Paliy, from Kharkiv
Azov battalion, Mariupol
If was after the shooting in Institutska in February that I realized that I could not keep aloof. When the whole situation with the Crimea began, I started to look for some force I could join. There weren’t many options, and Azov turned out to be the most appropriate. In fact, this name appeared much later. We were called “little black men” then. I’ve known Biletsky for many years, as we are both from Kharkiv. And I chose this battalion solely due to Biletskiy’s personal features. He might take offence, but I do think that our commander is like a child. He believes in good causes, trusts people, and takes it to heart when we have conflicts inside our troops.
The only military experience I have had was the Soviet army. However, we trained a lot at our bases, and that was the reason, perhaps, why none of us was killed during the raid on Mariupol. I was shooting a machine-gun in that raid and covered the attack of our unit in that much-spoken about Kamaz truck.
When I now come to Kyiv where I have been living in recent years, everything there irritates me. The life there seems somewhat unreal. It is here that the real life happens. Everything is clearer, faster and free from unnecessary details. There are no halftones. Only the feeling of freedom.
The most unexpected thing about the war was my own reaction to danger. I can’t remember a single moment when I felt scared. Amazing as it may seem, I have no fear. I am just trying to do my best. There might be some physiological trick here. However, I do feel concerned about my brother, whom I encouraged to join Azov as well.
I am divorced with five children. The eldest daughter is twelve, and the youngest is three. They are too small to understand where I am and what is really happening.
I haven’t made any plans for the future after the war. My head and my arms are still with me. I’ll think about it when everything is over. And I am pretty sure that everything will end up in Moscow. Not because I want it, but because this looks pretty much inevitable. Russia is facing a major collapse, and so are the illusions of its citizens. Actually, I feel very sorry for them.