A Ukraine citizen who opened fire on a Russian Su-34 jet with a rifle and “destroyed” it has been awarded a medal and branded a “hero.”
The State Border Service of Ukraine announced Friday that officials had awarded “pensioner” Valeriy Fedorovych with a medal “for assistance in the protection of the state border.”
Officials said that in March, when Russian President Vladimir Putin’s troops continuously bombarded Chernihiv, a hard-hit city in northern Ukraine, Fedorovych “took his rifle and opened fire.”
“Heroes among us,” officials said, adding that after Fedorovych fired at the jet with his rifle, “the enemy fighter Su-34 was targeted and destroyed.”
“The plane fell, and our hero received the medal ‘For assistance in the protection of the state border,'” Ukraine’s state border service said.
Kyiv released a short clip that shows Fedorovych with a rifle slung around his shoulder, walking through buildings destroyed by shelling as a result of Putin’s invasion, which began on February 24.
“On the second lap, how did it go? I went ‘bang’ with my stick [rifle]. And it was like ‘bang.’ And it [a Russian Su-34 jet] fell,” Fedorovych said in the video.
An inserted clip appears to show the moment the Russian Su-34 was hit. Cheering and clapping can be heard in the background as the plane quickly plummets.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has taken a heavy toll on Chernihiv, located about 88 miles from the capital city Kyiv. Human Rights Watch said in June that Russian troops killed and wounded multiple civilians in eight attacks in the city in early March, shortly after the war began.
“Russian forces in March repeatedly attacked populated areas in Chernihiv from the ground and air with seeming disregard for civilian loss of life,” said Belkis Wille, senior crisis and conflict researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The failure of Ukrainian forces in some areas to remove civilians added to the casualties, but the attacker must still distinguish between civilians and combatants.”
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