Over the weekend, images of a family of Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian shelling outside of Kyiv inspired worldwide outrage, including from Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, who vowed to find and punish “every b*****d” responsible.
“They were just trying to get out of town. To escape. The whole family,” Mr Zelensky said in a video address. “How many such families have died in Ukraine?”
The family in the photo, which ran with top billing in places like The New York Times, has now been identified and linked to a tech company partially based in the US.
Tatiana Perebeinis, 43, along with her daughter Alise, 9, and son Nikita, 18, were all killed shortly after they crossed a partially destroyed bridge over the Irpin River and were hit by a Russian mortar.
“We are so shocked, saddened, devastated, angry. There are no words to describe our emotions, we are so heartbroken,” Ksenia Khirvonina, a colleague of Perebeinis at the Palo Alto, California-based SEO firm SE Ranking, told The San Francisco Chronicle, adding, “they prove that [the] Russian army and Putin himself are monsters who deserve no mercy for their doings.”
Over half of the company’s employees, including its CEO, live in Ukraine.
When the invasion began, Perebeinis stayed in the country to look after her sick mother, as well as her son, who was old enough that he was required to remain in Ukraine in case he was called up by its defence forces.
“She always talked about him, how smart he was,” Ms Khirvonina added in the paper. “She was a great mother; giving her kids everything she could.”
After hiding out in a basement when a bomb hit their apartment building, the family decided to flee because they thought they had been offered safe passage by a temporary Russian ceasefire.
Over the weekend, Russia said it would offer temporary cease fires to allow for humanitarian evacuations from major combat zones, but Ukrainian officials say they haven’t been honouring these commitments, which Russia denies.
“The Russian side is not holding to the ceasefire,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, has said.
The International Criminal Court has launched a war crimes investigation in Ukraine, and UK leaders have called for Vladimir Putin to be held before a Nuremberg-style war crimes tribunal.