A seven-year-old boy who died defending his older sister from a rapist has been honoured posthumously. Zhenya Tabakov's mother received the order of courage medal on behalf of her son.
Just over two months ago Galina lost her son and she's still struggling to get over the shock.
Zhenya was brutally murdered by a robber, as the boy was trying to save his 12-year-old sister from being raped.
It all happened in late November, in the small military town of Noginsk-9 – a place where even small crimes are rare.
Around midday, a man rang the bell of the flat where Zhenya and his family lived.
“I asked who it was. The man said he was the postman, and he needed to give us a telegram and get a signature. So I opened the door,” recalls Zhenya’s sister Yana.
The little girl says the man held a knife to her throat, and demanded that her brother bring him all the money he could find. Zhenya did as he was told. But when the man started undressing his sister it was more than the boy could bear.
Zhenya seized a knife from the kitchen and plunged it into the man's back. This didn't kill the attacker, but it was enough to set Zhenya's little sister free. She ran for help. But it was too late for her brother – he was stabbed eight times.
Thirty-five-year old Sergey Kiyashko is in custody accused of the murder. Police say they have all the evidence they need to convict him.
The entire population of the little town seemed to show up for the farewell ceremony. The heroic death of seven-year-old Zhenya was something that the federal prosecutor's office could not pass by either. The chief inspector Aleksandr Bystrykin paid tribute to the boy's courage.
“At the prosecutor’s office, we witness many atrocities on a daily basis. But this case has sent many of us into shock. And it's played a part in the drafting of a new law on tougher punishment for those who commit crimes against children,” Bystrykin said.
Receiving the order for her son, Galina was unable to speak.
Nothing can bring Zhenya back to life again, but the little boy's heroism has become the pride of the town – and of his school in particular.
The boy’s photo now occupies the desk where he used to sit. Later on a special plaque will be fixed onto it. And only the best pupils will have the chance and honour of taking that place.