Lost 45 kilograms, was beaten for being tall: Ukrainian 3x3 basketball champion returned from Russian captivity
Earlier this year, on January 3, Ukraine returned 230 military and civilians from Russian captivity with the mediation of the United Arab Emirates. This is the largest exchange since the full-scale invasion.
Basketball player Borys Zavatsky is among those returned to his native land. He is known primarily for his performances in the Kharkiv amateur basketball league, but he also has achievements in professional basketball. In the early 2000s, Borys Zavatskyi played in the Premier League for Kharkiv's Polytechnic, and in 1999 he was the Ukrainian 3x3 basketball champion.
Borys volunteered for the war in 2015 and resigned at the end of 2021, but when the full-scale invasion began, he immediately went to the military registration and enlistment office. During the 5 months that Borys was off duty, he managed to marry a girl named Yulia, with whom he had studied at boarding school (Yulia was a biathlete) and who was his first love, but with whom he had not spoken for almost 20 years.
"He said he had finally found his love. Although he was still rushing to the front, he could not find himself in civilian life. And now, right after the exchange, he is eager to go back to defend Ukraine. Although it is clear that he needs a lot of time to recover," Borys Zavatskyi's wife Yulia told the FBU press service.
Borys Zavatsky fought in the 92nd Separate Mechanized Brigade named after Kosh Ataman Ivan Sirko, but on March 25, 2022, he disappeared during a combat mission in the Kharkiv region near the village of Vilkhivka, falling into an ambush.
"He was in captivity for 21 months. I found out through the Red Cross that he was alive and in captivity. There was another athlete there with him - kickboxer Oleksiy Anulya - so he told me for himself and Boris that they were beaten even just for being tall and athletic, and this irritated the Russians, they put them in a punishment cell. Boris hasn't told me anything about his captivity yet. He lost almost 45 kilograms. He was abused there, he had a concussion and his health condition deteriorated significantly. I did not recognize him in the photos he sent me after the exchange. This is all being recorded for the UN. But he did not break down. He is a patriotic man, he is always for Ukraine," said Yulia.