The Day continues to publish personal stories of Ukrainian soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while fighting Russian saboteurs. Today, we will continue the tale about the Volynians killed near Volnovakha with the story of 28-year-old Vitalii Lishchuk, as well as tell the story of 60-year-old patriot from Zaporizhia Mykola Kozlov, killed in Karlivka on May 23.
The previous stories can be accessed at The Day’s website www.day.kiev.ua
Vitalii Lishchuk was the only one among the Volynians killed near Volnovakha to be buried in a sealed coffin
Zoria, the village with an ambitious name [“zoria” means “star” in Ukrainian. – Ed.], numbers just over 100 farmsteads now. It has got piped gas, but there is no good road to link it even with Volodymyr-Volynsky, the raion center. Until the mid-1960s, the village was called... Puzov [something like “Potbellyville” in Ukrainian. – Ed.], but the old name was eliminated during the total renaming campaign and replaced with a “better sounding” one. The family of soldier Lishchuk who was killed at Volnovakha is known as daring one in the village. The local business community covered the funeral costs. Lishchuk’s father died several years ago, while his sisters and brothers have all married and moved to other villages. He lived with his mother in an old hut. The local elderly women recalled at the funeral how he had helped each of them with housework. Male hands are always in demand in the countryside, while he was not only forthcoming, but selfless as well. He never asked for a bottle of booze as a payment, was firmly opposed to this custom, but helped just out of neighborly duty.
During the mobilization of the 51st Separate Mechanized Brigade, which is stationed in Volodymyr-Volynsky in peacetime, 11 men were called up from Zoria. Lishchuk was not on the list, although he had served in the army.
“The village head sent a messenger to Lishchuk’s neighbor informing him that he was on the military’s call-up list. Having learned of it, Lishchuk and Vadym Trotsiuk asked whether they had any chance to join the army. They were sent to the local recruitment office, where they were told that they could be called up on the condition of passing a medical examination. So they waited out all the recruits and got into the ranks. Our boys are not shirking, even more so now, after the trouble began in eastern Ukraine. Two Popko brothers were working one in Kyiv, another in Moscow, but when told of the mobilization, they left everything and came home,” former resident of Zoria (Puzov) Antonina Solodukha told us. She came from Volodymyr-Volynsky to bid her farewell to her countryman.
Lishchuk was the only one among the Volynians killed near Volnovakha to be buried in a sealed coffin. He was among the four soldiers who burned to death in a blown-up IFV... Family members say that he kept even his mother in dark when speaking about his service on the phone, saying that they were still on a training ground in Rivne and not in Donetsk region. But it was in Donetsk region that he turned 28 on May 14. He will be forever 28... He went on a visit to one of his sisters in March. She recalled at the funeral that it had been a feast for the whole family, and they had taken a collective photograph to remember it. “Girls, you will lament my death!” he said for some reason then. He got only one leave from the army on May 3. The week before, the whole family gathered in the village to say goodbye to him. He insisted that the sisters and brothers came to meet him on May 3 as well, but it did not work out, as they were just the previous week. They are now lamenting that they missed their chance to see him for the last time.
The mother phoned her son for the last time on May 21. He said only that they were in the field, his phone’s battery was low, so he was unable to speak more. When she could not contact him the next day, the villagers blamed the phone. They say he was a calm guy, kind to people and unwilling to get into fights. Some of local youths allegedly saw online a recording of the Volynians’ conversation with people who were likely enemy scouts. It is supposedly entitled “They Will Die Tomorrow.”
By Natalia MALIMON, The Day, Volyn oblast
“All his decisions were uncompromising, as befits an officer”
60-year-old Mykola Kozlov joined the ranks of an anti-terrorist unit after his son’s mobilization
The 60-year-old patriot from Zaporizhia Mykola Kozlov died in a tragic battle in the village of Karlivka, Donetsk region on May 23.
His fellow soldiers called him Matvii. The man chose this call sign after his grandfather, who fought the Nazi invaders near Leningrad during the Second World War. His parents moved to Ukraine from Russia long ago. Kozlov grew to like the country where he was brought up and became a patriot of this land. He started his military career in the Soviet border troops in Georgia and served for many years, becoming a major. This summer, he would have turned 61.
The eldest daughter of the deceased, Olena, recalled how her father had made a decision on joining the Donbas battalion. After his younger son was mobilized in early May, he volunteered for the anti-terrorist unit. Elena says that this decision, like every step her father ever took, was uncompromising, as befits an officer. The tense events of this year in Kyiv also affected the Zaporizhia hero, as late February’s shootings in Independence Square saw him at the forefront, involved in the fight against the criminal regime. His son is continuing his father’s work as he participates in the anti-terrorist operation in Sloviansk.
Relatives and friends of the deceased patriot remember him as a caring father and husband as well as a good head of the household. His wife, daughter and two sons inherited a gorgeous peach garden and a well-maintained vineyard.
The Donbas battalion was ambushed by the separatists in the village of Karlivka early on May 23, resulting in heavy losses. The daughter of the deceased major got a call reporting the death of her father on the same day. Boys from Zaporizhia self-defense unit were able to bring his body home by venturing to contact the terrorists and go to the hot spot.
Matvii was laid to rest on May 27, with national flags and shouts “Heroes do not die!” accompanying the funeral procession. The ceremony at the regional state administration’s building involved the Donbas battalion arriving almost at full strength. Head of the region Valerii Baranov bid his farewell to the Zaporizhia patriot as well.
By Andrii VASYLIUK, Zaporizhia