Earnings in Moscow
Before the war in Ukraine, I used to go to work in Moscow. It was easier to get there than to get to Europe. My goal was to earn money, become independent and wealthy, start a family and build a house.
Even then, I could feel the difference in our mentalities. In Russia, even the most worst drunkard who wasn’t looking for a job would shout “Russia is a great country.” He didn’t look at himself but popularized everything he heard on TV.
They treated us as if they were a superior race. And I remembered what my grandfather used to say when I was a kid: “Don’t trust a russian, like a stray dog. He will turn to you 99 times, and on the hundredth time he will bite you.” I was looking at them in Moscow – they like drinking and going out, that’s what they are really into. Everything else is a deception.
As soon as I arrived in Moscow, the Maidan started. There were a few of us from one neighbourhood who returned home. The guys later went to russia again, but I didn’t go anymore, because I didn’t see the point.
When they offered me to go to the Maidan, I convinced them that there were already enough people in Kyiv, and it was necessary to fight the roots of evil in other regions too.
In the war, wounds, injuries
I didn’t even think what would happen when I went to war, I had an inner conviction that if you want to change something, you have to do something. I just had a feeling that I had to be in the army. I understood all the risks, but at first, I thought that we should give the country the opportunity to prepare. So that even those who do not think about the war would have time.
I realized how big the russian army was. And they attacked us.
I served in an anti-tank battery in the 24th Brigade. My first destination was the former Artemivsk – Bakhmut. They took me from there and did not give me a lot of chances to survive…
It was not an injury. I got sick, but no one knew what kind of disease it was. It was July, it was hot, and I had a temperature of 41-41.7. At first, the doctor thought I was faking it, but I was already unconscious of what was going on. They put me in a sleeping bag, under the car, saying it would pass. Then they evacuated me to a field hospital, then to another, and that’s how I ended up in Kharkiv.
A concilium of doctors was held, but they did not know what to treat me for. Later, I remembered that guys from Soledar were passing by and gave us some pies. They said they were pies from Lviv. Later, my comrades told me that I was the only one who was hospitalized, and they had a fever of 38 but were not hospitalised.
So I was in Rivne and Lviv hospitals. I was treated for about two months.
I missed a few “raves” during the war, and I was happy to go again after treatment. I ended up in Krymske, Luhansk region. I really hate that village. It was so cold there. In January 2015, a mine hit there and I got shrapnel in my arm. People told me: “You are a disaster of a man, but you have a strong angel protecting you.” I am grateful that I got off relatively lightly.
As it turned out, I also had a concussion. Although at first, the doctor said that everything was fine, saying that everyone may have a headache. But I could not sleep, I was going insane. Now, when the weather changes, it hurts a lot, and in general, I feel pain all the time. It makes you angry, you can’t think, you become like a zombie.
I took tests, went to the cardiologist, and she said: “Let’s make a cardiogram for you”. They made it and called an ambulance, as it turned out that I had a heart attack. I didn’t feel it at all. Well, yes, my blood pressure rose from time to time. I explained it to myself in different ways, but I obviously didn’t think about any bad things. At 33, a heart attack is very unexpected.
Adapting to civilian life
I had the idea to start farming almost immediately. My grandfather had 12 children, but only 10 survived. He was engaged in farming – he had land, horses, pigs. In such conditions, you don’t think of stupid things, because you keep yourself always busy.
I came across a scholarship that wasn’t offering money though, was covering the equipment. I wrote a business plan. I wanted to get two hectares to grow vegetables. I wasn’t given the land, so I lost the scholarship chance. Maybe it was not the right time.
And when the vegetable garden didn’t work out, I started doing sports. Because if you do nothing, you can go crazy. I saw our guys competing in Sydney in 2018 and found guys from Lviv who have also been at the Invictus Games, I texted them and they invited me to train with together.
I really liked archery. I started doing it not for any prizes, but for fun. It’s like a hobby. For example, men go fishing, they may not catch anything, but they enjoy the process, they talk, and they are distracted.
So I went to our veterans’ group not so much to shoot as to have a good chat. But we didn’t talk about injuries and difficulties, we joked. There is no point in talking about how hard it was for the hundredth time. On the contrary, I said that we need to look for ways to develop and rehabilitate, to invite others along. I think there is no point in crying, we have to do something. And as the saying goes: “When a Cossack is singing, his soul is crying”. So you have to do everything with a smile.
Of course, I also have moments of despair. I got drunk once or twice, and the next morning I had a headache, lost money, felt bad about myself, and I hadn’t gained anything.
I went to work, but I was depressed there too. Almost everyone thought they had to ask me “How was it there?” I resisted and then told them not to talk to me about it. I understood that they were curious, but once I said: “Guys, if you are interested, I can give you the number of the military unit, I will take you there and you’ll see what it’s like.”
For two years, I have been working on myself: practising archery and taking care of my diet. When you do pull-ups, it’s better to pull up 50 kilograms of muscle rather than 100 kilograms of fat.
Then I tried the block bow. It is the same as the classic bow but with a system of cables. It’s like riding a bicycle and a motorbike. The principle is the same, but you pedal on a bicycle, and there is a motor on a motorbike.
I couldn’t handle the classic bow because I was twitching my hand. But with the block bow, it was a little easier for me.
Since the heart attack, I have been always with the bow until now. I haven’t given it up because it doesn’tincrease the load on the heart, on the contrary, it helps to stabilize it. Sometimes I think about what I would be like if I didn’t practice. I have become healthier, improved my nutrition, and tightened my body, all because I wanted to improve my archery.
How would you describe yourself?
I am a person of emotions. I can get very angry very quickly. But in a few days, I calm down.
What saves you when you feel bad?
A cat. A cat would just come, I would pet it, and I would feel better.
Do you believe in superstitions?
At the beginning of the full-scale war, I was very overwhelmed, I felt depressed and I really needed to know the exact date of my death.
Is it important for you to feel gratitude from civilians?
People who were directly affected by the war understand and are grateful to the military. Those who have distanced themselves from it don’t care. I would not want people who give money to the army and expect something from the military. It is important for me that our people meet each other halfway. This will mean that the nation is being born. Because now it is easy to throw a bone in our society and divide it.
Why do you want to participate in the Invictus Games?
I tried once and didn’t make it to the national team, but it was like a childhood dream. I thought about how other guys become a part of this team, so I tried and I tried… Everyone had already lost faith in me. And then, when I made it to the national team, I saw this undisguised surprise of people. But at the same time, I see that when I didn’t make it the first time, I was two steps behind my current self – physically and intellectually.
It is very important to show in Germany that we represent our country and continue to fight for it. It is important to show that we have people and an idea. And we should be grateful.