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Combatant Barsik

“I may be deported at any moment”, — the story of a Russian, who broke through the enemy troops into besieged Mariupol to help Azov.

July 10, 2022. Author: Artem Shyrobokov (Pozyvnoy Esenin).

Barsik still doesn’t have Ukrainian citizenship, despite the fact that he has already stood up for the defence of Ukraine twice. In 2014 he came to fight for Ukrainians and joined Azov. In 2022 he acted the same. He broke through by a helicopter into besieged Mariupol to help his blood brothers in Azovstal.

Share this interview, or even better — send it to the journalists you know. Maybe raising awareness will speed up the acquisition of citizenship for a volunteer from Azovstal.

1. When and how did you decide to abandon your life in the RF and fight for Ukraine?

Back in 2013 I wanted to visit Ukraine when Maidan has just started, but I was not able to get there. When Crimea and the East of Ukraine were occupied, I realized that I must be there and help Ukrainians.

In September 2014 in the city of Syktyvkar, we held a rally in support of Ukraine. After that the repressions organized by the center for combatting “extremism” started, we were interrogated and threatened with death. They began to open criminal cases — for various offenses and with fake witnesses. By that time I’d already decided everything. I knew how I'd get to Ukraine and what I would be doing there.

2. What was your motivation?

I had different aspects of motivation. First of all, solidarity with the Ukrainians. My personal values are quite similar to Azov values, so I’ve joined the unit. It is the sense of justice — to oppose the system that is also destroying my country.

3. In russia lots of people call you a “traitor of the motherland”. What can you tell them in response?

I think that the traitor is the one who is destroying their people by supporting this rotten system of neo-bolshevism. They have no honor, no loyalty, no morality. For me, they are traitors. They are raping children, killing women, and bombing peaceful residential areas. They are traitors not only of the Motherland but also of the entire humanity.

4. Your relatives, your friends in the RF — how did they react to such a decision?

Relatives reacted well. They accepted my choice. But not everyone did so among my friends and people I care about. Some people support me. The others didn’t understand it or even were hostile. After February 24 in general, everyone became sick in the head. So in russia, I have only a few people left who support me and my choice.

5. What did you do on February 24?

On February 24 I drove to the military assembly point, at the Atek factory. We were ready for the invasion, recruiting volunteers. Starting from August 2021 we were preparing ourselves and civilians in the Atek factory. The training was held every Saturday as part of the Total Resistance project for civilians. There were classes on civil medicine, paramedicine, weapon usage, performance characteristics, storming of a building, working in pairs, squads, platoons, etc. Closer to the war, we started helping Territorial Defence Forces with such training.

6. Where did you serve and in what battles did you participate?

From 2013 to 2017 I served in the Azov regiment. I participated in operations in Shyrokyne, Lebedynske, Vodiane, Pavlopil, and Maryinka. After February 24 I participated in the battles of Bucha and Moshchun in the Kyiv region and in Mariupol.

7. How exactly did you end up in Mariupol?

The command proposed that we go to the unblocking of Mariupol. Only volunteers could go because the operation was extremely risky. I agreed, and so did a lot of others. After three weeks we gathered again and were told that plans had changed, and the operation is twice as risky now. That there is a possibility to break into the besieged Mariupol and hold the defence there until the unblocking of the city. I agreed, of course. They needed only people with military experience, physically strong and enduring. Everyone understood that it was very likely a one-way ticket.

“On the 24th we disembarked in Mariupol.”

In the first group to the Mariupol raid, there were 33 people. We were told to take with us the minimum of stuff needed, along with some civilian clothes. We moved to Dnipro at night. There we were reported that we would be dropped by helicopters into Azovstal. We should be flying very low, but the pilots were good at what they were doing. Early in the morning, we got into 2 helicopters. We took ammo, lots of RPGs, and took off. On the 24th we disembarked in Mariupol, into the Azovstal. We spent a few hours in a bunker. Then we were taken by transport to another place, where we were moved on boats on the right bank of the city. There we separated into groups and moved to the different parts of Mariupol to take our positions.

8. How did you get injured in Mariupol?

At dawn, we started the evacuation. The guys were ambushed. The task was to evacuate one 200 and one 300 [one dead and one injured in military jargon — Ed.] and fight back our positions. While we were moving through the city, a drone dropped a shell on us. Debris ricocheted towards us. Four 300s at once, including me, were injured in the leg. We ran inside some building to assist first aid and apply tourniquets. Simultaneously, the second martyr shell was exploding near the entrance. We’ve got two more 300s. We changed our positions quickly, waiting for support.

“On the next day, under the shelling, we got evacuated to Dnipro by two helicopters.”

Then one combatant died due to blood loss. 30 minutes after, the vehicles arrived and evacuated us into the bunker. The medic provided help, applied bandages, and informed me that there was no way he could pull the fragment out of my leg. On the next day, under the shelling, we got evacuated to Dnipro by two helicopters. On the previous raid, one of the helicopters with the injured was shot down.

8. How do Ukrainians treat you, knowing you are Russian? Do you feel any discrimination?

Among friends, my fellows in service, and most of the people — of course not. There are just some ironic hints about that, but it's just humour.

9. How do you imagine the victory of Ukraine?

I’m an optimist. I know that a lot of good people here are ready to fight until the end. The people in Ukraine became very united, they are brave and trained, but I don’t see the quick and easy victory some military experts sometimes talk about. I think the war will be continuing, long-term, and very hard. But I’m sure that we will manage to defend territories and ideas and win this war.

10. How come you still don’t have Ukrainian citizenship?

When I appealed my documents for citizenship, the Office of the President of Ukraine refused me. I’m not a media person as, for instance, Nevzorov, I rarely give interviews. I’m just a combatant, a private soldier, I think that’s why.

11. What problems do you face, living in Ukraine illegally?

Well, there are different problems. I may be deported at any moment. Or if I die at war, they won’t even recognize the body, I am no one without documents. If I get captured — no one will exchange me. I can’t get married or buy a civilian weapon to defend myself and the people I care about.

12. What will be the first thing you do when you’ll have a Ukrainian passport?

I’ll probably get drunk. *Laughing* I’m joking. First, I need to get married.

13. What would you like to say to all the Ukrainians?

To those who defend the country — let’s keep going!

To those who help in every possible way — you are our pride!

14. What would you like to say to all the russians?

Eh… I pity you, you have no future, at least, no bright one. To those who are fighting against us right now, you, dogs, shall die a dog’s death!

From the author: I will be grateful to everyone for sharing this article about Barsik. If you have any contacts of journalists, or you are a journalist willing to talk about the difficulties with Ukrainian citizenship — feel free to write here @kolovrat1771 (Telegram)

Pozyvnoy Esenin

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Ukrainian Text by Artem Shyrobokov. Translated into English by Ukrainianvancouver team — Jul 15, 2022

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