Siberian: ‘I Want to Be With You Ukrainians’
Ivan took part in the Euromaidan protests in 2014 and he was injured in the clashes
“I’ve always wanted to return to the land of my ancestors. For as long as I can remember, the most strong-willed nations from the former Soviet Union have been trashed by the Russian media. These are Ukraine, Georgia, the Baltic states, and Moldova. I came here and it seems to me that this is a regular Eastern European country, which has been unjustly demonized. I didn’t see the things that Russian TV tells us about Ukraine,” he said.
Ivan took part in the Euromaidan protests in 2014 and he was injured in the clashes.
“I was hit by shrapnel, got a concussion, and even gas-poisoning. I underwent treatment in the town of Truskavets, in the Lviv region,” he said.
After rehabilitation, Ivan went to the front line. In February, he was wounded again near the town of Zolote in the Luhansk region. Ivan spent two months in a hospital and then returned to the frontline.
“We were in our position and an attack began, they were using an anti-tank grenade launcher. And later a mortar. A shell landed near me and exploded. First, I felt how clumps of frozen soil started flying. I sat down. Then I looked at my rifle. It was red for some reason. I realized that it was blood pouring from a cut above my eye. Then I looked at my leg. It was all covered in blood,” he said.
Ivan reads Artem Polezhaka and Vasyl Kozhelianko, in the original language. Both authors write in Ukrainian. He recently began studying different Ukrainian dialects.
“There are some words which belong to different regions, such as the Chernivtsi region. For example, “shparhat” is a cooking oven,” he said.
Ivan is holding a Russian passport but he hopes to receive a Ukrainian one instead.
“I dream of receiving Ukrainian citizenship. I want to be a citizen of this country, I want to be a part of its integrity and independence. We’ve all made a contribution, even a small one. I’ve felt that Ukrainians can really be independent, free, integrated, and stable. I want to be with you, Ukrainians,” he said.
Ivan’s fellow soldiers call him a Ukrainian Siberian.
“He sits in the trenches with us in the same conditions. Everyone’s waiting for him to become a Ukrainian citizen. Although we already consider him our compatriot,” Ivan’s fellow soldier, Dmytro said. “If everyone in Siberia is like this, come to us, you’re welcome.”
After the war, Ivan is planning to settle in Chernivtsi and get married.