President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy took part in awarding the laureates of the Hero-Rescuer of the Year national action and congratulated the employees of the State Emergency Service on the upcoming professional holiday.
The ceremony took place in the Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv.
"We award those who saved lives. Those who did it professionally, devoting themselves to the work of a rescuer, and those who, in the extraordinary circumstances of the war, showed the best qualities: courage, determination, humanity. I thank you for the saved lives, for what you have done for our people," Zelenskyy said.
The President said that Ukrainian society should respect the rescuers for restoring security, eliminating the consequences of enemy shelling and natural disasters.
"There are such people in every city of our native Ukraine, in every region of our country. These are employees of the State Emergency Service, these are all those involved in demining operations, these are people who carry out evacuations from combat areas and deliver important things, humanitarian aid. These are people who restore energy supply after shelling, who protect Ukrainians from the consequences of Russian attacks – missile and artillery. These are those who provide psychological support to the population and give human warmth when they need it," the Head of State said.
Those present observed a moment of silence in memory of the Ukrainians whose lives were taken by the occupiers.
The President gave state awards and awarded special titles to the employees of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine.
In addition, in the presence of Zelenskyy, the awarding of laureates of the Hero-Rescuer of the Year national action took place. Ukrainians who showed courage, heroism and self-sacrifice by saving human lives in combat conditions during the full-scale Russian invasion were honored. Diplomas were presented to the laureates by Minister of Internal Affairs Denys Monastyrsky and head of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine Serhiy Kruk.
In particular, Lesia Bondarenko received a diploma for courage and determination, who on February 25, 2022, together with her neighbors and her six-month-old daughter Kira, tried to leave the enemy-occupied village of Demydiv, Kyiv region. Near Hostomel, the occupiers fired at a car in which, in addition to little Kira, there was a boy and several adults. All died, except children and Lesia Bondarenko. Despite the serious injury, she managed to push the child out and jump out of the burning car. The woman lost a lot of blood, but was able to save the children.
Popasna resident Oleksandr Prokopenko, who repaired damaged gas pipelines throughout the territory of the Popasna community under constant enemy fire, also received an award. From March 22 to April 29, when the bombing became relentless, Oleksandr Prokopenko took about 300 people to the city of Bakhmut. Later, he also delivered humanitarian aid to the residents of Popasna under fire.
Vitaliy Tsybarev, head of the rapid response unit of the Red Cross Society of the city of Zaporizhzhia, was awarded the laureate's diploma. From the first minutes of the full-scale invasion, Vitaliy accompanied the evacuation convoys from the occupied Enerhodar, Berdiansk and Mariupol together with the employees of the State Emergency Service. In total, the column under his leadership evacuated 4,585 people to the territory controlled by Ukraine.
Tetiana Sydorenko, the head of the obstetrics and gynecology ward of the Trostianets city hospital of Sumy region, who did not leave patients during the Russian occupation of the city, was awarded for her care and professionalism. She had to attend to births in a bomb shelter with the light of lanterns and candles and without enough water, because all communications were destroyed due to enemy shelling.
The unit of the Halytsynove local fire brigade in Mykolaiv region headed by the laureate of the action Iryna Hrachova, services the assigned area, which has been under fire from various types of weapons for more than 200 days. On August 9, after a large-scale attack by the Russians with multiple rocket launchers, the firefighters of the unit extinguished a large fire that threatened private residential buildings and commercial buildings.
Oleksandr Shvets, a senior firefighter from one of Kyiv's divisions, received a laureate diploma for his decisive and courageous actions. From February 24 to March 7, 2022, he took about 60 residents of the villages of Horenka, Moschun, and Puscha-Vodytsia to a safe place. During one of the trips to Horenka, while delivering food to people who did not want to leave their homes, Oleksandr Shvets came under enemy fire and was wounded.
Police captain Oleksandr Pensky from Kharkiv, who pulled out a 12-year-old girl from debris of a residential building destroyed by enemy shelling, was also awarded. Later, together with the rescuers who arrived at the scene, the captain rescued a woman from the destroyed house.