By Anna Shershnev, Novorosinform
February 19 – I’ve always wondered how one goes from the vicious cycle of home-work-home-work to challenging a militarily-superior enemy, to becoming the barricade between murderers and women, elders and children. Where is the line that makes the consumer disappear, and the human rise from the couch to go to Donbass?
That’s what I wanted to learn from one of the Russian volunteers, the deputy commander of the Ghost Brigade and commissar of the Volunteer Communist Detachment, Alexey Markov.
Alexey, who are you and why did you decided to join the Russian Spring in Donbass, rather than watch from the sidelines?
Who I am? I am a very normal person. I was born in Omsk, studied in Novosibirsk and lived in Moscow, working in the field of information technology.
After the slaughter in Odessa, seeing that joyful inhuman crowd photographed against a backdrop of charred bodies, I realized that “fascism” – which I had read about in books and seen in movies — was here in front of me. The choice was whether to sit in Moscow and Omsk and watch the neo-Nazis kill civilians, or try to stop them. In fact, I had no choice.
Was it difficult to find a common language with local militias? Were there communication difficulties?
What problems can we speak of if the same Russian people live here as in Russia? Yes, some of the militias, especially the older ones, only speak Ukrainian, but we fought side by side, as with our comrades from Italy, Spain, Chile and Finland.
Is it easy to move from a civilian to a military reality? How do you go from everyday life to life in the trenches?
War is always a hard and thankless task. But I’m not a recruit, I am a volunteer, and I was ready for it.
Did it take a long time to master the skills of a soldier?
No. NVP (basic military training) in Soviet school and university gave me the necessary minimum skills. Everything else can be learned quickly, if you desire it.
What has been the hardest part?
The truce. Open warfare is simpler.
It what areas of the People’s Republics have you fought?
From the autumn of 2014 until March 2015, under Debaltsevo. Then in the Bajmutka area. I’ve never changed units. From the first day until now, I’ve always been a Ghost.
Even before arriving in Donbass, I worked to supply equipment and uniforms to the militias, so I was personally well acquainted with Mozgovoi, Dremov and Batman.
About the ceasefire: How was it greeted, and how is the Minsk process viewed?
Overall, negatively. It’s necessary to end this war, and as soon as possible. On the other hand, there’s been no military solution to the conflict, and it is possible that political pressure on the Ukrainian junta will be more effective.
What prognosis can you can give for the Donbass?
I do not like to make any predictions, because the future of Donbass depends on too many unknown variables. But, of course, I hope for the best: the victory and independence for the republics.
Finally, will the people be able to make their way through all the trials and tragedies?
That depends on all of us.
Translated by Greg Butterfield