Ukrainian sapper who blew himself up to stop Russian tanks honoured by Leszno bikers after they reveal he had lived in the town and was a club member
The Ukrainian soldier who blew himself up to slow the advance of the Russian army has been honoured by his former motorbike club in the Polish town of Leszno where he used to live.
Vitalii Volodymyrovych Skakun was hailed a hero by global media after fending off a row of Russian tanks at the Henichesk bridge, in Ukraine’s Kherson region.
Faced with a column of advancing tank armour, Skakun, who had been deployed with his unit to protect a bridgehead, volunteered to lay mines across the bridge.
Realizing he did not have time to reach safety, he messaged his comrades telling them that he would blow the bridge regardless.
According to reports, his sacrifice enabled his fellow soldiers enough time to regroup and resume their fight.
It has now been revealed that in 2018 Skakun had lived for six-months in the central Polish town of Leszno.
Speaking to Radio Elka his former boss, Adam Żak, said: “I remember him as a helpful, creative and very committed person.”
Żak, who runs a construction firm, added: “Hearing information about his death was a huge shock. I don’t understand it.”
Others, too, paid tribute, among them members of the motorbike club that Skakun had been a part of.
On their Facebook page, Klub Motocyklowy Bikers Legion Leszno wrote: “Members of the club who knew him while he was with us will remember him as an extremely kind and helpful young man.”
The post continued:“Let us do everything so that the war does not come to us. In this world, let us help victims in whatever way we can.
“We will not write how, because every decent person knows what needs to be done.”
Among the comments, one poster called for a roundabout in Leszno to be named in his honour, whilst another urged those reading to donate blood.
Internationally applauded for his actions, Skakun was posthumously awarded the Hero of Ukraine title, the highest national title that can be conferred on an individual by the President of Ukraine.
Writing on social media, President Zelensky confirmed the move: “I have approved the decision to award the title of Hero of Ukraine to Vitaly Volodymyrovych Skakun, a sapper of the 35th Marine Brigade.
At the cost of his own life, he blew up a bridge. Glory to those who defend Ukraine today! You are heroes.”