It was March 14, 2022. Week three of the war. Mykola Kravchenko, together with his colleague and close friend was accompanying foreign journalists from Fox News in the village of Horenka, Buchansky District, Kyiv Region. Russian Grad rockets hit the car they were in. And on that afternoon of March 14, all communication with the group was lost.
“At first everybody thought they had gone to an area where Russian electronic warfare muted communications. In the past servicemen could disappear for 1-3 days in encirclement or a ‘gray’ zone, and then they got back in touch with the army. But then Mykola Kravchenko’s body was identified in one of the morgues. While Mykola, whose nom de guerre is ‘Kruk’ was identified, the body of Serhiy Mashovets was completely burnt,” Danylo Koval, a manager at the Orientyr publishing house and member of the Azov regiment, told the Kyiv Post. The deceased leaves behind a daughter.
It was in the last days of “peace” in February 2022 that Mykola Kravchenko signed off a compilation of scientific-journalistic articles by his colleague, Ph.D. in Philosophical Sciences Oleksandr Maslak (deceased), for publication. It was supposed to be issued in March 2022. However, things did not turn out to plan. In March, Mykola Kravchenko and his father, Serhiy Kravchenko, who was a member of the territorial defense of Kharkiv, were killed.
Mykola Kravchenko was the founder and ideological leader of the Azov regiment’s Orientyr publishing house, which was formed in the field conditions of wartime. The first team of the publishing house was only made up of volunteers of the Azov regiment. The publishing house issued its first brochures in 2015 in Mariupol during Russia’s war on Donbas. Besides, the publishing house had published quite a few bilingual books enabling Europeans to get to know the realities of Ukraine’s battle for its sovereignty.
The list of such books includes the Polish-Ukrainian book “Blood and Earth”, an English-Ukrainian compilation of recollections entitled “Liberation of Mariupol” and “Shyrokino Operation”, about successful Ukrainian operations carried out by the Azov regiment in Donbas in 2014-2015. The Orientyr publishing house also interacted with the German publishing house Jungeuropa Verlag. The book “Natiocracy”, written by Mykola Stsiborskyi, was published in German.
The founder of the publishing house hailed from Kharkiv Region. In his youth Mykola Kravchenko was actively involved in public and political life in the organization Patriot of Ukraine in the face of pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine.
In 2013, he was a co-founder of the Right Sector movement on Kyiv’s Maidan, and then a volunteer of the Azov battalion in 2014. But Mykola Kravchenko was more interested in the humanitarian front of the Russian-Ukrainian war, so he founded the Orientyr publishing house.
Moreover, he had a PhD in historical sciences. He researched the activities of Ukrainian volunteer formations in 1990 and 2014-2015. The Orientyr publishing house published his book “Ukrainian argonautics. The activities abroad of the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense (1991-2001).”
“When the RF began its full-scale on Feb. 24, 2022, our entire team at the publishing house decided to go to defend our homeland,” Danylo Koval added.
Mykola Kravchenko became one of the officers of the Kyiv Azov battalion of the territorial defense, later regiment of Armed Forces of Ukraine Azov, when the battalion became a regiment and united to the Armed Forces of Ukraine at the beginning of March 2022. He had got his “Kruk” call sign from the battalion’s early days on Maidan.
“Mykola Kravchenko loved traveling around Ukraine with his family. He was a fantastic internal tourist. On the basis of his photos and posts on Instagram, we have already made a draft version of the tourist guidebook photo collection with a working title of ‘The paths taken by Kruk’,” the head of the Orientyr publishing house said.
The beginning of the full-scale war and the death of his sworn brother has not stopped the Orientyr publishing house: “Certainly, this really is a colossal loss. He was not just the founder of the publishing house but also the author and soul of the team. Despite this, we continue to work.”
However, the markers of the publishing house have changed. Orientyr recently published manuals on tactical medicine for the Azov regiment. It now aims to publish a tourist guide called “The paths taken by ‘Kruk'” sometime in the future. It is gathering articles and materials to publish a big collection of works by Mykola Kravchenko.
“He was a great man. It’s so good that he has two wonderful daughters. So, he will continue to live with us in his children, books, lectures…” the head of the publishing house underlined.
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