Story #59. Russia Killed Husband and Father of Twins

November 14, 2022
The story of Artem Hurtovyi, a Ukrainian soldier who died in Lysychansk, Luhansk Region. Artem is survived by his wife Daria and one-and-a-half-year-old twin daughters.

Artem and Daria studied together at the university in Starobilsk, Luhansk Region. Daria participated in various youth activities, and Artem was a volunteer and helped the Ukrainian Armed Forces (even before Russia's full-scale invasion in February 2022). The couple met and fell in love thanks to their activism.

"He charmed me with his respect for me as a woman. He treated me very sensitively, and carried me in his arms. It was just like in the movies," Daria recalls.

On August 27, 2020, Artem and Daria got married, and on February 20, 2021, they had twins - Myroslava and Emilia. A year later, the family celebrated the girls' birthday. Artem took leave for this time to spend more time with his family, and then go on vacation. But on February 22, he received a call from his military command and was urgently called to duty. He was given 2 days to prepare.

On the morning of the full-scale invasion, Daria's mother woke Artem up, telling him, "Tyomchik, get up, the war has started!" He immediately got up. He started getting calls and calling people. His guys were already there, and they had already taken fire.

When Daria hugged Artem for the last time, she begged him to stay. But he said: "No. You don't understand. If I stay now, our future is only Russia. How will I look the girls in the eyes if I stay?"

In early March, the City of Starobilsk, where Daria lived with her children, was occupied by Russians. Enemy soldiers began to detain and interrogate locals. As the wife of a border guard, it was dangerous for Daria to stay in the city. However, it was also frightening to leave, because the Russians fired upon evacuation buses.

One day, Russian soldiers came to Artem's parents' house. At that moment, just Daria and her daughters were there. She grabbed the children in her arms and ran out of the house. They managed to escape unnoticed through neighboring yards. Daria still remembers how it was raining, her daughters were crying, and she held them close to her and ran through the puddles.

Daria and Artem talked whenever possible. There was often poor connection where he was serving. Artem insisted that Daria and all their family members leave Starobilsk. He was ready to pay any price for it.

On May 8, Artem had his 26th  birthday. There was no contact with him, so no one was able to call to congratulate him. But on May 9 he called Daria himself. Surprisingly, the connection that time was very good. Daria was able to see the face of her beloved as clearly as she had ever seen in three months of war. Artem told his wife that he was now in Lysychansk and promised to call the next day. But the next day, it was not Artem who called Daria, but an employee of the border service. Daria immediately realized what had happened: her husband had been killed. A Russian shell hit the plant where Artem was on duty.

Artem was buried on May 20 in Dnipro at the Krasnopilske Cemetery. Daria was not able to come to the funeral. She was not able to leave for Ukrainian-controlled territory until June 20.

Daria and her children could not leave the occupation zone for a very long time, as she wanted to reach free Ukraine, though not via Russia. She wanted to take all her husband's awards and medals with her, so it would be too dangerous to pass through Russian checkpoints, as they searched everyone.

Although Daria's path was difficult and risky, she still reached Kharkiv. Then she immediately went to Dnipro and visited her husband's grave. Daria moved from Dnipro to Rivne Region. At the moment, it is too difficult for her to live in the city where her husband is buried.

"The children were left without their father. I want them to know what their dad was like when they get older. What a friend, companion, and defender he was. I will do everything to make girls proud to say their last name," says Daria.

Artem Hurtovyi dreamed that his daughters Emilia and Myroslava would live in Ukraine, speak Ukrainian, and love their country. Daria has promised to fulfill her husband's wish.

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