АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova
19 August 2022
Before the 24th of February Oleksandr Oliynyk, a 26-year-old sports correspondent of Mykolaiv TV channel “MART”, had a favourite work, played soccer and trained kids while together with his wife waited for their firstborn to arrive. The couple was separated by the war for a long 4 months. While Kateryna was protecting a future life, Oleksandr stayed in Mykolaiv and together with his friends fought for the city in an informational war. Also, he worked as a volunteer. He told his story to “Monologues of the War”.
I’m a journalist at the local TV channel “MART” and an assistant coach of Mykolaiv women soccer club “Nika”. That day I should have gone training, but the war changed everything. Two of my projects are put on hold now. It’s the female soccer club and is helping a boarding school. I work there as a facilitator. We went to asynchronous learning, but it’s not the same as seeing children’s efforts in person.
My feelings were peculiar. On the one hand it was scary that everything was happening in our country. On the other hand, the understanding came that we need to do everything possible to win.
I had watched the events, but I wouldn’t think the full-scale invasion would happen. Everyone knew about the Russo-Ukrainian war that lasted for 8 years in the East, but nobody expected an attack from all sides.
First of all I had to take care of the safety of my family, because we were expecting a child who was due in July. I had to save the life of my wife and our child.
We left to my parents for a week in a suburb of Mykolaiv, but it became hot there. Because it was the direction toward Kherson through Oleksandrivka and Stanislav, bombing and rocket attacks at that area were unrelenting.
Russian troops tried to get as close as possible, shelling civilians and their houses. A shell completely destroyed two houses one street away from us. Luckily, no one died there.
I was the only one in our family who kept calm. I told my family about what was happening, explained the meaning of the Head of Mykolaiv OMA and Mykolaiv’s major messages. It was important to stay calm and balanced in the first days and weeks of war.
My wife spent several hours in the bomb shelter daily. After a week I forbid my pregnant wife to go down into the basement every night. We found some of our relatives in the West of Ukraine. I sent her and her mother there. I stayed for 4 months in Mykolaiv and joined them a few weeks before delivery.
I sent my wife to a safe place thinking that it was for 1 or 2 months. But it happened so that we gave birth to our child not in our hometown. I plan to come back to Mykolaiv before the 1st of September, because anyway it’s my hometown, and over these 5 month it became more dear to me, than over the 26 years that I have lived there.
When I returned, I was impressed by the indomitable spirit of Ukrainians. I didn’t expect that people here would be so united.
For the first two days there was a threat of attack on the city, a threat of invasion, though at the first volunteer centre people made several thousand Molotov cocktails over 3 hours!
People quickly rallied to the defence. They set up about 5-10 car tires at every intersection and waited for the enemy with Molotov cocktails.
Also, I was pleasantly surprised with what is happening now in the city. I spent 4 months living alone in our apartment.
This is how my days looked like: shelling at about 5 a.m., then the rescue operation began. They recorded the consequences, sorted out the rubble, and managed to save someone, but not all. They calculated the damage and reported about the accident at noon. The same day they began to restore the infrastructure.
Once, I was driving around the city taking pictures after shelling. I talked to the citizens who suffered from the shelling. There is a forest near their high-store building. They said: “We have no weapons; we are peaceful people and live calmly in Mykolaiv. But if russians break through the defence and try to come in, they shall fall in that woods. All our neighbours from all the entrances will come and all the civilians. We will bury them with our bare hands.” They were strongly determined.
I didn’t go to the shelter at all. Even when it was the warning about the threat of artillery fire. I was sure that everything would be fine. I made myself a cup of tea and kept working for people who read this and analyse the data.
If all the journalists go to shelter, who would have done the work? Someone should be responsible for it.
I don’t hear air-raid sirens and explosions at night. I find out about alerts in the morning after awakening. I sleep soundly now. I’ve trusted the FAU even when things got worse.
The strongest explosion in Mykolaiv I’ve heard was when a missile hit the “Ingul” hotel in the center of the city. It is a 10 minutes’ walk from my house. Seeing the consequences after was a pretty nasty experience.
When occupiers hit the building of the Mykolaiv regional public administration, an office of the local TV channel “MART” was affected. Almost all the windows were blown out. It’s interesting that the windows near my workplace were neatly placed on the floor on purpose. If it was taken off and put down.
The clock at the entrance stopped at the moment of strike. I think it will remain for the history of the TV channel, the history of the war and Mykolaiv.
At the end of June russian troops launched 8 missiles on the city, one of them hit the central stadium. There is a huge crater of 15×5 meters now. What military facility might be in the stadium?
If it had hit 2 meters further in one direction, the building would have been destroyed. We built it for 3 years. If it had hit a few meters further in another direction, the whole stadium would have been destroyed. And so, it is the heating of the field, it is the lawn, we had built it for a long time.
Their actions have no explanation. The world should see and know how civilians suffer. Today they hit a beer shop in the Mykolaiv region, yesterday they hit a bar, where one man died. He was working there. How is it possible? It should be known by the world.
The war will last until we come to the administrative borders of 1991, otherwise russians won’t stop.
Only 19 days of 134 there was no shelling in Mykolaiv. People get accustomed to it. They understand what’s going on. They understand that russia is trying to demonstrate its power. But all they can do is shelling civilians. They could do no more.
They want to intimidate Ukrainians and residents of Mykolaiv, but they won’t succeed. Even so, more than 50% of the Mykolaiv population spoke russian. We won’t give up our city. We should free our friends in Kherson and other occupied areas.
In the South of Ukraine everyone works to speed up the return of Kherson, and then for our powerful team of Odesa, Mykolaiv, and Kherson, which works for our win.
A few hours after they announced that there would be no water supply in Mykolaiv, my friends from Odesa called me and asked how they could send me some water. I saw how many water trucks were sent from Odesa, how many people wanted to help us.
Mykolaiv works and defences. Also, Odesa works and defences. She suffers as well as Mykolaiv. A 3-month-old child died due to shelling!
Twice I went with humanitarian aid to my friends in Snigurivtsi. I brought 4 giant boxes, 20 000 hrivnas each, but the next day the road to Snigurivtsi was closed and there was no news. It’s forbidden to use cell phones there, they live without information, and it’s really bad. People don’t know that we are close to them. The Ukrainian army is getting close.
Only once I participated in volunteering when I helped my friends in Snigurivtsi. I received a message at 6 p.m. that a truck with humanitarian aid would come in a half an hour and it had to be unloaded. We did that work. The curfew began at 9 p.m. Someone checked the time and proposed to finish.
We were three friends who came to the Humanitarian Center, we looked at each other and thought the same: “You can go if you wish, we stay.
As it turned out later, we unloaded 14 tons of humanitarian aid. A man who worked together with us, said: “I have unloaded many trucks, but I haven’t seen work in such a coordinated and fast manner.”
These small episodes show how efficiently everyone works for victory.
My wife asked me to come but I can’t. My grandmother and grandfather are here, my job is here, my friends are here, my house is here. I can’t leave all this behind. At any moment someone may need me.
If I had left earlier, I wouldn’t have helped with the humanitarian help for Snigurivtsi, I wouldn’t have helped my friends whose apartment was hit by a russian missile. I agree that it’s unsafe in Mykolaiv. But I feel better here even under shelling than in any other place in the world.
The first thing I said to my wife with a hug after 4 months of separation, that we would soon come back home. She asked me when. I answered: “Well, maybe, tomorrow?’
I have learned during the war that it’s nothing more valuable than the lives of the closest ones. All other values are in the background. Now I give a warm hug to everyone I meet.
I had a thought that on the very first day when the war officially ends and peace comes to the country, I will go to the stadium in Peremohy Park. I will be sitting there until all the lamps will eventually be off. I will think about all the stories I heard and about all I saw. I will recall everything. I will be delighted that it all ended.
We must talk about the war. We must talk about it honestly and openly. If everyone talks about it, people will help the country.
Чому важливо поширити цю історію?
Якщо українці не розповідатимуть свій погляд на війну в Україні, світ поступово забуватиме про нас. Натомість цим обов’язково скористаються росіяни. Тому не даймо їм жодного шансу.
Why is it important to share this story?
If Ukrainians do not share their views on the war in Ukraine, the world will gradually forget about us. Instead, the Russians will definitely take advantage of this. So let's not give them a chance.
АвторAuthor: Iryna Hyliuk | Translation: Anna Shliakhova