Thousands Pay Tribute to Russian-Born Brothers Killed Fighting for Ukraine

Emotional locals in Kalush, western Ukraine, gathered to memorialize two brothers who died fighting against Russian forces in the Chernihiv region, footage from their funeral released on April 6 shows.

Roman Butusin, aged 24, and his brother Leonid, aged 21, were born in Russia and brought to Ukraine in 2014 following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, their father, Oleg Butusin, said, according to a translation provided by Current Time, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian-language service. “We saw the injustice that was done to Ukraine by the country we were living in and realized we could not live there any longer and pay taxes to support the regime,” Butusin said.

Footage captured by Current Time shows scenes in the town of Kalush, where the funeral was held on Monday. Soldiers carried portraits of the men and led a funeral procession through the town. Thousands attended the funeral, according to Current Time.

“It doesn’t matter that they were born in Russia,” one mourner said as she fought back tears. “They fought for Ukraine. They were real Ukrainians,” she said, according to the translation.

On Monday, the mayor of Kalush, Andriy Naida, praised the brothers on Facebook, calling them “young patriots.”

Oleg Butusin, who is also a soldier, said that he would soon return to the front line to fight, according to Current Time. Credit: RFE/RL/Current Time via Storyful