For the first time since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the wife of a Russian prisoner of war arrived in Ukraine from Russia. Russian Irina Krinina came from Krasnoyarsk with her two daughters, 7 and 10 years old. The woman said that she does not support the war, wants to stop it and convey to the citizens of the Russian Federation that they are living a lie. But the husband reacted ambiguously to the arrival of his common-law wife. Iryna chalks it up to shock.
Journalist Dmytro Karpenko, who usually interviews prisoners of war, talked to Iryna Krynina. The corresponding video was published by the YouTube channel Volodymyr Zolkin.
How I got to Ukraine
To leave Russia for Ukraine a whole scheme was built. At first, the woman waited for a visa for several weeks. Then she and her two daughters were helped to buy tickets to Antalya. Immediately back and forth, so that no one would be suspicious, because the security forces were already closely watching Iryna. When leaving Russia, they were even stopped for an additional check – she and her eldest daughter were interviewed. Iryna did not tell anyone that she was going to Ukraine. Even children. That's why the girls packed their things, as if they were going to a resort – swimsuits, inflatable circles. As a result, they were released from Russia, and then, with the help of coordinators, they got from Antalya to Istanbul, then to Moldova, and then to Ukraine. Here they found a three-room apartment.
Iryna with her common-law husband Yevhen / Photo: screenshot from the video
Irina Krynina said that she came to Ukraine to convey to the citizens of the Russian Federation that they have been living in lies for the last more than a year and a half.
"When I realized everything, I could not stay in Russia, so I am here to convey at least some information to the people of Russia who care about the war, and who can somehow influence the end of the war. I came with my two daughters, 7 and 10 years old. What remained was real estate, animals," she said.
The woman says that she is afraid to return to the Russian Federation, because her act is beyond the comprehension of many people.
"I consulted with more than one lawyer before making this important decision and coming to Ukraine. Everyone unanimously replied that it is very dangerous, if there is an opportunity to ask for political asylum, then it is better to stay in Kyiv," she said.
Iryna stressed that she came for her common-law husband Kovtkov Yevhen Yuriyovych, he went to war on mobilization. He was taken away on the 9th day of mobilization, on September 29 he was handed a summons, and on the 30th in the morning he was at the military enlistment office and was not released.
"We couldn't even collect it. There was no medical examination, nothing like that," she said.
On July 7, 2023, Yevhen Kovtkova was captured, which his common-law wife learned about herself from Ukrainian Telegram channels.
"On July 12, I found a video in which I saw him being captured. I immediately ran to the military enlistment office, they recorded the information. I began to have "seven circles of hell". For about four weeks, I tried to get him to be recognized as a prisoner of war. The video was not an argument for them, because in the unit I was told that the only body that can recognize him as a prisoner of war is the unit to which he belongs. They need a report from the commander. Many of my relatives don't know about it," the Russian woman said.
Iryna noted that her husband was captured by the 3rd Separate Assault Brigade, founded by Azov veterans.
"The video was recorded by Biletsky at the time. I found the number of this commander on the Internet, called him on WhatsApp. He talked to me kindly, but he couldn't help me because he said that more than a week had passed and they had been transferred to another place. No one asked me if I wanted him to go to war. He confronted me with a fact and told me he was leaving. From the very beginning, I had an extremely negative attitude towards war, because I believe that in the 21st century there is no need to wage wars. It is better to immediately sit down at the negotiating table and discuss everything. Why do people have to die," the woman says.
Irina also clarified that she does not know Putin personally. "This is a man with great ambitions, who probably wanted to write himself in history, to play war, to conquer territories, although we need them," she concluded.
How the husband reacted to the arrival of his wife
The prisoner of war did not know about his wife's intentions. When he saw her, he was stunned. The husband lowered his head and remained silent while his wife said that no one needed prisoners of war in Russia, that she was driven everywhere, that there were no exchanges through the Russian side. Iryna said that men who return to the Russian Federation after captivity are sent back to war. Yevhen Kovtkov could not recover from everything he had heard. However, he said that he still wants to go on an exchange and return to Russia, because his parents are there. He does not want to stay in Ukraine, despite the fact that his common-law wife came here. But he doesn't want her to be imprisoned in Russia after this visit to Ukraine either.
"It was a very difficult meeting..."
Iryna is determined to fight for her husband, but is worried about his decision, as she says that during the war he became a completely different person.
"It was a very difficult meeting... Zhenya has changed a lot. War changes people beyond recognition," the woman says.
She noted that her husband is now in a state of shock and a lot of work is needed to restore his psyche.
It will be recalled that within the framework of the "I Want to Live" project in Ukraine, since the beginning of the full-scale war, the programs "Let's Return the Son to the Mother" and "Let's Return the Husband to the Wife" have been operating. That is, Russian mothers and wives are offered to come to Ukraine for their relatives.
The Russian Federation is concerned about the large number of applications from Russian servicemen who want to surrender to the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Because of this, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Russian Federation previously even blocked the work of the Ukrainian website.
Note that in order to surrender, you can call: +38-066-580-34-98, +38-093-119-29-84. A chatbot "I Want to Live" (https://t.me/spasisebyabot) has also been created, where appeals from Russian servicemen are accepted.
If the chatbot does not work for some reason, then Russian servicemen can contact the SBU.