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Rancho Penasquitos man honors cousin killed fighting in Ukraine

Rancho Penasquitos man honors cousin killed fighting in Ukraine
Posted at 3:31 PM, May 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-12 20:43:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A Rancho Penasquitos man is honoring his cousin, who died while fighting in eastern Ukraine.

A photo, taken in mid-April, shows 49-year-old Mykola Chavarha visiting his daughters, Hayna, 5, and Anastasiya, 9, in western Ukraine.

Cousin Vadim says Mykola, a longtime solder, had retired before rejoining in 2018.

"He went back to the military because he loved his country,” said Vadim Chavarha.

A few days after the photo was taken, on the day before Orthodox Easter, Mykola was killed in fighting in the Donbas region, in eastern Ukraine.

“It is heartbreaking … incredibly sad,” said Vadim.

Vadim hasn't learned all the details, but on that day, Russian forces were targeting a steel plant in Mariupol, in southern Donbas, trapping soldiers and civilians.

Vadim believes Mykola died in a fight to the north, near Donetsk.

“My cousin is a hero. He died for his country. I'm proud, proud of him. It’s very sad, but I'm proud of him,” said Vadim.

Mykola's death leaves his two girls orphaned. An accident killed their mother two years ago.

“To lose a mother, then to lose their father, it’s hard … It’s difficult to describe,” said Vadim.

The girls have been taken in by another of Vadim's cousins, a 64-year-old retiree living in western Ukraine.

Vadim started a GoFundMe campaign to help his cousin with expenses.

“Going to retire, and all of a sudden, you have to start over again, and you have small children you have to raise,” said Vadim.

It’s a challenge undertaken as war rages on. As news coverage of the war lessens, Vadim says the death of his cousin shows the tragedy continues to unfold.

“People are still fighting. People are still dying, and not in less numbers than the beginning of the war,” said Vadim.