Sergey (name changed at the request of the hero) participated in battles in Ukraine for six months as part of the Kalinovsky regiment – this is a separate unit consisting of citizens of Belarus, which became part of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. Sergey’s family believes that the man spent all this time working in Poland. Sergei, on the condition of anonymity, told the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty why he left Belarus and later went to fight, about the deaths of his comrades at the front and the atmosphere in Kalinovsky’s regiment.
The original material is on the website of the Belarusian service of Radio Liberty.
“A normal Belarusian must go through this”
Sergey is 40 years old. He is interested in tourism, and his work is ociated with altitude and increased risks. Sergey is not the real name of the hero of the publication, he changed his name for the sake of his safety and the safety of his relatives who remained in Belarus.
The man left Belarus in 2021 due to political persecution. He lived and worked in Poland, receiving about $2 thousand a month. In February 2023, after receiving a residence permit in Poland, Sergey went to fight in Ukraine as part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Six months later, he resigned – after three of his brothers died in front of his eyes.
The question of why he went to war evokes strong emotions in Sergei: he hides his eyes, tears prevent him from speaking.
“I think a normal Belarusian, a man, has to go through this. It’s the coolest party there. Words, thoughts are good, it’s a war of meanings. And guys there really risk their lives. In Belarus, they can put you in jail, you can die in prison. it’s more real at the front, Belarusians are the coolest there,” he says.
Sergey adds that he went to war in order to be able to defend the independence of his native country. “In 1991, independence fell on us, we did not fight for it,” he emphasizes. “There is no stratum of people in Belarus who are ready to defend independence with weapons. Good should be with fists.”
The second reason, according to him, is psychological – he wanted to see what war is like, to understand how he would behave there. “Normalny such a boy’s question,” sums up the fighter. He thinks he ped the test.
During the conversation with the journalist, Sergey got in the way of tears several times. When asked why he was crying, the man suggested that it might be “mild post-traumatic stress disorder.”
“The fact that I survived is a pure accident”
Sergey says that he was trained as part of the ByPol initiative. In Ukraine, the Belarusian fought in the “Atom” detachment of the Kalinovsky regiment, which was formed in honor of the deceased volunteer Vasyl “Atom” Hrodovyk.
In the Donetsk region, three of his brothers died before his eyes. One of them was a friend of his. Another one is a very young guy, this was his first combat appearance. The main details of this sortie were forbidden to be disclosed to the fighters. The tragedy happened in July this year. A small group of fighters went on a night sortie.
“I was the last in the group. The first, the second, then the third who died, I was the last… The previous fighter and I fell, he fired at me in the sector, I don’t see anything. He lies silently between me and the attacker. So that he shoot, I’m waiting,” Sergey recalls the details of that night.
Later it turned out that the Belarusian’s brother had been dead all this time.
“Some time ped, I left my backpack, crawled forward. I thought he was lying down and waiting. I told him: “Let’s see what’s ahead.” , I saw that the commander, the machine gunner and my friend were lying there. Bullets pierced the armor from above and below, the chest and the abdominal cavity. He could have died within five minutes,” says the volunteer.
Sergey himself believes that the fact that he remained alive is a coincidence: “The fact that I ended up at the end of the group is a pure coincidence. My night vision device did not work, and while I was busy with it, our group started. While I was with he took care of it, the group started.”
Perhaps the biggest shock for Sergei was the realization that his teenage daughter could be left without a father. Every time a man talks about his daughter, he cries.
“I don’t want my daughter to live under Lukashenko. We can’t change it with the help of flowers and flags. The next stage is physical force,” he is convinced.
Sergey wants to return to his family and change the regime in the country.
“But here is a conflict: on the one hand, we need to save Belarus, on the other hand, we must not forget about the family. How to stay alive and fulfill this task? I liked fighting – but not dying… When my daughter grows up, she will understand. But for now, she doesn’t need a hero, but a dad,” he believes.
“A psychologist helps to emotionally overcome this stress”
Fighters who survived the death of their comrades are provided with professional psychological help. But for this, it was necessary to go “to the base”, to Kyiv (now psychologists are already working on the front lines). Sergey also went to individual consultations.
“A psychologist helps me overcome this stress emotionally. I can’t evaluate it objectively. Sometimes I can calmly talk about it, sometimes I can’t,” Sergey shares.
Boets notes that the brothers understand working with a psychologist, no one jokes about it.
“There is constant stress. You give advice yourself – please, you need help – too please,” says Sergey.
After the tragedy, the commander forbade the Belarusian soldier to perform dangerous work, although he did not receive any physical injuries.
“I was shaking when I was lying with a machine gun at night. It’s a release of adrenaline – and it shakes you. When you realize that three brothers have become “cargo 200″, you freeze, you act on the situation… In the battalion, relations are normal. The combatant creates a family atmosphere. After that After evacuating the dead, the guys and I went to a cafe in the evening, had a drink, and chatted,” Sergey recalls.
“I’m in Poland for my family”
Sergey’s family remains in Belarus. The man wants his daughter to grow up there and learn the Belarusian language. None of Sergei’s relatives know that he went to fight.
“I am in Poland for my family. What is GUBOPyK and what is a wife? They will take her – she will tell everything,” he ured.
For six months, he hid his current location from his relatives, calling his wife only on suitable occasions.
“Back in Belarus, I taught my wife not to call me on a working day: I don’t have time to answer. When you’re at the front, you only have one day to rest. Then you can call, write. For video calls, I chose the appropriate background. Or I called from Kiev , chose places where the signs are in Latin. I tried not to hear the Ukrainian language. Although there are many Ukrainians in Poland, you can get away with it,” says Sergey.
Sergey is going to tell his wife about the fact that he fought in Ukraine – but later. Presumably there will be a scandal.
“She will shout and cry that I took such a risk. But where will she go? I lived. I didn’t betray her. This is the same Belarus that we are trying for,” explains Sergey.
“Polk considers itself the navel of the Earth”
Sergey admits that he left Kalinovsky’s regiment not only because of his daughter, but also because he did not fully agree with what was happening in Ukraine in general and in the regiment in particular.
“The Kalinovsky Regiment (PKK) is the Belarusian brand No. 1 in Ukraine. It should be a recruiting, mobilization, and educational center for everyone. Today, all new military affairs are in Ukraine. The regiment considers itself the navel of the Earth. Like, who is Tykhanovskaya, who is ByPol , BelPol, Sakhashchyk? But besides them, new Belarusian formations are appearing in Ukraine. An alternative is emerging. Now there will be healthy competition,” the fighter believes.
He notes that Kalinovsky’s regiment is now being regrouped and modernized. Those who do not agree with the leadership leave for other formations. Those who remained continue to work.
“Of course, there is a negative. But if you don’t like the commander, find another commander. Ukrainians will welcome you with open arms,” says Sergey.
According to him, Belarusians can learn military affairs not only in the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine, to which the Kalynovsky regiment is igned, but also in the volunteer formation “Azov” and the 79th ault brigade of the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
“Azovs” say: we are ready to make you at least tankmen (and tank training is expensive) on the condition that you serve at least six months,” says a Belarusian volunteer. He notes that there is competition between Kalinovsky’s regiment and ByPol.
“We have a common task – Lukashenko wins and does not fall out. The second task is much more difficult,” Sergey is confident.
If someone decides to leave the battlefield, this choice is not considered weakness, they are not condemned for it, the fighter emphasizes.
“This is your personal decision. PKK (Kalynovsky regiment – NV) is a volunteer unit. This is not our country. If we would defend Belarus – another question, but now it’s exactly help, and everyone helps as much as they can. Volunteering is an emotion. You “If you want it, you burn it, then you do it, but when things go wrong, you leave,” he adds.
Black and white
Belarusian says that after the war he became “more graphic”, he sees everything in black or white, without shades. Did he kill people for war? The former soldier admits that no one will tell this.
“This is evidence against himself for GUBOPyK. Field warfare, trench warfare, there you shoot from a mortar, no one will raise a sign that you are killed. I can’t say anything about myself… I didn’t play airsoft, this is war,” – he shares
“I did not commit a crime. People invaded a foreign country. They knew what they were doing,” says Sergey.
The man returned to Poland and is now looking for work. He continues to undergo military training – training with like-minded people supports him very much. I began to cry more often. It is recognized that this was not observed until 2020.
“Time is a non-renewable resource. My daughter is growing up. Her third birthday is already ping without me,” Sergei cries again.
He is surprised how calmly people live in Poland, where there are no “arrivals”, airstrikes, where there are many people on the streets. And he does not lose hope for a change of power in Belarus.
“I have a small dream – to retire in Belarus, to live on some kind of farm,” says the Belarusian.