Among the defenders of Donetsk there was a Russian-African volunteer: “I’ll stay here until victory!”

Together with the Donetsk troops, Edward stormed Peski and Nevelskaya.  He took prisoners.

Together with the Donetsk troops, Edward stormed Peski and Nevelskaya. He took prisoners.

Photo: Alexander KOTS

I’m sitting in a cafe in Donetsk, eating borscht. Out of the corner of my eye I watch the TV playing music videos. On the screen, curvy black women wriggle to the music. I turn around and see that a huge black man is sitting next to me, eating ice cream, the whites of his eyes sparkling and also looking at the dancing girls. I almost choked on my borscht.

The guy is wearing a uniform, but you can’t tell whether it’s military or civilian. In Donetsk, many people walk like this. I approach and ask:

– Where?

It is in pure Russian:

– From Volgograd.

– How did you get here?

– I’m fighting. Volunteer, – and shows with a gesture: sit down, they say.

– But how… who are the parents? – I’m embarrassed by my own question.

– Mom from Volgograd. “Dad’s not here,” he answers calmly.


Guy’s name Edward. Two higher educations – an institute of culture and an environmental one. In Donbass since last summer.

– Do you remember in June the Ukrainians shelled the embankment in Donetsk? Many children died then. The SVO has already been going on for 4 months. I came to work, looked around… Everything was as usual, as if it was no one’s business… But if evil is not stopped in Donbass, the same will happen in Volgograd and everywhere else. And I came here to stop it.

Edward joined the DPR people’s militia. Now these are already regular units. The entire 1st Donetsk Army Corps entered the Russian 8th Army. A graduate of the Volgograd Institute of Arts and Culture joined the stormtroopers.

– Were the guys surprised when they saw that a black man had come to them? How did you receive it?

– They received it well. Even wonderful.

Together with the Donetsk troops, Edward stormed Peski and Nevelskaya. He took prisoners. Got injured. Several fragments in the legs and chest. I spent two months in the hospital. Then he returned to the unit, but to administrative work due to health reasons. Although he still goes to the training ground, shoots, and tries to regain his fighting shape.

– Didn’t want to return home to Volgograd?

– I always wanted to. But someone has to fight. And I will have time to stay at home. They should give me a vacation soon.

– Haven’t you given the reward yet? Still, he took prisoners and was wounded… Or what rank?

Edward shakes his head.

– Not allowed. But I didn’t go for awards. And I don’t need a title. Remained a private. In battle, it doesn’t matter what your rank is. Especially for enemy artillery (artillery – Ed.).

– What was the worst thing: shelling, drones?

– The scary thing is the unknown. When you don’t know how far ahead the enemy is, what he will do. Everything else is just life. You can cross the road unsuccessfully. You can die from a blood clot while sitting on a potty. Death in war… I don’t think that’s the worst thing. During the year, only five people died in my company. Many were wounded, but returned to duty.

– So it’s not scary in battle?

– At the moment of battle – no. It happened at night… When it was dark and there was some movement ahead. And you understand that there are no people there. And behind you are your boys. They are sleeping. And if you are not on the alert, they will die because of you. This is scary.


At the Institute of Culture, Edward studied organizing mass events. This is how I imagined it: a sack race, a concert, a quiz. With his dashing looks, he could become a fashionable DJ or wedding host. But he chose a cold trench in the company of Donetsk miners, whose faces were as black as his.

– Are you able to apply your experience in the army? Organize a cultural event?

– There is a political officer for this. I have other tasks. I’m in the infantry.

– What does being a soldier mean to you?

– A lot to learn. Otherwise…

-…will you die?

– Well, why do it so soon? You will receive an offensive injury and go home. Sometimes out of the blue due to his carelessness. How are we soldiers different from civilians? Take the Kirovsky district of Donetsk. 7-8 kilometers to the front line. This area can even be shelled with a mortar. The enemy has snipers and mortars; they hit the trench with the second shot. Can they miss the city?

– Hardly…

– But we, the military, are always ready for shelling, we manage to take cover. But the civilians are not ready. And they die. There is no need to be afraid of danger, you need to know it. If you look at 360 degrees, understand where you are going and what you are doing, your chances increase dramatically.

– So you will stay here until the victory?

– Until victory! – he nods. And in farewell he extends his wide black palm to me.


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