Two Ukrainian teenagers have been hailed heroes after they were killed on Saturday in an apparent exchange of gunfire with Russian troops in the occupied city of Berdyansk.
In a video shared on social media, a bloody and wounded Tihran Ohannissian, 16, shakily holds a machine gun and tactical gloves and says “Farewell! Glory to Ukraine!”
Russian authorities confirmed they killed Ohannissian and his classmate, Mykyta Khanhanov, 16, on Saturday, calling the teens “pro-Ukraine terrorists” and claiming they had killed a civilian, the Times reported.
Footage of Ohannissian crying out, “Two for sure, that’s death, guys. Farewell! Glory to Ukraine!” quickly went viral in Ukraine.
Ukrainian sources told the Times the teens shot two collaborationist policemen — not a civilian.
Human rights activists are now left trying to piece together what led to the boys’ deaths as it emerged that they had been the subject of a European parliament resolution two weeks ago.
The resolution condemned the detention and torture of the two teens, who were arrested last year and accused of planning to sabotage a rail line.
They were released five days later but placed under house arrest and ordered to check into the police station daily.
“My son was tortured with electric shocks,” Ohannissian’s mother Oksana Starovierova said. “They took him to a field and carried out a mock execution. Russians asked him, ‘Are you going to become a guerilla?’ They ordered him to prepare to die.”
Ohannissian’s family had been split up earlier in the year due to the Russian invasion, with his mother and sister in Germany while he stayed in Ukraine to care for his grandmother.
Last month, Russia’s Investigative Committee officially charged the two teens with sabotage, a charge that carries a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
They were awaiting trial when they were killed on Saturday.
Human rights organizations have condemned the Russian Federation and criticized the lack of action from international organizations like the Red Cross and the United Nations, both of which were asked to intervene by the European Parliament and didn’t.
Ohannissian spoke with his mother in Germany several days earlier and told her he and Khanhanov were alone and needed help.