Translated by Nikita Che
The correspondents of the Federal News Agency Andrey Zablotsky and Oleg Nikitin were able to visit Gorlovka to interview a legendary officer of the DPR People’s Militia, commander of the rocket artillery division Olga Kachura, nom de guerre “Korsa”.
“Olga, what did you do before the war?”
“I’m from a family of military servicemen of the 11th generation. My forefathers served in the Russian army, my grandfather and father – in the Soviet one. All my childhood was spent in the garrisons and on the ranges while my father served along the whole USSR and abroad. There was a withdrawal in the 1990’s, so our family moved in Ukraine, near Artyomovsk. My father became a retired pensioner. And I, being a young lieutenant, was retired too. After that, I had been working in various Ukrainian law enforcement agencies for years. My last position was a chief of district headquarters, sort of a chief of a separate battalion or division. So I’m serving since 18 years of age.”
“When did you decide to go to war?”
“When Maidan started, I had already quit my job in a law enforcement agency for a position of a bank security officer. I contemplated the Maidan events very much and, being a sensible person, understood that this conflict in downtown Kiev would grow into a war. The country was divided, not merely divided, but torn to pieces. November and December of 2013 showed me serious economical contradictions between the country’s west and east; also real Fascism was taking to hearts. So I had only one choice: to counter it. Thus my career of a soldier of the Donetsk People’s Republic started. There was Slavyansk in April 2014, then Nikolaevka, Kramatorsk and Druzhkovka. Me and my personnel came into Gorlovka from Druzhkovka. We had already been missile artillerists. Yes, I had graduated as an artillerist. Thanks to my teachers, I had been taught very well – so the opponents across the front line never complained that we failed to target them. They said quite the opposite.”
“There was an anniversary of the creation of the DPR Army recently. Would you like to congratulate your colleges and say a word to them?”
“I’d like to see the army to be the same as it remains in my childhood memory. These years, when the military was marching, all the passers-by turned their heads towards them – young handsome men, smart, with a well-trained parade step. I’m noticing now how the army recruitment rate increases, people really respect shoulder straps and a military uniform. So I’d like to wish my colleges only to proceed further and further in combat training. It’s time to stop being a militia and to become an army. The army means order and discipline. One has to train every single day. In 2014, there was a joyous and funny approach ‘oh let’s go shoot.’ But the knowledge that we must pass on to the soldiers is enormous and vital. An artillerist should bathe in sweat every day. We even have a saying: ‘Artillerist’s sweat saves soldier’s blood.’ The more my personnel knows and is able, the fewer losses our infantry will have.”
“Your service in the Militia began from its very start, and then continued in the DPR army. How would you evaluate the path the local military went through over the last two years?”
“There is still a lot of things to do. But also many things have already been done for two and half years. One can see proper personnel trainings, changes in inner structure, emergence of a notion of subordination. Former tax drivers and coal miners had to work and study hard. You could even compare it to the army of Peter the First [Russia’s Emperor, 1689 – 1725 – ed], which also started from being a ‘funny army’, ‘funny navy,’ as a result he got the strongest army in the world. Now that’s time when every one of us is challenged to examine his or her energies, when results of our work emerge as a regular, well-trained and mighty army. It could happen that the army would act with the best armies of the world.”
“They often say that many of militiamen were not able to fit into the new structure of the army forces. What abilities are necessary for this?”
“Any army means discipline and order. It’s often hard for people to live according to the schedule, when they wish to sleep till eight o’clock. When ‘you’re in the army now’, there is a schedule: getting up at 6:20, physical exercises at 6:40, and so on. That means you live you life according to the strict schedule. Many feel uncomfortable about it, many have a hard time to understand that they are not allowed to enter their barracks to take a rest on bed in the afternoon. If you have classes from 9:00 to 14:00, you must be there without any free choice, and have a duty to be in the classroom. It can be easy for 18-year-old boys, but so many adult people came into our army from the militia. So they either consider they have already done their drilling before, or don’t want to re-form themselves. Though I should admit there are the strongest rules in my own unit: if we have exercises, we all go there; if we have a drill since 9 to 10, everyone and all do it.
Many people find it hard to understand that there is no more liberty in the army. That’s why not all militiamen can become regular military. Me, I felt it was easy because of my whole scheduled life. I used to exercise at 6:20 with my personnel without indulgencies, I have 5 km cross, then muscle-strengthening exercises, and so on throughout the day. It was not easy to make my people get used to it, but now it’s all right and feels as it should.
Of course, we also find time to rest, I mean such things as playing football, basketball, volleyball. We try to visit stadiums in Gorlovka at the weekend, engaging people in sports.”
“Many of those who live outside the DPR consider the army does nothing because of the Minsk cease-fire. Could you say some words about how your personnel use this time, what is your unit doing?”
“I mentioned it already: for everyday study and training. Because of a lack of professional artillerists among our officers, we had to manage providing them with at least minimal knowledge. All my officers who had not graduated from universities, in the period of service received a higher education, as they can’t be managers without higher education. We also do usual home work, so to say, setting up our stations. Our barracks, sport areas and a dining room — all these should be settled according to the army rules. So we haven’t too much time to rest [smiles].”
“What about the situation in Gorlovka, does the cease-fire work?”
“They fire at us all the same. Thank god, there were no hits on the centre of the town recently. Anyway, civilians suffer even under minimal attacks, as well as innocent children.”
“What do you think about the necessity of the Minsk accords if the opponents do not keep to them?”
“We are talking politics, and I try to avoid it. What about my thoughts on it, I think the accords are really necessary and should be continued. It should be done not with the purpose of stopping the war – that’s not likely, because in order to stop Ukraine has to understand some things. The Minsk accords are used to show we are not terrorists and alcoholics who took up bats to attack ordinary Ukrainians, but we are average, sane, and competent people. We have our outlooks on life and our demands to the state. We want to live decently in a common country, developing it and making money, we want to bring up children and build schools.”
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