7314 Russia escalates civilian attacks as Ukrainians rush to escape

Russia escalates civilian attacks as Ukrainians rush to escape

The dead bodies of people killed by Russian shelling lay covered in the street in the town of Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6.
The dead bodies of people killed by Russian shelling lay covered in the street in the town of Irpin, Ukraine, Sunday, March 6. (Diego Herrera Carcedo/AP)

Tatiana Perebeinis and her two children — Alise, 9, and Nikita, 18 — were killed on Sunday by Russian shelling as the family tried to evacuate Irpin, Ukraine, according to a statement from her employer, SE Ranking.

Another unidentified man, thought to have been a family friend, also died from the blast.

Perebeinis, 43, served as SE Ranking’s chief accountant. The Bay Area tech company issued a statement on Monday confirming the deaths.

“There are no words to describe our grief or to mend our pain. But for us, it is crucial to not let Tania and her kids Alise and Nikita remain just statistics. Her family became the victim of the unprovoked fire on civilians, which under any law is a crime against humanity,” the company said in the statement.

Ksenia Khirvonina, a PR manager for SE Ranking, said Perebeinis was originally from Donetsk and fled to Kyiv in 2014 following the city’s occupation. Tatiana, her children, and her husband had been living in an apartment in the northern city of Irpin, just outside Kyiv, since 2018. 

Though much of Irpin had been left without water supply, electricity, and heating, Perebeinis was hesitant to leave the city because she had been taking care of her sick mother. One day before they fled, the apartments above their home were bombed, forcing them to take shelter in the basement of their building, where they remained until Sunday, according to Khirvonina.

“Even from there, she was telling us everything’s okay, was cheering everyone around her, and texting my colleagues that everything’s gonna be okay,” Khirvonina said. 

According to Khirvonina, Perebeinis had wanted to leave on Saturday, but ultimately decided to wait to leave through the “green corridor” with other civilians. 

Ukrainian photojournalist Andriy Dubchak captured the moment the family was struck by a mortar shell in a graphic video published by the New York Times

“The Russian army are criminals, and they should be stopped. Our hearts are broken. Our prayers are for all Ukrainians, who are fighting for their right to exist,” the company said.

Perebeinis was taken to a nearby hospital, where she later passed. Nikita, a university student, and Alise were killed immediately. The man with them also survived the initial blast but later died, according to the New York Times.

Previous media reports had mistakenly identified the man as the father of the children. Perebeinis’ husband — with whom SE Ranking has been in touch — was not fleeing Irpin with the family and was in a different city at the time of their deaths. 

Khirvonina said she did not know where Perebeinis and the children were planning on fleeing to, but that it likely would have been a western Ukrainian city. Ukrainian men over the age of 18 are banned from leaving the country, and Perebeinis had refused to leave her son Nikita.

“My overall impression was that they had a great family, they were united,” Khirvonina said. “Tatiana herself was very kind, very supportive person, you could always come to her to ask for advice for work advice or life advice, it didn’t matter. She always cheered everyone around her up or with her stories and with her jokes. She was truly a great person.”

SE Ranking, which specializes in search engine optimization (SEO), has a global presence, including in San Francisco; London; Minsk, Belarus; Kyiv and Moscow.

Hear from the photojournalist who captured the moment:

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