By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KYIV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – Liza Dmytriyeva, a 4-year-old with Down syndrome, is among at least 23 people killed in a Russian missile strike on the historic city of Vinnytsya in central Ukraine, authorities confirmed this weekend. “Sunny Flower,” as locals called the toddler, proudly pushed her baby carriage through a Ukraine park. She had just returned from the nearby speech therapy center, where she learned her first words. She liked to clean the corridor and helped to organize the toys there. She always seemed happy till a rocket took her life.
Two other children were among the scores of other people who were killed Thursday in this town, hundreds of kilometers from the front line.
The attack came as European Union officials convened in The Hague, Netherlands, to discuss war crimes in Ukraine.
“I want to shout out to the whole world,” an anguished survivor of the attack cried. State Emergency Services said at least 52 people were injured. The city council in Vinnytsya noted many of them were in serious or critical condition. At least 39 people remained unaccounted for.
According to rescuers, several buildings in the city center were damaged, and 25 cars in a parking lot caught fire. Vinnytsya, a city of 370,000 people, dates back to the Middle Ages, founded in 1363, according to the city’s authorities.
President Volodymyr Zelensky called the attack “an open act of terrorism.”
“Every day, Russia kills civilians, kills Ukrainian children, carries out missile attacks on the civilian facilities where there is no military target.
What is this, if not an open act of terrorism?” Zelensky wondered.
Moscow denies deliberately attacking civilians, despite witnesses and video footage suggesting otherwise. Speaking to EU representatives at The Hague, Zelensky said there were eight rockets, two of which hit the city’s center. He led a moment of silence before urging European and International Criminal Court officials to open a special tribunal for Russia’s invasion.
“I believe it is inevitable that the International Criminal Court will bring accountability to those guilty of crimes under its jurisdiction: war crimes,
crimes against humanity, genocide.”
His words did little to console Liza’s mother, Iryna Dmytriyeva, who would document her life on social media. She posted the footage to almost 20,000 followers on the social networking site Instagram, educating people about Down Syndrome and her health problems. Dmytriyeva, a 33-year-old designer and blogger, had her foot ripped off in the blasts and was fighting for her life in hospital.
The attack ended a touching, loving effort by a mother to care for a child with a disorder in a former Soviet nation where children with disabilities face societal challenges. She had kept a blog about her daughter’s development. “She was happy running to her lessons and never wanted to leave,” recalled Alyona Korol, the director of LogoClub, the speech therapy center Liza attended. When Korol saw a photograph of Liza’s tiny legs and small shoes beside a blood-splattered baby carriage, she realized her beloved student, Sunny Flower, had died. Amid the smoke and chaos of the strike.
For her mother, Liza was the greatest gift of her life, family and friends said. Near the explosion site, people come to leave flowers, candles, and teddy bears. Another item at a makeshift shrine is a page from a children’s lesson book. Among the mourners are mothers deeply touched by the story of Iryna and Liza Dmytrieva. Liza’s father was at the morgue Friday, completing the paperwork to receive his daughter’s body for burial.
Liza is among the many victims who were killed when their lives had just begun. Some 352 children died and hundreds have been injured since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, according to Ukrainian officials.
“Innocent children die,” mourning Kateryna Kondratyuk told The Associated Press news agency, bursting into tears near the site where Liza walked and laughed not long ago.
If you are interested in articles produced by Worthy News, please check out our FREE sydication service available to churches or online Christian ministries. To find out more, visit Worthy Plugins.