‘Mine exploded in my hand. I could not drop it, there were many people on the right, on the lef – too. And ahead was a back of my friend. I’ve never wanted to fight, I am a very peaceful person, but I am ready to defend people, my land where I was born and live’.
This story of ATO soldier Ivan Kushnerev was told by author of exhibition ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ Vika Yasynska.
‘Vanya lost all extremities in ATO. When I was going to meet him it was very scary, I didn’t know what to expect from our conversation. However, Vanya [Ivan] appeared to be perhaps the most positive person I’ve ever talked to. He was filled with hope for peaceful life in Ukraine. He dreams of having 7 children and house on the banks of Dnieper River’, – Yasynska said during press briefing at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.
For almost a year she has been having conversations with Ukrainian servicemen and making photographs.
‘For me photographs are more than any words. They are embodiment of a number of those social and psychological problems faced by soldiers in zone of anti-terrorist operation’, – Victoriya shared her impressions.
Exhibition ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ started on July 14 and will last until July 19, it displays 21 portraits of Ukrainian servicemen.
‘I have photographed many Ukrainian soldiers in the hospitals, some at the front, and some right in the middle of the city. However, the exhibition could not be as it is if it were not for the help of volunteers’, – the photographer said.
According to her, ‘Portrait of a Soldier’ has a semi-documentary character. However, they are united by single idea – to protect their land despite any problems and revenge for fallen brother and friends.
The author of the exhibition said that in August it would go to Boston and New-York.
‘In fall I plan to expand the exhibition twice and present it to regions of Ukraine. For me it is very important that the whole world knows about our hero soldiers’, – Viktoriya Yasynska underlined.
In future she plans unite all stories of Ukrainians soldiers with their portraits into a book. Charity fundraising for the rehabilitation of servicemen will be held during the exhibition.
Such rehabilitation is a part of ‘Pobratymy’ [Blood brothers] training.
It started working in February 2015. The second phase of the training starts soon.
Coordinator of the project Olena Mas said that this training was aimed at rehabilitation of soldiers after ATO and their adaptation to social life in peaceful time.
According to Olena Mas, this exhibition is evidence that servicemen actually need not only social help from the state, but usual psychological trainings.
Thus, in order to improve emotional and psychological state of soldiers, they conducted special classes and individual conversations with them for three and a half months.
Former soldiers who were the best students of the trainings volunteered to conduct their own conversations to servicemen so that they can share impressions and experience for further psychological rehabilitation.
Now I understand that I can also help people.
I greatly appreciate human life and I want to help those who need it as much as I can. No war can be justified by human losses.
I want to recover as fast as possible. I want to be human who can work.
I was in Kyiv hospital for two days and then agreed to the doctor that I could stay in plaster at home. He wrote a certificate that I should recover for 60 days. But the next morning I went back to the front with volunteers. I left at 5 am so that my wife couldn’t hear it. Our commander prohibited me to return. I asked him, but he said there is no way I could return on crutches.
When I returned he said with irony that I was a ‘foul’ – I had thought it all over and had done it in my own way.
However, I continued commanding my platoon. Of course it is very difficult to move on crutches there because you are more vulnerable.
But I decided to do this because I had promised to my guys that we would go there together and return together. The second reason is that I am a commander, and commander should be side by side with his people.
Once we got under shelling and I had to drag my wounded bleeding fellow on myself. He was 2 meter high, twice as big as me. He had the trough injury of hand and shoulder. It is good that we had American first aid kits, I filled one of his wounds with powder and put tourniquet on the other.
I decide to pull him because I cared about him. I would pull him for several meters and fall, then some more meters and fall again. It was at night, we were shelled heavily. It is a miracle that we managed to cross that field, because we had to walk for about 2 km.
Today this soldier is alive and has recovered.
Mine exploded in my hands. I couldn’t throw it because there were many people on the right and on the left. Ahead was back of my friend.
I’ve never wanted to fight, I am a very peaceful person, but I am ready to defend people, my land, where I was born and live.
I don’t have hatred to my enemy. I believe that if you do not respect him you will never win. And hatred eats person from the inside.
I dream of having many kids – seven. And house on the bank of Dnieper River.