How Kharkiv residents broke into the besieged Slavyansk in the spring of 2014

How Kharkiv residents broke into the besieged Slavyansk in the spring of 2014
How Kharkiv residents broke into the besieged Slavyansk in the spring of 2014

Five years have passed since the events of the “Russian spring” in the South-East. In this regard, I recalled one of the episodes of those turbulent events, just one day, containing so many events. He was associated with the organization and delivery of a cargo of humanitarian aid by the Kharkiv resistance on April 29, 2014 to besieged Sloviansk, which for the third week held the defense against the advancing Ukrainian army and needed food and medicine.

There was not yet a continuous ring of encirclement of the city, and from the side of Kharkov there was an opportunity to break through there. At that time, we did not imagine how serious importance was attached in Kiev to our, in general, peaceful action, there they were afraid of coordinated actions of Donbass and Kharkov and the expansion of opposition to the putschists.

With representatives of the militia of Sloviansk by phone, we agreed on a list of necessary products and medicines. It was a standard set: stew, canned food, cereals, sausages, condensed milk, cigarettes, everything that is required in the field. Of the medicines, insulin was especially needed, the supplies of which in the city were coming to an end. With the funds of the Kharkiv residents, the collection of which we organized on the main square of the city, and received from the headquarters of Oleg Tsarev from Donetsk, we bought everything we needed for a fairly decent amount.

How Kharkiv residents broke into the besieged Slavyansk in the spring of 2014

Representatives from various organizations of the Kharkiv resistance, about 30 people, in 12 personal cars, distributing food and medicine in the cars, drove in an organized column in the direction of Slavyansk in the morning. It was about 170 km to Slavyansk, we had to pass two small towns, Chuguev and Izium.

The cars were equipped with our symbols, flags of the Yugo-Vostok movement and other resistance organizations, banners with slogans like "Slavyansk, we are with you!" My car was the leader, I looked around and saw how impressive our column looked, by the fluttering symbols it was clear who we are and whom we support. In roadside towns and villages, residents joyfully greeted us.


The column passed Chuguev without any special obstacles, but pretty soon we became convinced that our actions were controlled from the moment we left Kharkov. Behind Chuguev we were stopped by two traffic police cars, and a slow check of documents began without explaining the reasons for our stop and finding out where we were going and the purpose of the trip.

Soon a number of cars pulled up, and people in civilian clothes introduced themselves as the prosecutor of Chuguev and the heads of the local SBU and ROVD. For the form, they found out where we were going, although it was clear from the conversation that they knew very well who we were and where we were going. Their employees carefully checked and rewrote documents, asked what was in the cars, but did not conduct a search.

Ours started filming the actions of the inspectors on mobile phones. Seeing this, the head of the SBU called me aside and asked me to stop filming, since we could spot his operatives on the Web. In order not to aggravate the situation, I had to satisfy the request of an organization so disrespected by me.

In response to my explanations that we were taking food and medicine to Slavyansk, all Chuguev chiefs began to convince of the danger of a trip to that region, there are hostilities there, we may suffer and insisted that we return back. We noticed that we were overtaken by two buses, in which there were soldiers in black uniforms.

The negotiations began to drag on, it became clear that they were wasting time and were not going to let us through. I could not resist and said that if we are not presented with any claims, we will leave. In words, they began to threaten, but did not take any action, the road was not blocked. I got into the car and started moving, no one stopped, the rest of the cars followed me, and we slowly left the place of our meeting with the leadership of Chuguev's security officials.

We did not yet know that not ordinary militiamen and operatives were waiting for us ahead, but an armed detachment of internal troops with full gear that had overtaken us. In Chuguev, they simply had to detain our convoy for a while, a detachment of internal troops had already left Kharkov with the task of not letting us into Slavyansk. Kharkiv militia basically supported us, and to strengthen it in early April, a special-purpose detachment of the Ministry of Internal Affairs “Jaguar” was sent to Kharkiv from Vinnitsa at the command of Avakov, and a brigade of internal troops was redeployed, which seized the regional administration building on April 8, which was under the control of the Kharkiv resistance.

About 15 kilometers from Izium, the military with machine guns and shields blocked the road. Our column pulled to the side of the road, I got out of the car and went up to the military to find out what was the matter. They were in black uniforms, with machine guns, helmets and black masks on their faces. By the uniform I recognized the Vinnytsia military men who were guarding the regional administration building. Under a detached tree I saw a machine gun and realized that the matter was taking a serious turn. We also had women in the cars, we did not prepare for a violent confrontation, although there were many people in our group who expelled the "Right Sector" from the regional administration and brought them to their knees on the square.


A military man with a colonel's shoulder straps came up to me. He looked somehow feigned, on his hip was demonstratively flaunted "Stechkin" in a plastic holster, on his shoulder a submachine gun and for some reason reminded me of the chieftain during the Civil War. When I asked what was the matter, he said that this was a check, the police were conducting an operation to search for bandits. To my remark that the police are not visible here, he replied: "It will be there now."

The police arrived, the lieutenant colonel introduced himself as the deputy head of the Izyum ROVD with a group of traffic police officers. They began checking documents, fixing the data of drivers and cars, it was proposed to open the cars and show that we were taking them. All this was recorded on video.

It was evident that the police were forced to do this thankless job, and they were reluctant to do it. About an hour later, all the cars were checked, the data of the drivers were recorded, but we were not allowed to pass. The "Colonel" demanded to go back, explaining everything by the difficult military situation in the Slavyansk region. I argued that we were bringing food for the population and had nothing to do with military operations. The conversation went on in a raised voice, he accused me of supporting the separatists, that he stood on the "Maidan" for the freedom of Ukraine, and we support the bandits.


In response to my remark that real officers could not be among the punks and all the rabble that I saw at this gathering, he began to talk about his officer rank in the Soviet Army. On my reply "probably in the rank of captain" he kept silent.

The fact is that in my previous activities I often had contact with senior and senior army officers, and I knew their level. And this clown in his appearance, a bag of a form sitting on him, a wretched speech and manner of conducting a conversation in no way "pulled" on the colonel, the primitive was felt in everything. Apparently, he was one of the galaxy of "Maidan commanders" who were hitched on that wave by colonel's shoulder straps, and he considered the presence of "Stechkin" on his thigh to be the main proof of his status.

While I was quarreling with him, the guys blocked the road, parked their cars and stopped traffic in two directions. It was a busy highway to Rostov and the main artery to Donbass.Traffic jams began to gather on both sides, the drivers of cars passing along the highway began to resent the delay and demanded to let them through. The situation became nervous, the "colonel" did not know what to do, and constantly called somewhere on the phone. An additional group of armed soldiers got out of the parked bus


Our women lined up in front of the military line, unrolled a banner “Police with the people” that had accidentally remained in one of the cars and tried to persuade them to let us in, but they with stone faces did not react in any way.


We got into the cars and began to slowly run into the military line, trying to break through it. The major, who directly commanded the soldiers, who had been looking at us with hatred for a long time, gave an order to the soldiers, came up to me and said "now we will put our muzzles on the asphalt." Angrily, I replied "try", but stopped the movement. The situation came to a critical point, but they did not receive the last command from above.

We had to deliver food and medicine to Slavyansk by all means, but they were clearly not going to let us through. We talked among ourselves and decided to insist at least on the delivery of food and medicine. I went up to the "colonel" and offered to allow us to bring food and medicine. Excited drivers of passing cars began to approach us with demands to unblock the highway.

He contacted by phone and said "comrade general", I knew that there were no military generals in Kharkov. It became clear that the operation was being directed directly from Kiev and attached great importance to it. To their problems not to let our convoy pass, we added the problems of blocking and blocking a serious route that provides communication with the Donbass, where hostilities were already unfolding.

In a skirmish, he grabbed my offer to smuggle groceries and said about it over the phone. He walked away and then, after a conversation, offered to let one car with groceries pass. I said that there are a lot of products, one machine is not enough.

We insisted to skip the minibus and one car. We quickly agreed on this, I demanded guarantees that we would be allowed through Izium. He confirmed that he himself would accompany us until we left Izium. Before leaving, we exchanged phone numbers at the request of a lieutenant colonel from the Izyumsky District Department of Internal Affairs, just in case you need contact and help.

The seats in the minibus were folded and loaded to capacity, the remaining food and medicine into my car. The military carefully checked everything and demanded to remove the flags and symbols of the South-East. Six of us left, the rest of the group returned back to Kharkov.

For the car of the "colonel" we quickly drove through Izium without stopping, on the way out of the city he came back. There was a checkpoint behind Izyum, but they did not even stop us there, apparently, there was already a command to let

Ten kilometers before Sloviansk there was a militia checkpoint, DPR flags fluttered on a barricade of fallen trees and tires, we happily hugged the militia. We regretted that it was not possible to smuggle our flags and hoist them over the barricade. At the checkpoint, the militiamen checked passing cars, they were armed only with rifles, no one had military weapons.

We phoned the representatives of the headquarters of the militia, with whom we coordinated the trip. They arrived and escorted us to the end of the day in Slavyansk to the building of the City Council, where the headquarters was. As we drove through the city, I noticed that the whole city was bristling with barricades at the nodal points, built according to all the rules from concrete blocks and sandbags. Also, a bridge across a small river was protected, it was possible to pass through the checkpoints only along the "snake", the experienced hand of a soldier was felt. At the entrance to the building of the City Council there was a barricade of concrete blocks and sandbags more than three meters high and a winding passage inside. The city was seriously preparing for defense.

Before that, I had been to Donetsk several times, and I was surprised that no one was preparing to defend the city.There was only one barricade around the captured regional administration building made of all kinds of rubbish, which was easily shot through. There was nothing else in the city, it is not clear what they hoped for.

The products were handed over to the warehouse at the headquarters, I took the medicines to the hospital, which was guarded by two young guys with machine guns. They were from Kharkov, remembered the beginning of the protest movement, where it all began. I drew attention to their submachine guns, they were worn and clearly not from warehouses, they were obtained, apparently, in different ways.

We returned to the City Council, met with the People's Mayor Ponomarev. He thanked for the help, he was urgently summoned somewhere by phone, before leaving, he asked us to talk with the OSCE representatives who were sitting in his office.

For almost two hours we told them about the situation in Kharkov, that the city did not accept the coup in Kiev, that there were no Russian military there, and how they tried not to let us go to Slavyansk with food. They recorded everything and nodded their heads, promised to report to their leadership, and nothing more.

It was not possible to meet with Strelkov, he was in Kramatorsk that day. It was already getting dark, one of ours talked with familiar militia commanders about possible help to us, but they themselves had problems with equipment and could not help us. Earlier assurances of help from Donetsk and Belgorod also turned out to be empty promises. For the holidays, we were preparing to hold only peaceful processions, we had nothing for more. It was already eleven o'clock in the morning, a lieutenant colonel from the Izyumsky District Department of Internal Affairs called and asked if everything was fine with us, said that if there were any problems, call.

We left Slavyansk and about an hour later drove up to the checkpoint in front of Izium, where a dozen and a half soldiers in uniform were already waiting for us. A document check and a search of cars began, and even the underside of the cars was checked with the help of a mirror. We had nothing with ourselves, and we took it calmly. We began to find out where we were and what we were carrying. On the questions asked, the SBU was felt, they could not believe in any way that there was nothing with us. A lot of time had passed, but they were not going to let us go, then they offered to go to the Izyumskoe ROVD to draw up protocols. We flatly refused to go somewhere, realizing that they would not let us out of there.

I called the lieutenant colonel from the ROVD, he said that he knew nothing and would come now. Suddenly, the senior group of inspectors suggested that we write explanatory notes about where we were and allowed us to leave.

Somehow it was hard to believe that they just took us and let us go. We feared that after Izyum, "unknown" people might expect us on the highway and calmly eliminate our cars from a grenade launcher. After passing Izyum, everyone was tense, the cars were walking at a short distance from each other, but gradually everyone calmed down and reached Kharkov without any problems. We didn’t know yet that the decision had already been made on the highway not to touch us, at the checkpoint there was a command to let us through, and to arrest us the next day in Kharkov.

In the morning, I and two other people who organized and participated in the trip to Slavyansk were arrested in different parts of the city. The SBU conducted a search in the office of our organization, during which they planted a rusty F1 grenade without a detonator and a traumatic pistol. We were accused of preparing a terrorist attack on Victory Day. It was difficult for any greater savagery to imagine that we could go to this on a holy day for us. All TV channels spread this false information, and on May 1, a trial was held and we were taken into custody. This is how this stormy April day ended for us, engraved in our memory with its eccentricity and desire to solve the task in front of us in spite of everything.

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