Ievgeniia Kuscherenko’s son, Glib Babich, died on the frontline during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The 53-year-old, who fled to Melbourne for safety, has been told she will forfeit her humanitarian visa if she returns to bury her son. She has a plea from the Ukraine embassy “to consider as an exception a possibility for her current visa to remain in force” in “tragic circumstances”.
Her friend Larysa Williams described the situation as absurd.
She told Nine News Australia: “Mums, they cannot come to bury their children?”
A Home Affairs department to Ms Kuscherenko said: “Ukrainian nationals who hold a subclass 449 can depart Australia if they want to.
“Visas will, however, cease upon departure. There are no exemptions to this policy.”
It comes as heavy Russian strikes hit the southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv overnight and early on Sunday, killing the owner of one of the country’s largest grain producing and exporting companies, the local governor said.
Oleksiy Vadatursky, founder and owner of agriculture company Nibulon and his wife, were killed in their home, Mykolaiv Governor Vitaliy Kim said on Telegram.
Headquartered in Mykolaiv, a strategically important city that borders the mostly Russia-occupied Kherson region, Nibulon specializes in the production and export of wheat, barley and corn, and it has its own fleet and shipyard.
President Volodymyr Zelensky described Vadatursky’s death as “a great loss for all of Ukraine”, saying the businessman had been in the process of building a modern grain market involving a network of transhipment terminals and elevators.
Three people were also wounded in the attacks on Mikolaiv, the city’s Mayor Oleksandr Senkevych told Ukrainian television, adding 12 missiles had hit homes and educational facilities. He earlier described the strikes as “probably the most powerful” on the city of the entire five-month-old war.
Up to 50 Grad rockets hit residential areas in the southern city of Nikopol on Sunday morning, Dnipropetrovsk Governor Valentyn Reznichenko wrote on Telegram. One person was wounded.
Ukrainian forces hit Russia’s Black Sea Fleet headquarters in Russian-held Sevastopol early on Sunday, the Crimean port city’s governor Mikhail Razvozhayev told Russian media. Five staff members were wounded in the attack when what was presumed to be a drone flew into the courtyard at the headquarters, he said.
Reuters could not independently verify the battlefield reports.
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The Sevastopol attack coincided with Russia’s Navy Day, which President Vladimir Putin marked by announcing that the navy would receive what he called “formidable” hypersonic Zircon cruise missiles in coming months. Those missiles can travel at nine times the speed of sound.
He did not mention the conflict in Ukraine during a speech after signing a new naval doctrine which cast the United States as Russia’s main rival and set out Russia’s global maritime ambitions for crucial areas such as the Arctic and in the Black Sea.
Putin sent tens of thousands of troops over the border on Feb. 24, setting off a conflict that has killed thousands, uprooted millions and deeply strained relations between Russia and the West.
The biggest conflict in Europe since World War Two has also stoked an energy and food crisis that is shaking the global economy. Both Ukraine and Russia are leading suppliers of grain.