Ukrainian mother killed with her children identified as employee of Palo Alto startup

Tatiana Perebeinis and her two children spent two nights in a cold basement as Russian artillery strikes hit their city of Irpin, just outside the capital of Kyiv in Ukraine. The city lost electricity, power and heat as Russian forces pushed its invasion closer to the capital, leaving Perebeinis and many others few options but to flee.

On Sunday, Perebeinis, 43, and her children, Nikita,18, and Alise, 9, were killed along with a volunteer, Anatoly Berezhnyi, 26, who was helping them flee. Perebeinis was identified as an employee of a Palo Alto, Calif. tech startup.

A photo of the bodies appeared on the cover of the New York Times on Monday, sparking more outrage at the death of more civilians during the war.

Wearing winter coats, their bodies lay on the ground, surrounded by luggage and what photojournalist Lynsey Addario said was a small animal carrier with a barking dog. Ukrainian soldiers stand over them, attempting to provide aid.

“I’ve witnessed many horrors in the past twenty years of covering war, but the intentional targeting of children and women is pure evil,” Addario wrote in an Instagram post.

Perebeinis’ employer, SE Ranking, confirmed her death in a Facebook post. A majority of the company’s employees live in Ukraine.

“There are no words to describe our grief or to mend our pain. But for us, it is crucial to not let Tania and her kids Alise and Nikita remain just statistics,” the company wrote in a statement. “Her family became the victim of the unprovoked fire on civilians, which under any law is a crime against humanity.”

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At least 500 civilians have been killed and 900 injured since Russian forces invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to the United Nations. On Wednesday, a maternity hospital in Mariupol was bombed and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said more than 50 children have been killed since the start of the war.

“The scariest figure was the 50 Ukrainian children killed in 13 days of war,” Zelensky said in an address Tuesday. “But then in an hour it became 52 children. I will never forgive this. And I know that you will never forgive the occupiers.”

The two countries have attempted to agree on evacuation corridors to allow civilians a safe exit route out of the areas hardest hit by Russian artillery. According to Ukraine officials, those terms have not been honored by Russian forces.

Russia’s war in Ukraine is causing a European refugee crisis on a scale not seen since World War II and raising fears of a return to Cold War-era dynamics.

Serhiy Perebeinis told the New York Times his wife and two children were attempting to leave Irpin through one of those corridors when they were killed. Tatiana Perebeinis and her children spent two days in a basement before they joined a church group determined to evacuate to Kyiv. At first, Tatiana Perebeinis and her group attempted to drive out of Irpin, but they had to abandon their minivan and walk toward a damaged bridge over the Irpin River.

Serhiy Perebeinis was taking care of his sick mother in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine. He couldn’t reach his family by phone the day they were killed and said he learned about their deaths when he saw Addario’s picture on Twitter.

“I recognized the luggage and that is how I knew,” he told the New York Times.

In a recent Facebook post, he wrote, “I returned to Kiev. Today has been a hard day in every way. The morgues are overflowing with civilians killed from Irpen, Buchi, Gostomel.”

He said the funerals are postponed because a judicial investigation into potential war crimes and their bodies have yet to be buried.

“Inside, the atmosphere is like a horror movie,” he wrote. “This is all hard to watch when your beloved wife is lying in a black bag on the floor.”