From Maidan To The Frontline
Viktor joined the EuroMaidan anti-government protests in Kyiv. Then, in early Spring 2014, he returned to his home in Donetsk, a city Russian hybrid forces subsequently occupied later that year
Aged 47, Viktor is the oldest soldier in his unit. For this, he was nicknamed “Batia” or “Dad” in English. And it’s Dad who wakes up at the crack of dawn to prepare meals for his brothers in arms.
“For lunch, we’ll have potatoes, a carrot and onion salad, and aspic, so the guys could eat as they return from the trenches. For dinner, I plan to make buckwheat porridge, and I’ll make borsch for tomorrow and also home-cooked herring. I cook breakfast, lunch, and dinner based on what guys request,” Viktor said.
Every soldier has their own favorite dish on Viktor’s frontline menu.
“I like how Dad prepares borsch. It’s very tasty and nutritious. I also like his varenyky,” Viktor’s colleague Ruslan said.
“His herring is truly excellent. I’ve never tried one quite this good. It’s not the kind you can buy in a store, it’s the home-cooked kind,” a soldier named Andriy said.
Around five years ago, Viktor joined the EuroMaidan anti-government protests in Kyiv. Then, in early Spring 2014, he returned to his home in Donetsk, a city Russian hybrid forces subsequently occupied later that year. Viktor was taken as a prisoner.
“They held us without water and food. Every day, they used to come and drag us out, one at a time. They used to put pressure on us, both mentally and physically. They used to beat us. First, they kicked us with their feet, then they hit us with rifles and then went on to use small bags filled with sand. They would put a blindfold on a person and just start beating. They offered us to co-operate. They offered money, offered benefits, apartments for joining the military of the so-called Novo Rossiya,” Viktor said.
Ukraine managed to secure the release of Viktor and 20 other prisoners from captivity. Now, he’s defending his country.
“We fight for our land. Ukraine is our land, the mother that nurtured us,” Viktor said.
Having prepared the meals, Dad picks up his assault rifle and heads off for his shift on the front line.