In the merciless grinder of history – the story of one of the “Zaporozhian 300”


July 28, 2015

Gleb Bobrov writer and journalist from Lugansk, who predicted the ongoing Ukrainian Civil War in his 2008 novel-prophecy “The Era of the Stillborn”, republished 6 times in 2015, editor of

Translated by Kristina Rus

“He was caught in the collapse of the Soviet Union – began service in the Soviet Army, and was discharged from  UAF – Ukrainian Armed Forces.”

The first time I saw “Lyuty” [“Fierce”] was July 6, 2015 at the laying of flowers by Lugansk writers at the Pushkin monument. Among a colorful crowd of journalists and camera crews suddenly flashed a painfully familiar face. Walked up, said hello: “Who-what? What brings you here?”. It turned out we knew of each other, though in absentia. And now he is in Lugansk again – another twist of the military career. Not big, but thick, solid, as if trying to fit into a trench of life. Looking tough, but surprisingly righteous man. And a living legend – one of the “300 Zaporozhians”, subsequently literally plowed on his belly as a commander of the assault platoon through all the summer military campaign, and after a serious concussion – stubbornly returned to action. This is Alexander Agapov with the call sign “Fierce”.


Pre-war biography is simple and straightforward. Alexander was born a little more than forty years ago in the Russian city of Samara. Graduated high school and vocational school there. He began working in geological exploration as a driller. Like all peers, went to serve with passion  – was in air defense forces. That’s were he was caught in the collapse of the Soviet Union – began service in the Soviet Army, and was discharged from  UAF – Ukrainian Armed Forces. In 1995, he moved for permanent residence to Donetsk region, to his mother. And started a new, traditional Donbass work – as the engineer of mountain clearing equipment at the Krasnoarmeyskaya-Zapadnaya N1 mine.

In 2010 he got married and together with his wife Tatiana moved to Zaporozhye. Two children, boys 9 and 4 years old. To a linear question “Which motherland is more important?” he answers simply: “Most likely Russia, but here I have children, how do I divide it?!”

300 Zaporozhians

On February 22, 2014 Agapov came to Lenin square in Zaporozhje. At first, he got there by accident. Saw a lot of people and wondered, “What do other people think?”. Says: “By that time my head was buzzing with questions”. At the square people talked about what was paining the soul of every sane person. This was his first clash with the militants of the “Right sector” and supporters of “Maidan”. Clashes continued into the next day. The nationalists wanted to dismantle the Lenin monument – but the Zaporozhians then saved the monument.

This is how Alexander joined the ranks of the resistance movement against the junta and the growing national insanity under the banners of “Maidan”. Among the thirty Zaporozhians on April 6 “Lyuty” arrived to Lugansk in support of activists of Lugansk region storming the building of the local SBU [Security Service of Ukraine].

– We had a very strong resistance movement in Zaporozhye, we therefore considered it our duty to come to Lugansk to help our comrades, our Lugansk brothers – says Alexander.

 From there they returned to Zaporozhye and the next day, on April 13, the holy holiday of Palm Sunday, once again came to the rally at the Lenin monument. They were already expected. As it turned out, all subsequent events were pre-planned by the enemy.

– As soon as the rally was over, we were surrounded by the fighters of the “Right sector”, ultras, supporters of “Maidan” and the neo-Nazis from the organization “The White Hammer” – says Agapov – They threw stones, eggs, bags of flour, bottles of “green”. Occasionally shots were fired and not just from rubber, “Flobert” and pneumatics. For example, a bullet went through my jacket.

Under a hail of everything that the militants had brought in advance and what they could grab on the spot, under this barrage of stones, rage and hatred the Zaporozhian activists stood for more than six hours. Around them raged a mad crowd.

– They came to the rally well prepared: wearing helmets, armed with bats, metal bars, clubs and hammers, – says “Lyuty”. Periodically, the Nazis managed to break through the thin barrier of the police, and then fierce fights broke out.

A priest, who stood in line with the “three hundred Zaporozhians” was subjected to blasphemy and insults. He was hit with stones and eggs, spit in the face and in the icon. Called a “Moscow pope” and was barraged with vile obscenities just for the fact that he served as a priest of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate. The lunatic thugs did not even stop at the sight of Panagia Theotokos.

The police barely held the crowd. Oddly enough, security forces found support among the “pro-Maidan” neo-Nazis of “The White Hammer” – they, along with police officers prevented the “Right sector” from starting a slaughter. A little later, just two weeks after the Zaporozhye rehearsal, exactly the same imported thugs managed to arrange a bloodbath in Odessa.

– Only idiots don’t feel fear. In those hours I actually realized that if they break through the cordon, we will be simply ripped to pieces. Among the Nazis there was a huge number of aggressive armed people transported to the city precisely for this – to arrange a slaughter. But we had nowhere to go. We were standing, ” – says Agapov.

When the people were lead out and the militants pushed back, all the anti-fascists were arrested and taken to the police department. All were recorded and released. Now the Zaporozhye activists only had to wait for imminent arrest. Alexander did not tempt his fate – on April 30 left for Donbass and joined the militia.

The summer battles of 2014

At first Agapov arrived to Donetsk, under the walls of the regional administration. From there, on May 11, fighter “Lyuty” joined the ranks of the battalion “Vostok”. Initially, as an ordinary mechanic-driver of BMP-2, then graduated to the commander of the assault platoon. Participated in the defense of the airport, Karlovka, Peski, Mikhailovka and Saur-Mogila. After the death of “Bear” platoon, participated in the rescue of the surviving heroes of the defense of Saur-Mogila – they walked there on foot from Snezhnoye.

– The first time I realized that we were fighting savages was in the summer of 2014 near Peski, – says “Lyuty”. We kept the defense near STO “Renault”. At night began another attack. They kept coming in droves somewhere from midnight and until dawn. We stood tough, not a step back. Mowing their infantry over and over again. But they kept coming and coming. By the morning, as they fizzled out, they rolled out a UAF tank and unloaded its ammo on us. As the dust settled, we moved forward to see the results. And what did we see? The wounded finished off, naked dead. Stripped not only straps and body armor from their own, even took the boots off from the corpses. Stripped the clothes from their fallen comrades. Then we found out why they kept pushing as if immortals. In all the pockets were packages with methadone. They were all stoned going on attack! We were later told that it’s a powerful psychotrop that is used for the treatment of drug addicts replacing real drugs. So high on this dope they kept pushing bulging their eyes – he recalls.

After, in August-September, Agapov participated in the battle for Yasinovataya.

– Then we began the offensive, – says Alexander. – We have broken through, or, rather, began to align the front line, at Panteleymonovka connected with units of Besler. Ordinary combat operation.

In fact, “Lyuty” went through the inferno, having been in the most dramatic areas of the front, in the grinder of the summer military campaign of 2014.

– I don’t like to talk about it, sorry. War is mud, sweat, blood and tears. There is no romance.

 And yet, he was eager to fight more. Therefore, after the ceasefire “Lyuty” left the “Vostok” battalion, and entered into a second motorized battalion of the 5th brigade of “Oplot”. Again became commander of the infantry fighting vehicle. Where he served until January 15, 2015, until a massive shelling, which, as it turned out, put a comma in his fighting career. Had to quit – the consequences of a serious concussion made it impossible to properly serve, needed urgent treatment.

Rostov – Lugansk – Donetsk

On January 30, 2015 Agapov was in a hospital in Rostov-on-Don. He was patched up, but what to do next – was unclear. Help came from outside. Well-known journalist and volunteer Eva Merkurieva after learning about the fate of Agapov contacted her colleagues in Lugansk. Journalists of state-run news agency “Lugansk Information Center”, in turn, contacted the writers’ organization of the LPR, and those with the Russian Afghan veterans. Rostov “Fayzabadans” (veterans of the legendary 860-th separate motorized rifle regiment OKSBA stationed in Fayzabad, Badakhshan province, DRA – ed.) did not disappoint – “Lyuty” immediately received housing and work. Recovering, he even managed to work in his last trade as an industrial climber.

Overall it is difficult to talk to him. He is guarded, his soul is sandwiched between two tightly clenched, like stubborn lips, folds. Not surprising: defending personal Thermopylae in April 2014, “Lyuty” then with a heavy cleaver went on armor and by foot through the hot nightmare of Peski and Saur-Mogila, the winter horror of shelling and the heavy burden of disease. The Ukrainian Civil War tempered these folds into forged Spartan shields. Stiff, molded in the crucible of combat, infirmaries and deprivation, this short-spoken, stern man returned to his war. For him now it’s just another heavy, sometimes dangerous, but familiar work, as in a mine or on a high rise. Because duty, in fact, still, remains above personal: there are his children, comrades and unfinished business – the liberation of his second homeland from the stranglehold of the neo-Nazis and the armed junta. 

Since June 2015 Sanya “Lyuty” is back in the line up.

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