Daughter of captured Ukrainian paramedic appeals for mother’s release

Yuliia Paievska was due to be at the Invictus Games in The Hague, but was captured last month.

Catherine Wylie
Sunday 17 April 2022 23:52
Anna-Sofia Puzanova during the Invictus Games (Aaron Chown/PA)
Anna-Sofia Puzanova during the Invictus Games (Aaron Chown/PA)

The teenage daughter of a Ukrainian paramedic captured by Russian soldiers has asked her mother’s captors: “Bring back my mum to me.”

Yuliia Paievska, also known as Taira, was due to compete as part of the Ukrainian team at the Invictus Games, but she was taken prisoner four weeks ago.

The 52-year-old is said to be a well known paramedic, and is the founder and leader of Taira’s Angels, a volunteer medical evacuation unit that rescues the wounded, both military and civilians.

In Mariupol, Taira’s Angels rescued wounded soldiers and provided support to local people.

A poster for Yuliia Paievska, the mother of Anna-Sofia Puzanova who is at the Invictus Games (Aaron Chown/PA)

Her daughter, Anna-Sofia Puzanova, who turns 19 on Monday, has travelled to The Hague for the event.

Ms Puzanova told the PA news agency: “My mum was captured by Russian soldiers near Mariupol on March 16, one month ago already.

“And now she’s probably in Russia. To be honest I don’t know exactly where she is because we don’t have any contact with her.”

She added: “I really miss her. I really care about this because I don’t know how to help her by myself except giving interviews and sharing information.”

Ms Puzanova said her mother is a “very kind and brave person”, adding: “She’s a very strong woman. Her life mission is helping people actually.”

Asked what she would say to her mother’s captors, she said: “Bring back my mum to me.”

Ms Puzanova has met the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in The Hague.

She is being filmed at the games for a Netflix documentary called Heart Of Invictus – a series from Harry and Meghan’s Archewell Productions following people competing at the event.

Anna-Sofia Puzanova during the Invictus Games (Aaron Chown/PA)

Ukraine is among the countries expected to be the focus of the series, and Ms Paievska has also been filmed previously for the show.

Ms Puzanova said Harry is aware of the situation with her mother, adding that there was “a lot of support” from both Harry and Meghan.

She also said Harry had wished her a happy birthday for when she turns 19 on Monday.

Harry founded the Invictus Games to aid the rehabilitation of injured or sick military personnel and veterans from across the globe, by giving them the challenge of competing in sporting events similar to the Paralympics.

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