And how could I keep away from the war when moskals came to my place?

Photo: Markiian Liseiko

Kravchenko Kostiantyn, Codename Hrisha-Pravosiek

Codenames are with servicemen. And I started this war in the Right Sector (Pravyi Sektor). That is why this is my nickname. That is why I claim that I don’t have a codename, but a name: Hryhoriy, surname – Kravchenko, and name – Kostiantyn.

Officially I have been in Dnipro-1 battalion since July 5, 2014. And I started fighting on March 3, 2014.

And how could I keep away from the war when moskals came to my place? On March 1, I saw these bastards near my house, since I resided in the center of Mariupol. I was walking my dog when I saw some boneheads with katsap ‘aquafreshes’. The funniest thing was that there were both ‘aquafreshes’, and imperial flags there, and some other things: they had it all mixed together.

Kravchenko Kostiantyn . Dnepr, July 2017. Photo by Markiian Lyseyko

I took my dog home right away, took my knife and went back to see what was going on there. I saw that the guys were different from our guys: they had katsap eyes, not Ukrainian eyes. They spoke the way we do, but their eyes were different. Their eyes started changing back in the late 1990s. I often went to Russia either on business or to have some rest there, so I saw how they were changing. The so-called mutation was gradual. And every year they were becoming more and more distant from us emotionally and psychologically. And in 2000 we were already so far that in 2005 I said ‘come on, guys, no more business, I don’t need this money’, and I stopped any relations with them. 

Certainly, nobody expected anything like this to happen. Then they left, and on March 2 everything was quiet. And the next day they appeared again. When somebody in the city asks you: ‘How do I find my way … to …?’, while the place is located at some 200 m, and everybody knows it, everything becomes clear.

Then: more, and more. We were doing our best to resist until local policemen gave us away. And the same happened in Donetsk.

We went to Donetsk, helped those guys. And so, it all started. Gradually, bit by bit … From scratch, as they say.

Kravchenko Kostiantyn . Dnepr, July 2017. Photo by Markiian Lyseyko

Certainly, there was no ‘Pravyi Sektor’, nothing like this. Where from could we have ‘Pravyi Sektor’? Well, when the time came to flee from the city since my picture was shown on TV. I was already seen: photos of activists were taken at that time by separatists and put on their vehicles and on torpedoes. And they drove across the city and watched: in case they saw any of us … One guy was fired at, some other guys were chased after.  One of my friends got a call from his former comrade who became a separatist, who said: “Either you flee, or something bad will happen’. So, he left for abroad. And I took my things and moved to Dnipro. There it all was only at the start, Kolomoyskyy was gathering people.

In the evening I got a call, and already in the morning, I left. I was going through Donetsk and watching who was entering the train’s carriage: Donetsk transport police, separatists with guns, and conductors were showing them who was sitting on which seats. Well, if there were three men aside – they approached us: ‘document check’, what we have with us. Some people were taken out of carriages. I was not taken since I was alone. Nobody paid attention to me. So, I came. But I saw many people taken out of the carriages.

At that time all those coming from the Donetsk direction had one aim. We were naive and thought that we would now come, and they would tell us right away: ‘O, volunteers! Hi! Here are weapons for you’, – and we would go to the battle at once. It did not happen that way. There was chaos there. I remember one guy telling me: ‘O, yes, we will give you weapons, and you will run back, to Donetsk, and will fight against us’. I beat him in the face.

Ilovaisk school, ground floor. August 26, 2014. Photo by Maks Levin

But what can be said about 2014? Even now many people do not understand what war is like, why it exists, what’s what. I remember May 9, I was already in Pravyi Sektor in Dnipro at our base. We were asked not to beat anybody too much, and to do without any wounds, murders, throwing into the Dnipro with a rock on the neck, to do everything very quietly. And we left Donetsk, we did not even intend to touch anybody, and then my wife gave me a call saying that she was sitting under the table and hiding since there was a fight in the yard, they were firing from all directions. That was May 9, Mariupol. And I was in the center, there was the main militia administration, with its ‘chaos’. And I saw the first guy with pro-Russian activist’s Georgian ribbon, and I got mad about it. But finally, everything was fine: nobody was killed, everything was alright. All were alive. But nobody with the pro-Russian activist’s ribbon passed by us.

I always said that we would fight with the Muscovites, but did not think that there would be such a serious war

When my wife is asked whether she let me go to the war, she says: ‘And what kind of answer do you expect me to give? That I told him ‘yes, go to the war, die somewhere in the fields?’ Of all my friends, acquaintances I was the only one who had already gone to the war, and when my wife called me and asked: ‘Where are you?’, and I said I was at the war, she told me: ‘What war? Nobody is fighting, everybody stays at home’. And some friends even told her that I had some lovers and that I had left ‘for man’s reasons’.

What kind of attitude is it? The husband was side by side with her, and all a sudden, he took his things and belongings and left. Saying that he was at war, and there was no official war. April, then May … She called me and asked: ‘I don’t understand what you are doing there, where are you?’.

Constantine is assisted, Ilovaisk school, on the first floor. August 26, 2014. Photo by Maks Levin

At that time the Russian TV in Mariupol worked to the full. She seemingly believed me that I was supporting Ukraine. But on the other hand, when there was no fire in Mariupol, what could her attitude to this be?

And then I had an official speech in Dnipro-1. Even more, her reaction was negative, as with every wife, mother. And my children even did not know where I had gone. I told them I went fishing. Since they were attending school, God forbid, they would tell anyone that their father had gone to the war. Anything could happen. So, they knew I was fishing. They called me asking what I had caught.

Не шкодую за тим, що сталось: сталось і сталось. 
Я б і знов пішов

When we were moving to Ilovaisk, nobody knew about that as well. We were even told the following: ‘Guys, we are leaving, there is some business there for one day or two. Don’t take many things – everything is fine’. I told my guys that if they talk about a day or two, that meant that we would spend a week there. And so, we went. And from that place, I gave a call to my wife and said that we were staying over a period in Ilovaisk.

Kostyantyn Kravchenko was injured on the floor of Ilovaiskaya school. August 26, 2014. Photo by Markiian Lyseyko

There was no water, gas, power – nothing there. People were staying in the vaults as ground squirrels and going out from time to time to see if everything was all right. They prepared something on the fire, cooked. The fire started – they hid ‘in their holes’, and we were staying and looking… We had no place to run.

I came to know about entrapment by phone. And I even became glad about it. I told my guys: ‘That’s so nice, we are in entrapment. That is a real war!’ You don’t need to have a sector, you can shoot everywhere: the enemy is everywhere. And when the enemy approaches you, it is the best way to beat the enemy. I was wounded at the wrong time, however.

Photo by Markiian Lyseyko

And I caught three mines. The first one was when my finger was torn away, and trousers were in blood, I wanted to place some painkillers there. I was taking out the syringe, and here is the second mine: it broke my arm. I could not make the injection. I already even could not raise the gun. And when I was moving to the school with the broken leg, the third mine fell and there was a blast wave at my back.

Then I was taken away. That was the time when our first circle was broken, and there was a small path one could leave by. At first, we were taken from Ilovaisk to the school in Mnohopillia. We stayed there, they did something with us: military men are awful people. My finger was on a thin skin fragment. In Mechnikov hospital I told one guy: ‘Take the scissors and cut it away – and let’s forget about it!’. But he took it and sew. Then I had two operations to at least somehow move it. And the same with the back, legs, arms, and shoulders.

Finally, I got about 20 holes, a bone fragment of some 5-7 cm is lacking. But I did not register any single wound of mine, I did not get any compensation. And as they said about me in Mariupol: ‘Well, he went to fight for money’.

Thus, on January 21 I was already at my work in Krasnoarmiysk, though with the supporting stick, and I came back home three months later. I stayed in bed for some time, then hid the crutches away, because someone needed to go. And I told my wife that I would brush some tins of lubricant grease, and I would not go to the frontline. And she pretended to believe me. That’s how we live.

I calculated once that each of us must kill 8-10 moskals, men, for us to have some parity in the number of servicemen. That is there have become much more of them. But still.

Kostyantyn Kravchenko was injured on the floor of Ilovaiskaya school. August 26, 2014. Photo by Maks Levin

I am not sorry for what has happened: it has happened, so it’s alright. I would go again if Yarosh took me, but I will not to the army. Why lose the life of a healthy and young person if there is such an old cripple as me? One could live a normal life as people do: they don’t care. I have met such people in Kyiv, in Lviv, and in Lviv market, a seller told me: ‘And are moskals, not people? They are also people, they are also good’. 

My younger daughter asked me to bring her a real gun from the war, but I didn’t. That means I still have some business to do there.

I calculated once that each of us must kill 8-10 moskals, men, for us to have some parity in the number of servicemen. That is there have become much more of them. But still.

Kostyantyn Kravchenko was injured on the floor of Ilovaiskaya school. August 26, 2014. Photo by Maks Levin

I had to kill some 40 of them. I have not yet. I still have a lot of things to do. And to have pity for them, why have pity for them? When I was staying in Mechnikov hospital, and there were military men together with us, they cried and shouted that ‘everybody had betrayed us, left us: there was no food, no navy, no submarines, how could we fight in Ilovaisk?’

Do you know why I went to Dnipro? At that time commander, Bereza told me: ‘Will you go with us?’ And what do you have? What will you give me? He said: ‘I promise two things: weapons and the possibility to kill moskals. Do you agree?’ Sure, I did. And it was all like this: I was given weapons, and provided with the opportunity. No claims to anyone.

And generally, when the war broke out, I realized that for us, nationalists, that was the golden period, since it was not just that we could kill those animals, we could even get not a term of imprisonment but some praise for that! Even awards! That was a holiday, that was happiness!

If we beat them we were afraid police would catch us, and here I was even given a medal. How can I complain? I cannot.

Dnipro city, on the other side of the hospital named after Mechnikov. Photo by MaksLevin

That is so to say a career peak for any nationalist. I always kept saying that we would fight moskals, but I did not imagine the war would be so serious. 

My plans for the future are very simple – to live somehow. I will be dismissed, will get a referral to the medical and social examination commission where I will get my official status, pension, I will be looking for housing. I will not go back to Mariupol. That is dangerous for my children, and my wife is also afraid to.

Whatever mass media say about Mariupol being a Ukrainian city, everything remains the same. And my children need a decent education.

Why do they need to go back? One should think about the future. And І do that all when I perform my father’s, man’s duty to my family, I will become a Free Person. And when I see Pilot or Yarosh, I will be able to tell them: ‘Guys, I’m with you. In case you need someone to clean your weapons’. Well, somebody needs to do this. A young handsome guy staying all the time on military patrol should not do this. There must be some semi-fighters like me for this. I think so.