Comrade Anton, Volunteer

By Alexander Ivanov

“I cherish our friendship, our struggle, and how strong you are in spirit, that despite what’s happening, you don’t give up. It is difficult and I really respect you for that. And most importantly, I believe in you, we still have a lot of class battles ahead of us.
“But if you fall in battle: Respect and eternal memory. Your courage and stubbornness, trust and dignity, will remain for centuries. The pain in me will be irreparable.”
From personal correspondence

Anton Korovin and I have known each other since our university days. We entered the communist movement at almost the same time, became Marxists together, and for all these years were friends. And we will remain friends, such people do not die — they become heroes, standing in the ranks of those who lived and fought for a better world, and gain immortality. How can a friend and comrade, with whom you went to school and self-published the “Manifesto of the Communist Party” together, die? To the painful question “What keeps you in the war?”, for many years he always answered with a smile: “If not me, then who?”

He dreamed of going to graduate school and teaching history to students. His dream even began to come true when he entered the university in Lugansk. He was very worried because he couldn’t decide on the topic for his master’s thesis. He was unlucky because of Minsk — capitalism broke his desires and sent him to work hard for 12 hours in a warehouse. Now, he just did not have time …

We always argued a lot. About war, about peace, about life, about communism. We could discuss any topic day or night. In the middle of the night, we’d drink coffee and go for a walk, just to stay awake. But he was not only a strong comrade in debates. He supported his family and worked hard. He always came to the rescue and could not tolerate injustice. There are very few such people.

In the first decade of this century we had a small communist group. We published literature, organized educational seminars, and looked for supporters on social networks. But at the end of 2014 everything became much more serious, and he went to defend the rebellious Donbass as part of the Volunteer Communist Detachment (DKO).

It is worth stopping to consider why the communist Anton went, as they said, “to the Ghosts.” The civil war in Ukraine began. The routine on Maidan grew into a putsch and a bloody massacre in the center of Kiev. The country was falling apart, and in May the Nazis burned our comrades alive in the Odessa House of Trade Unions. The already fragile world was literally crumbling before our eyes. In the summer, Ukrainian punitive battalions and the Armed Forces of Ukraine besieged and shelled Lugansk and Donetsk, which did not accept the fascist coup. A real guerrilla war broke out on the outskirts of the regions. A militia appeared, and volunteers began to go to Donbass en masse.

The militias grew rapidly, but they were very different. In the summer, the Ghost Brigade was formed, which did not fight for abstract power in Lugansk. The “Ghosts” went to Lysychansk where they had their first battles, repelling the advance of the enemies of the Republics. The commander was Alexey Mozgovoy. The communists immediately paid attention to him and the brigade. Alexey Borisovich radically stood out from the crowd. His main ideas were simple.

First, to organize a Council of Commanders was a tactical necessity. The Council of Commanders was necessary — anarchy and confusion at the front could not lead to anything good, and the Ukrainian army had already dealt with rebellious and unwilling units, gained experience and was preparing for a new offensive against the Republics.

Second, and close to each of our hearts — war against war. Donbass rebelled against the coup in Kiev, but instead of independence got shells. The capitalists unleashed the war in their own interests. The poor do not need not fight each other, but turn their bayonets against those who unleashed the slaughter.

Mozgovoy was sincere, and they went consciously to his brigade to fight. Not for adrenaline, not for trophies, and not in order to escape from a boring life or accumulated problems. They went to him to fight against the war, for peace.

When Anton told me about his plans in the autumn of 2014, I could not believe that my intelligent and responsible comrade, who already carried a lot on his shoulders, was going to fight. It was a strong decision. He never threw words into the wind and always did what he said. The only thing that didn’t surprise me was that he was on his way to the Ghost Brigade.

Then there was Kommisarovka, Debaltsevo. Kirovsk, checkpoints and endless trenches on the front line. One could go weeks without receiving messages from him, and then read a reply in the middle of the night: “What are you called on the front line?” “Wolf”, that was his call sign. He hated the war and tried to talk about it as little as possible. It was possible to endlessly discuss the staff officers and how they got advisers and how the Minsk-2 agreement tied their hands and extended the war. But these politics have nothing to do with the war except in the form of stupidity and squeezing those who defended the independence of Donbass in the grip of imperialist squabbles.

The war changed Anton a little. Only his eyes betrayed the experience of a survivor. They stood out strikingly on his very young face. He always remained a communist, keenly interested in what was happening in our country and in the world. In his rare and short visits to Moscow, he tried to participate as much as possible in all events and meetings. He went to rallies, classes at the Workers’ University. On his last visit to Moscow, he participated with us in an action against the blockade of Cuba. He lived. He loved.

Anton left for Donbass as a volunteer. He also volunteered for the front line, where a breakthrough by the sabotage and reconnaissance group was expected. Repulsing an attack on the village of Berezovskoye, near the city of Kirovsk, Anton died under artillery fire. It happened on the morning of February 18, 2020. He wasn’t afraid of death, but he wanted to live. Fearless — so his fellow soldiers said.

Sleep well, dear comrade. The struggle continues, victory will be ours!


Translated by Greg Butterfield

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