In early 2022, Filkina enrolled in a cosmetics course with local makeup artist Anastasia Subacheva, purchasing the first-ever set of blush, eyeliner and concealer, which she planned to wear to a future concert.
She even did a cherry-red manicure for Valentine’s Day, drawing “hearts on her fingers because she started loving herself,” Subacheva told CNN.
But her plans came to a halt in late February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Her daughters decided to cross the border into Poland, but Filkina remained to help people. She spent a week at the Epicenter shopping center in Bucha, feeding people hiding there and preparing food for the Ukrainian military, according to her daughter.
On March 5, Filkina tried to get into one of the carriages that took people out of the mall outside the city. But when no place was found, she decided to go home by bike.
One of Filkina’s daughters, 26-year-old Volha Shchyruk, said she had asked her mother not to ride her black bicycle that day. She asked her to take the train out of town.
“I told her it was dangerous there. Russia occupied the whole village – people were killed, “Shchyruk told CNN.
“Olga, don’t you know your mother? I will move the mountains! ” Filkina responded, according to Shchyruk, a child psychologist who was in Poland at the time, helping other Ukrainian refugees.
This was their last conversation. Filkina never came home that day.
Outrageous footage released this week appears to have captured Filkina’s death. A video from a drone shot before March 10 shows a man pushing a black bicycle onto Yablunskaya Street in Bucha before he was shot dead by Russian soldiers. After the cyclist turned the corner, at least four clubs of smoke were released from the Russian military vehicle.
A second video of the same street, posted on Twitter and geolocated by CNN, shows the body of a woman in a blue jacket and light pants sprawled next to a black bicycle near a torn-off electricity pole. One leg is injured. Her hand lies to the side. Burnt and abandoned cars are lying on the street near the ashes and garbage.
Subsequent shots of the scene, taken by Reuters, show a closer look at the woman in the blue jacket. From the sleeves peeks a twisted hand with cherry-red lacquer and a heart motif on one finger, which shines through the dirt and grime.
When the image of this hand went viral on social networks this week, both Shchyruk and Subachou immediately knew whose it was: Filkin. “How could a man not know his mother’s body?” Said Shchyruk.
Subacheva began to compare Filkina’s photos with Reuters. “It’s a photo of her body and my own (photo) of her manicure … I realized it was the same person and started crying,” Subacheva said, adding that she had last seen her the day before the invasion. began. “We have to realize that behind this picture of her hands is a great woman.”
Known to all friends of the daughters of “Mama Ira”, people loved Filkina’s tendency to cherish others. When Filkina saw the ocean for the first time in her life on a family trip to Egypt two years ago, “everyone in the hotel fell in love with her. They said, ‘Mother Ira, come back,'” Shchyruk said.
“She gave her whole life to others – (she) gave her life to the ambitions of other people,” – said Shchyruk. It was after this trip to Egypt that her mother decided she “wants to follow her own hobbies,” she added.
Therefore, Shchyruk refused to believe that his mother had died, despite the fact that on March 5, the Ukrainian military told the family that she had died. The military said it was impossible to get her body because a Russian tank was standing nearby.
CNN asked the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Shchyruk believed that her mother was just hurt. Throughout March, she questioned bloggers and tried to contact neighbors – despite a power outage in Bucha – if they had heard anything. “I imagined she was just hiding in the basement – that she saw the occupiers and stayed somewhere to wait,” she told CNN, her voice breaking.
“When I found out that my mother had died for the second time, I had a feeling that I had a broken spine. I lay down and cried from helplessness, ”she said.
Shchyruk said that her mother would not want her to lie down. Directing the spirit of her mother, she is now setting up a fund named Filkina to help young Ukrainians affected by the war.
“I want the image of her hand to be a symbol of new beginnings,” she said. “This symbol tells the occupiers that they can do anything with us, but they can’t take the main thing: love. Love for people, which they do not have.
Tara John of CNN reported and wrote from Lviv, Ukraine. Alexandra Ochman reported from Lviv. Eaine McSweeney reported from Abu Dhabi and Gianluca Metzafiora from London.