Vitalii Chmil

Vitalii Chmil

Date of arrest: 02.05.2018

“Every day I ask God that my son will be exchanged, so that I can see him soon. Only this hope gives me strength,” said Olena Chmil, the mother of Vitalii Chmil, a soldier of the 36th Separate Brigade of the Ukrainian Navy (AFU Naval Forces), who was captured by pro-Russian militants of the so-called “DPR” (Donetsk People`s Republic) on May 2, 2018.

On May 2, 2018, Vitalii Chmil disappeared while performing a combat mission. That day, as Olena Chmil recalls, the brigade commander called her and asked if Vitalii was at home. On May 10, Olena Chmil was already in Shyrokino, Donetsk region, talking to her son's superiors, the mother of the prisoner recalls, and on the same day, a video of Vitalii being taken prisoner was shown on Russian television.

In the fall of 2018,  Olena Chmil claims, her son was “tried” in the occupied territories and the militants sentenced him to 17 years in prison. For a long time, Vitalii's whereabouts were unknown, but now, according to his mother, he is being held in the Makiivka prison, and before that, he was kept in the Donetsk pre-trial detention center.

“When we came to the prisoners exchange, I learned that he was alive. He called me several times. He said that he had been severely abused and tortured. He was kept in the basement with rats,” - says Olena Chmil - “I never knew that my son was a gifted artist. When the boys returned from captivity, they showed me his paintings.”

She said that Vitalii suffers from severe headaches, but he does not receive any medical care there. She hopes that he will be exchanged soon and will return home. “But the SSU keeps telling me that he is not on an exchange list, because the DPR has not approved him,” Olena Chmil explains.

“He was my hope from God. I have stage four cancer, and he was caring for me. He was raising his own son by himself, and now the boy lives with me,” Chmil said.