Education: No higher education
Profession: War veteran, traveler, writer and YouTube blogger
Did you know? Ananyev isn’t his true surname. He chose it after Russia-backed militants put a price on his head. He isn’t disclosing his real name, fearing for the safety of his relatives.
Former military officer Valerii Ananyev published his first book — a novel called “Traces on the Road” — at his own expense in 2018. It took just about a year and a half for all of the book’s 28,000 copies to sell out.
Ananyev says that the fictional plot is based on a true story about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Many readers say that it reads like an autobiography.
The story depicts the development of a military officer going through changes in his life. Ananyev always emphasizes that his book isn’t about the war, but rather the “people in the war.”
Ananyev dreamt of becoming a military officer when he was a kid. When he turned 18, he went to the military commissariat to be hired as a paratrooper. For the next five years, from 2011 to 2016, he served in the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Once Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, he went to the Donbas to defend the nation and started shooting videos on YouTube to show all sides of the war and the Ukrainian army. He admits, though, that partly he just wanted to talk publicly about his life.
“The Ukrainian army at that time wasn’t very far from the Soviet army in the way it was managed,” Ananyev says. “And this is such a closed (community) that it differs even from what happens in Ukraine.”
He helped attract attention to supply problems and other issues at the war front. He got booted out of the military three times due to his disclosures. But his troop commander took Ananyev back over and over again.
He embedded many of the videos and photos he shot into the pages of his book through QR codes. They help readers to feel more involved in the plot, Ananyev thinks.
In 2016, Ananyev left military service due to health issues. Returning to civilian life, he faced challenges with rehabilitation. As many other war veterans, he suffered from mental and physical strains.
After treatment in hospitals, he finished writing his book and decided to walk El Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) — a pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. This was his first trip abroad. He hiked about 1,800 kilometers from Paris to the Spanish Cape Finisterre and shot a 14-episode series about his trip.
He also traveled to dozens of places and countries, including Norway, the subject of his next book. Ananyev says that his trips calmed him down.
Now he runs his YouTube blog as an educational project.
“I think that our society is very primitive,” Ananyev says. Many people are intolerant, don’t think much and don’t have strong character.”
They need leaders, in his view.
He wants to change the situation and broaden the horizons of Ukrainians. Now he shoots videos about politics, history and everyday life.
You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter