Thursday, October 6, 2022

    President Zelensky confers order to OCU chaplain

    President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, awarded the III degree Order of Merit to OCU Chaplain Vasyl Vyrozub, abbot of Odesa’s Holy Trinity Church, who took part in a mission to Snake Island to retrieve the bodies of the fallen Ukrainian soldiers and rescue survivors of Russian attacks.

    This was stated in Presidential Decree No. 593/2022.

    The award is given for “significant merits in strengthening Ukrainian statehood, courage and self-sacrifice, demonstrated in the protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, significant personal contribution to the development of various spheres of social life, defense of the national interests of our state, and conscientious performance of professional duty.”

    It should be recalled that Fr Vasyl Vyrozub took part in a search and rescue mission to Snake Island onboard the Sapfir ship to collect the bodies of Ukrainian defenders. At that time, it was believed that the border guards who defied the “Russian warship” orders to surrender had been killed. However, the enemy seized the Sapfir ship and detained the mission members. The Russians put the Odesa priest-chaplain in solitary confinement.

    He spent 70 days in enemy captivity. Throughout this time, he was interrogated several times a day. The Russians were interested in why the mission had decided to retrieve the bodies from Snake Island, which SBU unit has employed mission members, and whether they were part of the Azov Regiment or the Right Sector organization. They pressured detainees psychologically, but the real torture began in the filtration camp in Belgorod region, and then in the pre-trial detention facility. Dogs chasing captives, beatings with batons and electric shock routine were the tortures massively applied by the Russians, the clergyman recalls.

    Father Vasyl has now returned to his work in the church. The priest also helps those whose loved ones are still in captivity.