It’s no secret that, with the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the number of people breaking the law here did not fall, and in some cases even increased. I mean, people who have been involved in robbery will continue to do so in the future. Just like those who are engaged in fraud and other illegal activities.

The things I will talk about below take place at night in Kyiv (although the situation is the same in other cities) – and these are violations, as there is a curfew in place in Kyiv from 11 pm to 5 am, which means that merely being outside is already prohibited.

In general terms, I always had the opinion that Kyiv at night is empty now – and if I sleep, then everyone sleeps. When I was offered the chance to go with the patrolmen on duty, I was certain that nothing interesting would happen, but…

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We met at 11 pm on the night of Saturday to Sunday – a “productive night”, as the patrolmen said.

“Hort” is a formation of volunteers who help the military in these difficult times by taking care of a certain territory. Hort’s patrol area is the Left Bank of Kyiv, which they patrol every night.

I get into the car to see Vitaliy Varenya, the chief of staff of the Hort special unit. And he is immediately informed about the two detainees next to us. The boys did not have time to return home after a ball game. They are minors and the curfew started just a few minutes ago, so they are forgiven and “ordered” to do some activity – push-ups, squats, or even jump rope. Then they are photographed and sent to a joint chat – so that other patrol officers do not detain the boys until they get home.

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Patrolmen detained a company of friends at the beginning of the curfew who said that they did not have time to return home. (Vitaly Holovanov)
Vitaly Varenya, the chief of staff of the Hort special unit, checks the documents of one of the violators. (Vitaly Holovanov)

Immediately, a new detainee, a man on a bicycle, did not have time to get from the city’s Right Bank to the Left Bank before the curfew began. He explains his story and his punishment for this night is different. They ask him to transfer funds to the official account of the Armed Forces.

“I didn’t want to disturb, it’s accidental. But actually it’s cool that they maintain order. As for money, I am constantly trying to send funds to support our army,” the man says.

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The patrolmen take a photo and let him go. Winking at me that this will not be the case with the next ones.

And it was so, as over the next 15 minutes it was possible to catch seven more violators of the curfew. And that’s just in one small area of ​​the city. These include a taxi driver who decided to make extra money at night, because orders are more expensive then. And also a company of friends who supposedly did not notice that the curfew was upon them. This group is immediately taken to the police station. There they check their documents, whether they were already in the database of violators and take fingerprints.

Also, in most cases, an official of the local army enlistment center will hand the men a summons – a document with which the violator must appear at there. This does not mean that these people will immediately be taken to war, as to begin with, they will simply be put on the military register so there is data on the person’s whereabouts if necessary. After handing over the men to the police, we move on. It is interesting that in the first hour of the curfew alone, the number of detainees reached several dozen people. A reminder that this is only one district of the capital.

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After midnight a more interesting story begins, since in principle, everyone who did not make it home should have made it by now. Therefore, usually at the most active time – from 12 to 3 in the night – they catch people who, in principle, decided not just to take a walk at night, but to commit some kind of crime, Vitaly Varenya tells me. That is why, in addition to patrolling the roads, we leave the car and go on foot along the beach and into yards.

An officer with the call sign “Miquel” reads the electricity bill handed to him by an older woman. The offender was sent home. (Vitaly Holovanov)

“Usually, the most self-confident people walk on the roads or, on the contrary, those who are breaking the law for the first time. But, for example, drug addicts can be found somewhere far away – on the beaches or in some dark corners of the city.”

A youn man was told to place his personal items on the road and to remove his shoes to determine if anything was hidden there. (Vitaly Holovanov)

It actually happens that in one of the courtyards the Hort patrol detains a young guy on a bike and firecrackers and a small bag of marijuana are found in his belongings. The boy wanted to find a comfortable place to relax, he explains. Special forces from Hort call the police. And they compile a report.

It is 2 am in the morning, and the number of people breaking the curfew is getting less and less. At least those who were running on the road; they were all caught by a patrolman with the call sign “Sam”.

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Never in my life have I seen people run so fast, and even with weapons in their hands. Suddenly, they say on the walkie-talkie, the patrol caught a man in the neighboring yard who broke a window of a kiosk and grabbed from there. An employee who was sleeping inside received injuries. Ed. The guy did not have the stolen goods, but he gave the place – the apartment of a friend, his accomplice. Stolen items and drugs were found there.

We go outside, and I already have the hope that that is all for one night. Suddenly, the pursuit of a 17-year-old boy. When we caught up with him, the guy said he was from a rich family and we’d be in trouble if we didn’t let him go.

Since he is a minor, and it is 3 a.m. on the clock, we call his father. He comes and apologizes. He said he did not know that his son was not at home.

Later on, we encounter a grandfather who went out for a run at night and a few other youths. It is interesting that we did not meet girls, only boys, except for Zhenya’s girlfriend in his apartment.

Tired by now, I get into the car. I hear shots, and the patrol reassure me that this is going on in a different district. There was also a chase, but everything is fine, nobody was hurt.

Patrolmen tell me stories about how they have already caught criminal bosses and saboteurs.

They said that this night was still relatively calm, because sometimes “fun” happens every minute. We hug, because it seems as if after that night we all became one family. Dawn is breaking on the  – but work goes on until the morning. Our patrol is coming to an end. The boys leave to meet again at night so that the residents of the capital of my country can sleep peacefully and believe in peace.

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