Tolik [Anatoliy] from the city of Kamianets-Podilsky, 28 years old…
The two of us had a chat in their small tent [on Maidan]. There were other guys with us: they kept adding to our conversation, interrupting and recollecting. They kept trying to treat us to something and apologizing for the swearing – ‘cause I’m a girl. Tolik made a fuss. We laughed and cried, while next to the stage people paid honour to one of those killed. We were silent for a while.
It felt like a movie, but not just any movie – a documentary. Except no one would ever be able to cut or edit anything, except for their own memories.
I tried to retain the original vocabulary as much as possible to communicate a bit of Tolik’s emotions, which were overwhelming him.
“Back home I worked in a supermarket despite having a philological degree, I graduated from a linguistics university. When I told my boss I was going to Maidan, just before the salary was due and I wanted to take that money with me, they just kicked me out, they told me “you no longer work here,” – and when they saw me on TV with a broken nose, with the [Molotov] cocktails… it was my boss who called my Mom to ask whether I would perhaps return to work.
Some time ago my late Grandma, who had made it through the second world war and had been a captive, told me: “my dear child, nothing good will ever come out of this state without bloodshed, but what counts most – have no fear and survive.” After the first dispersal [of Maidan], I thought that was the edge of Berkut’s ability. Back then my legs were faster than my thoughts. They knocked my teeth out. I’m here now, ‘cause fellows simply dragged me out of there by my hood.
Haven’t been home since then. And I thought I would stay with the students for a while, have some beer, help them out with money or all I can. But it turned out that I couldn’t say goodbye, so I stayed. And then there were those carnival rides at Instytutska Street on 11 December . I took away two shields from the Berkut! When people were singing the anthem, they started shouting: “Beat up the khokhols!” They beat up Afghans [Afghan war veterans], some priest, there was a newswoman with a camera… They threw this girl down from the barricades, with that big camera, don’t know what it’s called, so she fell down, knocked her face and couldn’t climb out of there because of the steel fittings. And with Berkut pushing. One of them, with this Georgian accent, knows me (I managed to pull his mask down). So he told me [in his Georgian accent]: “you’ll be the first I’m gonna stab.” And I replied to that: “don’t give a darn for myself, but the girl has to be pulled out.” So they stepped apart and started pulling on her, and we tore up her coat, but managed to get her away from those morons.
The Berkut had a metal bar, a pole hook, three meters long, with that big a hook, they just threw it into the crowd and pulled people out by it and captured them. There was one man – they pulled him by the legs and we pulled him by his coat, so they even took his pants off – he was practically naked, but we saved him.
And at Mariinskiy Park [on February 18, 2014] the conscript soldiers running there, were shooting even at women and beating them with batons. The three of us were protecting women with our shields to let them escape. People were running with kids and baby carriages. First they were told no one would lay a finger on them, but they replied: “why wouldn’t they, we saw some women already down over there.”
By the billboard stand on Instytutska Street: some guy and me had just started smoking when one of the Afghans shouted “the wounded, pull away the wounded…” The guy with whom I was about to smoke was covering me with a shield. I turned away for a moment and then I turned back to him and he was down… I grabbed him by his bullet proof vest and started pulling him away, but the Afghan told me: “leave him, he’s dead.” I got hysterical: “what do you mean he’s dead?,” and he told me: “leave him, go save the wounded” and hit me on my neck to help me come to my senses. And I looked that dead guy over closely. The bullet went through his ski goggles and the second shot was in the throat. And it all took a few seconds while I turned away to the wounded… I will never forget that. Because we were joking just before that: “you can postpone a war, but who knows if we get another chance to have a cigarette?” So he told me: “Tolik, leave some for me to have a smoke too.” He never got his chance…
That is why I want to go to Crimea. I gave an oath in the army and still remember, “never to betray the people of Ukraine, to remain faithful and loyal to them. To protect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state.” Bottomline, I swore, and how could I ever betray this?! I don’t know, maybe it’s just words to someone, but for me it pains me inside! I was watching the news and cried bitterly… couldn’t stop day or night after [the news about] Mezhyhirya. Yeah, I did take two bottles of whiskey there, 26 years old, that was some bloody awesome whiskey. Gave one of the bottles to my friends – they drank it, and the other one we shared here. I don’t think that’s looting.
Everybody is paid here, they say… If I were paid at least 200 hryvnias per day, I would be going home in my own jeep by now! And there was a guy who came to Anti-Maidan. He was paid 500 hryvnias per day there. He couldn’t refuse to go there or else he would have been thrown out of his work. So he was standing there [at Anti-Maidan] and was coming here [to Maidan] to have meals, and gave the money he received to Maidan protesters.
Berkut were shooting at colourful helmets, this I observed. Whoever had green or purple or a stylish skiing helmet. That guy in the blue helmet, his blood flowed so heavily, like a wild boar, I thought I would throw up, if it wasn’t for the spirits I would have keeled over.
My ex-girlfriend from Chervonohrad [Lviv Oblast] called to check if I was alive. She told me two colleagues of hers were here [on February 20, 2014], they were at the frontline. So one of them was put into a nut-house and thereafter, went mental. This one’s lying down, those are falling down. And a doctor takes out some spirits, well, they always carry around 1.5 liters of diluted spirit, way to go! – poured some and said: “stick around, guys, but don’t move back an inch!!!”
That’s what I was yelling back at Mariinskiy Park: “not an inch back.” We were fired at – the three of us. These bastards started taking their helmets and armor vests off and fleeing. And I took a stick and beat them on their legs so they wouldn’t. If you wet your pants – don’t go forward!! Go stand at Maidan singing songs, hand around sandwiches, but somebody is counting on you over here! ‘Cause back there by the Dynamo [Stadium] I was relying on some guy to cover me with a shield while I was picking an unconscious guy from Right Sector, and he threw his shield down – and they smashed my nose… Couldn’t see clearly for a while. I grabbed a rail and gave some on his legs, and he tells me, “hey, I’m one of ours”, and I tell him, “ours don’t flee, mother*cker. They smashed my nose because of you.” The doctors started shoving tampons into my nose. It puffed my nose, and I kicked the doctor, ‘cause they were pulling me away. Told me I’ve had enough war already. And I say “how come, enough? No f*cken way, not until I strangle at least one of those a**wholes”… but they took me away.
I recall a man, who was at Ukrainian House with me. He kept saying “my heart aches, if I were to die,” he joked, “if my heart stops – bury me as a hero”… and we laughed. And he was shot straight through his armored vest with a Dragunov sniper rifle right into his heart.
There was a story at Mariinskiy [Park]: we were standing with our shields up against Berkut, crushing one another back and forth (scr*w such a peaceful offensive). The commander yelled: “don’t touch anybody;” but why the hell not? We all say: “move the f*ck forward.” Our sotnia [company] was smoked out and broke through the Berkut line… One of the little Berkuts dropped his walkie-talkie, so I was trying to pick it up. F*ck, they were christening me [beating me up] from above with their batons and shooting… and a man behind me wearing a helmet with a coat of arms of flowers painted on it, well, it was nicely painted. So he was beating up one of the Berkuts so heavily he smashed his bat against him. I can’t get up, ‘cause that man is behind, and Roma, my friend, was also pulling a man dressed in camo. That was one of our lot, who fell down and Berkut started pulling him. And I say: “Roma, let’s f*cken save him.” So we pulled him out of there. Parubiy pulled us apart. I did get that radioset with my foot, the commander tells me: “give that to me.” And I say “yeah, in a minute.” I press down and say “number one, do you read me…,” ‘cause I’m number one anyway. They replied: “number one speaking, what happened.” And I say: “listen you a**hole, if you don’t back away now, you’ll be burning like the conscript soldiers did.” And he said: “who’s speaking, who’s speaking.” I gave the radio set to the commander afterwards. They switched the frequency.
And there was one journalist, f*ck him, so stupid. There’s this butchery starting, and I told him at the very beginning – move away, please, ‘cause no one cares here whether you‘re a journalist or a doc. “Oh c’mon, I’ll just take a few shots.” So we stood and he was shot at, they were shooting directly at him. I’m running with the shield… birdshots everywhere “zing-zing,” and he keeps whimpering “take me out of here, get me out of here.” What an a**hole. He was told to get lost, sh*t, wasn’t he?
The Berkut are throwing stun grenades, and titushki [hired thugs] got in there shooting with those pump action shotguns. We had nothing to shoot back, sons of b*tches, aren’t they? Each one of us should have taken 2-3 Molotovs each to light them up [the titushki]. They would have burned and all of these victims could have been spared!
There was a man with only one glove. He told me to hold his shield, so he could go pick up his fingers… and just before that he took out a pack of cigarettes “Pryluky” and handed them round to everyone. And he tells me: “haven’t got anything to put my fingers into, need to bury those at home.” They were torn off. [Another person later gathered them]. And another Cossack had his ear torn off… There he was one instant, and the next, gripping his ear, bleeding … And then he took his hand away, and I tell him: “fella, you’ve got no ear…”, and he tells me calmly: “I kind of figured that out.” He turned around and left. I found his hat later and took it to the Cossacks.
And today we found a corpse by McDonald’s [adds one of the guys while we talk… 3 March].
That’s the way things are now – anybody can say they are Maidan protestors and claim that they were here.
I believe I must be here and go wherever I have to, because when I have kids, they are gonna ask me: “dad, where were you at that time?,” and what am I supposed to say to that “I was at home watching TV?”
May God punish those who can help, but don’t, that’s what I think.