- But you have George Cross hanging on your chest. What it is awarded for?
- I got it for the exit from Slavyansk. We were providing cover for column leaving city. And my "Nona" broke right at this moment. Clutch failure. We repaired it under (enemy) fire to be able to use gearbox without clutch (this is not clear in Russian original-RA).
An order was given - I still do not know by whom. Someone ran from the darkness and said to me “Commander, why do you not moving?” I answered: “the clutch failed, can’t switch gears”. Person asks “Do you have hand grenade?” I answered: “Yes I have”. He: “then blow the vehicle along with ammunition and leave on foot over fields for Kramatorsk”. We were getting each vehicle in fight from enemy in Slavyansk, how could I blow it now? Impossible. I managed to start the vehicle and drove it to Kramatorsk. Twice stalled engine by the road. There were columns of destroyed cars on this road. A lot of our guys were killed. But we dragged ourselves to Donetsk.
The Slavyansk armour group (before breaking out from the city) received order: to go to the outskirts of the city. There had been four tanks. Three were runners, one not. The order was: to fire at Ukrainian troops checkpoint. It was distracting blow. Hospital patients, the elderly and children have been evacuated already at 2pm. There was only one way – through the fields. And it was under fire. We fired on the checkpoint and at Karachun where they had guns. The Armour group was ordered to cover the column, and then move over the fields to Kramatorsk. But it turned out that someone had taken command. No-one give him order to break out through checkpoint. And those who took command himself, gave the order to go through the checkpoint. Seventy percent of the armoured group - three tanks, BMD, BMP - all destroyed there. Who gave the order, I still do not know. Igor Ivanovich (Strelkov – RA) did not give such an order. He tried to take care of all the people. If the shelling began, he was always ordering: “Guys, keep away from vehicles. If something happens to the "hardware" - is not terrible”. (Laughs) “Our recon will get new vehicles from Ukrainian army”.
- You had enough fuel in Slavyansk for tanks and other equipment. Was it enough ammo?
- At first, Ukrainians where abandoning all and fleeing 2-3 km away. We come, and see they have a lot of inventory there. Tank shells we had, but they were few. We took them when pushed dill (Ukrainians-RA) or ambushed their column. Once we got "Ural" loaded with shells. For the "Nona" munitions were, however, rare. Sometimes 120-mm mortar shells came across. "Nona" can shoot them. Small arms come across. AKs were burned. Guys who knew how to do it restored them. At first some of us were armed with hunting rifles. When Artemovsk warehouse was taken, some of us got SKS carbines and some got Mosin-Nagan rifles.
If Russia, according to what Ukrainian propaganda is saying, provided vehicle and weapons for Slavyansk - we would still be there.
- Do you think whether it was possible not to leave Slavyansk? And if yes, how could it be held?
- Owners of gas stations helped us with fuel. Nobody asked for money. But it never was in a way like to come with a car and a gun and demanded to be filled up. There was order and discipline. With us, people shared everything, even though they had little themselves. All we respected each other. Ammunition, if we did not leave Slavyansk, we would have enough only for a week.
- Was outside help reaching you?
- Yes. Donetsk was doing their best. They tried, whenever possible, to supply us with what they found in the strategic stocks. All here too it was not easy. The fact is that while Artemovsk was under our control, we had a lot of things. What they had time to transport to Donetsk, then was sent to us.
- And the second medal you have is - "For Defence of Slavyansk"?
- When you come to Donetsk, in what battles have you participated?
- We where thrown first to Netaylovo and Karlovka. (North of Donetsk airport, under Ukr Army now – RA)
- And why did you evacuate Karlivka? They say that if you had not evacuated Karlivka, then the Ukrainians could not capture Avdeevka and Peski, and then there would not be these terrible attacks of Donetsk and the airport would then be taken quickly.
- Why? Because we did not have anything to defend it with. We were armed with AKs only.
- And no armour?
- No. All vehicles were under repair after Slavyansk. The tanks have appeared only after the Ilovaisk encirclement and Stepanovka.
- How many have you got there?
- If only tanks counted - from 300 to 400.
- Has Ukrainians abandoned all this?
- Yes, all the Ukrainians have left behind. They also left "Grads", S-1 and D-30. As soon as dill (Ukrainians – RA) retreated from Illovaisk, Kuteynikova, Zerkalnaya - we immediately moved in this forest strip (between fields – RA), and there were four SPGs standing, landmine-laying vehicles with AT -mines. We took it all.
Then we went on Starobeshevo with one person who began his service in Snejoye. Took two self-propelled howitzers "MSTA-S" there. One was taken away by MGB (Ministry of state security of Donetsk republic – RA), and the second one – by Cossacks (laughs)
- And how did the Cossacks take it?
- Yes, we drove from the fields to the road. While we drove to take another one, they (Cossacks) came, hooked it up and dragged it away (laughs).
- Cossacks of Kozitsyn?
- No, another (unit). Some Cossacks are normal, do fighting, everything. Others live as the saying goes, "For some people war is best time to prosper" (my translation of Russian proverb meaning – RA). Someone fills his pockets, while others fight for conscience.
- So now you go to battle on these vehicles?
- I know that your friend and your brother died. How did this happen?
- They died on August, 12 (2014). There was a battle, close to town of Krasny Luch in Lugansk Republic. There they were killed. They served under the command of “Cap”. First Miusynsk was liberated. They travelled by car. He was given the order to drive to the outskirts of the village, to see what is going on there. They went there by car, and they were fired at by a BMP. They managed to jump out of the car, but immediately came under fire. The boys were killed. The elder brother Vojtech Hlinka died immediately and the other friend Ivo Steyskalu’s foot was blown away by a BMP shot. There's the 30mm caliber. The Ukrainians came and finished him. And ride the same BMP over them. They were buried by local man in Miusynsk. And when we liberated Saur-Mogila on September 27, it was the official reburial: their bodies were moved to Saur-Mogila.
- I interviewed former Defense Minister Valery Geletey. He told me that the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office found that the encirclement at Ilovaiskaya killed just 107 people. You as a participant in those fights can you comment on that figure?
- In Ilovaiskaya encirclement? Five thousand.
- Have you seen corpses of Ukrainian soldiers personally?
- Not only seen but felt. They even did not take their dead. They abandoned them. You go and smell. Just walk into the forest strips between the fields and listen. Even the dead were not buried. In the DNR was created a group that investigated who and where the dead lay. Sometimes they are simply covered with earth, and then go and picked up. You open burned destroyed vehicles, and there are charred bones inside. Someone is identified - and then handed the Ukrainians. And what has been done under the Debaltseve. “Dill” dragged transportable crematorium and burned their fighters. And then they said they were missing. If missing, the money will not have to be payed to anyone.
Here in our conversation comes Vitali "Thor" Yudin, a friend of "Czech." - You know, on this occasion there is even an anecdote. Someone knocks at the door of Paradise. Peter opens, and there is a large crowd. Several thousand “dill”. He: Who came? Dill answer: We're defended our home, we are promised to go to Paradise. Peter: strange, by summaries of the Ministry of Defence only 102 people lost.
We laugh. Again, I ask questions, "Cech." - Under Ilovaiskaya you fought with tanks?
- No. With guns. First in Ilovaiskaya it was then we were transferred to Stepanovka under Saur-Mogila. And then I was sent to Strarobeshevo. We liberated it. Near Saur-Mogila were our guys, and we went from Starobeshevo take them into the cauldron.
- Talking with the prisoners?
- Yes. I can tell you one thing: I have friends among the prisoners.
- Even so? How did this happen?
- We captured surrendered tankers. Good guys. I do not want you to call them names. They've got a family at all. They helped us to restore vehicles. No one was hurt. We gave them food, and cigarettes. The first thing we did when I took them captive: take phone - call home. Say that you're alive and you're all right, but you're a prisoner. At best, it is clear no one is let. They helped us to restore good vehicles. They're great. They then got exchanged. I recently called up with one. He came home. Again people come to him from the recruiting office, and drafted him again as a tanker, but, thank God, he managed to escape to Germany. Now he is denounced as a traitor, and they are harassing his mother.
- Were you involved in the encirclement at Debaltsevo?
- Yes, this time in a tank. We came from the Lugansk Republic direction. In the battles of Sanzharovkoy. There were very strong fortifications. There were a lot of our good guys killed. To be honest, 40% of the battalion lost at Sanzharovkoy.
- Why? Because Ukrainians are much stronger and have learned to fight?
- Because of our bad intelligence. According to my information, they did not carry out a reconnaissance. They just come to the front with the infantry, and talked with the guys. Those they tell something, and all the more they did not find out. We are told, rise to a height, drive 3.5 km. There's forest strip there. Dig in. And then after another 300 meters are pro-Ukr position. All the time it was fog. My guys are passing 600 meters and turn right on the Ukrainian positions. And from the trenches they (pro-Ukrainians) began to burn our tanks. One after another. And then what did the chief of intelligence do? He took the gun and shot himself in the foot in the soft tissue. Oh, I was wounded, oh, I was wounded. And to me the tankers come: what kind of rubbish is this? I go, it turns out, he was shot in the leg. And now, it turns out, he got an award for it.
- A nightmare.
- This is what nightmares are, I'm sorry ... it's useless. Sorry boys.
- Are there other Czechs fighting here?
- I heard that, yes, but I, unfortunately, did not meet with them.
- And here you answer to me as a Czech, Russian and Ukrainian beer good? Better or worse then Czech?
– Here as soon as you are drunk, write a report and leave the army. So this is what I can tell you only after the victory.