In Ukrainian folklore, Kotyhoroshko is a boy of extraordinary strength who frees his brothers and sister from the captivity of a snake. Such is our modern and real hero – Oleh Horoshenko – who along with his compatriots, helps to free his Ukrainian brothers and sisters from Moscow’s serpentine grip.
Here, Horoshenko speaks to the Kyiv Post’s Svitlana Sydorenko.
Hi Oleh. Where are you from and how did you get to the front?
I’m from the city of Makyivka in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine.
I took part in the Maidan Revolution of Dignity in 2014, then went on to defend Ukraine in the volunteer battalion.
When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, I was on a business trip to Istanbul. I cancelled the rest of the visit and went home. On Feb. 26, I enlisted in the territorial defense of the city of Kyiv and that evening I was already on the battlefield.
Do your relatives know where you are?
Yes, they know. My children are particularly worried about me – they’re currently abroad.
What role do you think the fighting spirit plays at the front?
Oh, it’s huge. The fighting spirit is tied to our victory.
What’s it like on the front?
Like everything in the war, quite chaotic.
While we were defending Irpin, we held a position near the railway line to Bucha. The Russians were constantly throwing their artillery and mortars our way. We made efforts to slow them down and dug a deceptive position to redirect their fire away from us. One day I went to the trench without my helmet and, upon turning back to get it, found myself dodging machine gun fire. Luckily for me it ended well.
Photo provided by Oleh Horoshenko (in middle)
What are your hobbies during peacetime?
I’m interested in military history, sports and books, in particular, poetry and medicine.
What are your plans for the future after Ukraine’s victory?
To return to working in a hospital. In addition, I would like to teach children in schools how to act in emergencies, such as a car accident, a fire in a shopping center, chemical, biological and radiation hazards, as well as mass shootings.
A ten-year-old child should already be able to save his or her own life. We can start teaching this from the age of 8-9. Both content and teaching should be easy and comfortable for children and there are different methods to deliver this.
Currently, schools teach “Fundamentals of life safety”, which is somewhat detached from the real needs of our world today. It is therefore necessary to create a volunteer organization as a pilot project, write a program, agree and approve it at ministry level or with education departments, then organize courses for teachers and introduce it into the school curriculum.
The main thing is to implement the idea without a lengthy bureaucratic process.
To sum up, what motivates you to continue the fight?
Belief that without our collective defense, Ukraine has no future.
We believe in our victory and make plans for the future in a new, truly independent, democratic and free Ukraine.
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