By Alexander Alexeyev
On January 22, 2016, in the city of Alchevsk, Lugansk People’s Republic, I again had the privilege to talk with the deputy commander for work with personnel of the 14th separate mechanized battalion (territorial defense), the Ghost Brigade, Eugene Wallenberg — call sign “Katran.”
|Eugene Wallenberg & Alexander Alexeyev|
Eugene Wallenberg: Sasha, it’s very important for me, a primary issue, because it’s no secret that right now a great deal of my attention is focused on youth policy. I know that I do it a little differently, but my primary task, despite the fact that I am in the militia, is to work with the youth. Working with young people, we can forever drive a nail into the coffin of war, so that future generations will not have to fight and engage in fratricidal wars.
First of all, I believe that all resources should be focused on youth policy; no available funds should be spared, because, if you want to speak in the language of the market economy, it’s the most profitable investment. From the youth will come our experts, and all the people who will create the Republic which we dream of. Our goal is to win her freedom, then to leave the stage and let the youth carry the banner of the Republic forward.
As for patriotism, this word is very dangerous when thrown around freely, because patriotism can mean different things. True patriotism is when a person loves his or her homeland. If citizens of other countries and nationalities come to the homeland, and if they respect our customs, carry themselves with dignity – we should gladly welcome them. If a person behaves like a scoundrel, then of course he should be rebuffed and people should explain that you cannot do that, you need to live normally. Here’s the difference. Therefore, patriotism has no nationality. At this point, it’s a big Russian world. We all call ourselves Russian and are very proud of it. Patriotism is when people give their efforts not just for the benefit of themselves or even their families, but for the good of the whole society … For example, as in the military fraternity.
Military fraternity is something like a big family with whose help you build the future. Our culture, our values, are based on labor rather than national symbols. This kind of patriotism is all-encompassing, where people understand that we have a large Russian world that unites us, and even if there are some fallen fences, broken roads, long neglected — we love them. It’s the way we’re used to living!
Patriotism, in our understanding, is the big Russian dream of goodness and justice, for which we are fighting: both civilians and military. Each in his own way.
AA: Do you think everyone can become a patriot, and what efforts must be applied to accomplish this?
EW: I absolutely think everyone can be a patriot. To become a patriot, it is first necessary to wipe out selfish feelings and understand it primarily for yourself, i.e., to understand what it means to you. On February 8, it will be a year since the death of my best friend Vsevolod Petrovsky. His parents went to the United States and for a long time encouraged him to go, but in the end he did not want to leave and stayed here. He died a hero. This is something that unites us. People make their own choices. Though he had come a long way — from an ardent supporter of the Maidan to a man who deeply loved the Donbass.
To ensure that everyone becomes a patriot, the necessary conditions are required. Here in Alechevsk, for example, on December 20, 2015, there was the “Energy of Rap” Festival [фестиваль “Энергия рэпа”] that you, Sasha, organized and hosted. This event is just one example of what to do so that young people do not get lost in these difficult times, namely, that they endure and become aware of themselves as patriots. Such events, if they are held often and, moreover, if the conditions are created in the LPR for these same rappers to work together in their own environment, then they will begin to celebrate Novorossiya … The most important thing is to create natural opportunities, not artificial ones, and young people will come to it and we’re going to see tremendous results. It is necessary to give the youth the opportunity to develop their own culture. I want our youth to always have the opportunity to make their own decisions and in every possible way create an environment for their development.
EW: Sasha, all of this is nonsense and continuous rumors. Today there is a normal, natural process, when the period of militia ended, when people have to learn to defend their homeland, because the Ukrainian side already has the APU [Ukrainian Armed Forces, the standing army]. They learned a lot and now must continue to develop, even when the struggle is not everyday life and death, [but about] who will win this war [in the long run].
The Ghost Brigade, as an ideological formation which has taken part in the conflict since the beginning, is becoming more and more closely bound to the armed forces [LPR People’s Militia]. We must become a professional military and create the necessary conditions to continue the war, all the conditions necessary for people to be able to come home, so their families can eat, and their kids can go to school. We have already won the idea [of the Republic]! We just need to defend it from war.
Nothing bad has happened to the Ghost Brigade. Today the brigade is fully preserved, consisting of the 14th separate mechanized battalion of territorial defense, with its headquarters in the town of Kirovsk, and other units within the 4th Brigade, which also belong to the Ghost. Overall, the Ghost was and is!
AA: How are the Minsk agreements being respected by the militia and APU, and is it true that hostilities have resumed?
EW: Sasha, the fighting has not ended, as such, but it has become smaller, i.e., not along the entire frontline…
You don’t have to have faith in the arrangements made by Vladimir Putin to see that Donbass has become fully separated from Ukraine; it may not be part of Russia, but it’s separate from Ukraine. Many [in Ukraine] have woken up and want some kind of separation.
AA: What’s the news regarding the ongoing investigation of the murder of Alexei Mozgovoi?
EW: The investigation continues. If I was a man who somehow had the ability to serve the military prosecutor’s office, I could give you an assessment. I think everyone should mind his own business. The investigation is underway. I do not know whether those people who did it will be found, but nevertheless, let the people who are associated with the investigation deal with it. We, in turn, will get a result or realize that it was a secret special operation.
I want to wish all residents patience, our life is sure to improve, everything will be fine. After all, together we are invincible!
Translated by Greg Butterfield