest victim of Russia’s atrocities amid the ongoing war. For the last 30 years, 62-year-old Serge Zevlever has been assisting disabled orphans find loving homes. When the St.Louis-based hero was in Ukraine for work and helping families escape the invasion still raging today, he was shot dead by a Russian sniper outside a bomb shelter.
The tragedy happened when Zevlever, his wife and stepson were hiding near their high-rise apartment building. The man then volunteered to check on the commotion nearby. Once outside, he was immediately shot in the chest by a Chechen sniper fighting for Russia, as family members looked on.
“He was not in a scuffle, he was not on the front lines,” Zevlever’s eldest daughter, Alisa Sander, told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He went outside to see if it was safe for everyone else, but they were aiming their guns right at the place where these people were sheltering.”
At the time, Zevlever and the others thought no one was attacking civilians. “But this is not true. It was just the most incredible injustice,” his daughter continued. “My dad was such a beautiful human, so the injustice is magnified by a million.”
In Ukraine, if a disabled child is not adopted by the age of five, they are mandatorily transferred to live the rest of their days in an adult psychiatric institution. Zevlever’s mission was to find these children a lovely home before they hit the age limit. “My dad knew what would happen if those kids were not taken and given a good home. He fought for those kids just like every single one was his own,” Sander told Fox2Now.
Ukrainian by birth, Zevlever fled to Italy with his wife and daughter during the collapse of the Soviet Union—where he proceeded to protest the US ban on Visa approvals by staging a hunger strike with fellow refugees.
After becoming an American citizen, Zevlever joined the military and served in Desert Storm, the US’ first major armed conflict with Iraq. Following his retirement, he then worked as a taxi driver and pizza delivery personnel, while sponsoring more of his relatives to arrive in the US. It was towards the late 1990s that Zevlever found his calling at an international adoptions agency founded by his Ukrainian friends.
The heroic dad dedicated decades working tirelessly towards his mission up until his death. Even in his final days, he was working hard to get every American family out of Ukraine and over the Romanian border with their newly adopted children. The Chechen snipers responsible for Zevlever’s death have since been apprehended by Ukrainian forces.
“Last night, Serge died a hero to his country,” tributes that poured on his Facebook page read. “Everyone should know this man’s name.”
A heroic Ukrainian soldier blew himself up with a bridge in order to stop Russian troops from advancing further, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
Sharing the news on their Facebook page, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said that Skakun Vitaliy Volodymyrovych took up a position on the Henichesk Bridge near Crimea when Russian tanks were advancing. After realising that he would not be able to get out in time before the explosion, the soldier allegedly took the decision to stay down and ensure that the bridge was destroyed, whatever the cost.
Ukrainian Armed Forces have since called him a hero who sacrificed his life for his country.
The translated post read: “On this difficult day for our country, when the Ukrainian people are repelling the Russian occupiers in all directions, one of the most difficult places on the map of Ukraine was the Isthmus of Perekop, where a separate marines battalion was one of the first to meet the enemy.”
Quoting the same force, Euromaidan Press wrote on Twitter: “To stop the advance of the tank column, the decision was to blow up the Henichesk bridge. The engineer Skakun Vitaliy volunteered to perform this task. He mined the bridge but couldn’t leave and blew it up together with himself.”
His comrades reported that they heard Vitaliy planning to blow up the bridge, and then heard an immediate explosion. The general staff statement continued, “Our comrade died. His heroic deed significantly slowed the enemy’s advance, which allowed the unit to redeploy and organise the defence.”
The statement also confirmed that Vitaliy will be considered for a state military award, “The Marine Command will apply to the High Command to award the state award to sailor Skakun Vitaliy Volodymyrovych.”
It finished by stating: “Russian invaders, know, under your feet the earth will burn! We will fight as long as we live! And as long as we are alive we will fight!”
Despite the soldier’s sacrifice, it is believed that the area has now been seized by Russian forces. The invasion, which started in the early hours of Thursday 24 February, went on for a second day, with Russian forces moving towards Kyiv, meeting heavy resistance along the way.
Sadly, recent footage showed tanks arriving in the capital. Ukraine’s government has banned men aged between 18 and 60 years old from leaving the area and has asked that anyone who is willing and able to take up arms against the invaders should do so.