Filkina signed up for a cosmetics class in early 2022 with local makeup artist Anastasia Subacheva, buying her first-ever set of blush, eyeliner and concealer, which she planned to wear on a next gig.
She even got a cherry red manicure for Valentine’s Day, drawing “a heart on her finger because she started loving herself,” Subacheva told CNN.
But his plans stalled in late February when Russia invaded Ukraine. Her daughters decided to cross the Polish border, but Filkina stayed behind to help people. She spent a week at the Epicenter shopping mall in Bucha, feeding the people taking refuge there and cooking for the Ukrainian army, according to her daughter.
On March 5, Filkina attempted to sit in one of the cars that evacuated people from the mall out of town. But since there was no more space, she decided to go home by bike.
One of Filkina’s daughters, Olga Shchyruk, 26, said she begged her mother not to ride her black bike home that day. She asked him to take the train out of town instead.
“I told him it was dangerous there. Russia occupied the whole village – they killed people,” Shchyruk told CNN.
“Olga, don’t you know your mother? I can move mountains! Filkina responded, according to Shchyruk, a child psychologist who was in Poland at the time to help other Ukrainian refugees.
It was the last conversation they had. Filkina never returned home that day.
Chilling footage shared this week appears to have captured the moment of Filkina’s death. Drone video taken before March 10 showed a person pushing a black bicycle down Yablunska Street in Bucha before being shot by Russian soldiers. At least four puffs of smoke billow from a Russian military vehicle after the cyclist turns the corner.
A second video from the same street, posted to Twitter and geotagged by CNN, shows the body of a woman in a blue jacket and light-coloured pants lying next to a black bicycle near an uprooted electricity pole. A leg is mutilated. His arm is stretched out to the side. Burned out and abandoned cars litter the street alongside ash and debris.
Other images from the scene, taken by Reuters, show a close view of the woman in the blue jacket. A curled hand sticks out of the sleeve, with cherry red nail polish and a heart design on one finger, shining through the grime and dirt.
As the image of that hand went viral on social media this week, Shchyruk and Subacheva immediately recognized who it was: Filkina’s. “How could a person not recognize his mother’s body? said Shchyruk.
Subacheva began comparing the photos she had taken of Filkina with the Reuters photograph. “That picture of her body and mine (pictures) of her manicure…I realized it was the same person and I started crying,” Subacheva said, adding that the last time that she had seen it was a day before the invasion. has begun. “We have to realize that behind this photo of her hand is a great woman.”
Known as “Mama Ira” to all of her daughters’ friends, people loved Filkina’s propensity to nurture those around her. When Filkina saw the ocean for the first time in her life two years ago during a family trip to Egypt, “everyone at the hotel fell in love with her. They said, ‘Mama Ira, come back,'” Shchyruk said.
“All her life she gave herself for others – (she) gave her life to the ambitions of others,” Shchyruk said. It was after this trip to Egypt that her mother decided she “wanted to follow her own passions”, she added.
This is why Shchyruk refused to believe that his mother was dead, although the Ukrainian army announced to the family on March 5 that she had passed away. The army said it would be impossible to recover his body, as a Russian tank was positioned nearby.
CNN has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for comment.
Shchyruk believed that his mother had just been injured. She spent the whole of March asking bloggers and trying to contact her neighbors – despite a power outage in Bucha – if they had heard anything. “I imagined she was just hiding in a basement — she saw occupants and she stayed somewhere to wait,” she told CNN, her voice cracking.
“When I heard for the second time that my mother had been killed, I felt like my spine was broken. I lay down, crying helplessly,” she said.
Shchyruk said her mother wouldn’t want her wallowing. Channeling the spirit of her mother, she is setting up a foundation in Filkina’s name to help young Ukrainians affected by the war.
“I want the photo of his hand to be a symbol of a new beginning,” she said. “This symbol tells the occupiers that they can do anything to us, but they can’t take the main thing: love. Love from people, which they don’t have.”
CNN’s Tara John reported and wrote from Lviv, Ukraine. Oleksandra Ochman reported from Lviv. Eoin McSweeney reported from Abu Dhabi and Gianluca Mezzofiore reported from London.