By Dmitry Rodionov, from EAD
On May 23, 2015, on the way from Alchevsk to Lugansk, the legendary brigade commander of “Prizrak” (Ghost), Alexey Mozgovoy , the call sign ‘Pervogo’ (First) , was killed . Along with him, his press secretary Anna Samelyuk and three security fighters, Alexander Yuryev , Alexey Kalashin , Andrei Ryazhskikh , also died . Cars were fired on from in an ambush. A vile murder. In battle, his enemies were afraid. Shot by cowards hiding around a corner.
This crime has not been solved in five years. Responsibility immediately assumed Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group (DRG) “Shadows”. Many in the Donbass still doubt that this Ukrainian DRG even existed. I’m afraid that we’ll hardly ever find out the truth about the death of Mozgovoy. This is what gives the personality of the commander of Prizrak even more mystery and legend.
Be that as it may, this was the end of the romantic era of the Donbass intifada – a harsh and heroic era, when a story was created before our eyes and with our hands that brought forward people who were truly ideological, honest and uncompromising.
Could the poet and singer from Svatovo Aleksey Mozgovoy imagine in 2013 that in a year he would become a legend of the civil war in Ukraine, that after that his life would become swift and eventful, but would last only a little over a year? This year has fit as much as most people can’t survive in their entire lives. Life is a blink of an eye, dazzling, like a flash of a comet. What many dream of is to be at some point on the edge of the era.
His life was shared by Euromaidan. Like the lives of millions of other people. On before and after. Mozgovoy was one of those who did not think what to do next. He was one of the first to defend his native Donbass.
The history of the Donbass war gave many big names for fiery stands and bright commanders. Mozgovoy combined all this. He became the personification of the dream of Donbass – a free country without fascism, oligarchs and alien “values.” For the first time since the collapse of the USSR, the worker of Donbass was able to realize its aspirations for democracy, socialism and reunification with Russia.
As befits a legend, his name was fanned by all sorts of rumors. Enemies tried to denigrate his name: they say, under him they lynched the rapists, shot deserters and so on without execution and trial. But even this only strengthened the romantic halo of the people’s commander. He was respected and loved, like a father, and his fighters. Residents of Donbass saw him as an intercessor and an unconditional leader.
Mozgovoy never considered himself to be either “red” or “white”. Those and others were drawn to him, considering their own. But he generally tried not to get into politics. For him, the war was outside politics, it was a struggle against the medieval brutalized Nazism and the power of the oligarchs that merged with it.
He was one of the few leaders of the Russian Spring who stood above the clouding of reason accompanying civil wars, talked with enemies, knew how to hear them, offered to unite against the criminal Maidan government, said that the peoples of Ukraine have nothing to share.
People came to him from all over the country, from all over the world – especially to get into the Ghost: anti-fascists from Italy, Spain, Germany, France. For the international anti-fascist movement, his name stood on a par with Ernesto Guevara de la Serna . People of conservative beliefs came to him, seeing in him the embodiment of a centuries-old Russian dream, a kind of epic hero, the embodiment of spiritual values of the Russian people. Yes, he surprisingly combined the conservative Russian world with the left rhetoric of Lenin , Gramsci , Che Guevara.
Mozgovoy has many poems about the nobility of tsarist Russian officers. Mozgovoy was mesmerized by the grandeur of Russian history, the Russian Empire. But he, like any normal Soviet man, was hated by the disguised monarchists of the 1990s and popular prints about the fact that until 1917 there were solid candy-lamb, and then a “German spy” Lenin appeared from another planet and all this splendor overnight collapsed. Mozgovoy perfectly saw: with a mock pseudo-monarchism, corruption and banditry were covered. He wrote about this in verses:
Wherever you spit, nobles are everywhere.
Who is the count, who is of princely blood.
Distribution of titles drunk
Everything for the people, for the people.
At the height of the plague – a banquet parade,
Fear grows fear.
Beau monde “nobles” in the country of Soviets,
Where all the people are driven into the herd!
Donbass has always been a passionary center, the element that dispersed blood throughout the vast country, and Mozgovoy was one of those who felt and knew how to use this energy.
He himself was a bunch of energy. When I first came to see the legend, I did not find it in the location, the second time, too. He was constantly on the move: at positions, in villages where he met people, helped solve their problems, ensured the delivery and distribution of humanitarian supplies, traveled to Lugansk and even Moscow for negotiations, for which he was very worried. After all, it was about the future of his native land and all of Russia.
I never had the chance to get to know him closely. For happiness it was when you could chat for a few minutes. But those moments of communication with him infected him with optimism, his epic spiritual strength and confidence in the correctness of our choice and the inevitability of victory.
The last time we saw each other was on May 9, 2015. He, as always, was torn to be in several places at once, to be with his people – wherever it was required. And I was torn. That day I went to report in the front-line Pervomaisk, and my colleagues interviewed the brigade commander who participated in the subbotnik. As it turned out, one of the last.
Mozgovoy died but exactly two weeks later, when they informed me about this, I could not believe for a long time – yes, you live in war every day like the last, but it was so hard to accept that fate takes away the First. And just recently there was another attempt – and almost in the same place. Incredible.
Five years have passed since the death of Mozgovoy, but his work lives on now, despite the fact that there is no longer that romanticism, that ardent faith in the future of New Russia, many of the living, who stood at the origins of the Russian Spring, were disappointed and retired. But it is impossible to forget those who started, who set an example for others, charging them with such energy that they never passed through themselves and are unlikely to be missed. Impossible to forgive the killers. Not only him. The whole country, for which he, like many others, whose memory we must also honor, sacrificed everything that he had.
And that means that the Mozgovoy’s business will live until his dream is fulfilled and the Donbass, like the rest of Ukraine, finds freedom, the struggle for which he devoted his short but unusually bright life.