Prince Harry inspired Ukrainian medic, 53, to keep fighting in war after her torture by Russians
Prince Harry’s phone call inspired Ukrainian doctor, 53, to continue fighting in the war after being tortured by Russians during three months’ imprisonment
- Volunteer paramedic Yulia Paievska, 53, was abducted by Rus on March 16
- She was in the humanitarian corridor in Mariupol when Russian troops seized her
- Ms Paievska was imprisoned for three months and suffered beatings and torture
- Her daughter brought up her mother’s plight with Prince Harry at Invictus Games
- She was later released in a prisoner swap and received a call from the prince
A Ukrainian doctor who was tortured and detained by Russian troops for three months says a phone call from Prince Harry after her release inspired her to “continue fighting” for her country.
Volunteer paramedic Yulia Paievska, 53, was kidnapped in March by Russian soldiers while on her way to treat injured people after a bomb attack on a theater in Mariupol.
She described being interrogated for three months and telling lies that Ukraine had been wiped out during the invasion. De Telegraaf reports.
Ms Paievska, a member of Ukraine’s Invictus Games team, received a call from the Duke of Sussex a week after she was released by her captors. She said he spoke “strongly and sincerely” about the conflict in Ukraine.
“He just inspired me to keep fighting,” Ms. Paievska said. “He said he supports Ukraine and all of us.”
Volunteer paramedic Yulia Paievska, 53, was kidnapped in March by Russian soldiers while on her way to treat injured people after a bomb attack on a theater in Mariupol
Ms Paievska, a member of the Ukrainian team for the Invictus Games (pictured here at a training event) received a call from the Duke of Sussex a week after she was released by her captors
Despite the trauma of her imprisonment, Ms Paievska says she is determined to continue to help Ukraine as it defends itself against continued Russian aggression.
She initially retrained as a paramedic in 2014 to help when tensions flared in the eastern Donbas region and founded Tayra’s Angels, the volunteer ambulance corps.
In her homeland, Ms. Paievska became famous after treating 500 Ukrainian soldiers in the Dombas and training 8,000 people in tactical medicine.
She and a colleague were driving an ambulance through a humanitarian corridor in Mariupol on March 16 when they were ambushed by Russian forces, who considered her a prominent target.
Mrs. Paievska soon found herself in solitary confinement with only half a glass of water to drink every day and no treatment for her thyroid and asthma conditions. She was later transferred to a 10-by-20-foot female cell, where she says the inmates were routinely beaten and tortured with electricity.
She said: “I had absolutely no information about what was happening in the outside world, I didn’t even know if my family was still alive or if my house had survived, because the Russians were already in Kiev when we left.”
Ms Paievska said she was “grateful” to Prince Harry (pictured with wife Meghan) and that her interrogation and torture stopped after her daughter raised her plight at the Invictus Games
Volunteer paramedic Yulia Paievska, 53, was kidnapped in March by Russian soldiers while on her way to treat injured people after a bomb attack on a theater in Mariupol. Pictured: The ruined theater in Mariupol
According to Ms Paievska, the Russian guards gave the prisoners false information that Ukraine was losing the war and that the rest of the world had not intervened, demonstrating nothing more than “rusty weapons”.
To maintain her physical and mental health, she says she stuck to a daily regimen of ab crunches, yoga, and meditation for survival.
While she was being held, her 19-year-old daughter Anna-Sofia Puzanova took her place in archery at the Invictus Games and won a bronze medal.
The young woman also brought up her mother’s plight to the board of Invictus Games, leading to a phone call from Prince Harry following her mother’s release.
Ms Paievska added: ‘I am very grateful to Prince Harry because it was after the Invictus Games… that the Russians stopped interrogating and torturing me. I think spreading the word to the whole world influenced their decision to trade me for a prisoner swap.”