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"I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere": mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

Olena PavlovaSport
Svetlana Oliferchik and her family experienced the scariest moments of her life in 2022

The mother of European diving champion Stanislav Oliferchik met the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation in Mariupol, where she experienced the worst moments of her life. Svetlana collected snow to get water and covered her daughter Masha's eyes so she wouldn't see the corpses lying in the streets.

In a conversation with OBOZREVATEL, Svetlana Oliferchik recalled her parents' bombed-out apartment, leaving the city at the crosshairs of snipers and her faith in Ukrainian Mariupol.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"Mashenka was upset that I didn't let Daddy come, Tolya had already taken the ticket and said: 'I'm coming on the 25th to see you.' And I really asked him not to go. I told him he didn't have to, it was very dangerous, they were taking him off the trains. In fact, we, like many in Mariupol, thought that everything would end very quickly, as it was in 2014. But it was very scary," Svetlana said.

There was no water in their house or in the neighboring ones, it was turned off. But on March 8, a saving snow fell in Mariupol.

"I took a dustpan and a bucket and went to collect snow from cars and benches. As for groceries, I myself am a rat by nature and I always have a stockpile. Always. And before my husband and Stas left for Kiev, we went and just bought groceries. But it was hard, because we cooked on the fire, and rockets were flying around..... But in order to survive, we had to feed ourselves and the child somehow," Svetlana recalled.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"And then Tolik's sister and her husband's nephew also came to us. But there was no water, no snow, and it had rained once. But there is a spring nearby, and Slavik, Tolik's nephew, went to get water. And then there was such a heavy shelling that Tolik's sister just knelt down and prayed to God that he would come home. And he came back, but a lot of people died near that spring," said a woman from Mariupol.

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Because of the desperate situation with water, Slavik had to go to the spring even after that terrible shelling, but Svetlana went out only to the fire in the entrance - to cut, to stir: "It was scary to get used to what was there. When I went out on the street and saw tanks near my entrance and the city in ruins, I simply could not imagine that such a thing was possible."

Oliferchik admitted that there were moments when she and her daughter literally said goodbye to each other - it was so scary during the shelling.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"Where we live, there was an arrival. We were sitting with Masha in the hallway, and at one point the house was hit very hard. It came in a slip, but it blew down the eighth and ninth floors. The men ran out, I don't know where they got fire extinguishers, but there was no fire, thank God. Nevertheless, it was a horror," - noted the mother of the champion.

Svetlana's native house, where her parents lived, is no longer there at all. "Liberators" from the Russian Federation first shelled it, and in June 2023 and completely demolished it, destroying evidence of their crimes.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers
''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"When there was the heaviest shelling in Mariupol, my mom came and said: 'Daughter, help us.' And I replied that I couldn't go out (my mom lives across the street), I couldn't leave Masha. On the perimeter of the house were already standing APCs, and under my loggia - tanks. And then I drank tea by candlelight at my neighbor's house and saw the balcony of my parents' apartment on fire. But already at night I did not say anything to anyone," - said Oliferchik.

"And when my mother in the morning said that she would go to pick up the documents for the apartment and Dad's medical history, I said: 'Mom, you do not need to go anywhere, there all burned down.' She still did not listen to me, went to the garages and saw for herself that everything had burned down - both the apartment and the documents, and now the house has been demolished altogether," Svetlana said.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

However, it was not the apartment that was destroyed at all that the woman calls her main loss.

"It's all nothing. The biggest loss is that I couldn't say goodbye to my dad. I always knew that my son, my husband, would not be by his side, but the fact that he would not be by my side in such a difficult hour..... If not for the war, we would still have prolonged his life, but in those conditions..." - Svetlana recalled with tears.

She said that Dad wanted to go home all the time: "Mom would take him out, show him the balcony and say: 'We are home, we are at Toly's with Sveta, here are pictures of Stas and Masha. Daddy died 7 hours before Masha's birthday on October 12.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

When we asked her why her parents didn't leave, Svetlana said that they simply couldn't, because her father had a very serious disease - blood myeloma. He wouldn't have gotten anywhere.

"And the way we traveled out ... I don't understand how we even managed to get out at all. That day our relative came, he was getting to us on foot, and told us to pack. And we went in what we were wearing, with no clothes at all. I threw only socks and pants to Masha, because we couldn't pack. How to go with them later? We could at least walk ourselves. It was later that the carriers delivered some things. "How they smell like home. How dear they are..." - Oliferchik recalled.

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When Svetlana and her daughter left the house to get to the car, which was in a different location, there was fighting in the city.

"I don't know how we got there at all, because the shrapnel was knee-deep. The car was waiting for us in another place. And still we broke through the slope while we reached Belosarayskaya Spit. And we didn't have any corridors at all, we just drove out. We didn't realize whether we would be able to get there or not," Svetlana said.

Occupiers are rotating at Mariupol checkpoints

"And when Vova took us away and we were walking with Masha, there were military men, I think Chechens. The shelling started, I was shaking, Masha was shaking, I took small icons with me. And these military men said to us, "Let's go in here. I asked Vova what we should do. He said: "Let's go in, but don't worry." And when he followed us, he gave them a gold coin and said that he was coming for his sister and niece and he needed to take us to a safe place," Oliferchik recalled.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

Since Svetlana did not go anywhere after the siege of Mariupol by the Russian military, she did not even know at the time of her departure on March 20 that the Russians had dropped an aerial bomb on the Drama Theater, and they lived next door to it.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"And when we were approaching, Vova says: 'Get ready, the Drama Theater is coming up.' And I became confused: what is it? Ot answered that it had been bombed along with the people and children who were hiding there. And we also had snipers sitting in every window opposite the church. We were walking, reciting prayers. It was such a horror! Imagine: a man and a woman with a child walking along, and no one knows what is in their heads. Everyone there is like that - you can see it in their faces," Svetlana recalled her thoughts.

"And when we were driving along Primorsky Boulevard, our favorite place for walks, I closed Mashenka's eyes, because there were corpses everywhere. It's such a horror! The child started to get psoriasis, I have never seen anything like it," Svetlana admitted.

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Now Masha is already 11 years old, but, according to her mother, the girl often cries for her grandfather and wants to see her grandmother: "I haven't seen my mother since March 20, 2022, when we left Mariupol. It's been 17 months. And she says, 'I won't make it.' Because my mom's blood pressure skyrockets, and you have to spend from four days on the road. But she hopes very much to wait for us. I tell her that she will definitely wait for us...".

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

Now Svetlana's mother lives in her and her husband's apartment, and her daughter has no idea how hard it was for the woman to walk around and see ruins instead of her home until it was demolished.

"I cry very often... And what Stas and Tola - my son and husband - had to go through. They lost a lot of weight. Stas couldn't train. But now he's in great shape, has come to his senses. He is very strong, a fighter and will definitely cope with everything", - the athlete's mother is sure.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers
''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

 

Svetlana herself calls herself an amateur athlete: "I would like to swim, run, walk. But I feel so sorry for Mashunka, we lived in hope of a new swimming pool in Mariupol, just as Neptun was repaired. We put so much love into it. And only once Tolya had a training session there with Stas. And there was also hit by a bomb, now there is nothing," - said Oliferchik.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers
''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers
''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

Naturally, no one is restoring anything in Mariupol now in a human way: "They put colored boxes there without excavations, without anything - just for a tick and for the movies.

After Svetlana and Maria managed to get out of the Azov city, they lived in Poland. Last year they came to the World Aquatics Championships in Budapest and got a lot of emotions. And then returned to Ukraine to keep the family together. And although Kyiv is far from Mariupol, the rocket attacks on the capital still knock them out of the rut.

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

"It is impossible to get used to war. And in Kyiv it's scary, I'm scared for my child. When the alarm begins, then I am very much cowardly, as there, and Masha too, she is very afraid. But we are all together. And it's easier," - says Oliferchik.

And despite all the horror that Svetlana had to endure for a month in besieged and broken Mariupol, she does not give up hope to return there: "Now it is impossible. But as soon as Mariupol is Ukrainian again, we will all go home. We will."

''I closed Mashenka's eyes because there were corpses everywhere'': mom of the European champion escaped from Mariupol at the sight of snipers

Earlier OBOZREVATEL told how the mother of the European diving champion received a message from the Crimea and 4 days out of Ukraine.

And the European champion from Mariupol told how his mother and 10-year-old sister escaped from the horror.

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