Thebecame synonymous with massacre after Russia’s army killed more than 1,000 civilians in the city during a one-month occupation after capturing the region in the first weeks of the war in Ukraine.
Amid the, one man’s heroism saved hundreds. As the war rages on, his heroism is being memorialized with a film.
Konstantin Gudauskas has been called an angel of salvation. Thanks to a random stroke of luck, Gudauskas was a citizen of Kazakhstan who had been granted political asylum in Ukraine years ago. That meant that he kept his freedom of movement, even during the war.
He used that good fortune and freedom to drive 203 Ukrainians out of Russian-occupied territory.
The film shows his travails, which included navigating Russian checkpoints andwhile delivering people from evil.
“For me it was hell,” Gudauskas said. “I saw a lot of death. There were times I’d come to evacuate a family and they would be dead. I would scream to God: ‘Why did you send me here? If my life is needed, I have to save lives.'”
Gudauskas said hemore than 70 bodies himself, but is thankful he saved , including famed Ukrainian composer Ihor Poklad and his wife, Svetlana Poklad. The couple hid in their cellar for two weeks as Russian troops passed outside.
“We didn’t have any water, no lights, no gas, but we adapted. The only thing that was hard to adapt to were the shellings, the missiles,” said Svetlana Poklad.
When Gudauskas arrived, Svetlana Poklad said she felt “unreal happiness.”
“I called him an angel,” she said. “He’s an angel to everyone he saved.”
Gudauskas’ has now celebrated holidays and birthdays that might have been impossible without his bravery, forging a family with those he rescued. One pregnant woman he saved even named her son after him.
“I have no children of my own,” Gudauskas said. “But I have got a lot of children that I gained during the war.”