Vitaliy Ovcharenko is one of the so-called "ultras" of Donetsk "Shakhtar" football club, a civic activist, a fighter of volunteer battalion, a voluntary servant, and a journalist. In the interview with the journalist of ONLINE.UA Yaroslav Grebenyuk, Vitaliy spoke about "rumbles" between ultras, early political career of Pavel Gubarev, calculation of uniformed “green men” without insignia in the Crimea and the first deadly clashes with separatists in Donetsk with that the war began in 2014.
- Can you tell more about Pavel Gubarev in those years?
- I knew him well. It so happened that I came to his room in the dormitory: I entered the Faculty of History of the Donetsk National University, and he had just finished his. His stuff were in the room. And the first thing that shocked me was his library. Many books such as "Blow of Russian gods", "America against Russia", and some even signed "To Pasha from his brothers". A poster of the leader of Russian fascists Barkashov was on the door, and swastikas were on the walls. I immediately thought: "Some original person lived here!" (Laughs). Then I and Pasha went to the same gym for four years doing Thai boxing. And, to be honest, I had understood his views, but such a schizo in his head was not so noticeable. He just seemed as blinkered nerd, a businessman who makes money on various distributions concerning political issues. Because in Donetsk, it was popular to make distributions of the Russian grants. Grants were allocated for the development of Russian culture, and such as Pasha distributed that money.
I have last seen Gubarev at the gym in November of 2013, just two weeks before Euromaidan.
Vitaly Ovcharenko on Euromaidan
"I went to the Maidan in Kiev by the rotation method"
- And here the Euromaidan has begun. I've been in Donetsk a little at the time because I knew: the major events take place in our capital. I did not believe that it will have so great scale. The turning point came on 11 December when I went concerning my business to Kiev, and then in the morning the assault began: a column of "Berkut" officers tried to disperse defenders of Maidan (security forces unsuccessfully tried to blow Maidan since the previous night, - ONLINE.UA). I remember it was very cold, there was a jam in the crowd, but I is no stranger and know how to behave in a crowd. Maidan has been defended, and in the middle of the day I went to warm up in Kiev Rada (Kiev municipal council). And just I came back, they started to assault the Kiev Rada building. Two buses with "Berkut" units arrived to the building. They were watered from above with cold water, we were poured, too, and we have to throw the snow. "Berkut" pushed us down the stairs; my jeans were knee-high wet, there was crowding around: it was necessary to protect ourselves, and to elbow our way out.
What's day was: both cold, and hot. And then I felt the protest gained a new value, which I had not expected.
Then I began to go to Kiev by the rotation method. Three to five days I'll stay there, go back home, three or five days rest thawing and back to Maidan. I met in the Maidan both friends and acquaintances from the Donetsk region. A couple of times I got "Grusha" (Grushevskogo street, - ONLINE.UA). On the Maidan, in the press center for the last time I saw Volodya Rybak who was later killed by Russian terrorists.
Also I remember the funeral of Zhiznevsky and Nigoyan. Such an intensity was: a crowd of thousands, agrief, a rage, and a strong cumulative effect of all that matters.
On February 1, I fell ill for two weeks, went under the knife, but I had to recover for another month, spent in bed the time, but as my friends said perhaps fortunately, otherwise I could got into the thick of.
- And what was happening in Donetsk at the time?
- It is clear that the Donetsk ultras also went to Kiev, it was announced a truce with local fans: which donnybrook could be when the fate of the country hangs in the balance.
But in Donetsk, our first coming out in support of Euromaidan was organized on January 23, 2014. Ultras have got out to guard.
Everyone was shocked: no one expected such boldness of the guys, we did not believe that we can come out openly. And the local authorities has given the command "Fetch!" They began to drag us to the police for preventive talks, cops visited our places of employment, put pressure on our heads. The same things were in universities. For example, a colonel comes to the dean and said: "Look, you learn a fascist!" It is clear that in Donetsk, a dean, or a rector are frightened officials: "We will punish the fascist!" They organized meetings reminding Communist party rallies, the staff bailed a "fascist dishonoring our collective" and it was funny and not funny at the same time.
There was leaked in social networks all the information about us with addresses and telephones. In parallel they have arranged such a persecution: in entrances where our guys lived the leaflets appeared "Here lives a Banderovite!"
- Yes, in Luhansk the leaflets have been also used actively...
As a result, we received information whom they exactly going to capture, and some of us had to change their place of residence.
But after the victory of Euromaidan in Kiev it was no longer up to the ultras for local authorities in the short term and, paradoxically, smell of freedom has appeared in the air.
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