The regiment will participate in the future confrontation.
Fighter of the Kalinouski regiment ‘Hareza’ was interviewed by the Radio Svaboda website.
“Did you participate in the Belarusian protests of 2020?”
“I lived in Minsk at that time. Of course, I participated in the protests. I was lucky — I didn’t get into a detention facility, but I was badly beaten. I managed to run away from them. I calculated that of my friends and acquaintances, 25 people were detained at the protests. But if you take into account everyone with whom I communicated or somehow came into contact, then there will be 50 or even 150. In those August days, my jaws were just cramped from hatred, they hurt for three days. And this feeling returned on February 24, when I heard that the war had begun in Ukraine.”
“Do you think that the Belarusian society has suffered the final defeat after 2020?”
“I don't think it’s all over, or that we Belarusians were defeated then. It's like in martial arts, let's say boxing, where there are 12 rounds. We won in the first round. Then, say, in April 2021, there was the third round, when we were knocked out. Today, I think, the 8th round is underway. The fight is ongoing. And maybe in four rounds we will win. The main thing is to fight to the last. But our people were not then ready for a fight. And that's okay. We do not have a society where everyone takes up swords. We have passed the “second sociological wave”, we have become urbanized. Well, give our man a machine gun — what will he do with it? Or tell him to hit someone in the ear — he doesn't know how. At the same time, the riot police, the Main Directorate for Combating Organized Crime and Corruption recruited those who passed the “negative selection”: the most terrible, the worst people. Ready to follow any order. What will an ordinary person do against them, against these “specialists” who have been beating people for years?
I am a reserved optimist. Even before the protests started, I thought they would disperse us. But, apparently, we needed to go though this as part of a process that will eventually lead us to democratization and normal life in a country where laws will work.
I did not leave Belarus, I was there until the last. After all, it seemed to me that the situation in the country could change, it's like a fire on a peat bog. I thought that I should be in Belarus.”
“Why did you go to fight for Ukraine? This is a foreign country, “not our war”?
“I thought there would be a war. After all, I saw in Belarus how joint “exercises” with Russia were held, and where everything was going. I saw that blood supplies were being made, warehouses on the border and various structures were being prepared. We moved closer and closer to the Ukrainian border. Only I personally thought that it would happen later. Still, when I found out about the war on February 24, the sky just collapsed. For several days I just sat in a daze.
I have very distant roots in Ukraine. But I never saw those relatives. I think this war is a crime. I don't like the idea of “fraternal peoples” where there is an “elder brother”. We are not brothers — neither older, nor younger — we are just neighbors, and we do not need to fight each other. Yes, I have never had sympathy for Russia. I looked at them as a country that could do just that — start a war.”
“Was it easy to get into the Kalinouski regiment?”
“I read the news, I understood that one could get into the regiment practically only through Poland. So I applied for a visa. It was not easy — I waited two months for it. In the meantime, I went in for sports, studied first aid, shot at a shooting range, prepared. Naturally, I was tested. But everything went quickly and easily — in a week. I knew where and why I was going. There were doubts, of course. The war is not on our territory. But if they beat Ukraine, we'll be next. So I went to help them. I didn’t tell anyone in Belarus that I was going there.
I feel good in the regiment, there are many interesting, educated people here, there are people to talk to. There is good preparation, hardening. All this will be useful to me, and not only to me.”
“But this is a war, people can get killed there.”
“In Kyiv, we saw missiles, they flew right over our heads. But I feel much better there than sitting at home and waiting for the police to come for you and count all the steps with your head. People can get killed here. But now we can answer. I'm not alone here. I have associates. This greatly affects the psyche. While I'm just getting ready, I haven't been on the front lines yet. But many of our guys are there, others are eager to go there. It seems — give them a machine gun, they will go on foot to where it is hot now. I can say that there will be enough war for me. I mean, I see it will not end tomorrow.
The deceased Volat told us that war is just a case, you will either die or not, but you will not see death coming for you. A projectile will fly in, or you may step on a tripwire. Yes, in a peaceful life, a brick can fall on your head. True, here the percentage of the probability of dying is higher. But we remain philosophical about this topic. Most knew where they were going. We pay for our freedom, and the freedom of the Ukrainian people.”
“What is your specialty, what kind of support is in the regiment, who helps you?”
“I decided to be a paramedic, respectively, I am intensively preparing to provide first aid. They teach not only me. Fighters should be able to help themselves and brothers-in-arms. For medical care, we have everything, both good, modern facilities and equipment. This is thanks to volunteers, those who donate to us, the Belarusian diasporas. Our tactical first aid kits are top notch. And the guys have good, modern weapons.”
“Do you have dreams and plans for “after the war?”
“For the majority of Belarusian volunteers, the war will not end until the authoritarian regime in Belarus falls. We will participate in the coming confrontation. I would like to go through all this and look at a normal Belarus, with normal laws.
In the future, I would like to have my own small farm in Belarus, somewhere by the river. And to engage in those projects that were “cancelled” in 2020, when civil society was defeated. I am still a guest in Ukraine, I am here for a certain time. I want to live in Belarus.
As for when the war will end, I'm not an optimist. It may last several years. It is impossible to train abdominal muscles in two days, no matter how hard you try. Some people think that they will bring new, “magic” weapons to Ukraine or a few more “Bayraktars” — and the “magic” weapons will smash all enemies. But it doesn’t work like this.”
“What is your attitude towards the Russians who are fighting against the Ukrainians?”
“I have been watching them for a long time. They were pumped up with propaganda 24/7. They were bloodthirsty both 5 and 10 years ago. On February 24, they opened their faces — and there is simply horror, just such dehumanization!
Looting, murder, rape — this is the true face of the war, as it manifests itself. It's normal for them, in their heads. Russia is a country of the 19th century. It does everything through weapons. It is 200 years behind the world. Institutions do not work there, there is corruption, oil, resources, money, and weapons.
A normal person is held back by society, laws, institutions. Here they were “released to freedom” and they behave like animals. This “plaque of civilization” was removed from them, their true face was revealed.
I don't know what's next. But Ukrainians are burning with hatred for the Russians. And this is going to last long. Nobody will forgive them. Russians used to complain about “Russophobia”. But the real Russophobia has only just begun — after what they did in Ukraine.”