Ukrainian Man and His Dog Escape Mariupol by Walking 140 Miles to Safety

 

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As the Russian invasion of Ukraine drags on, people continue to flee from unsafe parts of the country. Some travel by car or train while others, like Igor Pedin, escape on two feet. The 61-year-old walked from the besieged city of Mariupol to Zaporizhzhia—a place that's 140 miles away. In the U.S., that would be the equivalent of walking from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia. And Pedin didn’t make the trek alone. His faithful dog Zhu-Zhu was with him every step of the way.

Pedin risked grave personal danger to make it to safety. He strove to be “invisible” as he walked toward convoys of Russian soldiers and armored vehicles while navigating around destroyed bridges and buildings. Although he wasn't invisible, he was incredibly fortunate—especially considering what he left behind. Mariupol has been the site of intense fighting and is a humanitarian crisis; people are having trouble escaping and many have died.

Pedin made the decision to leave on April 20, as Russian soldiers had reached his part of the city. His house was filled with fog and smoke. Food and water were scarce, so he packed a bag and left early on April 23. After making it out of Mariupol, Pedin found a place to sleep. It was on the couch of a stranger who had lost his teenage son six weeks prior due to shrapnel from Russian fighting.

Pedin and Zhu-Zhu continued onward, at one point being collected by Chechen forces (who are working with Russia). He had to meet with a Russian officer, and he was eventually let go after having his fingerprints scanned and taking a mugshot. That wasn’t the last time that Pedin was detained, but he made it out each time and continued his trek.

The most challenging part of Pedin’s journey wasn’t facing Russian soldiers; it was maneuvering across a decimated road bridge with a 98-foot drop onto train tracks below. Luckily, part of the framework was still there, so the brave man tested the structure to see if it was walkable. It was, and he and Zhu-Zhu crossed.

Pedin eventually made it to Zaporizhzhia with the help of a driver who he paid via cigarettes. The driver drove him for two hours, saying nothing, and dropped him off in the central part of the city. He told Pedin good luck and gave him some money.

At this point, Pedin had made it. He walked to a tent where a woman asked him if he needed help. Pedin paused and then said yes. “The lady asked, ‘Where have you come from?’ I said, ‘I have come from Mariupol.’ She screamed: ‘Mariupol!’” He remembers. “She shouted out to everyone, this man has come from Mariupol on foot. Everyone stopped. I suppose it was my moment of glory.”

Igor Pedin walked from the besieged city of Mariupol, Ukraine, to Zaporizhzhia—a place that's 140 miles away—with his dog, Zhu-Zhu.

 

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The two had to navigate Russian troops and decimated cities and bridges.

 

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After a treacherous trek, they made it to the relative safety of Zaporizhzhia. They were greeted by aid workers.

h/t: [The Guardian]

Related Articles:

Polish Charity Workers Are Risking Their Lives to Rescue Animals Across the Ukraine Border

Benedict Cumberbatch Is Opening His Home To Help a Ukrainian Family in Need

Ukrainian Artist Remembers Those Lost in Russian Invasion in Heartbreaking “War Notes”

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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