Vitalli Seleveni will forever be haunted by the last moments of his son.
Dennis, a selfless 15-year-old boy, was helping his parents evacuate terrified animals from a Ukrainian zoo when a Russian shell landed nearby.
The teenager suffered horrific wounds, shattering and twisting his left leg and leaving a gaping injury in his thigh which spilled blood over his clothes.
That blood was still stained on Vitalli’s hands when he learned his son had lost his fight for life within 30 minutes of being rushed to hospital.
As Vitalli staggered outside the medical centre, still reeling from the news of his son’s death, he came face-to-face with a Russian soldier who had been captured during the attack – just one of the latest scenes of carnage amid Putin’s insane Ukrainian invasion.
The grief-stricken father did not hesitate. He thrust his hands under the eyes of the Russian soldier and showed him the blood. This is what you are doing to our families.
Dennis, a volunteer at the zoo, had been trying to evacuate a herd of buffaloes from the Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv with his parents and other team members when they came under fire on Thursday.
Vitalii Seleveni, stricken with grief, thrust his hands under the nose of the Russian soldier to show him the blood of his son Dennis after learning that the boy had died
The 15-year-old was rushed to a local hospital, his body blooded from the shrapnel. His mother frantically followed him on a stretcher, her face etched with concern, as he was led into the emergency room
But 30 minutes later, Dennis succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. Svetlana, upon hearing that her only son had died, collapsed into Vitalli’s arms
The 15-year-old was rushed to a local hospital, his body blooded from the shrapnel. His mother frantically followed him on a stretcher, her face etched with concern, as he was led into the emergency room.
But 30 minutes later, Dennis succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced dead. Svetlana, upon hearing that her only son had died, collapsed into Vitalli’s arms in grief.
Heartbroken, Vitalii walked outside of the hospital and showed his hands, still covered with his son’s blood, to a Russian soldier who had been brought to the medical facility after being captured by Ukrainian forces in the zoo.
The soldier, whose blindfold had been lifted so that he could see the grieving fathers hands, could be seen crumpling his face at the sight.
Distraught zoo staff screamed at the Russian soldier in grief after hearing that Dennis had died.
Dennis is the sixth member of the zoo’s team to be killed by Russian strikes since Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine as the park staff work to move the animals to safety.
Two other team members were seriously injured in the Russian shelling and doctors are fighting to save their lives, the zoo said.
The Feldman Ecopark paid tribute to Dennis, describing as a ‘hero’ who will ‘always remain in our hearts’.
The zoo owner Alexander Feldman said two Russian soldiers were also brought to the hospital in Kharkiv with the wounded volunteers and said it was not clear how they got into the park.
Images from outside the hospital show Ukrainian soldiers detaining a Russian solider.
‘Two Russian soldiers were brought simultaneously with them,’ Feldman said, referring to the wounded volunteers and staff. ‘It remains unclear how they got to the park in the first place. They destroyed all the vehicles in which the guys arrived.’
Russian troops have nearly destroyed the zoo following weeks of bombardment, killing around 100 animals – including white tigers, panthers and jaguars – so far, reports Ukrinform.
The Russian strikes have destroyed a number of enclosures, forcing zoo staff to make the dangerous decision to evacuate the animals to other Ukrainian cities.
Earlier in the war, three employees of the Ecopark died during shelling after they came to feed the animals last month.
And on April 19, the bodies of two Ukrainian zoo workers who were allegedly shot dead by Russian soldiers were found on the park’s premises.
Two captured Russian soldiers were brought to the hospital and distraught zoo staff screamed at them in grief after learning of the death of Dennis Selevina on Thursday
Heartbroken, Vitalii walked outside of the hospital and showed his hands, still covered with his son’s blood, to a Russian soldier who had been brought to the medical facility after being captured by Ukrainian forces in the zoo
A volunteer at Eco-Park talks on his phone in the emergency room at a local hospital after Russians shelled the EcoPark in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday
Smoke is seen after Russians shelled the area in and near Eco-Park on the outskirts of Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 5, 2022
Eco-Park employees take cover on a hillside after Russian shelling hit 200 metres away during rescue operations of buffalos from the Park in Kharkiv
A Russian soldier is detained by the Ukrainian Army and blindfolded at a local hospital in Kharkiv on Thursday
Eco-Park employees rescue animals from the Park to be brought to the town Poltava for safety after Russians shelled the area, killing dozens of animals outside of Kharkiv, Ukraine
Eco-Park employees rescue animals from the Park to be brought to the town Poltava for safety after Russians shelled the area, killing dozens of animals outside of Kharkiv,
The zoo said of the most recent fatal shelling attack: ‘On May 5, during the evacuation of buffaloes from Feldman Ecopark, the team of our employees and volunteers got under fire.
‘One person died. Two people were seriously injured. Doctors are fighting for their lives.
‘The deceased boy was only 15 years old. He helped his parents to feed and evacuate the animals.
‘The blessed memory of the hero will always remain in our hearts. This is the sixth victim from among members of our team.’
Ukrainian forces have in recent days pushed Russian troops back some 25 miles east of Kharkiv, which has been repeatedly struck by shelling.
Ukrainian chief of defense, Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi, said Thursday that a counteroffensive could begin to push Russian forces away from Kharkiv and Izyum, which has been a key node in Russia’s control of the area.
Further pushing the Russians away may spare the city from more artillery strikes, as well as force Moscow to divert troops from other areas of the front line to maintain its hold on territory there.