On August 29, commemorative events on the Day of Remembrance of the Fallen Defenders of Ukraine who deceased fighting for sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country took place.
Kharkiv authorities, veterans of Joint Forces Operation, representatives of civic and volunteer organizations and the clergy gathered near the Taras Shevchenko monument, holding photos of fallen soldiers and carrying flowers. After a minute of silence, “Plyne Kacha” (Duck is Swimming) song was played. This old Ukrainian folk song has become a sort of anthem since the Revolution of Dignity. It is especially associated with those who lost their lives during the tragic events in Kyiv’s Maidan. After that, the event participants laid flowers at the Taras Shevchenko monument and expressed their gratefulness to defenders of Ukraine using an open microphone.
Another commemorative event was held near the monument to Defenders of Ukraine on the namesake square.
During an unplanned meeting, combatants who took part in the war in Donbas against Russian occupants and their proxies remembered their fallen comrades. Mykhaylo Sokolov, the fighter in the east of Ukraine, recalls Ruslan Plokhodko who was killed on May 2, 2014. He was a commander of the army aviation helicopter unit. The helicopter was shot down by Russian-backed separatists near Sloviansk, Donetsk region.
“Ruslan was one of the first Kharkivites killed in this war. In a couple of days, having received an order, we arrived at the helicopter crash site. Ruslan and two officers had already been evacuated and we were performing another task. And at that very spot, at the wreckage, someone held a barbecue – we found half-eaten meat and empty bottles of vodka. I did not know at that moment who had crashed but I thought: such a lack of human decency – and I was in such a rage,” Mykhaylo Sokolov admits. “Maybe then I swore to defend our land as long as I have enough strength and health and as long as I live.”
Two busts to Heroes of Ukraine were unveiled on the grounds of the Institute of Tank Troops of the National Technical University “Kharkiv Polytechnic Institute” (KhPI) which both combatants graduated from. They were killed in 2014.
Captain Serhii Kolodiy was 33. He was one of the ‘cyborgs’, defenders of the Donetsk airport. On September 28, 2014, while resisting the attacking enemy to withdraw 20 fighters from the airport, Serhii perished and was awarded posthumously the title of Hero of Ukraine.
Captain Oleksandr Lavrenko deceased at the age of 31 in the battles for Pisky, Donetsk region, on July 21, 2014. The tank which the captain commanded, was blown up by a landmine performing military tasks. Both his sworn brothers were killed on the spot and Oleksandr was badly wounded but avoided the tank’s capture blowing himself up.
The commemoration also took place on the Alley of Glory of the 18th city cemetery where Kharkiv residents who were killed in the war in the east were buried. Since 2014, more than 200 of our compatriots have perished.
Reference: For the second consequent year, this day has been commemorated officially. In August 2019, president of Ukraine signed the corresponding decree.
August 29 was chosen as the date of honoring defenders of Ukraine because that’s the day when most fighters have been killed since the war in Donbas started.
On the night of August 28-29, 2014, the Ukrainian formation was promised to exit through the humanitarian corridor but the columns were insidiously shot by Russian occupants.
Those who were fortunate enough to survive will remember the hell of Ilovaisk until their deaths.
Text: Natalia Ivanova
Photo: Leonid Logvynenko, kharkivoda.gov.ua