When I first heard of the crash, the tragic loss of almost the compete Red Army Choir – Alexandrov Ensemble, death of 9 journalists from three Russian channels, what tugged most at my heart, was mentioning of the Elizaveta Glinka’s name on the list of the people lost. She was know among the people by her endearing name Doctor Liza.
Throughout these past 2 years I have been reading about her valiant work, helping the children of the civil war-ravaged Donbass, where civilians, including many children, were (and still are) wounded, maimed and killed by the Ukro-Nazi artillery shellings.
Film: Doctor Liza, an Amazing Life (full English subs) – Доктор Лиза фильм
UPDATE 2023: The two short interviews below are no longer available on YouTube.
Grapham Philips, I think the only Western (UK) freelance reporter, who documented the civil war in Donbass, share this fragment of interview with Doctor Liza, that he filmed in April 2016, telling her that “Many people think that you are an angel”:
Let them say, Grisha (a kindly russification of Graham), it is funny, it is pleasant, but it’s funny. What kind of angel am I? I am just a common woman. Let them say it. As for work. I am working a lot. This is very hard, and there is nothing angelic in this work, you see. It entails long negotiations with bureaucrats, which are not always successful. See, for example, I just got a list. This is the new list for admissions to hospital. 2 wounded children. 2 blind children. Children born in 2014, that is already during the war. We are going to transport them, they are going to St.Peterburg, as hospitals in Moscow do not have places for such patients – and I want to draw the journalistic attention to this fact. And there are the documents for the children that have already been transported out – we work on each child case individually.
And in this April 2016 interview fragment to Graham, she tells that “Everything is possible”:
There was a girl, who was given a terrible outlook, and Vika (kindly shortening of Victoria), she became well, and was coming up to the guard and would dance – a little swan or some other part, she was making such a show – a child that could not even SIT before, she lay on the arms. So, you see… Everything is possible, Grisha (a kindly russification of Graham).
Doctor Liza, you will be remembered and stay in our hearts. Always.
These two RT articles, aptly capture the mood of this loss:
Renowned Russian humanitarian and charity activist Elizaveta Glinka, widely known as Dr. Liza, is feared dead after boarding the plane bound for Syria that crashed Sunday morning off the Sochi coast.
The 54-year-old head of the ‘Fair Help’ fund was supposed to travel to Latakia to deliver medical supplies to a hospital, according to the Human Rights Council.
Her fund also said that Glinka was “taking humanitarian supplies for the Tishreen university hospital in Latakia,” while the Defense Ministry confirmed the passenger list included her name.
There was some confusion regarding Glinka’s fate after the plane stopped over in Sochi for refueling. Several news outlets reported that she failed to board the flight after a security check.
As time passed, however, her mobile phone remained hopelessly switched off.
Eventually, Elena Pogrebizhskaya, author of a documentary film on Doctor Liza, wrote on her Facebook page: “Liza’s phone is out of coverage. She has not been in touch with anyone for 11 hours. This includes her family. Gleb [Glinka’s husband] says he wants to be alone… This is a nightmare.”
This was an additional shock to Russians on top of the death of the 64 members of the Alexandrov army choir.
“We were hoping for a miracle until the very last moment. And she was a miracle herself, a heaven-sent message of virtue,” head of the Presidential Council for Human Rights Mikhail Fedotov told Interfax.
“Dr. Lisa was the darling of all hearts for one simple reason. For many years, almost every day, she provided palliative medical care, feeding the homeless, giving them shelter and clothes. She took the sick and injured children from Donbass under a hail of bullets, so that they could get help in the best hospitals in Moscow and St Petersburg. She organized a shelter for children with amputated limbs, where they can undergo rehabilitation after treatment in hospital.
“To save the lives of others – this was her mission everywhere: in Russia, Donbass, Syria…” Fedotov added.
Born into a military family, which also includes a famous dietitian, Glinka graduated from the Russian National Research Medical Institute in Moscow to become a pediatric anesthesiologist. In 1986, she and her husband emigrated to the US, where she studied palliative care and graduated from Dartmouth. In America, she became involved with the work of hospices. Glinka later participated in the work of the First Moscow Hospice, after which the family moved to Ukraine for two years. In 1999, she founded the first hospice in Kiev.
In 2007, Glinka founded the ‘Fair Help’ fund in Moscow, which provides financial support and medical care to cancer patients, underprivileged families, the homeless, and others in need.
Last year, Dr. Liza organized an evacuation of children with heart conditions who were in need of urgent medical help, from Donbass to Russian hospitals. Parents and doctors told RT that due to the humanitarian crisis, it was impossible to treat them locally.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave out state awards for outstanding achievements in charity and human rights activities. Glinka was the winner of the first award, saying she would soon travel to Syria.
“We never know whether we come back alive, because the war – is hell on earth, and I know what I’m talking about. But we are confident that goodness, compassion and mercy are stronger than any weapon,” Glinka said, receiving the award.
Human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group, said Glinka’s death was a huge loss.
“She was a saint, had enough strength for everyone, and was ready to help both the homeless and children,” Alexeyeva told TASS.
“It’s hard to speak about her, this is a huge loss, people like Dr. Liza are born once in a thousand years,” the human rights activist added. According to Alekseeva, Glinka was carrying a large amount of humanitarian aid to Syria.
Former human rights envoy Vladimir Lukin told TASS he was shocked by the tragedy.
“I am shocked. She was a wonderful person, she has done a lot of good things,” he said.
Those who never met Dr. Liza have also been deeply saddened by the tragic news.
“Eternal Memory # doktorLiza! Thank you for helping our children,” Aleksey Dyatlov wrote on Twitter.
“A human with a capital H, and a woman of action! Will never forget! Everlasting memory!” Aleksey Chenskykh wrote.
“Why is it that the best are the first to leave,” Nikita Kuznetsov asked.
People have been bringing flowers and candles to the office of the ‘Fair Help’ fund in Moscow.
“She was a miracle. She did things that most people thought were impossible to do. But that’s exactly what Elizaveta was all about. She worried about her colleagues to the point where she preferred to travel to hot spots herself,” Lana Zhurkina, Dr. Liza’s former colleague, told Life.ru.
A young mother in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, whose child Elizaveta Glinka helped when it suffered a serious disease, shared her sorrow with journalists.
“My daughter was diagnosed with congenital heart defect, she had to be urgently operated on. We met her [Glinka] in Donetsk – she sent us to St. Petersburg, where the child was successfully operated on, on the second day of [its] life.”
“This is a terrible tragedy, she has helped so many children, so many adults, and provided hope and faith,” the woman said.
A Russian Defense Ministry medical facility is to be named after the renowned humanitarian activist, Deputy Minister of Defense Ruslan Tsalikov told journalists.
“The humanitarian cargo of the ‘Fair Help’ fund was sent by another aircraft. It is already in the airport of Khmeimim, and of course we will finish Elizaveta Glinka’s job,” Tsalikov added.
Meanwhile the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, said that a children’s clinic in Grozny has been named after humanitarian activist Elizaveta Glinka.
“Dr. Liza devoted herself to the most noble cause – saving children,” Kadyrov wrote on Instagram. “She had a brilliant medical training and could have worked in some clinic, but she chose the hard path of helping those, who could not get help from elsewhere.”
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has given an order to rename the republic’s main children’s hospital after famous Russian doctor and charity activist Elizaveta Glinka, also known as Doctor Liza, who died in the plane crash off Sochi’s coast on Sunday.
“I have decided to name the republic’s Children’s Clinical Hospital in Grozny after Elizaveta Petrovna [Glinka]. [Head of the Alexandrov Ensemble] Valery Mikhailovich [Khalilov] has been posthumously awarded the Chechen Republic’s medal for merit. I am confident that the names of these great people will forever remain in Russia’s history,” Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram page.
He wrote that Elizaveta Glinka had dedicated herself to the most noble of all causes – saving children in places of war and conflict – and will forever remain in people’s memory because of that. He added that the death of the members of the Aleksandrov Ensemble was a tragic loss, as they have inspired Russia’s military to heroic deeds for many years.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has ordered that one of Russia’s military hospitals be named after Elizaveta Glinka, the Defense Ministry’s press service reported on Monday. In the same statement, the Russian military promised to complete the philanthropist’s mission and pass on the aid that she had wanted to personally deliver to the hospital in Latakia, Syria. In fact, the aid has already arrived at the Russian Air Force base in Khmeimim on another flight.
The minister also ordered that the Moscow School of Music be named Valery Khalilov, the press service reported.
The Tu-154 airliner belonging to the Russian Defense Ministry crashed into sea off the coast near Sochi in the early hours of Sunday morning, killing 84 passengers and eight crew members. The passengers included 68 performers from the AleksandrovEnsemble, a famous Russian military orchestra and choir, including its director and conductor Valery Khalilov and nine journalists from three Russian TV channels.
Elizaveta Glinka, often known in Russia by her nickname ‘Doctor Liza’, also died in the crash. Glinka was known as a selfless philanthropist, the founder of the first hospices in Russia and Ukraine, and the head of the NGO ‘Fair Help,’ which provides financial support and medical care to cancer patients, underprivileged families, the homeless, and others in need.
In 2015, Glinka organized the evacuation of many sick children to Russian hospitals from the unrecognized republics in Donbass.
Earlier this month, Russian President Vladimir Putin presented Glinka with the state’s top award for the year for her outstanding achievements in charity and human rights activities. At the ceremony, she promised that she would soon travel to Syria.