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  • Українці розповідають про пережите під час війни з росією

    Ukrainians talk about their experiences during the war with russia

    In the role of a sailor

    “I was forced to run through a minefield,” – is the story of a man who escaped from occupied Kherson


    АвторAuthor: Vera Korolchenko | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk

    6 September 2022

    Dancer Volodymyr Tuka miraculously left occupied Kherson on April 1. At one of the racist checkpoints, a flag of Ukraine was found in his belongings and he was almost killed. Volodymyr told the “Monologues of the War” project about how he wrote a song based on an Azov poem, how he held a grenade without a check on the order of the occupier, and how he started a new life in Odessa.

    February 25 is actually my birthday. But when I turned 36, the rashists captured Kherson almost without resistance. This is such a gift… Many people from the city decided to leave, but I stayed and started volunteering: I helped the sick with medicine, delivered groceries, and baby food.

    A friend of mine had cancer and needed medication to rehabilitate. I ran after them all over the city: I found something, and I didn’t. Two months later, I decided to leave Kherson and took prescriptions from a friend for medicines that were no longer sold there. I hoped to find them at least in Mykolaiv and send them to Kherson by mail. But while I was driving, I got a call from the hospital saying that a friend had died.

    “The orcs turned on a children’s song about friendship. It sounded like bullying”

    When the occupiers entered Kherson, a lot of equipment appeared on the streets: APCs and ZILs were standing, tanks were rolling. The rashists immediately set up their protective blocks on the main square, and we started going there every day for rallies. Our guys brought a column to the Maidan and started playing Ukrainian songs, and the rashists responded by cutting down soviet songs. At one of the rallies, the orcs turned on a children’s song about friendship. It sounded like bullying.

    At the rallies, even the women rushed to attack the soldiers, but we had guys who kept everything under control. If someone broke through to the military, it would be just a meat grinder.

    At the rally in Kherson

    Volodymyr Tuka at one of the rallies in Kherson

    I remember two very large rallies, when more than 2,000 people gathered. At that time, the equipment of the rashists was standing on the side of one of the main streets. We were walking past with Ukrainian flags, and orks were shooting into the air from tanks. They probably wanted to scare us, but people, on the contrary, became more aggressive. Some of the tanks were even opened up by our guys with their hands. But people were not shot then, because there were a lot of us.

    “In occupied Kherson, we shot a clip on poems by an Azov man”

    In addition to rallies, we organized patriotic actions in Kherson. One of the local artists offered to draw flowers on whatman paper in memory of her son who died in the war. I gave her a “living” bouquet.

    I had an acquaintance, her friend served in “Azov”. He wrote poems about the war, and an acquaintance asked me to write a song about them. I took three chords – she liked it. Then, in occupied Kherson, we shot a clip of this Azov man‘s poems and only recently completed it.

    “Some of my friends I never saw again…”

    At first, ordinary soldiers stood in the city and did not touch civilians, but then the fast reaction group arrived, which was instructed to “work” specifically with the civilian population. And here already at the rallies they began to use force: they beat with batons, shot, fired tear gas. One man had his leg amputated after being hit by a grenade. Several more people received burns. After that, the protests began to die down, because the number of victims was increasing, and there was not enough medicine in the city.

    Read also: «We knew that there had already been rape attempts in our village. We also knew that there were kidnappings, tortures, and murders». A story from an occupied village in the Kherson region

    Activists began to be picked up from the streets and taken to unknown places. Some of my friends I never saw again… One of my acquaintances told how her friend was brutally tortured with electricity. Many of such people, when they were released, almost committed suicide. They were simply broken morally.

    “I was forced to run through a minefield and hold a grenade in my hand with a check pulled out”

    I decided to leave Kherson together with a friend. He came by car to pick up his parents, but they refused to go, because they had their own farm here. Instead of them, I went with a friend.

    We left on April 1, just at the time when the Internet and mobile communications were cut off in Kherson. Then rumors began to circulate that the orcs were taking our boys to the front to dig trenches.

    Flowers for the mother of the fallen Kherson man

    Volodymyr Tuka gives flowers to the mother of a deceased Kherson citizen

    At one of the checkpoints, the people of DPR stopped us, they started searching the car and our belongings, and they found a flag of Ukraine in my backpack. In the end, they took away my friend’s car and my mobile phone, and they started mocking us. For several hours, I was beaten, a machine gun was put to my head, I was forced to run through a minefield and hold a grenade with a check drawn in my hand.

    And then the same people from DNR sat us down at the table, took out a bottle of vodka and, like best friends, began to tell us how hard it is for them to live here. Then they themselves put us in a car with someone who was also evacuating. However, these people dropped us off 200 meters away, at the next checkpoint. In the end, my friend and I hitchhiked to Odessa and changed five cars.

    About moving to Odessa

    From Kherson, I got to Odesa and started living with friends who agreed to give me shelter. I almost immediately found a job as a computer operator, although I am a dancer with eight years of experience, but such are the times.

    However, I have problems with work: so far, the boss has paid me and 30 other migrants only a small amount for the first month, but I have been working for the third time. Seems like a scam, but I’m not sad.

    I have a theater for my soul. After moving, I saw that the Odesa jazz club “Peron No. 7” was taking a free course, and I went to study acting. Already managed to play in the play “Odessa, I love you” in the open air. We transferred all the collected funds to the needs of the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

    Volodymyr Tuka played the role of a sailor in the play

    Volodymyr Tuka in the role of a sailor in the performance “Odesa, I love you”

    There I met a girl who sings about war. She invited me to the studio to record one of her songs – “The forest is cut down, wood chips fly” about “stupid loggers” who came to our land, but they will not succeed in cutting us down. It definitely won’t work.

    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: Vera Korolchenko | Translation: Violeta Shenkariuk


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