MINSK, 17 December (BelTA) – Pilots Andrei Nichiporchik and Nikita Kukonenko, and KGB officer Dmitry Fedosyuk left us too soon, their lives were cut short in the performance of duty, but they left a mark in the history of Belarus, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the ceremony to present the highest state awards to the families of the fallen heroes, BelTA has learned.
“Your guys, having lived a very short life, have left a brightest mark in the history of our country, our state. Thank you for your sons and family members. It is our duty to do everything so that people and the state will remember them. Believe me, they will be remembered,” the Belarusian leader said.
“This ceremony is one of a kind for me. I have invited you here to present the state awards bestowed upon your loved ones for performing a heroic deed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
The Medals of the Hero of Belarus title were presented to the families of Andrei Nichiporchik and Nikita Kukonenko, the flight commander and the pilot of the training and combat squadron of the 116th Assault Airbase of the Air Force and Air Defense Force of Belarus as an acknowledgement of their courage and heroism in the line of duty.
The tragedy happened on 19 May. A Yak-130 aircraft of the Lida-based assault airbase crashed during a training flight near Baranovichi killing the flight commander of the training and combat squadron Major Andrei Nichiporchik and a pilot of the same squadron Lieutenant Nikita Kukonenko. A little more than a minute passed from the moment an emergency situation arouse till the aircraft crash. Thanks to the incredible efforts, at an altitude of about 50m, the crew managed to stabilize the direction of flight and steer the Yak-130 to a single point outside the residential area.
Commenting on the details of the tragedy earlier, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that various systems of the aircraft failed one by one within seconds. “The pilots did not eject. As the boxes show, they fought to the end. One of them was ejected out of the aircraft by the ejection seat while hitting the ground. They fought to the end being fully aware that they didn't have time. And they realized what would happen if the aircraft fell on residential areas. Two heroic people died,” the president said after the tragedy in May this year.
The same day, the head of state presented the Order for Personal Gallantry that was posthumously awarded to Senior Lieutenant Dmitry Fedosyuk, a KGB officer, at the Palace of Independence. He was killed on 28 September during a raid in Minsk in a search for persons involved in terrorist activities. In one of the apartments on the list, a very dangerous criminal opened fire at the officers. As a result, a KGB officer sustained mortal wounds.
The president said earlier: “I have been told that when the guys entered the apartment, Dmitry was ahead of the others. He was actually covering the team by being the first to run into the apartment. The guys shouted a warning – they saw a person with a gun, virtually several seconds, and as usual [they shouted]: ‘Put your weapons down!' Instead this scumbag shot at Dmitry. He hit him right in the heart. And as Dmitry was dying, he shot two times to kill his murderer, he couldn't fire the third round already.”