|Mikhail Kovalenko, Slavyansk surgent|
February 13, 2015
Andre Omelchenko for Newsbalt.ru
Translated by Kristina Rus
“The Ukrainian government has done everything to kill me personally”
“NewsBalt” interviewed Ukrainian doctor Mikhail Kovalenko, who was saving Novorossia civillians, militias and national guardsmen.
In two days, at midnight on the 15th of February, according to the Minsk agreements, bloodshed must end in Novorossia, bitter symbol of which for many is this photo from Slavyansk.
Information and analytical portal “NewsBalt” managed to find the man depicted in the picture, carrying in his hands the murdered girl, and talk to him. A doctor by profession, Mikhail Kovalenko now lives in Russia, but we will not mention the region, because the banderites are looking for a hero-surgeon.
– Mikhail Georgievich, this is a well-known photograph. The Ukrainian media said that it is the daughter’s father running away from the separatists, and that this girl was killed by the punishers. Is it you in the picture?
– Yes, it’s me. Where the picture came from, I don’t know. And the mines that killed this girl came from Karachun mountain. There was a Ukrainian battery, which regularly shelled the city. That’s where the fire came from.
– What are the events depicted in this picture?
– This happened on Trinity. We just returned with my wife from the church. At this time, city water system already did not function. In the single-house districts there were wells and all the neighbors went there to fetch water. The militia brought a generator (there was no electricity by then). Two explosions happened. They hit the spot where people got water. A militiaman ran from around the corner, carrying a child. Someone shouted: “There’s a doctor!” The fighter gave the girl to me. From my home to the hospital – 500 meters. I ran over there. Put her on the operating table, and realized that the child was dead. The girl had hip, abdomen, and head injuries. Then, when I was looking at this picture, I realized that the child was already dead. Then, in a rush, I didn’t see it.
– Who fired?
– Karachun mountain dominates over the city. Only mountain in our area. On it was a Ukrainian battery, which was constantly shelling the city. They fired from there. And the evidence clearly showed where the shells came from. Militia never fired on Slavyansk, I can vouch for that.
– Many Ukrainians supporting ATO [anti-terrorist operation], believe that the militias fired on themselves.
– A person can be convinced of many things. I myself had to convince the terminally ill that they will recover. They believed.
– No. They were dying. But believed.
– Mikhail Georgievich, what are your impressions, memories from the beginning of the war?
– Until that Trinity I still had the feeling that it will be okay. They fired on the outskirts, but there were not many victims. The horror began on May 2nd. It is on May 2nd, when a column of the military, which took Karachun, fired on the village of Semenovka – small, by Donetsk standards, settlement, roughly two hundred yards.
Local residents blocked the road for the column, so that it would not get to Karachun. Locals made an agreement with the unit commander, that the soldiers will empty the ammunition into the air, and then report to his superiors: “fired everything and had to return”. And the regular UAF division shot a few rounds into the air, and then just started shooting at the people. This day was my shift at the hospital.
It was the first real slaughter. We got 16 people with gunshot wounds. Us, doctors, were not used to such injuries, especially in such quantities. Three received a bullet in the abdomen. One – in the chest. We lost him. The rest were wounded in the legs. That day we lost four. The rest survived. After this massacre some of the inhabitants fled to the city [Slavyansk]. Some stayed. There was a certain balance between the militia and Ukrainian troops. The militia took the position under the mountain. UAF dug in on the mountain.
At the initial stage there were 4 attacks on Slavyansk. There were many casualties among the civilian population. There were wounded among the militia. Even national guardsmen were brought to us. We took care of them. There was a lot of artillery shelling of residential areas. My house was bombed.
It is very scary when you hear the sounds of explosions, while operating on the wounded, and near the hospital there are such explosions that the building is shaking. The military somehow prepares for it. They know how to hide, how to behave in general. We don’t know that. Thirty meters from the hospital, my senior operating nurse was killed. One house was bombed from aircraft. I am now settled not far from an airport. And only six months later stopped shivering when I hear the sound of a plane.
– Was there a lot of work?
– For some time I never left the hospital. Surgeons were constantly needed, because there was a non-stop flow of victims. We didn’t divide people into ours and theirs. We operated on all. Sometimes a militiaman and a national guardsman laid on beds next to each other.
– Mikhail Georgievich, how did you decide to move to Russia?
– June 17, when the militia left, I also left. After three or four days. First to Kharkov, then to Russia. We learned about the withdrawal of the militia exactly on the day when they left. The militias stopped by and said, “Doctor, we are leaving the city right now. Whoever wants to, can go with us now. Get in the car.”
We burned all the medical records. In Slavyansk militia almost all were local residents. Slavyansk by Donetsk standards is a small town – 120 thousand. Imagine what would happen to their families if UAF learned about their gunshot wounds? After militia left, the town was quiet all night. Some absolute, resounding silence. No people, no Ukrainian soldiers. Somewhere, about twelve o’clock, the first Ukrainian soldiers appeared in the city. People, of course, were hiding. I sat in the hospital and watched as two BTRs passed, then returned. Left for the night. The next day they again came back for the day, left for the night. Only on the third or fourth day they began staying in the city. They made a caret [inverted “V”] with BTRs and slept inside.
– Why did you decide to leave?
– It’s personal. Personally I had been shot at. From cannons, small arms. Perhaps I can say that the Ukrainian government has done everything to kill me. They they didn’t kill me because I’m clever. Not because they didn’t try – they tried very well – but because I was lucky, I was able to avoid it. And to live in a country where the government personally shot at me, I just can’t.
– Did they believe they were in a hostile territory? Were they afraid?
– Yes. They are still afraid. A friend told me. After 18-19 o’clock there is no one in the city. No one goes out on the street. They patrol the city. My friend was out late, but was walking home before curfew. And then, ten meters from him, a machine gun round hit the asphalt. Without any warning. He jumped to the side: “What are you doing?”. And they said, “Turn and walk around”. I.e. when a civilian approaches them, they are afraid.
– What have you heard about extra-judicial executions in Slavyansk?
– People were disappearing. One of my friends disappeared. He was not in the militia. Just a small businessman. The majority of small entrepreneurs funded the militia. And in August his wife called, in tears, told me that her husband is missing for three days, and cannot be found. So only among my friends, there are two such facts.
– Mikhail Georgievich, did Strelkov raise everyone, or did the people rise up themselves?
– Strelkov appeared in a city ready to revolt. Therefore, “strelkovtsi” are almost all locals. It was a real popular uprising. At first people had shotguns, hunting rifles, a few German “schmeissers”, PPSh [Soviet submachine gun] …. Why people took up arms? There were mass rallies. And after the mass rallies people began to disappear. Plus everyone saw the footage from Korsun-Shevchenko. How they burned buses, beat and killed people. Until then I was skeptical about Maidan, with humor, as the last one, which was in 2004. Until the real slaughter began. Suddenly, like a devil out of a box popped the “Right Sector”, “Trident”, etc. We never heard about such organizations before. That’s when I got really scared. For the first time.
Video about “Korsun Massacre”:
– The reason for resistance, was probably, not that you were forced to listen to news in the Ukrainian language?
– For many years we have heard from Kiev that in Donbass live not people, but “donbasiane,” that with these “donbasiane” they can speak only with a language of force, that Lvov – is a cultural capital. Despite the fact that they, excuse me, have a theater built by the Austrians and no theater company. And Donetsk academic theater staged “The Flying Dutchman” and this play was a world sensation. Only this was not mentioned anywhere in the Ukrainian press. This despite the fact that all of Europe was impressed with this “Flying Dutchman”. All this also played a role. We realized that no one will listen to us. As they said, “The government of winners came to power in Ukraine”. Not of the whole country, but “of the winners”.
Everything that I have observed in Ukraine, is fully described in Feuchtwanger, Remark. I felt like one, then another character in these novels. Only, for example, in the “Black Obelisk”, the characters live in a situation where the junta has already lost.
– You dealt with the Nazis face-to-face, even though wounded. Maybe after they saw the results of their “defense of Fatherland”, learned about the dead children, civilians, when there was no Ukrainian TV channels nearby, they changed their mind?
– I don’t recall that it has changed. And you know, I think it’s not the TV. I think its some psychotropic drugs. Those national guardsmen, whom I saw, looked like people under the influence of some other drugs. Perhaps from a fenamin group. This, apparently, was some kind of military pharmacology. It caused a decrease in the level of fear, pain threshold, increased muscle tone and responsiveness.
Had a chance to operate one of the fighters of national guard, who had a mortal wound. He behaved very inadequately. Was in a state of excitement. Aggressive. Didn’t feel pain at all. Got up, sat down. The expression on his face – indescribable. Glassy eyes, absolutely uncritical perception… Maybe this is just an opinion, maybe I’m wrong.
I think that the violence occurs in the process. Some submit to it, some don’t. Let’s take Khatyn. As it turns out, the Ukrainians did it. In the USSR this topic was a taboo. But it is now known that Khatyn – is a Ukrainian “achievement”. Same here. These are the same people with the same behavior.
– Why so few people at the initial stage went in the militia?
– They weren’t needed. My friend came to the assembly point. With his military papers, staff officer. He was asked: “Do you have children?”. He said – two. Didn’t take him. They took young, single, and retired.
– Have you heard about the hospitals, on the territories occupied by the junta, are full of raped women and even minor girls?
– I heard about it. But haven’t seen myself. And I believe it, because I saw these nazguardians.
– Mikhail Georgievich, is it possible to say that the Ukrainian government is carrying out a genocide of the population of Donbass?
– How would you describe it: a peaceful city, with militia made up of the residents of the city, is simply bombed by the government? Instead of talking with the residents, to send negotiators? Why was it not done? Why did they begin the shelling of the city?
And phosphorous bombs? I saw these burns. We had six people with these burns. I had seen it all and I am ready to testify under oath.
Did Poroshenko send any negotiators? At least to ask: “what do you want?”. People just wanted to feel like people. No one wanted to talk to us. And the war began.
– Would you like for the same shooting, the same war to begin in Central and Western Ukraine? That they feel the same, as your countrymen? That they realize that killing civilians is bad?
– Absolutely not! What is happening now in Ukraine – this is fascism. Understand correctly. Donbass is a place where people were not divided along ethnic lines. Where Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Armenian, Jewish and Uzbek drank cognac at one table. We ate and conversed about religion. Amazing scene.
– And how is the transition to civilian life?
– Friends in Russia helped with the move. And when we got here, it turned out that one of the hospitals of the city needs a surgeon and a therapist. And they took me and my wife. Slowly entering into a peaceful routine. Personally, I have only for a couple of weeks stopped shaking at night from the sounds of wedding fireworks. I want to wish everyone peace and a calm life.