Report from Donbass: An Italian Che Guevara on the Ukrainian front

Volunteer Nemo works for the world revolution from Donbass

By Anna Dolgareva

November 19: InterUnit is a division of the Ghost Brigade in the Lugansk People’s Republic. Foreign volunteers who came to Donbass – communists – serve there. That is, they are not isolated, but rather a full-fledged military-political organization formed by passionate people who care.

It is very encouraging, and inspires hope that the world is not so bad. It gives you faith in people.

Free Press spoke with Nemo, a volunteer from Italy. He has fought in the “Ghost” since 2015, looks remarkably robust and loves good literature. After talking with him, even the most inveterate pessimist can stop dreaming about the apocalypse, because I’d really like to see the world which he envisions for the future. And somehow it isn’t hard to believe that such a person is capable of building this new world.

Free Press: This is not your first war. You fought in Yugoslavia. Tell me more about that, please.

Nemo: It was not a real war. We just retreated step by step to Belgrade, and then it was over. A sad story, but a good lesson: do not enter an agreement with your arms laid down. Milosevic was convinced that the Western countries would follow the agreements they signed with him.

Were you assigned to this conflict by the Communist Party?

Absolutely not. I have been in several communist organizations, but every time I take up my weapon, I have to leave them. Officially, the European communist parties refuse to take any part in hostilities. They do not want to deal with the “garbage of war.” But this is not pacifism, it is only fear.

How did you end up there?

One day I went by car. It’s quite close to Italy. I was 20 years old, maybe 21.

You were almost a child.

Nemo: At 20 years, a person is not a child. Of course, I was very young, but I decided to be a militant communist, and I saw that the internal policy of the communist organizations looked very sad: very little desire to change anything, and this could only bring about self-destruction. And thus, communist organizations lose their great potential. So I decided to join forces where there were serious clashes; it may give more opportunities for communist organization. Opportunities for revolution. Even if we do not reach the revolution, we are working to create the conditions for it. And one of the first steps for this is the struggle against world imperialism.

Do you think that the world revolution is indeed possible, say, in the next 30 years?

If good people come together in a good political project, nothing is impossible.

Do you really believe this?

I believe that it is not impossible. At the moment I do not see how it will happen, but I know we can do it.

About Donbass: Why did you come here?

Political reasons: I’m an antifascist, and after Odessa I could not stay at home. In addition, people here are trying to build a different type of society. Maybe they are driven only by nostalgia for the Soviet Union (as opposed to communism), but, of course, the situation is very positive for communists. Personal reasons: In Yugoslavia, we did not really fight the war. So here I want to use all the skills I learned during that time. There is an excellent Italian book about this, “Tatar Steppe” by Dino Buzzati. This is the story of a soldier who waited his whole life for war, and when the war came – was unable to fight, and eventually lost his life.

There are many people who call themselves communists out of nostalgia for cheap sausage.

Well, I don’t. I have no nostalgia for something that I did not see. I like the communist ideal, but I think we need to build our own model of communism.

Tell me about your daily life. What do you do?

The same as the rest. Security, cooking, cleaning, digging trenches. Most interesting is that InterUnit is not only a military but also a political group. Thus, we also carry out normal political activities of the organization. At the moment, there are not many organizations in Europe that combine both political and military work.

And what is the most difficult?

First, linguistic complexity. Second, trying to explain my point of view. Many comrades do not understand why I’m here. Why I left my country and my wonderful life to come here and fight. They think I’m crazy and respond to me a bit strangely.

How do you understand the people here, if you do not speak Russian?

I don’t speak Russian fluently, but if you want to talk only about war, it is possible to manage with 50 words. Easily. Just kidding. Communication is very difficult, but we do it.

Do you now have a generally normal life?

Absolutely not. Only war and politics. I prefer to reduce the normal things. In addition, I refused to take leave; in 16 months I had only 15 days off. That’s because it is impossible to build a life here like my old one. If I do something normal, I’m just more nostalgic.

You mean you’re not trying to do something normal? That’s pretty sad.

This is a radical decision, of course, but I absolutely do not want it. I do not go to cafes and restaurants, do not take vacations or anything like that. These things are distracting, because they give a bit of fun, but then it becomes even sadder.

How long do you think the war will last?

If we do not do something soon to change the situation, it might be like in Northern Ireland: more than a hundred years. But we can do what Russia did in 1917!

And how can we do it?

Learn from the mistakes of the past century. Try to build a serious communist organization. To do this, firstly, we have to create conditions for the revolution, and secondly, be ready for it.

You are an idealist. That’s fine, but I think things are very difficult for you in our world.

Very difficult. But I always try to choose the correct path, not the easy one.

How was it to leave your home and family?

It is difficult to answer this question. This brought a lot of pain to me, my family and my friends. But I have something very important to do here. Those who love me must understand this.

Tell us, please, about your political work.

In Europe, I was in several communist organizations, including some parties. In each case, I worked on international issues: the Balkans, Palestine, Latin America and Donbass. Before leaving Italy, I was a pretty well-known activist. My style of work was quite unusual — I worked on a union of left movements. Most of my comrades did not share this approach, but I believe it is necessary to unite. In the Donbass I also work on international politics. First of all, we are talking about the war, but there are others. We believe that the various wars in the world are different fronts of imperialist aggression.


Translated by Greg Butterfield

One thought on “Report from Donbass: An Italian Che Guevara on the Ukrainian front

  1. Much respect for this man I lost a dear friend whom became the commander of an international brigade in this war . Like our comrade here he fought and died for his belief in a different world .If I was younger and single I would have joined with this struggle.


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