The defiant Ukrainian sailor who told a Russian warship to “go f–k yourself” as he helped try to defend Snake Island was starved and beaten after being captured, his mother has claimed.
Roman Hrybov, 32, endured horrific abuse after he was captured by Russian soldiers while manning the defenses of Snake Island in the Black Sea, his mother Tetiana Rudolfivna Hrybova told the Daily Mail newspaper.
“Roman suffered terribly at the hands of the Russians. He was starved and beaten and subjected to degrading treatment. He lost 10 kilos (22 pounds),” she told the outlet.
The harrowing ordeal came after he was among the sailors who made headlines for their defiance in the early hours of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last month.
When Russian naval craft the Valisy Bykov ordered Hrybov and his comrades to surrender, the brave seaman replied by radio, “Russian warship, go f–k yourself.”
The rebellious retort prompted the Bykov to bombard the island, whose defenders were initially declared dead before it emerged that they’d been taken by the Russians.
Hrybov and the other prisoners were later released during a prisoner swap –and he has been awarded a government medal for his defiant act.
Evgeniy Goncharenko, the Ukrainian soldier who returned Hrybov to his unit, also described how the men had been treated badly, according to the report.
“The Russians beat them. The soldiers got very cold. There was nowhere for them to sleep,” he said. “They had to sit on the cold floor with their hands on their heads.”
Goncharenko added: “They were not allowed to go to the toilet. It was degrading. The Russians even beat the civilians who were taken prisoner. They treated them like soldiers.”
Meanwhile, Tetiana said her son told her “he is not a hero. He is only interested in helping the other soldiers get out of the Russian jail where he was held.”
There are still 72 Ukrainians locked up in the facility, according to the Daily Mail.
Tetiana said that when President Volodymyr Zelensky announced that the defenders had been killed, “I didn’t want to believe it was Roman, I refused to believe he was killed.
“But then I learned that my son was being held prisoner. It was torment. I almost collapsed,” she told the outlet. “I made a shrine to him in corner in the room and every day I came here to chat and tell him photos of what was happening.”
“And when we met after the captivity, he said he heard me,” she added.
Hrybov, who is due to report back for duty shortly, is not interested in awards and honors, his mom said.
“He is worried about his brothers who are in captivity. That is the only thing that is important to him,” she told the outlet.