The body of Vitalik Ionanov, 30, an Assyrian, was being looked for for eight months. Only a DNA test revealed her remains and handed them over to her mother on May 19, 2021.

Vitalik did not serve in the army because he had kidney problems, but, after learning about the war, he immediately left for Artsakh, assuring his mother that he would return in a few days. The search was hampered by the fact that he did not tell anyone with which volunteer detachment he went to the frontline and where he took part in the hostilities. It later became known that he was in Jabrail, fighting fierce battles against drones and rockets.

The 30-year-old man was born in the village of Verin Dvin in the Ararat region, but, in 1998, moved with his mother to the village of Gihut in the Kashatagh region of Artsakh, which is now under Azerbaijani control. The family had a large farm there and was engaged in cattle breeding.

Vitalik Ionanov’s mother, Arina Ionanov, now lives in Verin Dvin, rents an apartment, and no longer has any property. She says that she was in her native Verin Dvin with her son in September and did not know that she would never be able to return to Gihut, which had become her home.

 “My son said, ‘I cannot escape the war and save myself; I must go.’ I wanted to return to our village, but my sisters did not let me, and people of the village also said that the situation was terrible, not to go there,” says Mrs. Arina.

On October 2, Vitalik called his mother and told her that he could not talk long; he said that he was attending a wedding, that everything was fine with him. There was no news from him for eight months after that day.

Vitalik’s sister Lola also remembers the last conversation with her brother. “On September 29, I spoke with Vitalik. I said, you are your mother’s only child, mother has nobody else; where are you going? He said that a patriotic person would not give such an advice. ‘You are a patriotic girl, you are my sister. Those who run away from this fight cannot be good guys. Nobody escapes from the war; this is your homeland’… I said, ah, what homeland do you and I have? We are Assyrians, we are stateless people, we have come to live here. He said, ‘Armenia has become our homeland, we grew up on this land, we should not betray this land. If I do not go today, tomorrow your children will be in danger’,” says Lola.

She notes that the consequences of the war will make us all mourn for a long time. “We all became old people during these eight months. I feel great pain for the whole Armenian nation, because we missed a generation. Better guys may come to replace this generation, but this was our golden generation. It is grief, it is mourning all over Armenia. “

Ani Gevorgyan

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