The Ukrainian soldier who was fatally shot in a chilling video that emerged last week has been named a Hero of Ukraine by President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr. Zelensky on Sunday night said he had bestowed the honor on Oleksandr Matsiyevsky, whose death was captured in a video that Ukrainian officials said was the execution of a prisoner of war by Russian forces.
The 10-second video shows the soldier, slightly hunched and with a cigarette dangling from his lip, standing in what appears to be a freshly dug patch of dirt. Exhaling a puff of smoke, he says “Slava Ukraini” — Glory to Ukraine — before gunfire almost immediately erupts from off-camera. The soldier’s body crumples to the ground as voices speaking Russian mock him.
A still frame of a video of a Ukrainian soldier whose execution was filmed.Credit…Ukrainian Presidential Press Service, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Almost as soon as it began circulating, Ukrainian officials cited the video as proof of Russian war crimes. The prosecutor general’s office said it had opened an investigation, and Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate.
Even with conflicting information about the soldier’s identity, he became a symbol of national resolve, with his likeness circulating widely. Some showed him with the word hero, others with angel wings, and more still bearing the phrase Glory to Ukraine.
On Wednesday, Ukraine’s north military district regional administration identified the soldier as Mr. Matsiyevsky, citing information from his family and his fellow servicemen. It said that Mr. Matsiyevsky disappeared in December after he and four other soldiers engaged in a battle with Russian troops on the outskirts of Soledar, a small town near Bakhmut in the eastern Donbas region that Russia took over a few weeks later.
Mr. Matsiyevsky “will be remembered forever,” Mr. Zelensky said in a Telegram post, “for his bravery, for his confidence in Ukraine and for his ‘Glory to Ukraine!’”