Comrades in arms and the Estonian ambassador to Ukraine paid their last respects to Ivo Jurak, an Estonian killed in combat near Bakhmut last week, in a ceremony in Kyiv on Thursday morning.
Final respects paid to Estonian volunteer Ivo Jurak in Kyiv
«He was our brother, a real soldier, who also defended Estonia's freedom here in Ukraine!» fellow soldiers said when bidding the last farewell to the Estonian.
Almost the entire unit Jurak was part of, which was pulled out of the battles of Bakhmut shortly after his death, was present at the ceremony. Many were wounded, but still showed up to pay their last respects. Many got down on their knees in front of the coffin as a sign of respect.
«You will always be with us, Ivo! When victory comes, it will be your victory too, because you helped us in this,» said a soldier by the nom de guerre of Sokol, speaking on behalf of the unit.
Capt. Ivo Jurak, former officer of the Estonian defense forces, lay in coffin in his uniform of the Estonian defense forces. An Estonian tricolor had been placed around the coffin and his officer's cap was placed on his hands.
Ambassador Kaimo Kuusk, paying tribute to Jurak on behalf of Estonia, gave a short speech.
«It is very difficult as an ambassador of Estonia to bid the last farewell to an Estonian who came here to defend Ukraine. Who came here to defend the free world, of which Estonia is a part. Thank you, Ivo!» the envoy said.
Jurak, a 45-year-old former Estonian reconnaissance officer, was killed in the defense of the village of Khromovo near Bakhmut on March 7. His fellow soldiers told Postimees that a 120-millimeter shell fell into the trench next to Jurak, who was killed instantly.
Jurak had been fighting in Ukraine since March 2022, at first for a short time as an instructor and then as a soldier. He took part in the defense of Kyiv, in heavy battles in eastern Ukraine for the cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, and then in battles in the Zaporizhzhia region. He returned from a short leave in Estonia a week before he was killed.
Postimees has learned that Jurak's unit proposed that the Estonian be awarded a medal posthumously for defending Ukraine.
Jurak's remains were cremated in a crematorium in the Kyiv City Center Cemetery. His ashes will be delivered to his loved ones in Estonia in the coming days.