Ukraine mourns the death of Yana, the “angel of the troops” in Bakhmut | war in ukraine

Comrades called her the “angel of the troops”, but in recent days she has also been nicknamed “the angel of Bakhmut”, as it was in this besieged city in eastern Ukraine that she most recently worked as a paramedic for the Armed Forces.

Yana Rykhlitska​, who was also called “Yara”, died on Friday while transporting wounded Ukrainian soldiers to a field hospital. According to the newspaper ukrainska pravda, the ambulance he was traveling in was attacked by Russian forces. She was 29 years old.

Yana was hailed as a “real hero” by the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence, which described her as someone “ready to risk her life to help others”. Her death stands as yet another symbol of the brutality of what goes on in Bakhmut.

A pre-war computer company employee, Rykhlitska volunteered to help with the country’s defense as early as February 2022, raising funds for the purchase of drones, generators and night vision equipment and providing humanitarian aid to civilians. Later, she even enlisted in the Armed Forces and joined the medical corps, ending up assigned to Bakhmut.

“It’s hard to explain, but for her there was no impossible mission, big or small,” said a companion of Yana’s named Vova, to the the country. The Spanish newspaper accompanied the woman’s funeral in Vinnitsia, her hometown in the western part of the country, more than 800 kilometers from Bakhmut. Some 300 people attended the funeral ceremony.

Yana’s husband, a 36-year-old military man named Oleksander, recounted how they had met in Kharkiv last summer and decided to get married almost immediately. The union was made official on the last day of the year, already in Bakhmut. “She was a warrior for Ukraine”, says the now widowed the countrydescribing her as a woman of “frankness, kindness, sincerity, confidence”.

About a week ago, Yana had appeared in an Associated Press report on the situation on the front lines. A former company colleague recognized her and shared the image in a group with other acquaintances. “Everyone was so excited. And then, the next day…”, commented Viktor Fateev, who described the paramedic as “a mother to everyone”.

Victor explained to AP that Yana spent a few months in Brazil learning capoeira and that she was there when Russia invaded Ukraine. So he decided to go home.

On Tuesday, as her only daughter’s urn was dropped into the ground in the local cemetery, Yana’s mother wept in despair. “Oh, my daughter, my little Yana!” lamented Olena, supported by her husband Mikola.

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