July 6, 2022

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The Russians kidnap the son of a Ukrainian politician: 'But I can't comply with their demands' outside the country

The Russians kidnap the son of a Ukrainian politician: ‘But I can’t comply with their demands’ outside the country

When the Russians invaded Melitopol, 16-year-old Vladislav wanted to stay with his ailing grandfather. But when he died and escaped anyway, the Russians arrested the Ukrainian teenager.

The boy has been imprisoned for weeks because his father is a politician. Ole Buryak was appointed head of the district administration in Zaporizhzhya by President Zelensky. Father is now at an end. “If they wanted money, I would have already collected it.”

It was the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who drew attention to the fate of Vladislav Buryak on Thursday. In a speech to the Council of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Vienna, he called for the boy’s immediate release. “We must remind Russia of its obligations under international humanitarian law,” said Ambassador Michael Carpenter.

Ole Buryak (left) with his now-hostaged son Vladislav and his younger sister.

Vladislav Buryak lived in Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine that Russia occupied early in March. With his mother and younger sister, he took care of his grandfather who was suffering from cancer. “They decided to stay with him as long as he was alive,” said Father Awla. He separated from his wife and lives in Zaporizhzhya, where he is appointed to a high administrative position by President Zelensky.

Stop at the last checkpoint

When the grandfather died on April 8, Vladislav’s sister had already been evacuated. “I immediately started organizing my son’s departure,” Father Awla told the Svoboda news site. Friends agreed to take him by car to Zaporizhzhya. But at the last Russian checkpoint, they were stopped, his identity discovered, and Vlad imprisoned.”

The father and mother were allowed to call their son several times. “He is locked up as a criminal. He was imprisoned for two weeks when he was first allowed to wash and was only given dry food. They gave him some books to keep him occupied, but going out for some exercise is hardly allowed,” complains Father Oleh

Teenager Vladislav Buryak was taken hostage by the Russians.

Teenager Vladislav Buryak was taken hostage by the Russians.

Negotiations reached a dead end

And the father is sure that his son is being held hostage because he himself is a politician. “They made demands,” he says. He remains ambiguous about what exactly is being asked of him to release his son. “But I couldn’t go into it. If they wanted the money, I would collect it now. But the negotiations have reached a dead end and I can’t find anyone to accept it in exchange for my son.”

The father himself was born in Tomsk, a city deep in Russia. He lived there until he was twelve and still has a lot of family there. He did not say whether those relatives supported him. But he points out that many Russians are barely aware of what is happening in Ukraine. Thirty percent of all Ukrainians have relatives in Russia. But what the Russian authorities are doing now cannot be forgiven.



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