Givi talks on love, war and future - big interview with modern hero

Givi talks on love, war and future - big interview with modern hero | Русская весна

— Are you a joyful person in everyday life? - I ask as Givi laughs and gives his fighter a command to suck his belly in. The fighters are running around, shelling sounds and explosions are heard outside. The commander listens to his walky-talky and chain-smokes.

— My people should be asked this, not me.

— What’s your attitude to life? Are you a pessimist or optimist?

— I am an optimist, always. I always belive the luck is on our side… The victory and the luck. You know, I am responsible for people. If I were different, would they serve in this battallion? They respect me and I respect them in response. I may sometimes tell them well off, that’s not a secret…

— Oh, yes, I’ve already heard that.

— Well, yes, everything happens. But I am just like them, ordinary guy just like the rest.

— Does it help at war? I mean the attitude like this, your quick temper, passion?

— But of course. When my people see everything’s fine they start believing in themselves and you just support that.

— Okay, so you’re in a battle, you start shooting, what do you feel?

— It feels right. I want to see the result of our work. By our work I mean serving the Motherland. When tanks, artillery, people, small arms are working that’s what I like. And when I know there are big losses at the enemy’s I am satisfied.

— So when you look through the sight do you see an enemy or a soldier? Who do you see — a human being or a «cyborg»?

— I see a normal person but I realize he’s an enemy. Unfortunately he’s an enemy at the moment. Because I did my compulsory military service at Ukrainian armed forces and everything was fine then, all the officers and soldiers were normal guys then.

— So you served at the Ukrainian army, how did everything happen? The war began, war with the people you served with, how did it begin?

— Since Maidan.

— How did you know your place was here not there with them?

— First of all I was deeply affected by what had happened in Mariupol, Odessa, at Maidan. The «Berkut» guys, those poor guys being killed and burnt there.

— You told that the conflict in the Sout-East changed your attitude to everything. But what did affect you most?

— Loss of my people. It doesn’t matter how many, when I close their eyes they won’t leave me.

— Please tell about Ilovaysk.

— Ilovaysk was a planned operation, we were following our mission directive. The task was set by Kononov Vladimir Petrovich, Defence Minister and the task was to hold Ilovaysk by all means. I did hold the town. With the help of my soldiers first of all. There were the second, third and the fourth squadron of Slavyansk, they were backing us. Then Motorola came to help us. Motorola’s contribution was great.

— Where did you serve before «Somalia»?

— I was commander of the second squadron of Slavyansk battallion.

— And then you decided to create your own battallion?

— Yes. And I became Slavyansk battallion commander, by Kononov’s order. Then I began to organize the battallion in my own way.

— What’s your vision of your battallion?

— Just like it is today, it’d be great to have more infantry forces and something three hundred people more would be great. But today’s level is great. The battallion is motorized, it’s powerful, all our people were taught by us. My primary military skill is tank officer, direction layer. So there was nothing difficult.

— Let’s come back to Ilovaysk. Mr. Geletey (Ukrainian Defence Ministry at that time) claimed they had not more that one hundred killed. What did you see?

— Four thousand corpses. They burried them with their own hands. We knew that, we saw that, my intelligence worked there. We’ve seen them burying those poor boys like pieces of meat.

— It means the corpses were not taken home.

— Exactly! What we took we gave them back. Everyhing found by us was sent to the Ukrainian side.

— How many military hardware were lost?

— About one thousand two hundred. Road from Ilovaysk to Uspenka was completely blocked and stuffed with burnt hardware. It was impossible to pass, we pulled it away so the people could use this road.

— What about Debaltsevo?

— I have not been there so I can’t tell anything.

— Okay, then let’s speak about you. You said you belived in people.

— I do, I believe in my people.

— What do you mean by «your people»?

— I mean my battallion.

— What is this faith about?

— I know for sure they stand with me and I stand with them. I may be mistaken somewhere but I’ve got no doubts in that. I am absolutely sure my people are going to stand by me till the end, the same about me.

— Did something change in your attitude to people in general?

— Yes and no. For instance I became even more attached to my people. It’s hard to lose them. Even if somebody requests resignation due to certain family circumstances it is still hard to let them. But we let them of course, it’s not about concussion. Who wants to be with us he will be with us. The civilians often show disrespect to the uniformed people. But to some extent we, I mean «the OTHER fighters» are to blame. Somebody does something dishonest and people start thinking all the militia fighters are like that. But when combat starts, when shelling hits hard then everyone hope "Rostov" and "Somalia' battallion stay hard, then they support us I think. Apart from that we became enemy No. 1 for them. Well, that’s my opinion I’m saying what I see.

— Tell about something unforgettable, some story No. 1 here, in your life as a commander.

— There was plenty of but the hardest I believe was the period when my fighters had neither bulletproof vests nor helmets. And then when they arrived there was another problem — to make people wear them. I’ve got one soldier, here he is sitting in front of you [Givi nods to he side of a young guy of about 25, he gets embarrassed and looks down]. And that was the problem.

— What was the problem?

— He did not want! When somebody told him I was on my way here he put everything on. That was a real problem to make people wear what was neccessary. I told a lot of times that was for safety reasons, to protect from bullets, from fragments, from everything. Sure the vests cannot resist 125 mm caliber but the fragments! That costed me quite a lot of nerves to be honest. I had to teach them sometimes with my belt.

— Have you been between life and death?

— Yes, in Ilovaysk, Yampol, Semyonovka and in Slavyansk. Once again — in Ilovaysk we were totally exposed, at the airport as well when we assaulted the old terminal, some time later Motorola and I were commanding the storm. Motorola and I were together there, were storming like the others. I was wounded by a sniper in Ilovaysk, it was a near miss — I got lucky, it was a light gutter head wound.

— Were you scared?

— No, it was offending to be almost shot.

— So you were not afraid to die?

— What’s the point in being afraid to die? The point is to meet beautiful death. There was a moment when we were resting [between combats] and I felt bad, I called doctor on duty. She came and my first thought was: why are you so unbeautiful? he girl herself was pretty but she came all disheveled, in some reefing jacket with tonometer hanging aside and the main thing — her eyes were wild. I looked at her — oh, dear, why it came so ugly!

— Did you say it aloud?

— I did! She asked if she was ugly. I said that I was talking not about her but about death. I say — the main thing is to meet beautiful death all the rest is unimportant. And I know for sure — I wont’t yield as a prisoner, never.

— What do you mean by «beautiful»? What is the woman of your dream?

— I have no woman of my dream. All women are beautiful in some way. There is a beuaty in every woman you just need to see it.

— Are you planning to marry?

— No, I am not. Who would want to live with me? I am a walking hurricane, I am never at home, don’t sleep at nights. My battallion is my family. But it’s big!

— Tell about the dreams, what are your dreams?

— There are no dreams at war. You don’t sleep at all at war. No matter how long you sleep it’s never enough and you never get a good sleep. I’ve said it million times before and I’m saying it once again.

— Does it happen to you when you want to be alone?

— Sure it happens.

— What do you think about when you’re alone?

— About war.

— Not about peace?

— When we have peace then we’ll think about peace.

— What’s your vision of peace?

— Calm, quiet so the children are not afraid to walk in the streets, that’s the main thing. So that a pregnant woman is not afraid to walk the streers, every man and woman, the elderly could just walk without fear. Let them work for the benefit of our Motherland. Everybody makes some contribution I think. Trust me — everything ruined will be restored. I really belive that even the airport will be restored soon. Well, the best way of restoring the airport is to tear all the rest down and then construct again.

— I see that the metall constructions from the airport are being taken away very actively.

— The metal constructions are taken away by the production companies of Donetsk. Everybody thinks that we’re stealing them.

— You wanted to say about the God.

— Yeah, God… I am absolutely sure that ninety percent of my people never attended church, may be on some big church holidays. We appeal to God when it’s very hard and I’m not hiding it, I ask: please God help us, please save my guys.

— Is it a gift? - I ask him about the bracelet consisiting of small icons on his wrist.

— Yes, from my mother.

— What does your mother say about all this?

— My poor mum, she’s worried. Both mum and dad are worried, they’re safe thanks God, I’ve sent them away.

— Do you have siblings?

— I have a sister, she’s been living and working in Russia for a long time.

— Are you planning to go to Russia?

— Why? What for? I am not going to anywhere until I finish everything here. I will have a vacation when I’m finished here. I’ve been invited to Altay.

— It’s great.

— Yes, it is. I have a guy from Altay fighting in my battallion.

— What is love for you?

— Love is everything. It’s the most pure feeling in the world. But I don’t know it.

— Why?

— Because I am not familiar with it, I do not have a soulmate, do you understand?

— Do you accept love only in a «man and woman» way?

— Yes. Well it depends what love we are talking about. One may love Motherland, may love relatives and kids — it’s one thing. But relationships between man and woman is completely another thing. It is the highest feeling of all if it is pure and sincere.

— I’ve been told people of your battallion wed and have kids.

— Oh yes! It’s fun here. I visited a wedding recently, one of my soldiers got married and it turned out that there was no groomsman. He asked me and I could not refuse, it was his wedding day after all. And then you find yourself serving champaign to your soldier! But it was beautiful and fun, I liked it. Life goes on. War does not stop these thing, you know? To fall in love, to marry, make children it’s good.

— Some say people at war become real. Do you think it’s true?

— On one hand — yes, one can see to what extent you are man. And it’s not alwyas about «hard balls» excuse my language. Man should remain man till the end. Starting from peacetime till the war. Man is the one who protects his land, his home, family, country, his interests. I am disliked by the many for sticking to my own opinion and not surrending. If I believe something to be right I will stand till the end.

— Have you always been like that?

— Even my mum says — I remain as stubborn as I’ve always been. When I decided to go to Slavyansk, she didn’t even try to talk me out of that because she knew she could not do this. That’s what I am, stubborn. You know, kind of «when I see goal I see no obstacles», but there is always an obstacle. You need either crash it ot go round.

— Are you tactician or strategist?

— Sometimes you need to act like Chapayev. To throw away the scabbard and go. Sometimes you need to escape certain thing and then tactics works. Sometimes you need a plan, sometimes improvisation, sometimes you just need to play the fox.

— How do you see your future?

— I can’t tell anything. My future is now, I mean the nearest 24 hours and I can’t be absolutely sure even about that. I am trying to plan something but most of the time is spent on the frontline with my people, all the time. My people are experienced but when I see something with my own eyes I make more global, large-scale decisions. Of course I am teaching them to think global, to talk and reason global, to act global, but you know…

— Have you learnt something?

— Sure. Even those failures in Slavyansk, Yampol, Semyonovka they’ve also taught us something. Each situation bears positive and negative — one may make certain conclusions.

— Who was you childhood hero? Is there a hero for you today?

— As a child I liked Chapayev, now my heroes are my people. My soldiers are heroes, all of them, real heroes.

— What heroic can you think of?

— Oh, plenty of. The last thing heroic was when my tanks jumped to Maryinka and saved our guys, protected with armour. Seven people were saved. That was a heroic deed. But trust me just holding the current positions is already heroic. And they’ve been holding them not for some 24 hours but for three months. They are getting smashed there but they are holding and not going to surrender. If I order to retreat they will retreat. But until that they will remain steadfast to the last.

— What’s the task in the airport?

— Our task is to hold the airport by all means. When we get an order to attack — from corps commander, commader in chief or Defence Minister — we’ll attack. And trust me: we’ll crash everything on our way. Because the main thing is to coordinate the attack correctly. Counterattack or attack needs to be coordinated correctly. You know, not to get euphoric when you take town after town and don’t see anything around you. The main thing is to stay realistic, to take towns with minimum damage. We are at war with «Right Sector»*.

— Do you mean it is «Right Sector» there?

— They are deployed in Opytnoye. I believe «Right Sector» should not be part of Ukrainian Defence Ministry. «Right Sector» is a powerful organization with good commanders and they will not obey stupid orders from Defence Ministry, just trust me. Many of their commanders are very clever, I’ve already given an example — Cherniy, from Podol. They are smart men. I’ve talked with one RS guy in Ilovaysk, he remembers me and I remember him. But we sweared to each other not to torture each other if get captured, just shoot right away.

— Is ceasefire order observed?

— We do observe it. But mortar fire is going on, they are trying to regain every patch of land as they did before the order. Kiev is telling everybody they had nothing in Maryinka but there was plenty of artillery, thyt were preparing this attack. They just didn’t expect a counterattack.

— What did they want?

— They wanted to get to Aleksandrovka after Maryinka and then go straight to Donetsk. That was the plan, they did not expect counterattack and massive answer. Well the main thing is that our people endured.

— Saakashvili is appointed governor of Odessa.

— It’s his business what he’s doing but they are the best mates since maidan, he supported them, do you remember? So it's understandable.

Givi shifts his attention to TV screen. Oil terminal fire near Kiev is shown.

— This is Kiev burning. Kiev is burning. It’s showed all the time. You know they are provoking Russia to war. Russia showed its power during parade. I am sure Vladimir Vladimirovich has plenty of aces in his sleeves. How can you wage a war with the strongest country in the world?

* "Right Sector" is far-right neonazi organization prohibited in Russian Federation

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