Slovyansk: Liberation Day
Five years ago, video footage made headlines all over the world. On July 5, Ukrainian troops liberated the town of Slovyansk in the Donetsk region, which had been occupied by Russian hybrid forces. Vladyslav Voloshyn was the man behind the camera
Footage of the liberation was made by military journalist Vladyslav Voloshyn. In the early days of the war, he led the media team of the Defense Ministry working on the frontline.
“There was fighting on the streets. We reached another intersection only to find they had a whole stronghold there, barricades. And they opened fire on us. So a group of soldiers engaged with them, while the rest advanced forward. So there were still several strongholds of militant resistance,” Voloshyn said.
But the bulk of the enemy troops had fled Slovyansk by then. While some of those that stayed attempted to resist the Ukrainian army, the civilian population was very keen to welcome the liberators.
“The most touching moment was when our assault squad entered Slovyansk, there were civilians coming out on the road, old people, they got on their knees and blessed us with a cross before we moved forward,” Voloshyn said
Voloshyn joined the soldiers on the roof of the Slovyansk Town Council building which had been the headquarters of Russian-backed separatists. He captured the moment when the Ukrainian flag was once again hoisted above the building. He kept the flag of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic as a trophy.
Prior to 2014, Voloshyn has been to many war zones across the world. At the time the very thought of being in a war zone on his home soil was inconceivable.
During the liberation of Slovyansk he was struck by the state of the town when the occupiers left. Slovyansk had been plundered. It was without electricity. However, encouraged by the successful liberation of many towns and villages back then, Voloshyn hadn’t expected the war to last more than a few weeks.